A 40-Day Crash Course in Eventing: Only Three Weeks to Go!

Welcome to A 40-Day Crash Course in Eventing: A Prelim Mom’s Journey to Starter. I would like to invite you to follow along as I attempt to ride in my first … and only event, Jump Start Horse Trials in Lexington, KY. Sit down, pour a glass of wine (enjoy an extra one for me as I have all but given it up) and watch it unfold. Will I make it? Who knows! Should I even be attempting this? Who cares! There are no baby steps to be taken as we are short on time, but my not so trusty steed and I are taking it day by day. Come along for the ride!

September 7, 2017

Today, I talked Erika into meeting me at another nearby farm, Cedar Valley. I had told her I wanted to work on stadium, but once I arrived, I changed my mind. The weather was amazing: crisp and cool. The view from the dressage arena was too nice to pass up. Forget jumping, that’s too stressful on a day like this. Unfortunately, Erika didn’t agree and we headed to the jumping arena.

Em and Loki were also along for the ride. At this point, Em has decided not to compete at Jump Start. This has been a difficult decision for both of us. It was part of my dream that she compete with me, of course not in the same division, but I had imagined us walking horses together, braiding manes and giving pep talks to one another. Fortunately, Em has her priorities straight. She is taking an extremely hard accounting class this semester and couldn’t dedicate the time needed to prepare for the show. She will still be there by my side at Jump Start but studying in the down time.

Back to today’s lesson — I was determined to not have any refusals. With just three weeks to go, I can’t afford to have my confidence shaken. I need to learn from all of my previous mistakes and be consistent by applying what I know. I think Erika may be right — while Romeo is a good boy and basically a school master, he will not take a jump if he doesn’t feel all systems are go. He has confidence issues. That can be a problem because you can’t guarantee he will be a team player or bail you out if you become just a passenger and not a rider. I have to remember this. I can’t let adrenaline and nerves take over. I have to approach each jump as though it is the first.

With that, we were off. Not to sound repetitive but consistency for me is the key; gather your thoughts, one, two, one, two, sit up, kick! Trot poles set, cross rail rails, verticals, trotting between jumps, cantering between jumps, going one direction and then switching (to keep Romeo from assuming), two jumps in a row, three jumps in a row, four jumps in a row and more! More smiles! My stone-faced prelim daughter said to me, “I really should try to smile more.”

Even as Loki galloped and bucked around the arena trying to engage in some horseplay, we managed to compete a seven-jump course. YAY! We can do this Romeo! I know we are going to have some hiccups in the coming weeks but hopefully, we will keep moving forward and arrive at Jump Start with confidence and consistency.


Heels down, eyes up, leg on.

23 days to Jump Start

September 8, 2017

It is done. We are committed. And I got a massage!

Heels down, eyes up, leg on.

22 days to Jump Start

September 9 & 10, 2017

I’ll make these entries short and sweet. Yesterday, we worked on dressage at our farm, and Richard called the test for me. We have progressed enough that I have to stop doing the actual test and work on individual components since Romeo thinks he has it memorized … and he does not. Breaking into the canter before we’re supposed to is not a way I want to gain points.

Today, Em and I walked hills on our horses, and I rode the test once. She seems pretty impressed. Although I have never trained to be an eventer, I have listened to the instruction she has received for over 10 years. The questions I would ask about Em like why can’t you shorten the reins, or what’s up with that leg, or sit back … I’m now seeing how easy it is to be an armchair quarterback. But, I do feel like it has given me a leg up (ha, ha) as to know what I am doing.

I may not have logged many miles in the saddle, but I have certainly logged plenty of mental miles while standing beside my daughter. And my husband … he can read a dressage test! He knows where I am and totally gets what I am supposed to be doing. Supporting Em all of these years is making it possible for me to mark this off of my bucket list. I guess the biggest news I can report this week is that the halter, the one that taunted me, is no longer hanging in our bedroom. It is either on my horse or hanging outside of his stall where it should be. What a ride this has been. Only three weeks to go!

Heels down, eyes up, leg on. 
20 days to Jump Start

Read more on Julie’s blog here