Inspiration was a big theme of one particular weekend in September. The pope’s visit to the United States, stopping in Washington, D.C., New York, and his final days in Philadelphia were wall-to-wall on television and social media. Hard to miss. Listening to him speak to his audiences several times, you can see the reason he’s revered. His messages are succinct and his actions are kind and emotional for many. He’s got peace down pat. What’s that got to do with eventing? Keep reading.
Next, service. Giving to the sport. This was in abundant evidence at Plantation Field Horse Trials last weekend. While there were many wonderful performances by very fancy horses and great riders, there were also huge numbers of volunteers who turned out to work and help buoy the event up. There many small tasks, often menial, often dirty, boring, time consuming or tiring, done by many people who don’t expect compensation beyond a fun time and a smile or two.
The more who offer time and come to help, the bigger this event becomes for the neighborhood and for the sport. It’s really inspiring to me to see the very successful way Melissa McMaster has developed her volunteer database and helped Katie Walker build this event to its potential.
And another source of inspiration is my horses. Riding as an amateur in this sport, there are different levels of competency for all of us to observe and practice. Some amateurs are riding at a very high level, others like many of us, a bit lower but we love our horses and care for them as intensely and with as much passion as any four star rider.
The more that we all come to realize that fact, the more understanding we ALL in this sport can come to, the more peace and kindness we show to our animals and to one another, the better the sport will become. Now if I can just ride a little bit better on the red horse!
Thank goodness for the patience and experience of my coach, Tim Bourke. Yet, another source of inspiration — a young man who is riding at a very high level, and who just completed Burghley, and stood out in a ring and taught us all afternoon in a small part of the country with hardly any eventing and had a three-hour drive home.
We have a sport under stress. We know that to carry it forward, to any equine sport requiring outdoor space and competition, into the coming century, we are totally relying upon people who are very, very inspired. These folks, such as organizers, or landowners, or great competitors, know the stresses the sport is under.
We discuss and chat about these stresses on social media and many of us have what seem to be solutions — although we aren’t organizers and don’t deal with current day, real-life problems of land use, public safety and financial support. Some people spiral the public conversation about our sport down a negative and unconstructive black hole, almost like a hobby.
Is this inspiring? What does it build? When you take a look at the whole, it’s not very much fun to read stuff about how horrified everyone is all the time at every little thing that happens at an event. Are you tired of that negativity? What can we do? We have to recognize that our opinions matter, and our support matters and the folks that put on events draw from YOU their inspiration to go forward and keep producing events.
Do we want to make a difference? Do we want to steer the sport a certain way? Then do this: get our of your Fiat. Like Pope Francis. Walk with folks, talk with folks in person. Break bread together. Shake hands. Speak to one another not online but in person. Get your boots out on a course walk. Sit next to the dressage arena and be a warmup steward. Be a jump judge and give yourself a free lesson. Trade inspiration to keep eventing healthy.
Social media is only a PART of the eventing conversation! Be inspired to ride better, to volunteer, to support, to speak with inspiration to others. Find the good and enjoy the results as we all lift one another to keep this sport growing.