Life After London

Where to begin? Well, we arrived back on Friday night to a hazy, hot and humid Boston. It was not the most welcome greeting a city’s ever given me, and I’d like to think Boston would try a little harder, knowing I don’t truly consider it my hometown. (Even after living here nearly five years, when Londoners asked where I was from, my automatic response was “New York.” I truly do <3 that dirty town.) But maybe Boston’s weather was in response to my attitude – Boston knew I wasn’t overjoyed to be home, so it had no problem letting me know that I wasn’t missed. Or maybe not everything is about me, and sometimes Boston’s just muggy and rainy in August.

The first thing I did was set my iPhone lock screen and home screen wallpaper to Instagram’d photos from London.

Downtown Greenwich (informally known as Olympic Village East)

Flags at the equestrian venue (yes, I know I have a lot of unread emails and pending app updates. Re-entry has been tough!)

Then I walked around downtown Plymouth and considered diving into the Atlantic and swimming back to London. But then I found a local pub flying a London 2012 flag, so I decided to sit down for a beer (swimming requires a lot of carbs, you know).

London calling

London! I found you in Plymouth!

In the days since, I’ve had so many people ask me about our adventures across the pond. My response has always been the same, “It was awesome. So exhausting but SO awesome.” and that really does just about sum it up.

Experiencing the Olympics firsthand was truly life changing. I’ve been riding nearly as long as I’ve been walking, and throughout my horse career I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve ridden at backyard barns, jumped courses aboard former Olympians (during my time at Centenary College) and vetted out prospective Olympic and World Games competitors (during my time as a tech at B.W. Furlong and Associates). But there’s always been something magical about the Olympics.

Oh how I miss those gorgeous rings.

I have vivid memories of watching winter and summer games snuggled up on the couch with my mom and sisters. Watching the athletes hug their coaches and their parents has always gotten me choked up. But seeing it in person, I realized how much the moment truly meant to the riders, owners, support staff and national team. And the fans. Oh my god the fans. Seeing the power of national pride move spectators to tears gave me goose bumps, every time. And it happened every time.

The pride that riders had in themselves and their horses, regardless of score, was truly wonderful to see. And while I certainly can’t relate to the feeling of riding a winning test in front of 23,000 cheering fans, I do know what it’s like to have a ride that’s going so well you almost can’t believe it yourself. And when it’s over, the jaws of life couldn’t pry your arms from around your horse’s neck. And then there’s that first moment, when you just start to come back down to earth, when you see your trainer, or your mom or dad, and you can physically feel their pride – that’s what always gets me. Seeing that cascade of emotions firsthand, on such a monumental stage, was so moving, so affirming and so inspiring. I’m honored to have witnessed it, and I know I’ll never forget it.

Inspire a generation, indeed.

But for now, I’m back in Massachusetts, trying to come back down to earth. I have a few more blogs to write about our adventures across the pond, because there are some stories too good to keep to myself, so stay tuned for those. In the meantime, I’m re-focusing myself on taking the SmartPak brand to the next level of awesomeness, so stay tuned for that, too. In my personal life, I’m continuing to toy with the idea of getting myself a new project horse (hey, I wouldn’t be a horse girl if I was living the unrealistic dream :-D). But for now, I’m content with heading back to NY for a weekend, heading out to the field with my old retired competition horse and giving him one of those ever-lasting, you’re-the-best-horse-in-the-world, thanks-for-being-my-other-half, I-wouldn’t-be-me-without-you, Olympic-level hugs. And maybe half a bag of treats :-)

Did someone say treats?!

Make sure you didn’t miss a minute of our London coverage: http://blog.smartpakequine.com/tag/olympics/

Stay up to date on the latest behind-the-scenes action at SmartPak by following @SmartPakerSarah on Twitter!

Sarah Paull

Sarah Paull is a lifelong rider and SmartPak’s Brand Manager. You may know her better as the life-size foam finger from the London Olympics, the host of USEF Network’s Live from London coverage, or “that girl from the Stuff Riders Say videos.” Prior to joining SmartPak in 2008, Sarah worked as a Veterinary Technician at B.W. Furlong & Associates in Oldwick, NJ, and obtained her degree in Equine Science from Centenary College. Sarah is the proud mom of Cody, a semi-retired, 23-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, and she’s currently looking for an eventing partner to help her get rid of all the extra time, money and energy she doesn’t actually have :-) If you're interested in her often-horsey, always-odd musings, follow @SmartPakerSarah on Twitter.

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