We step gracefully into the sand covered arena; the lights are blinding and the massive crowd cheer and chant.
I brush my boots off one last time, and I begin to feel very self-conscious. I know I am only here because I am one of the top riders in Australia, and that is why I am here, but what if I muck up? My whole life could be ruined in just one step. The crowd cheer louder as I step into view, my heart racing.
Forget them I think Just forget them, remember your training. And then I can here nothing but the sound of my horse’s hooves, so delicately do they step on the golden ground.
Halt I think, and then I feel the powerful muscles beneath me stop, neatly squared at the exact centre point perfect I think, but the test hasn’t even begun yet.
I lower my head and place me left hand on my horse’s hindquarter gently for a second, then as I squeeze my calves and rise up and down to the smooth trot, I begin to feel the real power of dressage.
With such grace we turn in a perfect circle, my horse doesn’t put one foot out of place. Nearing the end of the circle I tap my legs, so obvious to me yet unseen to the crowd, onto my horse’s chestnut sides. And with that she moves into a flowing canter, moving so swiftly. We both know this test off by heart, and I hardly even need to tell her to do a flying change down the centre line, Good girl Nim! I cry out in my head, but the hardest part is still t come, and I just hope we can pull it off, a few more circles and turns, okay here it is, we are just about to come to the long side and about to complete our final thing, I move into a trot, and then… piaffe! We did it!! I turn into the centre, halt… solute… the whole crowd burst into applause, and with a swish of Nim’s tail we trot out off the magical arena, back into the real world.
I wait for the others to finish their test, and I admit they’re good, VERY good…
The last person finishes her test, and the judges are left to count up the scores.
The suspense is overpowering and it seems like an eternity before they finally come to the microphone and announce the placings. I’ll be an embarrassment to Australia if I get a bad score and then the time comes… “In 3rd place, representing America we have Jessica Condor,” The whole crowd burst into loud whoops and cheers as the 3rd place getter went up to collect her prize. “And in second we have, representing Ireland, Molly McGuiness,” taking her place on the pavilion with her trusty steed beside the American Jessica she waved to the adoring crowd, “And in first place we have…” For a second it felt like the whole world had stopped, everyone was holding their breath, “In first place we have representing Australia…” Australia? I’m the only Aussie; it can’t be… he must have said Austria, yeah that blondy, Anna Brunn… right?? “Katie Spielder riding Niblefoot,” I gasp as the crowd begin to breathe again and roar in wild applause, I nudge Nim into a steady trot and go out to collect my gleaming trophy and Nim’s rose wreath, Nim lowers her head as the smiling judges put the wreath over her head and let it slide down on her neck, she is proud off herself And so she should be I think. She then lets out a victorious whinny as we begin our lap of honour, and nothing matters to me anymore, not the tall trophy, or the wreath so carefully placed on Nim’s neck now glistening with sweat, or the cheering crowds, all of that is behind me and all there is just the two of us, just an aussie girl and her champion horse.