‘Never Look Down in the Port-a-Potty’ and Other Eventing Rules to Live By

The official rulebook is important, but there are a few aspects of eventing you’ve just got to learn on your own. Here are a few unwritten, unspoken lessons I’ve learned, a few of them the hard way:

• Before you put your horse on the trailer, especially if you’re heading to a faraway event, take a moment to jog him and check his shoes.

• Know how to change a flat.

• Make copies of important paperwork and keep them in a binder in your truck.

• Get to know the people stabled next to you. It’s a great way of making connections and friends.

• Make checklists — ESPECIALLY if you’re not a checklist-type person.

• If you think you need an hour to get ready, give yourself an hour and a half.

• A smile at the judge might not help, but it can’t hurt!

• Be nice to the show secretary and officials. They don’t get paid enough.

• Thank every volunteer you see. Without them, there would be no eventing. If you have a few spare hours between rides, volunteer yourself.

• Expect the best but ALWAYS have a backup plan.

• Try not to get eliminated for something dumb, like forgetting your spurs in the Intermediate test or cruising past a jump.

• Dump your manure at the back of the manure heap. Don’t be “that person.”

• Never use new products or equipment for the first time at an event. It can be tempting, I know. DON’T.

• If the course looks big, walk it again. Defying all laws of physics, jumps grow smaller with each successive course walk.

• If after several course walks the course still looks big, grab a go-cup of wine from the competitor’s party and give it one more try.

• Have a start box ritual, whether it’s visualization, a prayer, a mantra or just a deep breath.

• When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with sitting up and closing your leg.

• Unhook your vest before dismounting!

• Call your mom/significant other/etc. after cross country. They worry.

• When you have a bad day, don’t act like it’s the end of the world. Because it’s not.

• When you have a good day, remember that you didn’t get there alone.

• If you feel like dancing at the competitors’ party, you ought to.

• SERIOUSLY, THANK EVERY VOLUNTEER YOU SEE.

• And whatever you do, never ever look down in the Port-a-Potty!

What would you add to the list? Leave your “rules” in the comments section below.

Go Eventing!

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