“There is not a more noble equestrian discipline, or one in which the synchronicity between horse and rider is more perfect, than show-jumping: Horse and rider throw their hearts over the obstacle, and they both jump, as one, after them.” – Quote of Arab origin.
JOY AT A GALLOP
As some of you may have read in my biography and in some previous articles, one of the activities I dedicate myself to, is the supervision of a show-jumping yard (competition horses), founded 20 years ago. Joseph, my partner in art and in life, shares this passion for horses that has been making my heart “run at a gallop” ever since I can remember, and this weekend, we were both blessed with the most incredible gift, which we couldn’t wait to share with you all.
For three days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – some of the top riders and show-jumping horses in the International Equestrian Federation (F.E.I.) rankings have gathered in the city of Porto, Portugal, to participate in the third edition of the Porto International Show-Jumping Competition. More than 29 countries were represented – besides Portugal, of course, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, Malta, Italy, Ukraine, France, Germany and Argentina, to mention just a few – some of them by riders who have held the “World Champion” title, and others by multiple international Grand-Prix winners. All this meant that the competition was really tough, and the courses, designed by a very reputed Spanish show-jumping course-builder, were truly of the kind that made one’s hair rise on the back of one’s neck… LOL!
This year, we only entered a horse – actually, a filly, called Ileana Verte – and, talented as she is – as is her rider, our good friend and expert horseman José Carlos Mendes – and great as our faith in both of them may always be, we tried not to keep our hopes much too high, as we are aware that our magnificent “girl” has nothing that can be compared to the international experience of most of the other horses in the competition, so, we were already quite thrilled that she had two brilliant rounds on Friday and on Saturday, even if they weren’t enough to place her among the first ten. Well, dear friends, one must never dream too parsimoniously, though – as I recommended in my poem “Sweet Dreams (a recipe for lovers)” – and you know why? Because even one’s apparently most daring dreams can actually come true … and outsmart us, LOL! Ok, here’s what happened:
Yesterday, there were more than 60 horses and riders from all over the world – among the latter, an actual former World Champion, two Portuguese National Champions (one of them, the current one), and too many Grand Prix winners to even begin counting… - competing in the class to which our beautiful Ileana Verte was “entered”. Round after round, we watched more of them than was good for our nerves come to misfortune; faults and more faults, refusals, eliminations, even what could have been a nasty fall avoided at the last second, not a single clear round for Portugal, this was, dear ones, the scenery unfolding before our eyes. When Ileana’s number was called and she pranced into the ring, Joseph and I, as well as our marvellous head-groom – whose name, incidentally, is the same as that of our rider, José Carlos – were all on the verge of a “heart-attack”. But… oh, beautiful, beautiful filly, oh, magical, magical rider… oh, Epona, mighty goddess of the horses and harbinger of dreams no doubt watching over us… what an absolutely miraculous round followed, before the whole audience’s rising tension, jump after perfectly met jump… all the way to the very last clear one! Wow! The whole building seemed to shake under the deafening roar which erupted, in unison, from the packed stands… and I can’t find the words to describe the joy and pride that we felt! With José Carlos Mendes, Ileana Verte had just produced the only clear round for Portugal, and made within a time that got her… nothing less than the 7th place among, as I mentioned above, more than 60 horses! This achievement means more to us all, here at the yard, than the bronze, the silver, or even the winner’s gold – because it means that our horse and her rider jumped with their hearts, and… more beautiful hearts than theirs, cannot be found!
Today, our Ileana Verte and the guys are taking a well deserved rest… but, in our minds, they keep jumping that sublime round over and over again, and in our hearts, the joy and gratitude for their achievement are still running at a gallop! And they will, no doubt, for a long, long time!
(In the photo, Ileana Verte and José Carlos Mendes clearing the double… while Joseph and I, signalled by the white circle and arrow, watch, trying not to panic, from the stands! Whew!)
© 2006 Alexandra* ~ OneLight*®
(Here is a link to my latest poem - "perchance...")