We’ve almost come to the end of the 2018 eventing season. The frenzy of jump lessons, dressage practice, gallops and cross country schooling is almost done. So what’s left to do?
For one, you can take off your helmet, comb your hair, and make plans to attend your Area and local association meetings, which usually take place at the end of the year. Most groups need input and welcome any member to attend. Even if you don’t think you will be needed, it’s still fun to enjoy each other’s company, sit down without worrying about leaving a horse in the trailer, and think about the future.
There are still a few more recognized events to be held — Area III has dates right up to December 1 and then the year starts up again in January. Maryland, California and Texas see their last events in mid-November. But for the rest of us, it’s pretty much the end of our official eventing season.
The sad part of this: a fit horse and no place to run! So find a few things to keep you and your Event Horse ticking over.
The indoor schooling shows will begin soon if you are in a northern clime — these are wonderful for brushing up on dressage and jumping. Look around online at your local hunter/jumper circuit or dressage circuit, check through the calendars of your area CTA, dressage association, or Pony Club — chances are schooling shows are listed that might fit in with your plans to keep up your training.
You can take a look at the start of the 2019 eventing calendar online at www.useventing.com/competitions — just scroll down under the 2018 dates and the 2019 events will be listed.
Don’t forget “No-Stirrup November.” If you’re going to improve your riding, schooling without stirrups is a great way to get better. In our area we have a trainer who is offering “No-Stirrup” lesson specials — or get together with friends and practice together.
Fall is traditionally a great time to get out and do paper chases, foxhunting, or trail rides — no bugs, footing is soft, and it’s fun to ride with others. Your horse will enjoy the change in scenery, too, from the pressure of competing. Do you have a friend who keeps asking you to come along on a trail ride or go cubbing (young hound foxhunt)? Now’s the time to do it!
Why not do a deep clean of your tack room? Take a good look at your tack and check over the reins, cheekpieces, and stirrup leathers while you’re at it. Look at all your billets high up underneath the flap, too, and check your girth buckles. Sometimes in the hurry-scurry of the season we miss cracks and worn places, and just a quick check can save you a bad fall if your girth or billet breaks at a crucial moment.
If you’re done for the year, consider sending your coats to the cleaners, and check all your helmets — take off the covers, look over the shells, check the buckles and harnesses. Just a look-over won’t hurt, and if you see anything that concerns you, take it to your local tack shop or helmet sales professional and have it checked out. You just can’t play around with a faulty helmet.
I usually take stock of my jumps, too. I pick up and put away the flowers and blow-away things, like cones, and store most of the dressage arena away. I will keep out the corners, just in case I want to practice figures to get them the correct size, but I anchor them with cement blocks so I don’t have to go over to the neighbor’s to pick them up after the next storm blows through.
Any jumps that need work I pull out of the ring, put in the workshop, and keep for a rainy day to repair or replace. In my climate, I can jump almost all winter, so I don’t remove all of my jumps, but I will stack poles and standards I don’t need in a dry place to keep them from splitting in wet and cold weather.
If you’ve parked your trailer for the winter, it’s a good time to check over the tires, wheels, brakes, hitch, roof, doors and windows. Fix anything needing it, make sure the openings shut tightly to keep out moisture in the winter. Check the spare, too.
If you work out of your trailer’s tack room, now is the time to de-clutter it, throw out all the old envelopes from the season’s events, and vacuum the floor, gooseneck, and corners; remove anything susceptible to moisture or cold, like tack, clothes, grooming equipment or products, and blankets. I usually put some dryer sheets in my trailer tack room to prevent pests, and keep it fresh after I’ve cleaned it. I still use my trailer in the winter but I don’t need to keep quite as much stuff in it when going to lessons or schooling shows, so I don’t close it up or park it.
Hopefully by now you’ve taken advantage of all the pre-season blanket sales and picked up a full wardrobe for every Event Horse in your barn (like my Event Horse — he has more clothes than I do). My local blanket cleaning/repair lady does an incredible job on waterproofing and repairing rips and these additions to the cleaning bill are always a good bargain in my experience — they prolong the life of an expensive turnout blanket and keep your horse from being damp.
I always get right to the point in coat hair growth that I say, “golly, I think it’s gonna take three hours to dry this horse off,” before I finally drag out the clippers. I hope to get to the clipping earlier this year! Some people love clipping, some hate it. Judging by the number of bids I put in on the donated body clips to the fundraising auctions, I’m in the latter category. Really, I don’t hate clipping; clipping hates me. So I compromise with just a hunter clip or bib clip on my hairiest Event Horse if I can’t find the time for a full on body clip.
The end of the season has important tasks, but one of the most important is to take a break from the training and enjoy a quiet fall ride, reconnect with your horses, take the time to think and reflect on the season’s ups and downs.
Keep working, keep trying, keep training with an eye toward the big picture. You might have had some disappointments this year, and maybe some triumphs. Savor the season’s results — all of them — and don’t worry about next season quite yet. There is time. You will get there.