The warmup went beautifully. Melanie handed me bottled water as she gave Snickers a few final sugar cubes. I felt ready. As we emerged into the stadium, I could hear my trainer and the Ring Steward arguing about whether I was allowed to use the radios. What? I had emails and texts with questions and answers about radios for weeks. As some neurological issues were recently discovered (later posts), I was granted a Commander (someone who can literally call out my test moves). It was suggested that I use a 3-way radio system instead of yelling across the arena. I bought a set, pricey but worked perfectly. I hear my trainer, Melanie Mitchell, clearly without worrying about the earplugs coming off.
My heart was racing. Surely, they wouldn’t disqualify me, right? As I tried to calm my heart, the Steward decided I could continue with the headsets – for that test only. In seconds, the bell rang. I had to clear my head and start my test. I used to have difficulty blocking out the world outside the dressage arena. Now, I know that it’s only Snickers and me that count in there. The rest of the world must wait until our final X, Halt, Salute. Considering the mild colic on Tuesday night, I was thrilled with our test.
Later, after many calls and conversations with many different officials from USEF, FEI, and para coaches, they found a glitch in the rules. In one part it says I can use radios. In another, they’re strictly forbidden for anyone without a hearing impairment. Does anyone want to buy a slightly used 3-way radio system?
Honestly, I don’t know what will happen when it’s so windy that I can’t hear my caller. For now, I look forward to tomorrow’s test. It’s the first-time American para-athletes
will use background music as part of their Team test. I hope I can hear my caller over my music!
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