When Karin told the team that we would be performing at A Vaulting Connection Fest at the end of May, I assumed it would just be a demo sort of thing. You know, a kind of “see what all the cute old people are doing?” ….
Actually… make that “see what all the cute people and the one old guy are doing?”
Sorry, Pete. It’s a performer’s prerogative to pick on the coach.
But no, this was an actual competition in front of a real judge – who came all the way from Southern California – who gave real scores, that were posted in front of real people and then put somewhere on the Internet too, I think.
Well at least on one place on the Internet:
I got both first and last place in the Men’s Division. Like usual.
Just from being around Karin’s Horse Connection for three years (as of June 18th, I believe) I knew that they divided these vaulting meets into “Recognized” and “Unrecognized” categories. I’m not sure which we were. Although, I think maybe they could create a third category for me: “Unrecognizable”.
My scores for the Half-Mill and Half-Flag were so low that even Scorekeeper Kevin had a hard time seeing them:
I was actually happy about my Basic Seat and Kneel scores. And all of it was just huge fun.
This was after the proceeding week in which my dread grew as the time drew near and I began to hear my coach and teammates utter words like “judge”, “scores”, “disqualification,” “you’re vaulting in those? You have to wear stretchy pants!” and the most devastating words of all: “you can’t wear your Tiger’s hat.”
“My Lions’ hat, then?”
“How about my Red Wings hat?”
“My Secretariat hat?”
“Well…um… … … NO!“
Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules! We’re just supposed to have fun, right?
Oh, but we did have fun.
The biggest personal shock of the day for me happened right after Pete launched me onto Avenir: instead of being nervous, I found myself absolutely loving it. Every frickin’ second of it. When Pete said it was time to get off the horse, I hesitated, almost telling him to mind his own business. I wasn’t ready for it to end.
I finally got a grasp on the sequence of moves and I just focused on showing the judge that I knew what I was suppose to do, which is not normal for me. And then I just tried to do each the best I could.
As if I needed cues to remember the sequence – which is usually the case – that little voice inside my head became clearly audible. In fact, I could actually see The Little Voice Inside My Head. It looked like this:
The Little Voice Inside My Head
My teammates and coach were amazing. They took great care of me every step of the way. Literally.
For the team routine on the barrel, we marched in using our little “eins, zwei, drei, I’m stook” routine that Karin taught us. We were blessed with having a second go at it, because the first time we went before the bell and you can’t go before the bell. I wanted to plead Geriatric Hearing on our behalf. Also, I didn’t know there was a bell. But the judge was strict: you people go back and do it again. I thought California Girls were supposed to be little more laid back than that. I think she just wanted to confirm that she actually saw what she thought she saw. Anyway, it worked out great because we were much better the second time.
Our freestyle barrel routine went really nice, especially considering we only practiced it twice. During the barrel routine, I had the opportunity to exhibit my brute animal strength by launching Penny onto the barrel with just one arm (behind my back!)
Brute animal strength.
Here, Penny and Karin demonstrate good lines. I think that’s the way you say it.
And here, Liz, Kim and Michelle perform our Grand Finale’ Move, which finished with a “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” pose. Their backs were to the crowd so I’m not sure how many people saw what they were doing. But it’s good advice anyway.
We’re talking about getting some team shirts. I think we should get our names on the back of them like in football.
There is a video of us doing the barrel which I posted on my Bob the Equestrian Facebook page, if you would like to check us out. We were magnificent.
There were many highlights of the day. It was fun to watch kids do their stuff. They never cease to amaze me. Especially now. We have an album of the day on Karin’s Horse Connection Facebook page, if anyone would like to check that out as well. Good stuff!
And there were some moments during the adaptive vaulting where I had to put my camera down and just watch. It’s just keeps getting better every time I watch it. It all does.
The biggest highlight of the day for me was when Jenny and Hiliary showed up with granddaughter Aubrey.
She got some barrel time too.
At one point she stood up on the barrel and without being coached, put her arms out to her sides. Just like the big girls she had been watching. That was so cool to see.
And now she thinks she’s a little expert or something. “Did you see Grandpa’s Half-Mill?”
She got in the line up with us.
Helped us look for whatever we were looking for here:
It was just a great day. And the judge turned out to be a very cool California Girl after all. When it was all over, she promised to give me another blue ribbon next time if I gave her the beer I was dangling in front her. At least that’s what I thought she said. It was warm day.
I can’t wait to do it all again.