Featured Rider - Hawley Bennett
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Hawley Bennett-Awad (Part 2 of a 4 Part Series)
February is turning out to be a fantastic month!!!
I competed Gin and Juice in the Intermediate Division at the Galway Downs Horse Trials at the end of January. We had the opportunity to do some schooling rounds of dressage and show jumping the day before the show which was perfect!! The more I can get Ginny in the ring the better!! I was happy with the way Ginny performed at the show. It was a great way to start the year - relaxed and confident!! I feel like it was a great prep run for the Advanced that we will run at the end of the month at Twin Rivers!! During the Galway Event, Brea Hall made her debut with my amazing Livingstone!!! Brea competed in the Novice division and ended on her dressage score! Not bad for her first event!! I was very proud (and emotional J) of the pairs 2nd place!!!! It has been 16 years since Livingstone competed at the Novice level! He is such an amazing horse!! He cantered around the xc in a rubber snaffle, the same bit that I bought for him when he was 4 years old! Brea and Livingstone (Hank) will be continuing their partnership at Twin Rivers in the Training Division!!
The month of February started off with a Buck Davidson Clinic at Kingsway Farm. I love having Buck come out for lessons. He always sets up challenging exercises for both the horses and riders!! Unfortunately, we only jumped one day with BDJ because it rained on the second day…yes rain in California!!! We actually had a really wet couple of days to start the month off!!! We had to be creative on how to school the horses!!! This worked out for us, as we got to do a lot of trot sets and hill work. I have started my gallops with Ginny as well. I am lucky to have a hill to gallop up on!! I think that it is so important to use a hill if at all possible!!! It is so much easier to get the horses heart rate up, with out having to go fast!!!
I absolutely love having lessons….I was lucky enough to have David O’Connor (Canadian Eventing Coach) come out to Kingsway for the spring training session. We worked 2 days on dressage and one day SJ. David gave me some ‘homework’ to do before he comes back next month!!!
The highlight of the month for me was having one of my dreams come true!!! 22 years ago, I watched the Olympic Torch run down Hwy 1 in Langley B.C. I was in complete awe of the torch and I wanted to carry it. I actually applied to carry the Torch in 1998 for the winter Olympics in Calgary Alberta. I wrote a speech, and entered a competition. I didn’t win, but was runner up.
This year, for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver B.C., I had the amazing opportunity to carry the Torch!!! As a previous Olympic Athlete, I was selected to carry the Torch in Richmond B.C. WOW!!!!! The evening started with meeting in a room before we had to get on our shuttle to our Torch running spots. I met the other 9 Torch Bearers for the night. One of the Torch Bearers was Rick Hanson. He has been a hero to me since he rode around the world in a wheel chair to raise money for spinal cord research. He has been an inspiration to many and having the chance to meet him was priceless.
When it came my time to run the torch my heart was pounding in my chest!! I don’t think that I have EVER been that nervous!! (Not even in the start box for Rolex!) There were so many emotions running through me!! I had to take 4 deep breathes as I saw Sabrina Kokler (2 time Olympic Rower) running to me. Our torches touched, we exchanged a high five, and then it was my turn to run with a piece of history. This was such an amazing moment and I am so glad that my husband, family and friends were there to experience it with me. The torch run was only suppose to be 300 meters, but as I was running, one of the police escorts asked if I would mind running further?
Needless to say, I ran the torch for 7 minutes!!!!! I was the happiest girl in the world!!! I don’t think that I stopped smiling the whole time!!! I did feel bad for my mom and brother who were running besides me….I am not sure when the last time they went running was, never mind for 8 minutes!! J
The next day I went to Simon Cunningham Elementary School in Surrey B.C. and gave a speech to the Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes. I explained to them that I was a girl from a small town, with not very much money, but I had a dream to ride in the Olympics and to carry the Olympic Torch. With hard work and sacrifices any thing is possible. Running the torch was a dream of mine since I was 11 years old. Dreams do come true. I am lucky enough to have achieved a few of my dreams, and it feels amazing.
When I got home from Vancouver, I definitely caught the “Olympic Fever” The vibe in Vancouver is amazing. Canadians really are a different breed!!! I am so glad to be from such a patriotic country!!! Being home, and around all those Olympic athletes, makes me want to represent my country again. There is no feeling that can compare to representing your home land..