I can't believe I have come to the end of my last full day here. I will leave my new-found European home sometime tomorrow afternoon, and I'm so sad I can't take anyone, or any horses back with me!!! Since I have come to this point I'm going to say some thank you's out here in internet-land for all to see, because I certainly didn't get myself here without some serious help.
First and foremost I need to thank Gabriele Nimsky for being so hospitable to me since I've been here, this trip could have been so much harder if she wasn't willing to do everything in her power to make me feel like home here.
Also, Karin Miles. I would not be here in Ansbach if it wasn't for her. She found out and then arranged this trip for me, and made sure it was possible for me, someone who speaks little-no German, to participate in such a fantastic and HELPFUL school. I am a better rider not only from her instruction in Alabama, but because she was so willing to risk her reputation by sending me to her friend and teacher, Gabi. Vielen Dank!!!! I hope I didn't disappoint!
I also owe many, many thanks to my parents, who were so generous to send me here to Germany for an entire month. I am incredibly blessed to have been born to two such awesome people!! I thank God everyday for you.
Thank you also to all of my new German friends, and my American friends who are supporting me by reading this blog and keeping in touch. I have met some really great people over my life so far, and I really have to count my blessings to have you in my life. Thank you for your support, your attention, and your love. I've had some lonely times while I've been here, and no matter if I met you here, or in the States, both groups of friends have gotten me through.
Finally, to everyone out there who has ever given me a riding lesson. I owe you thanks for keeping my motivation up to stay with the sport I love, and for teaching me to ride correctly. Considering what kind of instruction most people get in the states, I've been very lucky to have relatively correct instruction throughout my riding career. While I have bad habits like everyone else, I feel I really cannot blame them on incorrect instruction. Thank you so much!
Ok, now to tell you about my last two days.
Yesterday I started the day as always, except this time I slept through my alarm due to some pretty horrendous allergies. I took my first trip to the cross country course at 10am, no jumping though, just practicing control over the hills. Compagnon, one of the laziest horses here in the arena, is a freakin' racehorse when you take him out. I trust him, but he's really hard to stop, and even harder to collect. Le Marquis was in the afternoon, and it went really well. The Eckert Meyners training I've been doing is helping me with him. There were far fewer awful moments than there were when I first started riding him. My shoulders are coming back, and so are my lower legs. Matt came by for dinner so we could hang out one more time before I leave, when I returned I discovered a little party going on at the Riding School, though I had to say goodbye to Matt, it was still kind of nice to have a little champagne with my peers. This has been a good group, I'm going to miss them!
Today was much better as far as allergies go. I helped with the morning chores, then watched some of the private lessons in between packing. Ugh, PACKING!!! I don't want to leave! I want this place to be closer to Alabama so I can have my Dixie, and my family and friends nice and close! Why can't I have it all?? Haha, spoken like a true spoiled brat, I hope I don't have to tell most of you that I am absolutely kidding. I'm lucky to have had this experience at all.
At 1400 I rode Compagnon for our Cross Country jumping lesson. Steffi (one of my friends from the first week here, who returned for the second) took pictures so Fr. Nimsky could focus on keeping her eye on me, Marvin and Tina...but mostly me. Haha, I have a picture of her today that says it all about how she feels about my cross country skills :) Gladly though she still let me jump, though I think I had less control today than I've had the entire time I've been here. This is mostly due to my ineffectiveness at using my seat as a brake, so I have some homework, that will undoubtedly be collected by Fr. Nimsky the next time I'm here. I look forward to turning it in :). Over all it wasn't a bad day, sort of sad because of the overhanging knowledge that I leave tomorrow. But I seem to have made some friends, Tina asked me today when I was coming back, and seemed very happy when I said I hoped I could come next year or sooner if I could scrape up the money.
I have a crazy dream of making it to the Olympics one day, and though my time here has shown me just how far away I am from that dream, its made me feel like its not out of reach. With the right instruction, the right horses to learn on (because horses often times are the best teachers), patience, and a lot of focus, I could really do it.
Starting here I thought I would end up leaving frustrated that I had more to work on than I thought. Instead I am leaving with new motivation to keep learning and moving forward with my dream. I have tons and tons of things to learn and work on before I can consider my dream realistically in my grasp, but now, unlike before, I can see the path that will take me there. Its a long road ahead, but at least I'm on it.
One week left until I see most of y'all again (my silver lining to leaving this wonderful place)