Success in Its Different Forms

Jhett and Finnleigh at Training level at The Event at Skyline.

Today is October 25, 2019. The last public update I made came in July 2017, after Street’s debut event. The season that followed was filled with the highs and lows that come in the sport. Street and I completed two more Beginner Novices, one with a great finish and one with our first elimination. The last event we competed at that season was our first Novice, where we got a completion finishing on a score of 102.7, and that was decidedly the best weekend I had yet to experience. I think every event rider has felt that kind of success, one where the score board shows something quite dreadful, but the smiles could not be better. We left the season feeling confident and excited about his future.

The winter that followed was as normal as any we had experienced, that was until April of 2018. Following a week of training over our spring break, Street had a significant attitude change. The only way I can really describe it is nearly unrideable. Every other stride or step was a buck or kick out and overall unhappy. We cracked it up to soreness after a hard weeks worth of work and decided to reevaluate after a day or two off. As you might expect, there were no improvements.

After weeks and vet visits and tears and discouragement, we started street on Omeprozole/Rantinide to treat Ulcers. A week after his treatment began, we went to Ogden, Utah for our first cross country school. It was, as you may expect, rough. And for the first time in our relationship, I was scared of him. He was unhappy doing his job, bucking harder than I had ever felt and had ultimately scared me into submission. We got through the weekend, we schooled the majority of the novice course and we decided I was going to have to out my big girl pants on and face the coming weekend for our first show of the season.

The following weekend we traveled to Mt. Pleasant, Utah for the Spring Event at Skyline. Our flat school on Thursday night was obedient, with only minimal protests. Friday morning Street did what he does best and laid down a beautiful dressage test. He felt relaxed and happy in the ring and just like my boy.

I was nervous for cross country the next day, but I thought our dressage ride would help us out. Saturday we left the box and, to be blunt, it was a train wreck. We ran sideways at the first two fences and parted ways before we even made it to third. That day remains in my head as one of the darkest in my life. My confidence was shot, my heart broken, and my relationship with my best friend was in shambles. A few conversations with my trainer and trusted friends, and possibly a million tears, later it was decided that Street was going to have some time off. The amount of time not certain but it needed to be a considerable amount. So it was decided that we would spend our summer apart.

This decision terrified me. I was not ready to have a summer off and I was devastated at the idea of not riding my beloved street for months. Thankfully, I am blessed with gracious, amazing people in my life such as Allison Merritt who shared her sweet Harley aka Perdenales Cat with me for the summer of 2018. Harley gave me an immense amount of confidence I had never experienced in my riding and even lead me to my first win at a horse trials.

I am forever grateful for what he did for my riding, and so lucky that I got to share 5 months of loving him. October showed up and there was a massive change in Street. The ulcer medication and our work with our friend and mentor Bill Turner through the summer had given me a completely different horse in the fall. He was up nearly 200 pounds, he was relaxed, he was happy. His feet looked good, he felt good, and it was time for us to get back to work. We had been hacking here and there through the summer, but nothing serious. Street came back into work better than ever. He has always been lovely on the flat and now he was even better.

We spent the next seven months becoming the closest thing to dressage queens as we could. As I do believe that I was made to be an event rider, I have absolutely loved getting to dance with my boy lately. He has taught me so much and made me so much better on the flat. And it is quite fun as well.

Jhett and Street after a schooling dressage show.

December 9, 2018 was the first time I jumped Street again and GUESS WHAT? It freaking rocked. I think I smiled the biggest I ever had that day. We did a few more jump lessons through the winter and enjoyed each other, but we mainly focused on the flat work. The spring showed up and the event season was picking back up again for me, this time with Finnleigh, a 10 year old Connemara cross who I started riding in September of 2018 as a sales pony.

My adoration for Finn grew as our time together did and in May of 2019 he became mine with the help of Betsey Gieck and Barb Trompeter. As my confidence and love grew for Finn so did my appreciation for Street. Before I rode Street, and Harley consequently. I would have been overly intimidated by Finn. But because of how much I have been taught by them Finn and I were able to form a beautiful relationship and had a dream worthy summer of 8 top five finishes and both of our first (FINALLY!) training level event. Though I was overly thrilled and so grateful to finally cross training level off my bucket list, it was a tad bitter sweet.

Though there is no other horse I would want to be sitting on at an event than Finnleigh, I have always believed that street would be the horse to take me around my first training level. But, that is not that path that was in store for us. It is hard to be flexible with your goals and what feels like a victory, but being able to roll with the punches is what makes this sport so rewarding.

In the past month Street and I have had a handful of oh so rewarding jump schools that seriously make me giddy with excitement. I do not know what our future holds. I have no idea what our next chapter will be or what sport he wants to do. I do not know if we will ever get on another cross country but what I do know is that I am thankful for everyday I get to throw my leg over him, and every horse for that matter. These small victories with him feel as powerful as the big ones I was able to experience with my sweet Finn this summer and that is what makes this sport so amazing!

In conclusion, I am grateful for all the struggles that have been thrown in our path. They make us a little tougher and more appreciative for when it all comes together. I have been hesitant in sharing our journey since it has seemed so rocky recently, but I think it is important in order to show how small victories can fill your heart.

Success comes in all shaped and sizes in this world and especially in this sport, so it is important to cheer your friends, or strangers, on daily. I cannot thank my team of supporters behind me enough for the encouragement and believe in me and everyone who has trusted me with their sweet horses in the past two years THANK YOU! You have given me more knowledge and confidence than you know. And to everyone who reads this and the ones that came before it, kick on and be brave! There is a reason for every bump in the road. Go Eventing!