SFTS Blog Hop: Why Do You Do What You Do?
I thought this was a really interesting topic, as I've very, very recently switched disciplines from some sort of weird hunter/jumper mishmash to eventing. Thanks Jenn from Stories From The Saddle for the question!
When I first got Dino, I had been showing in the jumpers for a couple years on some really fabulous school horses, and was really enjoying myself. My original plan was to continue to do so on my new pony.
Then our first year together hit us like a ton of bricks. Between being diagnosed with Cushing's and PSSM, a million abscesses, weird lamenesses, and just getting a pony fit that had been sitting for 2.5 years, showing in ANY ring was not on our agenda.
But, somehow, we persevered and made it to a couple jumper shows together the next year before the shit hit the fan once again, and I took a nasty fall in the warm-up ring when Dino stopped at a jump.
My confidence was absolutely shot, and my pony was now refusing all the time. I could barely trot a crossrail without having a panic attack, which was incredibly frustrating for me as just a few months prior I was jumping 3'+ with no issue.
So I dialed it back. WAY back. I stopped jumping for a while. I took lessons with a great trainer, and I found Dr. Jenny Susser and her Riding With Confidence clinic. I re-learned how to jump my pony, and slowly but surely put the pieces back together and started to gain confidence over fences again. I wanted to get back in the jumper ring so badly, but I knew for the sake of my mental and emotional well-being that I had to take it slow.
Back to the hunter and equitation rings of my youth! I went to about three shows over the next year or so and stuck to the 2'3" hunters and equitation. I knew I could easily ride the simple courses, and all I wanted was to regain my confidence in the show ring. Thankfully, that did the trick, and I was looking forward to riding in a hunter derby, and perhaps getting back to the jumpers next season. Maybe a combined test would be in our future, just for fun.
And then Rachel convinced me to go cross country schooling. I put on my big girl pants, swallowed my fear, and did it.
And Dino was a MACHINE. Out on the XC course, it was like he had found his true purpose in life. My pony was so, so happy out there, and totally took care of me even though I felt like I was going to pass out or pee my pants, or both. After that enlightening experience, I got the crazy idea to enter our first horse trial this summer, which we completed in fine style. It was so much fun!
From that point on, I was hooked on eventing.
For me, it isn't the 'rush' of cross country like it is for many eventers, although I'm learning that it is a lot of fun. It's the fact that I feel like we belong in this sport. As an adult on a pony, I'm not looked down upon, nor do my scores suffer due to some sort of perceived lack of "suitability". I get to do all the things I love and am good at - dressage AND jumping, and riding in the open. Dino is ideally suited as an eventer as well; I don't have to try and make him go in a way that doesn't come naturally to him, and I can use his talent and movement to our advantage instead of trying to box him into a "hunter" way of going that just isn't his thing. I love the values of correct training that the eventing community endorses, and the atmosphere of friendliness and good sportsmanship that I've encountered in the sport so far. I love the "do it yourself" attitude, and the fact that no one is going to give me the hairy eyeball when I show up at a competition without a trainer to hold my hand. And ride times. Ride times are pretty amazing. To top it all off, Dino LOVES CROSS COUNTRY WITH A BURNING PASSION, and that's enough for me to keep eventing for as long as my pony wants to!