Caitlin Silliman: Riding the Highs and Lows

Our next Athletux rider blog comes to us from Caitlin Silliman, who has faced some highs and lows in the last year with her upper-level partner Catch A Star. But the challenges also served as a valuable learning experience. Many thanks to Caitlin for writing and to Athletux for partnering with us on this blog series.

Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star at Rolex. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star at Rolex. Photo by Jenni Autry.

From Caitlin:

Ideally there would be no lows in this sport, and we would all be able to achieve our desired results at each competition. The reality of it is there are so many of us who work unimaginably hard and deserve nothing less than for things to work out how we dream them up, but often real life has a different plan.

Looking back at my spring season, it has been fairly unimpressive, yet very educational. If things always went the ideal route, we would not learn as much for the better, and for me this season has been about learning and growing for the betterment of myself as a rider and competitor.

This time last year, I had just been around Rolex for the first time on Catch A Star (“Hoku”) and had won the Jersey Fresh CCI2* aboard Remington. This year, I walked off cross country at Rolex, and Remi moved on to the final stage of his retirement to be with owners Ron and Densey Juvonen’s granddaughter, Camilla Grover Dodge. What a difference a year makes.

However, this year has also given me great appreciation for the amazing people present in the sport of eventing — the people we call friends, and the unique way of compassion and true camaraderie in our sport. Eventing is a tough sport, and your “Plan A” schedule doesn’t always workout. After a tumble with Hoku at Plantation Field last year in the unexplainable water jump, it has taken us awhile to get our groove back, as both of our confidence was a bit unsettled, and our partnership suffered as a result.

After Rolex, I sat down and regrouped. I took a look at everything and, in a sense, hit the reset button. I have learned a great deal from all of the horses I have ridden lately while helping Boyd and Silva Martin, and that has also played a roll in helping to re-harness my mental game for the better.

Hoku and I rerouted to Bromont, and after a trip around Derek di Grazia’s impressive CCI3* course, I finally felt that I had my horse back from last year. The lows have taught me a great deal this year, not only about what to do when the going gets tough, but how to regroup and how to be a professional competitor no matter what. Amongst the tragedies in our sport recently, it is important to appreciate all we do and the fact that we are able to make a living working with such incredible animals, no matter whether our day goes as planned or not.

Hoku is now enjoying a much-deserved vacation after the spring season, which was ultimately extended much farther than planned due to our results. After she enjoys some r and r, we will gather ourselves back together and work toward Fair Hill in the fall. I have never ridden Hoku there, and I am very excited to get to do so. In the mean time, I will be rooting Boyd on and assisting he and Silva by riding and competing an exciting variety of other horses.

This spring has taught me that I still have a lot to learn, and I am incredibly grateful that others who have been in my shoes are there to teach me and help me along the way. I also want to thank all the amazing people who cheered me on and supported me this spring. I look forward to appreciating the journey ahead, wherever that may lead, and cheering on Team USA at the World Equestrian Games! No matter the outcome, use it to work toward your future, and the rest will all work itself out along the way. As long as you work hard and stay passionate about becoming a champion, you are learning and growing.

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