Lower-Level Event Rider Profile

Here at EN, we aim to please our audience.  Ask, and ye shall receive!  The most popular new suggestion from the Census was a segment featuring lower-level event riders.  What a fantastic idea!  And the response has been wonderful.  I am greatly impressed by the questionnaires I’ve received so far– so interesting, thoughtful, and fun.  Our readers rock!!

If you would like to be featured in an upcoming profile, please fill out the Questionnaire and email it to [email protected].  Thanks again to all our participants…there are many profiles to post, and hopefully we will get to yours soon!


Rugby at Blue Waters.jpg
Holly & Rugby at a local dressage show (photo by Paul Johnson)

Name: Holly

Age: 52

Location: Greenwood, Delaware

Primary horse’s name: Rugby

Age, breed, pertinent info:
13yo TB, 16h grey…”Sparkle Pony” when he is clean, braided, and good…
Also The Red Horse (still no name) a young chestnut, and Unbridled Lad

Level currently competing: training level

Short term goals this spring/summer:
Figure out that “release” the reins thing and work on more and more roundness

Year-end goals:
Move Rug up to prelim

Overall goals?
Be the rider my horse needs me to be — to get a few prelims back under my belt — last prelim ride was over 20 years ago. I want to get all of my horses going forward. I need to get them all rounder and extending and collecting upon request!

What’s the best thing you’ve learned recently?
That the contact is the way, the truth, and the light. Horses have to accept it, and live by it and the riders die by it! Soft hands, ready legs, and contact.
Ed. note: Truer words have never been spoken!

Any big epiphany or light-bulb moment?
That contact thing!

What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Dressage, probably, and competitiveness — I usually can get a horse over the obstacle the first time and never give up trying to get there when I can get my leg
on. I had a terrible warmup for stadium at MCTA last year and my trainer was holding her hand over her eyes when I went in the ring, but I managed a double clear and clinched a win — she’s a believer now.

Favorite eventing moment/story?  (can be anything, something you did, felt, witnessed, realized…?)
Oh this is a favorite. Eventing in Oregon many years ago at Kevin Freeman’s farm — they had a water jump that was, well, really a cattle “lounging” (well, think relaxation) area. The bottom of the water jump was, well, bovine excrement. Nice landing for horses, but not so hot for people with boots and breeches on….my ex show jumper knew NOTHING about water, and I finally got him over the log and down into the water, a huge maximum drop. He stuck on the landing and off I went. Got up, got back on, finished the course….had to drive home. Didn’t have any other shoes to wear so had to drive back up to Seattle four hours with the window rolled down and my head stuck out in the wind. I could not get the wet boots off….and breeches that smelled like cow poop…. That smell was in the truck for YEARS. I have pictures some where of this exciting loss of proper vertical order, but thankfully the years have hidden them from all my friends! Ha ha!

Link to blog or website, if applicable:

Ed. note: Holly’s blog is great fun to read, full of lessons for riding and life.  Here’s an excerpt from 2/27/10 entry about riding her new project horse, Unbridled Lad:

He excitedly hopped up and down when I clumsily gave him a canter aid. I can see now he must be saying something like this to himself:

“There she is up there in the saddle again, that fat one. My goodness, why does she kick me. I can feel her leg but it’s nothing like the nice long leg I used to have on my sides. I appreciate the treats and grooming, but lady, you have got to get your s**t together up there. I don’t WANT to bend, or get under myself. That’s for dressage sissies. I am an EVENT horse, you heathen!” So he gave me a little warning about thunking down in the saddle and being clumsy with the leg aid. I will watch out and control it a bit more next time, but until the ring is a bit better I don’t plan on cantering him. I need to set it up a little better so I can have a bit more success.

* * * *

Thanks for the profile, Holly!  Good luck to you and your equine partners this year.  And may you always stay afloat in cow ponds!  If only the inflatable air safety vests were around back then…

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