I was deeply sorry that the dressage freestyle was cancelled for Sunday at WEG, but it led directly to my favorite memory from this week.
After the initial decision about cancellation was made Saturday ahead of the hurricane’s arrival Sunday, I moped around the dressage warm-up area for a while. Some of the riders were there giving their horses a light limbering ride, but there wasn’t any serious schooling going on to fill my eye. I noticed a man standing by the rail holding a bay horse and that a small crowd had gathered. Then I realized the man was Alan Davies, famed groom of Valegro from Carl Hester’s stable. Thus, I wondered, could this be actually be Freestyle, Charlotte Dujardin’s lovely mare who caught my eye during the previous two days of competition? It was!
I asked if it was okay to pat her. Alan said sure, since the competition was now over. I stroked her neck and the side of her face and rubbed her small star and then she started to climb into my pocket for a treat! Darn, I always have sugar and small Milk Bones in that pocket, but not that day because I was at WEG, not the barn. She could not have been more gracious. She was just a sweet pony enjoying attention and pats, and Alan was being a wonderful ambassador for dressage. And, he said he was mad at Carl for calling Freestyle “Mrs. Valegro.”
(Okay, watching the last group of riders during the Special on Friday will be my favorite memory, but meeting Freestyle was more of a deeply personal moment I shared with just her, not thousands of others.)
There has been a sort-of equestrian celebrity sport going on around Tryon this week, especially at places like the grocery stores and coffee shops. Selfies with Charlotte. Selfies with Steffen Peters. Selfies with Isabell Werth. Who can score the biggest star? (I talked to Sir Mark Todd but would never ask him for a selfie.) But, darn it, I had to have a picture with Freestyle!
I’ve got to say, with the flood of selfies I’ve seen on Facebook this week, that the equestrian superstars have been wonderfully patient with all their fans at WEG. Freestyle and Alan Davies certainly were.