We are scrolling through our social media, checking the pictures of the team’s horses loading on the vans, getting uniforms, and soon arriving in Rio. If you’ve been through a couple of Olympics, you know that there will be some surprises and some of the same-old, same-old.
We’ll gather around our tablets or computers to get results and maybe TV to see some taped or live action of the equestrian events. We’ll get on social media immediately following the work day to see who is leading dressage, remark on cross-country thrills, or share the link for the live stadium feed. And we’ll have EN open on a browser all the time.
But you know the eventing life goes on. While Rio has the best in the world, we’ve got the very beginners in the sport going around in dressage arenas and little crossrail jump courses all over the country. It’s late in the summer and most kids have been riding and schooling hard towards a summer’s end goal, like the local recognized horse trial, or the last in a series of combined tests at a favorite equestrian showgrounds. The Pony Clubbers are wrapping up a championship gathering and the Young Riders are in Colorado having a life-defining experience, too.
We are looking towards fall events and most of the “big” horses are back in work to get ready for them, professionals starting early in the morning while the heat of the day has yet to rise. The horses are a long way from winter blankets and cold winds; hot and humid defines your riding decisions. Some of us have battled injuries and might just be getting back to riding or working a horse that has been on the shelf. Others are excitedly starting work with young or new horses.
Eventing has a seasonality to it for each level, and late summer is a bit odd because it’s the pinnacle time for Olympic level riders, and also the top of the season for the very lowest level in the sport, the unrecognized and beginning event riders. Both sets have worked all summer to get their horses just right for the August campaigns.
While one is struggling with getting their horse in front of their yet-to-be-educated legs, the other is probably doing the same thing just in Rio and in front of thousands (but with more educated legs!). While one is entering their local combined test, nervously writing down the number of the 2’3″ class instead of the 2′ class, and hoping all the lessons and schooling will show results, the other is also filling out paperwork and hoping all the lessons and schooling will show results, too.
In the same week as the Olympic three-day event, we’re going to have recognized events with levels from Beginner Novice to Advanced, in New York, (Millbrook), Virginia (Hunt Club Farm), Michigan (Cobblestone Farm), Tennessee ( River Glen), and Iowa (Catalpa Corner Charity). And countless unrecognized events like Friends Combined Tests at Fair Hill, starting with Intro CT at two feet and the walk-trot dressage test.
This sport has a span, a clear mandate to inclusion, from top to bottom. From crossrails to Rio, we endeavor to the same process; the schooling and work towards a goal, the hope that we can live up to the challenges. This is one of the attractions of our sport. I will watch the Olympic eventers do their sport, and then I can see future Olympians live, in action from Maryland to California, on the same weekend. How cool is that?