EN received an overwhelming response to Hylofit’s Next Top Amateur Contest, in which we sent out a call for amateur eventers to share the big goals they’ve got their sights set on for this season. In addition to winner Courtenay Tuxhorn, who received a Hylofit System and lifetime membership, Hylofit also selected four finalists who will receive a discount on the hardware and a lifetime membership: Kathy Nolan, Jolie Jantz, Jeffie Chaplin and Mallory Stiver. EN is honored to publish all of their entries, and best of luck to all! Read on to meet finalist Jeffie Chaplin. Go Eventing.
Goals are funny. Sometimes, they motivate us and give us focus. It can be intimidating to say your goals out loud. They can be overwhelming, ambitious, short-term, long-term, detail-oriented or big picture. Goals can be within reach one minute and the next, they can be so, so far away.
Last April, I packed up my OTTB, Ivan Ivan, and headed down to run the training level at Plantation Field. Since I spend winters at home in Massachusetts, I planned to spend a few days in Pennsylvania prepping before the show and that included a cross country school. Ivan was super, feeling like he hadn’t missed a beat. I was pumped and ready to get our last training level out of the way to finally tackle a long-time goal of going preliminary. The goal was within reach!
That afternoon, I went to bring Ivan in from his paddock. He pricked his ears and trotted toward me…bobbing his head at each step. I steeled myself for the worst, and felt down the left front. Normal knee, good; old splint, yup; thickening and heat in the lower portion of his leg, insert expletive here. Thirty minutes later, as the vet slid the ultrasound probe over his leg, I listened to the words “significant tear in the medial branch of his suspensory” and “ten months to a year.” My boy was hurt and the goal was so far away.
Flash forward one year, almost to the day, and Ivan jumped his first cross rail. Throughout my rehab year, I’ve set goals that have nothing to do with competing: “By December, we will be able to trot 20 minutes” and “By mid-April, we’ll jump” but now it’s time to set a competition goal. I’m nervous and excited to be working toward the goal of taking Ivan to the Training 3-day at Waredaca in October. He feels strong, the ultrasound looks good, and he jumped his first small course last week. Ivan and I need Hylofit’s technology because I want to make sure that he is in the very best shape possible to take on the T3D. I want to make sure that I’ve done everything I can to have him strong, confident, and fit. Since he can’t (technically) talk to me, I hope that knowing more of his vitals will help me assess how he is feeling. We have the incredible luck to keep our horses at home, but that means I don’t have my trainer’s watchful eyes on us all the time anymore. It can be hard to trust myself, so data is a resource I’d like to have.
There is another part to this story: the part where I have THE most supportive husband in the universe who went behind my back and talked to my trainer and set up a plan to get me a second horse the literal moment he heard that Ivan needed a year off. Not because he wanted to kick the broken one to the curb or because he thought a new horse would end my sadness, but because he knows how I function and what keeps me going forward in my life. He knows how much I love learning and pushing myself to be better and he knows I need to ride toward a goal. I was very lucky to find Jack, aka Joinem, who complimented what I had learned with Ivan and helped me keep moving forward. This year, our goal is the CCI-2*L at VAHT in November. Jack is a competitor. He was very successful on the track, and he is the type of horse who knows when it’s game time. I’ve never had the privilege to ride a horse who knew how to look for the flags before. He has taught me to commit to the plan, the canter, and the line and trust that he will bring me home safe. I worry about Jack’s fitness for a different reason than I do about Ivan’s. Jack is stoic. Jack loves to work and go and do. Where Ivan is snuggly and a momma’s boy, Jack is sassy and cool. Knowing his baseline data better would help me know when he might be feeling off or uncomfortable more reliably than his behavior does. Again, it’s hard to trust myself.
I grew up in the hunter world where “conditioning” wasn’t a word I heard in the barn. I’ve been eventing seriously for about 8 years now and I still second guess myself on every conditioning plan I make and stare at my horses like a lunatic to see how long until they’re breathing normally after a conditioning day. I’m not saying that Hylofit will cure my obsessive take on my horses’ wellness. It will probably have the opposite effect actually, but to me, it is about the safety and quality of life for my boys. It’s about doing all I can to make sure that we are all ready to tackle our goals this year and beyond.
Click here to read more about how using Hylofit can up your fitness game. Want to learn more about using a heart-rate monitor? EN has a handy guide here. You can also sign up here to receive updates and tips from Hylofit on how to make the most of your conditioning and training work at any level. Go Amateurs. Go Eventing.