Eventing Shorts: How to NOT Get Eaten by a Panther in Eventing

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

If you can’t be an example … be a warning. Chances are your trainer has made (thousands) of mistakes … and you can learn from him or her without having to go through the agony of doing it wrong yourself. They’ve been “eaten by a panther” in eventing, and can spare you the same feat.

My husband gave me the most wonderfully ridiculous pep talk, after I made a huge mistake at a three-day event. I was “eaten by panther,” he said. ”But the positive side is that people will learn from you, your students will learn from you, so it won’t be in vain.”

My husband runs the Emergency Operations Center for our state, so he’s full of wisdom to encourage people and get them to rise to the occasion in the face of fear and challenges.

“Thousands of years ago,”he begins, “as a rite of passage young hunters used to go into the jungle with sharpened sticks to hunt panthers.”

*I roll my eyes* This ought to be good … as I’ve just thrown away a solid 7th place finish at Open Training level by making a detrimental mistake in stadium.

“Let’s call this hunter Bob.”

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t named Bob.

“Bob would find a panther, and when it leapt into the air to attack, the young hunter would hold the sharpened end of the stake straight up. As the panther pounced onto the stake, Bob stuck the other end into the ground to snare his prize. But do you know what happened?”

*I groan, being forced into engaging with this ridiculousness.*

“No,” I croak, between tears.

Amy’s husband, Darryl Dragoo. Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

“The panther would land on the stake, only to slide down, still snarling and clawing, and eat Bob in its final moments of life! Bob’s family got a nice panther pelt, but he had perished.”

I’m pretty sure he made this up.

“The point?” I struggled.

“The point is … every hunter AFTER Bob, who saw what happened to Bob, put barbs on the end of their stakes. So the panther wouldn’t slide down. And wouldn’t eat them.”

He continued, “Every rider out there LEARNED something from you today. You got eaten by the panther. Today, you were Bob. But no one will make that mistake again.”

If you can’t be the example, be the warning. Watch others, as many as you can, and learn something! Take lessons. Because at some point, your trainer, let’s call him Bob, has been eaten by a panther.

Learn from Bob.

3..2..1. Have a good ride.

Amy Nelson has been riding hunter/jumpers and eventers for 25 years and is based in Rochester, IL.  She retrains OTTBs, problem horses, and trains eventers at her own show barn, Hummingbird Stables.  She competes with OTTBs in upper level eventing, has qualified for the AECs at many levels, and has competed in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover.  Her goals are to compete at the one-star level this year, and eventually four-star. You can follow Amy on Facebook here and on Instagram at @amynelsoneventer. Check out more of her “Eventing Shorts” on EN’s Blogger’s Row