A 40-Day Crash Course in Eventing: We Are Going to Have Fun … Right?

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!

We are going to have fun … right?

Tuesday, August 22

I asked my trainer Erika to meet me at Merry Hour (a local farm) to ride in their indoor arena. I wanted the walls for security and stability. Cantering without screaming — that was my goal.

Flashback to my first lesson on Romeo in the spring:

Erika: Pick up your left lead canter.

I trot by with a confused look on my face. Our eyes meet.

Erika: You do know how to canter, right?

Me: Well duh … I know that when we go over a jump, he canters out of it and I don’t fall off.

Erika: My apologies. I thought you were walk, trot, canter.

Me: I am! I just don’t know how to do it on purpose.

Back to tonight’s lesson. Romeo was a good boy. I learned how to canter: on purpose. My biggest take away: squeezing my thighs makes him slow down. How counterintuitive? I would have thought squeezing would send him forward. Erika tried to explain the physics of it: energy from behind in canter, rounded back, squeezing breaks energy…. Squeeze thighs to slow down. Got it. Good to know.

The lesson ended with only one scream that I quickly squelched. I am officially W,T,C.

Romeo’s mane is pulled but I don’t quite feel like I am ready to wear a team shirt.

Heels down, eyes up, leg on.

39 days to Jump Start

Wednesday, August 23

I awoke and started my day. Dang. My shoulders … my back. Where did that bruise come from? Where’s the TylenolArg. I headed down to the barn. Today, we were on our own. We practiced dressage in our front field. When I say we practiced dressage, I mean we stayed in the boundaries, trotted and cantered around in circlesDid you read that correctly? We cantered … on purpose … with purpose. I was pretty proud of myself.

I squeezed and he trotted. See, I can take instruction. This is going to be a breeze! My mind wandered. I should really print off the intro test so we can practice. I need to call the vet and discuss injections, call the farrier and tell him about this madness (Romeo had just grown enough foot to put a nail in it), need to go to the chiropractor, check registration deadlines, sign up for CDCTS schooling show and clean this bit. Ride done.

Inspired by my superb downward transitions, it was time to see the actual dressage test. To my great disappointment, the USEA website said Jump Start uses Beginner Novice, test B. Beginner Novice? That can’t be right. Could that be a typo? It should be an intro test. I printed them both. That evening, with cardboard boxes and a sharpie, I made dressage letters for our makeshift dressage arena. Nicole was meeting me in the a.m. to help position them and read the test to me.

Day two of official event training was non-eventful but I had a new list! Where’s that Tylenol?

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

Thursday, August 24

Nicole and I were in the front field by 10 a.m. The letters were placed.We opted for the intro test. Beginner Novice had to be a mistake. We ran through the test a few times. She had to trot the 20-meter circle on foot before I completely understood where I was supposed to be going. I’m sure drivers-by raised an eyebrow at our antics. In the meantime, Emily was reaching out to the show secretary and friends on Facebook to clarify which test was to be used. Late in the afternoon, it was confirmed: Beginner Novice B. Damn it.

Heels down, eyes up, leg on.
37 days to Jumps Start

Saturday, August 26

Romeo got yesterday and today off as we have two jumping lessons on the horizon. In the meantime, Emily drew the test for me. What the hell? The drawing was a mess. How can anyone remember all of this? I swallowed hard. We decided to drive the test on the four-wheeler.  Emily was not amused as I tweaked the gas to imitate a trot and gunned it (almost repelling her off the back) for the canter parts. Where’s your sense of humor? Heavy sigh. This is going to be more complicated than I thought.

Romeo watched from the safety of his run-in shed. Don’t worry Buddy. We are going to have fun…right?

Heels down, eyes up, leg on.

36 days to Jump Start

Read more on Julie’s blog here