As I’ve said several times, in the grand scheme of things I’m relatively new to eventing. I have been showing recognized for less then a year at this point. This past year has been filled with many experiences that when I started this journey I would not have expected.
This past week, I finally received my disk of photos of Serendipity (aka Beans) and I at Paradise Farm Horse Trials. I anxiously opened the disk drive on my laptop to load the photos. To my surprise was the disk from my first recognized horse trials at Surefire was still in the drive (the term CD ROM seems so 90s).
At this point, you can easily guess I loaded the new and old photos for a very clear look at what has changed in the past year. To my amazement it looks like a different horse and rider. I don’t feel like that much has changed between June 2014 and February 2015, but it seems we have made leaps and bounds.
In fact last week in my lesson with Kristin Bachman, we had been discussing the progress Serendipity and I have made. The progress is to the point we are discussing our Prelim debut. It feels amazing to hear from your trainer that she believes you are ready to make that leap from Training to Prelim.
But to really appreciate where you are headed you need to take a glance back and see where you have been.
In June of 2014, I competed in my first recognized horse trials at Surefire Farm. Nerves were in full effect as I mounted and warmed up for dressage. Now, being around upper lever and international equestrians is nothing new to me but when you warming up next to the likes of Phillip, Kim, Sally, and Marilyn for the first time, it’s a bit unnerving.
We had an okay dressage test for a 40.5. The ride made it evident Beans needed more experience around the scary white chain and trucks with people in them. Stadium had me slightly nervous due to a day and a half of jump rounds on a rain soaked grass ring. Not to mention the rails well falling left and right.
With two rails down I proceeded to cross country, which today I still feel totally confident with. It’s simple to me, it makes sense in my head. Seeing the lines and the strides comes second nature. We rocked the course almost getting speed faults. And not because we were out of control but because Beans was laughing at everything.
We ended the day finishing sixth out of 14 entered. I knew right then that Beans and I had started a long journey together doing something we both loved and trusted each other in.
Last month I wrote a blog about my first time going to Aiken. In that blog, I went through my entire journey from Maryland to Aiken and back — discussing what there is to do in Aiken, the facilities, the people, and even the food. What I failed to portray was this: I have taken my eventing career so seriously that I drove nine hours for a single horse trials.
When you step back and look at it that way, it paints a whole new picture. Yes, Aiken is a wonderful winter eventing oasis, but its not a cheep venture to take off work, travel 500 plus miles, show, and traverse back home all in one weekend. Going to Aiken with goals in mind brought to light my passion and drive for success in this sport.
Last June, Aiken hadn’t crossed my mind, and right before my next horse trials at CDCTA next weekend I’m already planning the rest of my summer, fall and Aiken next winter. But I digress. The photos from Paradise really do bring to light the changes Beans and I have made. The undeniable progress was picked out of thin air and presented to me in photo form.
Seeing these changes mixed with a plan for the future really settles me into the thought of prelim and possibly my first 1* by the end of 2015. Which when I stop to really think about it now brings back those butterflies I had before going to my first event last June. Oh how this feeling in my gut gets me giddy and questioning all at the same time.
But this time I know Beans and I will be more then ready for the challenge ahead. We will get our final NQR at Training level and move up sometime this summer. I will get myself mentally ready for what is next and execute with extreme prejudice. In a year from now I will look back again to this point with pride and astonishment on how far we have come.
Lastly I know I want to thank all of those that have taken part in my journey this past year. All of the following have done more for my riding then I can even imagine. Nicki Carson (wife and built in dressage trainer), Kristin Bachman (jump trainer), Britta Johnston (dressage trainer), Heath Ryan, Eric Smiley, and Boyd Martin, the one’s who have been there, done that, and believe I have the ability to do it as well.
Side note: Yes I did get yelled at several times by a multitude of people including all my trainers for my actions taken in the featured image.