Let’s go back.
I grew up at an eventing barn, but never competed above Novice.
As an adult I tried my hand at eventing again and had a horse that was less than interested in being an eventer. We had a handful of Novice rounds but this horse actually learned that at a show, and only at a show, if he would just stop 3 times at the first jump he got to go home.
He may have been the smartest horse I’ve ever owned. I could school him all day long and he would mostly jump what I pointed him at.
But show up for an event…….and we’d typically leave with less than 2 jumps under our belt. (Excuse the video quality but that was <cough> 22yrs ago.)
So after feeling like a failure for long enough…….I quit.
I switched to endurance. That was easier. No jumps, no dressage judges.
And then a decade or so later, I got invited to ride with an eventer I had just met and before I knew it I was jumping a 3’6″ gymnastic. The craving was back with a vengeance.
Anyone that says this isn’t an addiction, just doesn’t like it that much. I’ve always maintained that if I had been a heroin addict instead, it would have been cheaper and better for my health.
So I started eventing again. At the time I had ponies. And while they were lovely, none of them were Teddy O’Connor.
So I “upgraded” to a big horse. And unfortunately, this one had no interest in anything above Novice.
I was right back where I started. When I was 12.
So I went on “the search”. I was going to buy a horse with <gasp> experience. Something that I knew wanted to play the game. In all my attempts at moving up to the massive, larger than life, division of training level, I had never tried the move up on a horse that had already done it.
And that is how I met the person that inspired the start of Tales from a Bad Eventer. Since these stories have a no-real-names rule let’s call her Zenobia. (And in case you don’t know who Zenobia was I recommend an internet search. In short, she was an accomplished rider and a real “warrior queen.”) My modern day Zenobia was smart, funny, fearless, and wrote a hilarious blog about her riding. 8 or so years ago she sold me the most amazing horse, that had already clocked in some Preliminaries. A horse with experience! That wanted to play. Now I was IN THE GAME!
The idea for Tales from a BadEventer had been floating around in my head for about 5 years at that point. I was just never brave enough to publish to the world how much I flat out SUCKED at this sport…… that I so wanted to succeed at. So when I met someone who was not only a professional writer but a professional rider and was doing just that. I was inspired.
But in a cruel twist of fate, the amazing talented super star horse that brought us together had a sudden surgical colic. In spite of rushing her to the surgery center we couldn’t save her. Our first recognized show was scheduled 2 weeks after she died.
I seriously thought the universe was telling me this eventing thing was really a foolish pursuit.
I finally got the ride on an amazing horse, from an amazing person and she was snatched away before we could even get a decent photo together.
But after the shock wore off, and the insurance check arrived I cautiously started “the search” again.
Zenobia sent me a note and said something like, “I looked at this spicy mare that seems like exactly your type.”
And that was the horse that took me to my first preliminary.
And the mother of two of my current super stars.
A lot has happened since I met Zenobia, started writing this blog and headed off on this crazy adventure.
I did a quick (ok not so quick count) and since that meeting, including the Ocala Jockey Club that started today I have started in 151 recognized events.
That’s hard to even fathom.
And since that fateful meeting, I’ve competed at Preliminary, Intermediate, and 3 star.
It’s pretty amazing when I think about it.
I went from competing one horse at a show, to two, to three…….and the last few I had 5.
That actually blows my mind a bit.
A few years ago I never imagined, not ever, that I’d be finishing with numbers at a show on 5 horses, let alone all of them at training or above. (2 weeks ago the 5 yr old was in the training, 3 were in preliminary and one in the intermediate.)
When I think about how many years I spent just trying to get around at training level……. that’s pretty remarkable.
So today when Zenobia showed up at “the big” FEI event this week, with her contagious smile & enthusiasm…….
it was like the past 8 years just got all jumbled in my head. She was telling me how amazing it was that I’ve accomplished so much since we met so long ago, and that I have such a following because I’m willing to be vulnerable and put it all out there……..
and I started talking about how impossible I’ve decided this whole sport is and that I have no idea what’s next…….
Clearly I need to get my head straight if I’m going to get anything done this week. But with just one horse in the competition (and not 5) I’ll have plenty of time to work on my outlook.
That was a serious trip down memory lane. I’ll get to today’s events, and the ridiculousness involved in my next installment of Tales from a Bad Eventer.