Here are excerpts from a blog post from Mary Howard, Rebecca Howard’s mother. Rebecca is a member of the Canadian Eventing Team. which just won silver at the Pan Am Games in Mexico.
Ahhhh the best part of a competition for this parent – the finish line! I know I am supposed to love the journey (and it is a great weight loss program), but I confess to a strong preference for having it behind, rather than ahead of me. Frankly nothing is sweeter than trading in the “game face” for a shot of tequila and round of high fives…
The results were mixed, ranging from flat-out awesome to palpable disappointment. Teammate Jessica Phoenix was nothing short of outstanding – leading from start to finish and delivering the first Pan Am gold (in Eventing) since B.C. rider Nick Holmes Smith’s 1991 ride at the Pan American Championship held in Atlanta. It was indeed a privilege to witness the Canadian flag being raised first on the left for Team Silver, then on that centre flag pole for Individual Gold.
On the team front, however, I don’t think it is blasphemous to suggest that the entire group expected to pressure the American’s more than we did – as we had the horsepower for doing so. Normally his strongest phase, Rocky underwhelmed us on dressage day but went on to take care of business (brilliantly) on cross-country the next day. His show jumping on day three was also a tad uncharacteristic with two rails in the first (team) round, before the expected fast and clean go on the second (individual) round. This rollercoaster played out differently for every squad member, eventually landing a team silver and sixth place individually for Rebecca.
Parents are regularly asked if we “get nervous” and, given the sense of relief one feels on a positive outcome, the answer must be yes – but essentially emotions range from ecstatic to devastated – both enhanced by lack of sleep and the aforementioned tequila.
Enter the Canadian post competition party. An eclectic mix of riders, grooms, owners, coaches, managers, office staff, supporters and random international sorts whom you’ve never met before but discover they live a few hundred kilometres from your home and are dead keen to play the Salmon Arm Golf Course. There also must be some unwritten code amongst athletes that when one jumps fully clothed into the pool – they all must follow. I also learned (the hard way) that the team farrier never swims alone.
In short it was an experience made wonderful because of many hardworking and determined people. The group dynamic was something Canadians can and should be proud of. Canadian Event Team personnel and volunteers are as cohesive as they are effective, and our riders are all exceptional ambassadors for their sport and country. I hope to watch them in action again soon… In London perhaps?