We’re All Eventers Here: Me, Myself and I

“I know you are alone, so the minute you leave to walk the course, I will break my halter and get loose.” Photo by Holly Covey.

“Usually, I had to be in tears — that was his clue to finally get on the trailer,” said one of my fellow Event Alone Club members. Are you also a member of the Event Alone Club?

Last weekend, after pronouncing herself covered in wet mud and nearly electrocuted by her electric fence, all just prior to loading up for a schooling show, my friend admitted she was quite ready to beg for someone to come along and help.

And I too have been there. The last event of the season, I lay on the ground gasping for air after having a loss of Proper Vertical Order at Fence #11, and my first thought was, “How will I get home if I can’t drive?” Because of course I was alone. Isn’t that your first thought if you go to an event by yourself, and fall off? Of course it is. Not, “how hurt am I,” or “what is bleeding now,” but how will you get yourself back in the truck and return home?

Oh, I know you all out there have family. They are forced or enjoy going to an event. Good for you. There are those of us who don’t have enough family to ruin, or our family is just too darn smart to be caught in the truck at 0-dark-30 on the way to a competition. We’re the proud card-carrying members of EAC, and we embrace the sole survivor mentality.

Mostly, the horses know this. They are very aware there are only one set of legs and arms in the vehicle, and do their best to find a way to take out one. Step on your foot while unloading from the trailer. Bash your arm while you try to bridle them. Refuse to load when you leave, but run you over to get on to go home. Pinch your hand on the butt bar, blow hay down your neck when you tie them, poop all over your hunt coat which falls off its hanger during the ride ….

Not only the horses, but of course the vehicles also come gunning for us. I have EAC friends who have left the ramp down on their trailer and driven off, fully loaded and ready to go. Flat tires, oh the tires, so many flats, so few tools and nice good looking (single) good samaritans …. Alone, at night, side of a busy interstate and no working jack or credit card. The Cursing-At-Your-Truck app works good, though.

And the barn. Oh, the barn. It hides stuff you need when it sees you alone heading off to that show or event. The cross country bridle. Horse boots. Haybag. Water tubs. Pitchfork. Your bag of beautifully polished boots, setting next to the helmet bag, on the bench you have to walk past sixty two times in order to load all the other stuff you need. More have gotten home only to report they left their saddle on a saddle rack in the parking lot. I have heard of horses being forgotten … nah, nobody does that. Do they? (Or did they?)

To earn your Sole Survivor badge, you have to come home with something bloody, something broken, some lesson learned and some experience gained. At times, all four happen at once, and in a split second; other times, it’s a long drawn-out nightmare that takes all weekend to conclude. Would having a friend along help?

Sometimes, it might. At least a second pair of eyes to check on things left in the barn aisle before you drive off; a second set of hands to hold the broken butt bar in place until you get it hooked; a second pair of legs to run back the four miles from the end of the parking lot to the secretary’s booth to get your number in time for dressage.

It would be nice to have someone in the passenger seat, who would bring cookies and hot coffee along, not need to stop to go to the bathroom at the world’s dirtiest truck stop, or want to disappear the instant you pull onto the show grounds. Just someone along for moral support. Who could warn you when you are about to swear at the organizer for blocking your parking spot.

A person however inexperienced, who could say things like, “that safety vest bulletproof?” and, “does the horse actually jump THAT high?” And other confidence-producing masterpieces of psychological support. A person who does not worry or make you anxious unless they really think it is critical that a braid that fell out gets immediately redone even if the dressage judge is madly ringing the bell for you to enter. A person whose sum total of support consists of keeping the truck passenger seat warm all day. A person who drops your phone in the water bucket as pretty much the first task they complete upon arrival at the show grounds. Yes, these are the people we think we need.

So instead of begging, we just are so stubborn and “focused” we just decide we can go it alone. Don’t need no stinkin’ help. And off we go into the sunrise, ready to do what it takes to be a Sole Survivor. Do you have what it takes? Can you do it all by yourself? Be a proud member of the Event Alone Club, join us in our suffering and discover the truth about eventing — that it’s really a lot easier to (kidnap) bring along friends!