SANESA School’s League Finals 2007
Trunks were packed; horseboxes parked. Horses were bathed, plaited, and locked away safely in clean stables. Children were dopey eyed but excited and no-one closed an eyelid that night. All in all, nothing unusual for the night before a SANESA show… It was only as I sat in the que along the dirt road checking my watch and feeling the icy fingers of panic slowly crawling along my spine in the knowledge that, no, I was not going to make the course walk, that it finally dawned on me – this was the FINALS…
Having being to the School’s league Finals at Eaton Farm before, I knew what to expect, but of course nothing prepares you for the onslaught of ponies, kids, parents, cars, dust and chaos that hits you as you drive through the gates!
I was pleasantly surprised, because apart from the parking crisis, the day really went very smoothly! Classes went off like clockwork and by the afternoon, the showjumping classes were even running early. Unheard of.
The Dressage and Showing classes held earlier that weekend seemed to go without too much incident, and I received positive feedback from proud parents, who agreed that although nobody wants to truck out to the same venue twice in one weekend, it really was not all that bad.
Hats off to the organizers, as arranging over 2500 entries cannot be an easy task and really, classes went smoother than I can remember at any Final before.
The Joburg crowd was quite jealous of the Pretoria riders, who were sporting rather smart T-Shirts, and maybe next year they will rise to the challenge and create masterpieces of their own! Good thinking on the Pretoria team’s part!
There were the usual spills and thrills, and the Showjumping and Equitation courses were well-built, full of tight turns and tended to slow all but the bravest and tiniest little dynamite sticks, giving everyone a pretty fair chance. Warm-Up arenas were less crowded than I expected and it seems more and more riders are finally getting the hang of remembering the rules applicable, so less head on collisions! The Laser timers really had the riders excited and they finally felt like they were at a ‘real’ THS show!
I have only one complaint, or shall we call it an observation... Is it easier to tell your friends that you retired from the jump-off , as opposed to admitting you had a pole and put yourself out of the running? It seemed every other rider chose to retire immediately after knocking a pole in the jump-off, rather than finish with a score for the school and team? The horses were not out of control, not lame and even looked surprised to have their fun stopped at fence 3! Come on guys - where is the sense of sportsmanship, the sense of fun and the pride? There is no shame at having a pole down! Come on parents - you need to impress the value of pushing through to the end, and the love of the sport and I did not see that on Sunday! I am seeing this more and more in the important classes, and I think it is a shame. Let's impress the importance of finishing the race, of pushing through to the end and to not be scared of admitting failure!
I did not venture into the catering area, as it seemed that the que never got any shorter, but the smells coming from the back were divinity. (I allow the catering team at Eaton any mistake since they surprised me at a SANESA Show by supplying Amstel long after it had disappeared from the shop shelves a few weeks ago… heaven!)
Driving back that evening in a dusty car, very tired, very dirty and very sunburned, I decided it was a very good thing there was only one SANESA Final every year and thank goodness we had managed to survive another one… I do feel the need to abstain from going any closer than 100m from any horse after this, but I am sure the feeling will wear out – eventually.