So about a month ago I did my first 'big" thing of the summer. This was something that really was being planned (in my mind) since last summer. I knew that I needed to get myself in the annual Celebrity Harness Race that occurs as a local fundraiser in our community each summer. This race has now raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities and I am proud to have been involved in the party planning for this event for almost, if not already, ten years now. Each year the racers always proclaim that this is the greatest adrenaline rush and that all should do it. Well last year I made that decision. I knew that I would regret it forever if I didn't do it now.
I am a self proclaimed control freak and I am sure those closest to me can see that. So doing something like this is far beyond my comfort, to say the least. I wasn't able to bid on this race at the auction I wanted to purchase it at until late May, early June, so I had a lot of time to simmer the thought of racing in my head. I am pretty proud of myself honestly, that with all that time to think about it, I didn't back out. Funny though, once I did seal the deal and purchase the race, I just planned on not sleeping until the race was over.
Practices started right away a few days a week and I very quickly fell in love. I would go after school before the school year ended and it turned out to be the most wonderful way to decompress. There is something about horses that is so majestic and methodical. The way they move, the way they smell, the way they sound, it's all so beautiful and allowed me to forget about everything else in the world while I was on that track. I honestly felt sad as the actual race got closer because I knew my time to decompress in that way was coming to an end.
The night before the race I got the chance to ride in the gate car which was an experience in itself. I felt so close to the horses, I could see their breath and feel the determination in their eyes. It was a great way to gauge positioning and to develop strategies for my own race, which now in hindsight I know, the horse already had that part taken care of.
Race night was incredible and really one of the best nights of my life! My sisters and my mom showed up unexpectedly, which was a wonderful surprise of support. The infield party was filled with leopard print (my favorite part), the grand stands were packed with students and school families, and my own family and friends were certainly showing their love, making it obvious who they were cheering for in the race. I was so full of anxiety and adrenaline and excitement but I was determined to take it all in. I met my horse and fell in love with her too. She was beautiful with her mane braided and I could see her story in her eyes.
It was time for the race, to line up at the gate car and my horse, "Lookin' At Lucky", made it clear that she was on a mission. I am still not exactly sure what happened with that first line up, but three of the other racers were not yet able to get their horses up to the gate. So the gate had to pull back and try again. Well, naturally, my horse thought it was time to race when the gates pulled back. This meant that I had to really pull back on her until we met up with the gate again and by then, in her mind the race had already started. The horses all got lined up and the gate pulled away. My horse took a strong lead to start and went ahead by quite a bit right off the bat. I kept looking back thinking "either this horse is going to crush this race or she's going to completely die on me at some point". The problem was that I was holding her back for so long already that I just didn't have the strength and endurance to do it as much as I needed to in order to conserve her energy to win. She ended up leading the race for an entire lap and a half and then she just didn't have enough in her to finish first. She did however, break a record for her first quarter mile and she ran an honest, race of beautiful and perfect trotting.
The adrenaline that I felt during that race was like nothing I have ever experienced in my life. I am used to my hands shaking and my heart racing but when that race ended, I remember my feet shaking uncontrollably, it was the weirdest feeling! Someone asked me if I remember the race and shockingly I remember every second of the actual race. Afterwards A LOT of my friends and family showed their support for me by gathering around my horse on the infield (another record that was apparently broken), so I was feeling the love for sure! After seeing pictures from that time I shared with many of my favorite people on the track, it became clear to me that that was the "blackout" moment. I don't remember taking a lot of the pictures so that must have been when the adrenaline really took over.
The entire experience was certainly one for my lifetime and I will forever be grateful for my trainer and his family for allowing me this opportunity. The time and effort that they dedicate to this race and the impact that they have made on my community by simply sharing their talents and passion, is really unmeasurable and extremely admirable. I now feel very passionate that this is something that anyone would be crazy not to do if the opportunity presented itself. I felt high on life for weeks after that race and thinking about it still makes me smile and wish for just one more jog.
The best dressed kiddos, obviously! :)
Melissa here! While I'm all about sharing trends, deals, and outfit ideas with you, I have a true passion for writing. I love sharing thoughts on life the most and am excited to share those thoughts with all of you right here!
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