There are a few things eventers should have under their belts. Experiences that shape you, make you, test you and confirm you really want to do this sport. Here are a few — how many notches do you have in YOUR eventing belt? Add a few more from the list in 2019!
1. The number of horses and riders you should sit and watch jump the same cross country fence: 100. We call this being a Jump Judge, and you do it when you volunteer at an event. I don’t think anyone can call themselves an eventer until they have performed this rite of passage. And 100 is a minimum.
2. The number of sunburns you will get in your lifetime while doing Number 1: four.
3. Audit an entire clinic with an Olympic rider in a hurricane, heat wave, snow storm or flood. There is something about nasty weather that makes toughing out an educational event beyond crazy to truly insane. As soon as it is clear we are ALL pretty much all insane, the experience will change you.
4. Compete in pouring rain. If you’ve done it you know what I mean. If you haven’t, and you stick with this sport, you will.
5. Lose badly … by doing something dumb. If you’ve done it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, and you stick with this sport, you will.
6. Win something. No matter whether it’s small, or large. An eventing win is like nothing else in sport. It’s a terrific high because so many horrific lows push you down. Savor these like the notable life experiences they are.
7. Experience maddening frustration. Lost shoes. Lameness. Forgetting your course. Missing a cross-country fence. Forgetting something. Not speaking up when something is wrong. Maxing out a credit card for fuel to get home and not having any money for food.
8. Find two lucky packages of stale crackers in the truck console to eat when you have no money, are starving and have a long drive home from an event.
9. Riding alone, keeping the faith, eye on the prize, feeling sore or tired or alone and unmotivated — yet tacking up anyway. Every day.
10. Using duct tape for everything.
11. Using haystring for everything else.
12. Loving your horse more than anything and doing everything for them you can think of. Including buying new tack and horse blankets when your boots have holes in them.
13. Watching every big event online from the first horse to the last.
14. Going to Rolex every year. And not being able to say, “Kentucky.”
15. Being the best horseman in the room.
16. Being the most humble rider in the lesson.
17. Being the hardest worker in the barn.
18. Paying attention, reading the rule book, respecting officials and making it a habit to be polite and friendly to everyone at every event you attend, riding or not.
19. Understand the horse as a partner, and be able to sell them on when they don’t have fun doing eventing.
20. Make a young horse.
21. Keep an old horse going well.
22. Provide leadership to a young rider.
What’s on your list? Share your experiences! What do you think makes an eventer?