The Expecting Eventer: Showing While Showing

“No two words can bring so much fear, joy, anxiety and excitement as hearing ‘You’re pregnant.’ But for horse girls, and eventers in particular, this phrase can leave your world spinning.” When Area VIII eventer and Transition Sport Horses young professional Lindsay Gilbert found out she was pregnant, she wasn’t sure what that was going to mean for her career — a transition, indeed. She’s been blogging her way through it for EN — see part 1 here.

Being a young professional trying to make a name for myself in the horse capital of the country, seeing those two pink lines completely turned my world upside down. What I thought was never in the cards, or years down the road (you know, once I was an established adult), quickly became my new reality.

My biggest fear was being told I couldn’t ride during my pregnancy and having to put all of my goals on the back-burner, walking away from everything I had worked so hard to establish. But when my saint of a doctor gave me her blessing and my equally saint-like husband just told me to be careful and not ride anything too crazy, I adjusted my goals and set my sights on the dressage ring. I mean, you win in the dressage anyway — right?

So, I entered one more baby event at MayDaze to try to quench my eventing thirst for the season. I took home my pretty brown ribbon, told the baby in my belly that she had officially become an eventer at 13 weeks and reluctantly put away my jump saddle. I told myself we would work hard at fancy prancing over the course of the next six months and come out swinging next season.

© Xpress Foto 920-619-8765

Photo by Xpress Foto.

But, doing dressage is a lot like eating your peas. You know it’s good for you, you know it will help you grow, yet it’s still tough to do it — especially when all of your friends are having fun, drinking wine and eating potato chips. The least I could do was put some butter on my peas, so I decided to venture off property and show a little bit. I told myself that a couple little dressage schooling shows would make me feel accomplished, help keep me on track and make the peas taste oh so much better.

But what I failed to realized that showing at six months pregnant meant that I was showing in more way than one! Finding show-worthy breeches that actually fit was a task, and fitting into my jacket was never going to happen. Sorry judges, a casual appearance was going to have to do!

Then there were the constant stares of people wondering what the heck I was doing. And by show number #2, I was instantly recognized by passerbys — I’m sure the only pregnant competitor is hard to forget! And though three phases used to be easy, just one test now left me exhausted and ready to call it a day.

The bump making its appearance! Photo courtesy of Lindsay Gilbert.

But for all the inconveniences that come with showing while showing, it’s easy to see why the eventing (and dressage) community is so wonderful! The show staff and other competitors made me feel right at home and as welcome as always. The judges were generous with their scores and turned a seemingly blind eye to the fact that my balance and position are obviously not what they were before. But best of all, I was able to walk away feeling like I had accomplished something this season and with homework that will keep the fire lit until I can step onto the cross country course again!

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