September 8, 2012
My goal going into Monday’s Freestyle was to improve on our Individual Test performance. Lolu has a beautiful Freestyle designed by Marlene Whitaker of Custom Freestyles. I was excited to highlight my horse’s strengths and show the judges and spectators what we are truly capable of. Lolu warmed up pretty well and was much more settled in the arena. Our music is very technical with specific pieces for each move that we do. If we don’t hit the timing just right it is very obvious and detracts from the performance. You have to get the entrance just right or you are constantly trying to either catch up or slow down to match the music for the rest of the Freestyle. I have two chimes that are exactly on centerline for my serpentine. I hit the first one and cracked a huge grin because I knew we had the Artistry component nailed. The Technical component of our routine was also fairly strong. Our weak points are the freewalk and the walk circles. It is hard to get Lolu to maintain activity without making him nervous in the walk. This test was by far our best performance and landed us in fifth place with the highest score of any American rider.
I am truly honored to have competed in this Paralympic Games and represented my country well. I am also very proud of all of my teammates. The bar was set high at this competition and everyone rose to the occasion. All of our riders maintained and improved on their scores each day, improving dramatically on the United States’ final placing from Beijing four years ago. The sport of Paraequestrian has grown and improved considerably over the last several years with a lot of hard work from everyone involved. It has been an honor to be a part of these changes and I look forward to seeing our sport rise to even greater heights as we prepare for the next Paralympics in Rio.
The Freestyle competition marked the close of Equestrian events for the London 2012 Paralympics. On Tuesday we packed everything up and sent the horses home to the United States. It was a little sad to see everything being packed away and the amazing facilities we had been competing in taken down, but I’m taking some great memories of this whole experience home with me.
I am staying in London until after the Closing Ceremonies, so I’ve been having a great time sightseeing and enjoying the city for the last few days. There is so much here to see and do, and everyone I’ve met has been extremely welcoming and friendly. Although it will be good to get home after five weeks of being away, I am already looking forward to my next chance to come back. Thanks, London, for my best Paralympic experience yet!