We thank the founders of our sport who had a vision and never stopped dreaming that Americans could do this sport, against most of what the rest of the world thought.
We thank the first competitors, many who came to fill rather than compete, but left the sport healthy and in a good place for future riders. We thank the competitors today who enter, ride and support the events, who enjoy the ride, who never complain, who take what they get, who keep the horses foremost, who come prepared, gain experience, learn what it’s all about, share with others, create a community of fine horsemanship, care for fellow competitors, own mistakes, who win graciously and lose with dignity.
We thank the horses who stuck with us. We thank the great horses who represented us at the sport’s highest levels. We thank the teaching horses and the green horses and the good soldiers who carried us and listened to our commands and galloped down to the coffin complex with ears pricked. They keep us grounded and help us fly.
We thank the owners, the sponsors, and the supporters. Most of these folks don’t get to enjoy the incredible feeling of riding a cross-country horse, but they live it through their riders, and never get enough thanks for their help and attention. They bring it when it is needed the most and help everyone in the sport have a sport to go to. Thanks is never enough for all they do.
We thank the caretakers and grooms, the groundmen, the coaches, the parents, working students, friends, driving buddies, and the folks at home who have none of the glory but do a lot of the support work, live on social media to see how things are going, support and encourage, pick up the pieces when things don’t go well. You deserve thanks for just being there, let alone for all the other work you do to help eventing go.
We thank the officials who stood by and watched all of us and adhered to fairness, who kept the rule book and fought for the changes to make the sport better. We thank you for long hours trying to do the right thing, away from family and business, to see the sport survive and thrive.
We thank the organizers whose courage, ability, strength, fortitude, and pocket book never ends, who do it solely for the satisfaction and glory, because Lord knows there isn’t much else to do it for. And the folks they pay to professionally build courses, groom the grounds, fix and build and paint, who work long hours doing heavy physical labor and never get to see the competition or enjoy the great view of a grand jumping horse with a good rider tackling a cross-country course.
And we thank the volunteers. The grease on the wheel, the fourth leg of the chair, one of the most important parts of the competition, who do it for nothing yet gain so much that they come back, year after year, for love and only love of the sport. They smile and wish you good luck and mean it, they love the fun of a long, cold day standing in the mud or a long, hot day in the sun, and the sport is the better for their love and care. At the end of the day, the volunteer hands you the ribbon you’ve won, and receives these two words in return: “Thank you.”