10 Things Eventers Shouldn’t Have to Justify

“The Mane Event,” by Lindsey Kahn. All rights reserved.

After reading Brianna Wiest’s pertinent and powerful “18 Things Women Shouldn’t Have to Justify,” I was inspired to compile a similar list for eventers, by eventers. I asked some friends, and here is an abridged (and by no means complete) list of things that we are often pressured to explain or apologize for.

1. Our breeds of choice.

Whether you’re a breed purist or couldn’t care less about your horse’s pedigree, equestrians often give and receive flak over horse breeds. I’m by no means faithful to a single type, but I’ve often felt the need to explain why I bought my horses and what I’m “planning to use them for.” My answer? Whatever I want. My Morgan gelding (who, I might add, is 14.3 hands and is built like a brick house) does dressage and jumps, and he’s also a reliable mount for western, trails, you name it. If you and your horse are fit for the job and can train for it, you should never be discouraged by the judgment of others.

2. Riding in the lower levels.

I’ve noticed that there seems to be an unspoken rule that a rider’s level determines his or her success. While this is understandable as far as setting goals and working toward improving one’s athleticism and skill, it can also lead to a sense of impatience or even shame among riders at the lower levels. I’ve heard people say things like: “This is just my Beginner Novice horse,” or “My doctor said I should take it easy, which is why I’m only trotting for now.” Ride at the level at which you’re comfortable and capable, and remember that there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics.

3. Riding in the upper levels.

You and your horse have worked hard, forged a tight connection, practiced for countless hours and have achieved greatness. Congratulations! Whether you and your horse have worked your way up from square one or you purchased a tried-and-true horse to give you experience in the upper levels, you deserve this challenge and opportunity to show the world what you two are made of.

4. Buying a horse.

Horses are a living, breathing investment, and let’s face it: Some are more expensive than others. It’s never advisable to drop a year’s salary on a horse with chronic lameness or a severe personality problem; there are plenty of resources — from trainers and vets to good old common sense — that can help you during the buying process. However, the purchase of your next athletic partner is ultimately your decision alone and one that you have every right to be proud of.

5. Selling a horse.

So it’s time for you and your athletic partner to part ways. Maybe there’s a health issue, the two of you don’t click or it’s just time to move on. Maybe you can’t afford a horse right now. Regardless of the reasons, the decision to sell a horse can be a tough one. Be candid and honest with prospective buyers, and keep in mind that you have every right to sell or not sell your horse to someone. After all, you want your horse to have a good home, whether or not it’s with you. Be selective.

6. Moving your horse to another barn.

Need a more convenient location? How about different amenities, lower board, different training options, getting away from unsavory riding or social conditions, or simply needing a change of scenery? If another place is a better fit for you and your horse, go for it. Again, your horse, your decision.

7. Playing it safe.

Whether you and your horse are coming back from some time off or you’re riding on iffy footing, there is nothing wrong with taking things easy. It is very often better to be safe than sorry.

8. Taking risks.

On the flip side, progress and experience can’t be gained without pushing oneself. Maybe it’s time to tackle that ditch or begin training for that next level.

9. Expressing yourself.

So you put a hot pink saddle pad and boots on your gelding, and a tiny voice in the back of your mind whispers that the bedazzled browband and helmet covers are taking things too far. Screw that! Wear it with pride because I can guarantee that your horse doesn’t care.

10. Being an eventer.

This is what we love, and this is why we endure all the blood, sweat and tears. We’re in it for the whole, big, crazy package, and we know that it takes a special kind of drive and moxie — and yes, more than a little insanity — to tackle the three phases. If something brings you joy and doesn’t harm others, don’t apologize for loving it. Go Eventing.

For more of Lindsey Kahn’s art and writing, visit her website or Facebook page.

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