How To Survive Your First Long Format Event

Michael Willham is a member of the Otterbein University Eventing Team in Ohio. You may have read an article he submitted a while ago about his adventures down in Aiken this Spring. Now he’s back to finish off the season with another article, albeit with a humorous twist!

Michael Willham and Fernhill Cayenne. Photo by Renea Willham.

Michael Willham and Fernhill Cayenne. Photo by Renea Willham.

My season with my new horse, Fernhill Cayenne, has gone fantastic. We had solid performances at Training all year round and I am hoping to move up to the big “P” word sometime next year.

I am here to bring you my tips and tricks for competing in your very first Training 3-Day Long Format. I competed at the Hagyard Midsouth Training Three-Day Event this October and ended up finishing my season with a win.

For those of you with a sense of humor, here are my dos and don’ts for tackling the long format. Yes, all of these things did actually happen to me! It certainly was an interesting week.

Celebrating the win! Photo by Renea Willham.

Celebrating the win! Photo by Renea Willham.

Don’t: Look like a sissy running in your first jog.
Do: Remember to run like a normal person for your second jog.

Don’t: Forget to halt at the beginning of your dressage test.
Do: Laugh at yourself for doing so.

Don’t: Fall off three minutes into Phase A.
Do: Run your butt off to catch your horse, get back on and gallop the rest of the way to make time.

Don’t: Let your fall cloud your judgment for the rest of the three phases.
Do: Be happy that it doesn’t mean elimination and kick on!

Don’t: Get tired halfway through the final phase (cross country).
Do: Dig deep and ignore the pain and numbness in your arms and legs.

Don’t: Underestimate the level of fitness required for a three-day.
Do: Make your horse fit enough to gallop all of Phase A and still have enough energy for the other three phases.

Don’t: Forget your dress socks for the jog at home.
Do: Be innovative and put your boot socks on to coordinate the right color.

Don’t: Let your nerves get to you as you are sitting in first going into show jumping.
Do: Be one of nine people out of 35 to go double clear and clinch the win!

Do: Reflect on the craziness of the three-day, be surprised and proud of your horse that you actually made it through!