In case you’re not the equestrian type, McLain Ward just rode away with the much coveted World Cup title, besting his local and international competitors. McLain, an Olympic gold-medalist, earned his highest achievement ever, beating the world’s top riders in three days of intense competition.
My daughter, Lauren, was fortunate enough to be in Omaha to watch the whole event take place. Whether she was searching the crowd for Olympic equestrian faces or seeing the likes of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, whose daughter was a contender, she was having a fabulous time. What equestrian wouldn’t want to be there?
But the thing that happened that made this unique in my own family was on Sunday afternoon after three days of competition. I was watching the finals on my phone (no big screen views here) when Ally and the girls came over to work on their saddle cleaning. Of course, I needed Ally’s help to get my phone working for optimum results.
I don’t believe Ally has ever been to a Grand Prix. But certainly she had watched her sister ride a couple hundred times so it wasn’t too long until she got engaged with the whole World Cup competition. At the end of Sunday’s first round Ally and the kids headed home but not before they had gotten the link to the website for the pending World Cup final which would begin in less than an hour.
When the final riders came back to the arena, I was watching it at my house. I didn’t know if by that point Ally and the girls were still in the mood to watch this or not.
For this final segment, the riders and their horses came back in reverse order so those with the highest score (in this case, the worst score) went first and then the lowest/best score (McLain) was the last to go. If you’re a barrel racer or a baseball player-last ups is always an advantage. You know exactly what you need to do to win.
When McLain and the mare, HH Azur, came in to ride their final trip in the Omaha arena, they held on to the advantage of being clear for all three days of the competition. McLain didn’t commit a fault in three rounds over three days, going clean in all five runs.
That might sound like an easy thing to do. You simply jump over all the jumps. You make it in the time allowed and everything is good. Right? Well, not so much. The course designer (there is a career designing jump courses, believe it or not) makes the course technically challenging for the horses and riders. In the earlier round on Sunday, Ally and I, had watched rider after rider pull rails at the exact same jump, over and over. McLain and his mare did not, in fact, not once, ever knock down a rail or do anything except ride the course exactly as specified. They were amazing.
Going down to the very last horse and rider combination, yesterday afternoon, it was unclear if McLain and HH Azur would hold on to their advantage.
From the very beginning I was a McLain fan. I had told Lauren before she even left, my pick was McLain. And it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful, that he won and that the United States took home the cup!!
But the interesting thing that occurred was the excitement that came to pass between Ally and her daughters about this event.
Sitting at their house watching this on some device, not the television, they followed every single rider until it was McLain’s turn to go back in the ring one last time. As McLain went through the jumps and posted up a clear round I literally screamed out loud, startling all my sleeping dogs into rapid barking and growling (although they had no idea I was screaming in delight for McLain).
But at exactly the same time across town, my daughter and granddaughters were screaming exactly like I was. And I just bet that airport in Omaha was filled with a whole crowd of over-joyed onlookers as well!!
It does great things for my soul for my daughter, Ally and her kids, to be passionate about and engaged in this sport that I love so well.
God bless McLain and his top notch mare. And God bless Ally for taking the time to be interested in something that means so much to her sister and I. McLain had the whole Davis clan pushing for his tremendous victory yesterday.
As always, thanks for riding along.