The Seasons of Eventing

Sometimes, you have to settle for the fun of watching them exercise themselves!

Sometimes, you have to settle for the fun of watching them exercise themselves!

If you’re a 60’s child (or a Bible scholar) you definitely know this phrase: “To everything, there is a season … turn, turn, turn” —number one hit by The Byrds. A season is a time of year that is marked by changes in the weather due to the earth’s rotation with the sun and moon — it’s all scientific, environmental stuff, including that groundhog checking out the day’s activities on Feb. 2nd. (By the way, he says spring is coming this year.)

So here’s the eventing seasonal changes: Clinic – Aiken/Ocala – Compete – Convention.

Clinic: Winter. Indoors, cold, lots of layers, lots of gymnastics and weather-watching, digging out the trailer to get to the clinic, lots of riding in the dark, body clipping, quarter sheets, expensive thermal fabric breeches, Christmas gifts that have a lot to do with staying warm, ice, frozen footing, not much outdoor riding, inside jumping, and more time off riding than you really want to give.

This is also the time we comb the web for clinic information and get brave, push the send button, and ask for information about riding with the double gold Olympic medalist from a foreign country who is known for setting the jumps at 5 feet for Beginner Novice riders.

Aiken/Ocala: This is also winter. It is fine for those of you who actually get to be there. For the vast majority of the rest of the world, we get to see what you are doing from social media posts, contain our jealousy, and wait for revenge when you all come back in the spring. You guys get much warmer days most of the time and can ride all the time. And eat Mexican food all the time. We stay home and work and pay bills and wait … yeah, that revenge thing …

Compete: This is the longest and most enjoyable time of the year and stretches for some from February all the way to November. I think most of us lower level riders consider April our first sortie to the competition world and then from there we go through the spring and summer and into early fall trying to use what we learned over the clinic season to keep us progressing. Others start even earlier.

This is also the season of playing tag with your coach and trainer, squeezing lessons in while their horse trailer is parked at the barn, being re-packed for the next weekend by the working student horde. It’s a hopscotch of lesson-school-compete, lesson-school-compete. Inevitably all the planning done in January will have a completely different look by September, but it’s fun to look up all the dates and put them all down anyway.

Convention: This is the deep fall after all the ribbons are packed away and you have time to find your makeup and get your hair done. This is where we basically talk to each other without helmets on or being on the back of a horse. We reset for the next year and see where we’ve been (year-end awards and winning prizes, scholarships and grants) and get the dream machine going again.

Right now we’re sliding along in the clinic season and some are in the overlapping Aiken/Ocala season, all riding toward competition season in our own areas. Here’s to the seasons of eventing — stay busy, my friends!