A HUGE Shout out to our AWESOME 2014 sponsors.  We are very grateful for your support!!

St James Pony Club Calendar

Laura Marsh Literary Award

The Colors of Victory - by Sam Diulus

The feelings
of joy and realization did not wash over me until I touched the blue and white tails and read the word “first” written in gold. The adrenaline had worn off but I knew that the event had remained imprinted in my mind like the words on this page.

It was a cool morning in May and I felt wonderful, the usual queasiness was nowhere to be found. I visited my mare, Iris, her nickname per say. For on that day the announcer would bellow “Shot of Espresso” as we entered the arena. It was a day lived in thirds: Dressage, Stadium Jumping, and Cross Country. I use the word “lived” because this is Three-Day Eventing, a sport and a way of life.

Dressage is said to determine the winners at each event. It is an assessment based on accuracy, geometry, memory, and effectiveness. Therefore, to memorize this repetitive test of circles and transitions, I draw an arena in the aisle’s sand and begin to practice. Enter at “A”, working trot, Track write at “C”… The test runs through my mind like a broken record, the same “song” replaying. “What time is it?” I whine. “Just about 9:30”, my mom replies. Perfect, now I can finally get ready. Quickly, I tugged on my white breeches and buttoned down my shirt. I hopped out of our horse trailer, my make shift dressing room, and ran back to the barns. My freshly pressed stock tie fluttered behind me.

Upon my return, I found my horse thoroughly brushed and ready to tack up. As a team, we sleepily stacked saddles and other tack on Iris’s back. I tossed on my long black coat, now it’s show time! Leading my horse out into the sunlight, I excused myself through a wall of people outside of the barns. Eventually, I stood on top of the mounting block like a queen overlooking her kingdom. As soon as Brigitte (my instructor) was in view, I swung my leg over the top of my saddle, careful not to dirty the gleaming black leather.

As always, warm-up was a nightmare. It seemed like every competitor was going a different direction. I checked in with the ring steward on my way to bit check, she informed me that I had fifteen minutes until my ride time. At bit check, a woman gently slipped a gloved finger into my horse’s mouth to make sure my bit was regulation. She stuck a bright green sticker onto my boot to show that I was “ok” to go. Back in warm-up, I practiced different figures in preparation for what was to come.

To begin my test, I entered at the letter A. Each figure was perfect in my mind; I saw this as a dance not just a short ride around a lettered arena. I exited with a smile painted across my face, I was so proud of those last four minutes. Iris got a pat as I hopped off and headed back to her stall.

As I Wandered about the grounds, I watched the other competitors ride to pass time. Finally, I went over to the scoreboard. A surprise awaited; I was in first place! I sprinted back to my mom to let her know. Oh my gosh, I hope I don’t screw this up.

Before I knew it, it was time for stadium jumping and cross-country. The same ritual of tacking occurred, but now it was executed with excitement and enthusiasm (obviously, the coffee had worked its magic). All of a sudden, I am on my horse in warm-up yet again. The experience was just as hectic as the first, but I made it through. Trotting into the arena, Iris was a bit jittery, but when the whistle sounded, she was ready to go. We cantered through the start flags and over the first fence. Each turn was fresh in my mind, and we made it over each jump leaving it as it was. I didn’t realize that I had finished clear until well after we passed through the finish flags. Two phases down, one to go.

Fear washed over me like a huge tidal wave; nausea had found me once again. Cross-country was the phase that always results in eliminations, how could this time be any different? My eyes were swollen with tears. I wanted to shout, “I can’t do it!” and save myself from the embarrassment that might follow. It didn’t help that my instructor had another student riding at the same time, back in the stadium arena. I popped over a cross rail and headed over to the start box. The steward repeated a familiar phrase to me as I was about to start my ride “Three, two, one. Have a nice ride!” We left the start box and were en route to fence number one, jumping it with ease. The next couple of jumps were completed in the same fashion. As soon as Iris saw the barns, I was merely a passenger; she acted as if she were the one who walked the course that morning. We crossed the finish and it took many circles to stop my mare. After handing over my pinny and giving everyone hugs, I realized that I have proved myself wrong. With a horse underneath me, I could overcome any fear.

Unfortunately, this will be my only win and completion of an event on this horse. I have to take this sport day by day, facing whatever challenge it throws at me. Eliminations and falls will never stop me because I know that, eventually, something good will come out of life’s lessons. I could not fully comprehend what had happened until blue came into view, and word “first” written in gold flashed before my eyes.