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Monday, December 22, 2008

Son of "Soul of the Matter" A Proven Winner

The first of Super Derby Winner, Soul of the Matter’s US foals to enter the show ring came out a winner in his dressage debut. Three-year-old Reese, shown as Top Gear, earned first place at the Intrepid Farm's Holiday Dressage Show. His rhythmic gaits, powerful hindquarters and unflappable personality contributed to his overall score of 67% and promise a successful career in his intended job as a three-day eventer.



video

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Intrepid Farms Holiday Show

We had a great day last Saturday at Intrepid Farms Holiday Dressage show. The threat of rain disappeared, giving us fantastic sunny, crisp fall weather that’s perfect to ride in. This was our first trip to Intrepid Farms, which runs schooling dressage shows throughout the year. The show was small but super friendly, extremely efficient and well run. The folks at Intrepid put out their usual gi-normous food spread, including breakfast goodies and strong coffee for when you first arrive, a wide variety of sandwiches for lunch and snacks to keep you going throughout the day. (Anyone who knows eventers knows that we’re always up for free food!) Intrepid is generous with their prizes and fair but encouraging with their judging. If you live near Moopark, California, you have to check out their shows. If you don’t live nearby, it sucks to be you. We’ll definitely make plans to return in 2009. If you'd like to get more information about their shows, go to www.intrepid-farms.com.

The day started out with our Friesian barn buddy, Haeke, blowing them away in the Intro class. Reese (aka Top Gear) with Michelle E. riding him took first place in Training Level 1 – not bad for his showing debut! But maybe the most fun of the day was when Carolyn on Ceilidh and Nahmi on Simon rode their classes with a (nearly) glimmering display of lights on their saddle pads. Ceilidh, despite being a little naughty before going in the ring for test #2 still came away with two red ribbons. Simon, billed as Simon the Likable sounded more like “Simon Says” as he whinnied and bellowed his way through his two tests – editorial comments about his lights perhaps? The last ride of the day was Nahmi on Sparky who was his usual stellar self and got first place as well.

The show was good practice for all of us who are used to the shorter eventing dressage court (40 meters) to have to deal with all the extra real estate that a regular dressage court (60 meters) gives you. If you think the free walk is long in an event, it’s merciless in a long court! Plus, as Nahmi found out, holding the extended canter all the way down the super-sized long side can take your breath away – literally.

Sorry, as Reese’s proud mummy I was so jazzed about his first show that I forgot to bring a camera but Carolyn did her magic and pulled a few still of every off the video. Check out the photo album at http://picasaweb.google.com/marlaw825/IntrepidFarmsHolidayShow#

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The New Antares Saddle Has Arrived

So the big day finally arrived – Carolyn’s new custom-made Antares was delivered right on time. Per Antares’ instructions, she oiled it three times, giving each layer enough time to dry before even taking the saddle out to the barn. The result was the gorgeous chestnut brown saddle and girth you see in the pictures. I'm not much of a photographer but believe me, they are beatiful. What's even more stunning, however, is the Antares breastplate on her gray mare, Ceilidh. When you buy your Antares saddle, it's definitely worth it to go the extra bit and get the matching equipment - wow!



Then came the moment of truth, the first ride in the saddle meant to end all saddles. Expectations had been built fairly high since everyone in our barn raved about how great their Antares was from the moment they set their delicate little bottoms on them. Carolyn carefully tacked up in all the resplendent gear, including the matching girth and breastplate. She mounted, waiting for the choir of angels to sing and... nothing. No “Hallelujah Chorus,” not even a barber shop quartet. The verdict from the first ride was that it was ok, not great.

Carolyn had a limited time to decide if the saddle was right or not. The problem was (and is) that her horse Ceilidh isn’t approved for jumping after coming back from an injury until the very tail end of her trial period. The whole reason for the new saddle was to boost Carolyn’s feeling of security over fences and there was no way to test it until it was almost too late.

The first step was to have Michelle watch her ride in the saddle. Bearing in mind that Carolyn has been strictly a dressage rider for over a year because of Ceilidh’s injury, Michelle felt that the saddle wasn’t singing to her because Carolyn wasn’t used to the jump saddle position. The other factor is that Carolyn had an injury a few years ago that resulted in a blood clot in her left leg, causing her left leg to be weaker than her right. That weakness was really showing through in the jump position and doubly so in a mono-flap that encourages more leg stability but requires a tighter leg than a regular flap. (Can you say “accident prone horse and rider combination”?). Michelle’s one comment later on, after riding in the saddle a few times to help break it in, is that she really loves the comfort of the wider seat that Carolyn opted for.

Thierry took a look at Carolyn in the saddle as well. He was more than happy to take the time to talk through her issues with her but ultimately declared that in his opinion, the saddle was the perfect fit. But he also assured her that he’d continue to work with her on the saddle if she wasn’t truly happy.

So what’s the deal? For the money you spend on a custom saddle don’t you have the right to expect a choir of angels? With any new saddle there are a huge number of factors to consider. The new leather is stiff and the “sweet spot” of the saddle hasn’t been broken in so it’s like putting on a pair of tall boots and expecting them to be comfortable right away. A new leg position only adds to the confusion.

Bottom line? It’s been a couple of weeks now and Carolyn has ridden in the saddle a number of times. It gets better with each ride although the chorus of angels remains stubbornly mute. The true test will come when they get to jump...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Way to Go Will!!

A group of us from Sapphire were fortunate enough to be at the Grand Prix here in LA on Saturday night to see gold medalist Will Simpson turn in an amazing first place performance on Archie Bunker. There were a lot of other impressive rides including a clear round from my own personal favorite, Richard Spooner. If you've never seen a Grand Prix you should absolutely go if you get a chance. And they think eventers are crazy!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

SAPPHIRE EVENTING GOES TO A SHOW!

When I'm Captain of the World, horse shows will be held at reasonable hours, like 10:30 in the morning. Until then, however, shows start at 8 which meant that we had to be at the barn at the ungodly hour of 6am to load horses and get to Flintridge in time for the show.
Link
Other than having to consume vast amounts of caffeine to be able to stay upright and then using the port-o-potty about 103 times throughout the course of the day, a great time was had by all. The weather couldn't have been more perfect and neither could the horses.

To see the pics, click on:

http://picasaweb.google.com/marlaw825/FlintridgeDerby02#

Thursday, October 23, 2008


“You know what dressage means, right?” asked guest clinician Germán Schneider, local dressage rider, trainer and judge. “It’s French for ‘too afraid to jump’ he quipped. (It’s actually French for training, in case you were dying to know). Germán’s sense of humor really set the tone for the mini-clinic we had at the ranch – a necessary ingredient since the first ride was at the ungodly hour of 7 am. (That's Reese, my horse, to the left by the way.) All kidding aside, as anal-retentive as it may seem dressage is the foundation for everything we do and the reason that even us crazy eventers work so hard at it. (We know it may not seem like it, DQ’s, but we really do.) As Germán pointed out to Michelle C. riding her horse Bailey, an unbalanced, unrateable canter might get you a “6” on your test but you'll be eating wood on a cross-country course.
It’s always good to attend clinics or occasional lessons from a different instructor just to get a fresh perspective on your riding. For instance, Germán focuses on the same issues of rhythm, tempo and suppleness that Michelle E. does but verbalizes it in a slightly different way. Combining the two approaches really clarified for me the importance of working my young horse in a lower frame with more flexion at the base of his neck until his back grows stronger. I wasn’t even riding in the clinic so even watching from the sidelines can be and educational experience. Just be sure to choose someone who isn’t at odds with your own trainer’s basic philosophy. Otherwise you won’t be able to incorporate what you’ve learned from the clinic in your day-to-day riding. Definitely talk to your trainer about what you learned at the clinic if they weren’t present to make sure that the ideas you took away from the experience are appropriate for what he or she is trying to work on with you at this point in your riding.

And where was Michelle during all this? Up in Fresno with dynamic duo Nick and Sarah competing at Ram Tap. Michelle took Dixie into her first event ever where she finished 4th with a double clear in cross-country. Nick finished 4th with Buck pulling a rail in show jump while Sarah and Eddie debuted at Training Level with a so-so dressage test but good solid jump rounds. According to Michelle, as well as the general feedback on the Chronicle of the Horse chat forum, Ram Tap’s courses have changed a bit for this show. The Training course in particular was tough but fair so kudos to both riders and horses for a job well done. They’ll both be up there again next month so fingers crossed that those rides will go even better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WAY TO GO LARRY!

Congratulations to our friend Larry and his horse, Caruso 202 (not to be confused with the other 201 Caruso’s out there) who finished 7th out of a million in Preliminary level at the recent event at Twin Rivers. Way to go, Bubba and Larry’s trainer, Auburn!

His story also goes to show you that when you go to a show, always be prepared! Their departure from So Cal was delayed from 5:30 am (eek!) to 7:30 am (slightly less eek!) because of a flat tire on Larry’s trailer and a naughty horse (not Caruso). Then, on the way home after a successful show, his trainer Auburn has not one but TWO flat tires on her trailer.

The moral of the story? Larry learned that if you are showing, particularly when the temperature is likely to climb into the triple digits, always be sure Sapphire Eventing is going to be there with the gin & tonics flowing. We didn’t go to this show and poor Larry got mighty parched out there all alone. On the other hand, I learned that unless your last name is Firestone, don’t ever travel with Larry!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

PRODUCT REVIEW - THIN LINE PRODUCTS

Six months ago or so a dressage trainer introduced me to the Thin Line Pad. My horse at the time and I both suffered from back problems and it was love at first sight with the super thin, super shock-absorbent pad. We both felt much better using this pad.

A short time later, I got a pad of my own. I chose the Thin Line contour pad which is slightly thicker than the Ultra Thin Line I originally rode in because, according to the company literature, it was specifically made for people or horses with back issues. The Thin Line has nearly as much shock absorbency but allows for a slightly closer fit. According to the company website, www.thinlineinc.com, “Ultra ThinLine is the only saddle pad endorsed by surgeons for riders with back problems.” I don’t know about surgeons but I can tell you it made a huge difference for my horse and me.

I was so enamored with the pad that I bought their open front and hind boots as well. Not very scientific of me, but I figured quality was quality; if the company’s product worked that well on my horse’s back they should be just as protective and shock absorbing on the legs. I love the fit and the fact that they are so easy to take care of. They also disperse heat and have anti-fungal agents that promote healthy skin no matter how many horses you use the boots or pads on.


Michelle tried the pad out and was soon ordering a pad for herself. Next thing I know she’s telling other clients to get one and now nearly everyone uses the pads and some even have the boots as well. Here’s what Michelle likes about the product:

“For horses that need a little protection I love the contour pad because the saddle stays put (no rolling or shifting side to side) and it doesn’t interfere with saddle fit. The sheepskin saddle pad is great for horses who are a little more sensitive/cold backed, but you don't feel like your too far from your horse. I love the open front boots for their clean look and shock absorbing protection in a lightweight, great fitting boot. Even Dixie doesn’t get boot rubs with these. The full boots have a great cut. The hind boots esp. cover everything important and have a double Velcro closure that ensures they stay put. They are easy to clean (very important) and heavy duty enough to wear for cross-country. So far I love everything Thin Line and you know how picky I am!!”

And she is very picky, trust me. On a final note, the other great feature of Thin Line products is that they are much more affordable than comparable boots and pads from other companies. I truly believe that you get what you pay for but in this case, Thin Line goes above and beyond to give you a great, durable product at a really reasonable price.

So that’s the Sapphire recommendation for the week. (The pictures here are from the Thin Line website, fyi -- check it out for more views.) Best of all, they have a 30 day money back return policy so you know they believe in their product.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Congrats to Those at the SBRC Show 9/13 - 14!

Big shout out to Michelle, Nick and Sarah for a job well done at the Santa Barbara Riding Club's Back to School Show on Sept. 13 & 14. Michelle and Dixie earned a first and second - not bad considering the number of shows Dixie has gone to still number in the single digits. Sarah hung tough and earned the right to bump up to the 3' 6" class while Nick went through the adult rite of passage - he was edged out of the ribbons by a kid on a pony! Welcome to the world of grown-ups!

Next show - the Flintridge Derby!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

PRODUCT REVIEW - ANTARES SADDLE FITTING

If you’ve ridden for any length of time you know how hard it is to find a saddle that fits both you and your horse. Find one that fits AND helps you keep your position and you’ve found the Holy Grail.

The only sure way to get this kind of fit is to get a custom saddle made specifically to fit you and your horse. Admit it – we’ve all dreamed of getting a custom saddle. Beyond the practical appeal it just sounds so damn cool! So when my barn mate Carolyn needed a new saddle, our trainer Michelle convinced her to let her call Thierry Guiberteau from Antares. (His first name is pronounced “terry” like the towel. You’re on your own for the rest!) You have to realize that Michelle is on her second Antares and is dedicated to converting the world one rider at a time. Impoverished Bates saddle owner that I am, I decided to tag along for the ride.

First of, “tag along” is just a turn of phrase; Thierry and his assistant Jim plus several saddles came out to the boonies to try and fit Carolyn and her TB mare, Ceilidh. Even though I knew some of the basics of saddle fitting before he came out, I have to admit the whole thing was a fascinating experience.

The first thing Thierry did was watch Carolyn ride Ceilidh to get an idea of the issues they were dealing with. He noticed right off that Carolyn has a very dressage-y leg even in a jump saddle. That’s perhaps due to Ceilidh having been on a long, slow rehab program after an injury last year so all they’ve been doing is flat work and often bare back. Carolyn also has a very long thigh, which makes saddle fitting a little difficult.

It was pretty cool that Thierry never measured anything. He claims that he doesn’t need to measure – he can see and feel all he needs to know. Picking a sample saddle that might work, Thierry checked how the saddle fit Ceilidh. First he looked at the wither clearance – you don’t want it too high or it could pinch the wither and inhibit the horse’s forward motion. Of course, too low and it will press on the withers and also inhibit the horse’s motion.
Then he checked the rear of the saddle to make sure it sat flat on the horse’s back. Too much wobbling up and down is bad for both your ride and your horse.

Finally, he put his hand under the knee flap to check the fit there. Again, you don’t want the saddle too tight there or be uneven or it will inhibit your horse’s ability to move forward from his (or her) shoulder.


Next came the moment of truth; Carolyn got in the sample saddle and rode around the arena. And then the next. And the next. As Thierry pointed out, it’s a little like trying on shoes. You may not know what you like but you’ll know right away what you don’t like. Which means trying saddle after saddle to see what works for you AND your horse.

Here’s something I didn’t know: the term "thigh block" is a slight misnomer. Your thigh should never touch the thigh (or rear) block. The block should create a channel in the flap that helps your leg hold its position without giving you a solid object to brace against.

If you ever get a custom saddle fitted (or custom anything for that matter) don’t be afraid to discuss any question or issues you have with the fitter. Thierry’s amazing but he can’t read your mind. He and Carolyn had long discussions about what they liked and didn’t like about each saddle. In the end, with input from both of them they decided on a combo of the flap from one saddle and with a slightly larger knee block from the other.

And that’s what a custom saddle is all about, getting exactly the bits and pieces from several saddles put together into one special package. Carolyn prefers a deeper, wider seat than Michelle, for instance. She also got the mono-flap to give her a closer contact but had the saddle made out of rough leather rather than calfskin for greater durability (and lower price).

So why aren’t we all rushing out to get a custom saddle? For most people, the stumbling block is the perception that they are outrageously more expensive than an “off the rack” model. Actually it wasn’t too bad at the end of the day, especially if you added in all the perks. For a little over $4,000, Carolyn got a custom saddle that’s fully guaranteed to fit her freaky long legs and her horse’s wonky back. Really – guaranteed. She’ll have thirty days to make sure the saddle is what she wants. If not, Thierry will come back out and help figure out what the problem is & make the appropriate adjustments or give her a brand new saddle if necessary. One friend found her new saddle was hurting her back. Thierry figured out that the problem was the flap, took the saddle back and rebuilt it – AT NO CHARGE. Now our friend Nahmi couldn’t be happier.

We’ll let you know in two months when the saddle comes in if Carolyn feels the same way!

To check out Antares products and the gajillion combinations of seat, flap, leather and designs you have to choose from, visit their website at www.antaressaddle.com. If you’re in southern California, you can also contact Thierry directly at thierry@antares-sellier.com. Just be sure to mention that you heard about it from the Sapphire blog!

Monday, August 11, 2008

WOODSIDE AUGUST 8-10/ HORSE SHOPPING ADVENTURE

FROM FELLOW SAPPHIRE-ER MICHELLE "DISCO" C ---

I’m awakened by the 80’s sound of Huey Lewis and The News and my husband asking, snooze button? My answer is a emphatic yes! It’s early, too early but the next time the alarm goes off I pull myself from my toasty cocoon and stumble towards the bathroom. By the time I get out of the shower, make myself presentable and pack up the last few things, my phone rings. It’s our fearless leader, I’m late. How can this be, I’m never late and Michelle is never on time. I tell her I’m leaving in 5 and will be to her place in 15, and so it was and they journey began. Next stop is Camille’s who has literally been standing outside her home for a ½ hour, oops. So now the truck is fully loaded, Michelle, Camille, myself and of course the dogs, Oscar, Toast, and Mojito.

Team Katleman was headed straight to Woodside while we were going further north to look at a horse. The long trip is passing quickly as we talk about what else, horses. Not long after we get off the 5 Mojito gives us something that we’ll be talking about for the rest of the trip. Camille made mention that she thought that she smelled fertilizer. I was hoping she was right but my nose knew better. Instead the lovely unmistakable aroma we were all enjoying was anal glands. Windows down, heads out! We’re still not sure what Camille was doing to that dog but the end result was one very stinky fleece jacket that quickly found its way to the back of the truck. The horse was nice, but nothing special so we now reverse direction back to Woodside. Team Katleman has called to let us know they have arrived safely, although they nearly ran out of gas causing Nick a small panic attack, but all's well and the horses were settling in nicely. The trip down the coast proves to be quite picturesque as we travel over the Golden Gate Bridge and the outskirts of San Fran. We arrive at Woodside and it’s time to get to work.

Eddie had decided it was going to be a long day at the office. Sara did her best to not fight with him but when he kept on flipping his head we were all ready to change his name to Elmer. Sara struggled through and was able to end on a decent note and hope he got it out of his system. Nick and Buck had a lovely ride with no incident.

After dinner at Hobee’s we came away knowing a little more about Nick in particular. Apparently he’s accident prone and is also very good at inflicting pain on his loved ones. Did I mention he shut his mothers fingers in the truck door earlier in the day? Clearly we’ll have to keep an eye on him.

It’s D day -- what were you thinking? I’m talking about dressage. The horses look great scrubbed, brushed and braided and the kids don’t look half bad either. Sara is up first, warm-up was much better that the day before and Sara is well focused at not engaging with any of Eddie’s antics. If he wants to lift his head she’s going to push him forward into her hand. Sara succeeds with her plan and is able to measure her success with her own knowledge of just how hard he is to ride in dressage. Now Nick, one might think he could have easily been distracted because his girlfriend is warming up at the same time, but Nick has his game face on and I don’t even catch him give his girlfriend a quick smile. He’s hardcore! Success also finds Nick and Buck. When the standings are posted Nick is tied for 3rd and Sara is just outside the ribbons… for now. The rest of the day continues without incident until Michelle and Camille open a bottle of wine and realize they have no glasses. With the classic eventer ingenuity glasses are formed out of containers that previously contained cake and everyone is happy. Later in the evening we join Nick’s girlfriend Hanna and her mother and trainer for dinner. The subject of Janet’s bruised fingers come up in discussion and again in typical eventer style it’s decided that the cure is traumeel. You’ll have to ask Janet if it worked. Just as we pulled into the hotel parking lot Mojito reminded us just who’s in control. Yep, you guessed it that familiar smell filled the truck once more, it must be Camille’s doing because I know my driving was impeccable. Lucky for us he kept on getting it on clothing, things easily cleaned and not on the truck interior.

Time to jump! Camille and I find our seats and watch the open novice and it’s a train wreck. Not until the last rider and finally a double clean. By this time Camille and I have tried to get our timing down for pictures (tried). Sara is the first to go in junior novice and sets the standard with a double clean. WAHOOO!!! You should know there were very few double cleans. Nick was up next and rode a great round with just one rail. Thankfully those rounds go quickly because Janet was seriously going to need the paramedics with her show mom nerves. When the standings were posted Nick was in 3rd alone and Sara was now in 5th. The kids quickly walked there x-country course and Nick being a good brother said he would take care of Eddie for Sara so we could head out to Petaluma to continue horse shopping. Once again the truck was full with the five of us and yes three dogs. An hour and a half later we arrived to find some very nice horses. Prince (aka Bonehead) proved to be a real contender for Sara just as soon as Eddie is sold. After a few hours we were back in the truck headed back to Woodside. Later that night we ate dinner at the hotel and as we talked, to the dismay of the kids it was revealed that my family history includes some, I hate to say it, redneck stories. I would just like to remind them that I cannot be held responsible if my family members chose to eat road kill. After dinner Michelle decided it would be a good idea to bath her dogs in the hotel bathtub, by morning they smelled good but that evening as we drifted off to sleep eau d' wet dog is all I could smell.

It’s time for x-country, what’s there to say, it’s the day we all wait for. Nick and Sara both did fantastic and stayed in the same place. With another long drive ahead of us the horses were taken care of and the things were loaded up quickly. We decided not to caravan seeing how we were not hauling and left around 11:00, contrary to the ride up, the ride home was quiet evidence of a long successful show. Even Mojito made it home with no more incidents. So congratulations to team Katleman on a job well done and hopefully we’ll see everyone at the barn cookout.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

WELCOME TO EVENTING

The first time I rode cross country was on a trip to Ireland. (The picture to the right is NOT me, by the way, it's our fearless leader Michelle.) I went with group from my riding school where we were all working on being very serious hunt seat riders and rarely ever left the ring. Jet-lagged and cranky that first morning, the last thing I really wanted to do was go on a glorified trail ride.

The horse I was assigned, Dearag, apparently liked to be in the front of the pack so would I mind going first down the wooded lane? Stop when you come to a crossroads were my only instructions. And with that we were off. Dearag took me over logs, through box jumps, and flew over anything else in our way. I was having so much fun I didn’t even see the crossroads much less stop there. The wind was whistling in my ears and the blood was pounding in my head so hard I never heard the cries of “whoa” from behind me. I drug the entire group after me until we literally hit the end of the road. After just that one ride, I was hooked.

When I came home and told friends how much fun I had, a friend suggested, “We should try eventing.” Yeah, sure, I thought, that would be great. Um... what is it?

The easiest way to think of eventing is to think of it as a triathlon consisting of dressage, cross country and show jumping phases. Eventing began as a military exercise back in the day when mounted units decided borders of countries and was considered the ultimate test of horse and rider. There’ve been a few changes in the sport, particularly some controversial ones in recent years but the intent remains the same. The goal of eventing remains to test the horse’s endurance, speed, stamina, and obedience under pressure as well as the rider’s nerves and wits. No offense, hunters, but for me it’s a lot more fun and challenging than standing at the in-gate waiting for your turn to go.

A good thing to keep in mind as you watch an event is that the score is translated into penalty points. In other words it’s like golf - lower is better. So if you’re used to dressage riders longing for a 72 on their test don’t be mystified when an eventer is ecstatic at a 28. Dressage is always ridden first (to get the worst part over if you ask me) and then either show jumping or cross country, depending on the way the event is run. In a true, classic test cross country is run next on the second day and then show jumping is ridden on the third day largely as a test of the horse’s soundness and fitness after cross country.

Events can take place in just one day (typically referred to as a derby for those of us on the West coast), two days (usually called a horse trial) or the full three days. Eventers compete at certain levels, starting with Beginner Novice and going all the way up to Intermediate. Levels are set by the difficulty of the dressage test, the height of the fences and the speed you are required/allowed to complete the jump courses in. An event will allow a set number of riders in each level that they choose to run – for instance, some shows later in the year don’t include a Beginner Novice level in order to allow more riders at the higher levels. Also, some facilities only run levels up to a certain height because they don’t have the space or terrain to run the higher, more difficult levels. If you’re just starting out, most cities will have at least one facility that will run the un-recognized Intro to Beginner Novice or even lower so that you can safely give eventing a try without getting in over your head.

But eventing isn’t just about shows. If you don’t take advantage of the opportunities to go schooling just for fun you’re missing out a huge part of the sport. Schooling allows you and your horse to go over obstacles that you wouldn’t normally meet, like water and ditches, and let you confront them without the added baggage of show nerves. You can have all the do-overs you need until you feel comfortable that you and your horse have got it down pat. You also get to do crazy fun stuff like going swimming with your horse - check out "Whoopali's Swimming Lesson" on the video bar to the right to see what I mean. (And yes, that is me getting a dunking...)

Eventing is mostly a state of mind. A fellow competitor will loan you a piece of missing equipment if need be to keep you from being eliminated from the show without hesitation. Thankfully there are specific ride times for both dressage and cross country as well as a fairly sure window for show jumping, allowing you the rest of the day to relax, socialize or work on your show nerves. After the rides are over, there is almost always a formal competitors party at least one evening of the event where everyone can hang out and catch up on the latest news. The other nights there are usually impromptu gatherings traveling from one group’s mini-campsite of tables and chairs to the next. Almost without exception, eventers prefer to care for their own horses rather than having grooms do it for them. Feeding, watering and cleaning out stalls are chores you do yourself or trade off with other people in your barn. It’s really the overall friendly atmosphere of competitors cheering for one another and always being willing to lend a helpful hand that converted me to eventing for good.

Best of all, eventing is a sport for riders of all ages and riding skill levels. So if you know which end of the horse to saddle and like to color a little bit outside of the box give eventing a try – you won’t be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008