I was asked why I would choose eventing and the question stuck in my head long enough to percolate into a post. I understood where she was coming from: I have limited resources mostly in time and trainer access so why decide to pick up a sport that typically requires two or three different trainers, tack sets and a whole lot of time. Its a good question especially in light of the fact that I made the change from endurance: a sport known for its lack of trainers, minimal gear and a learn as you go attitude.
Endurance wore thin on me. I had reached my goals with Gem and the people I met at ride camp were pretty darn awful. Perhaps it was just my neck of the woods and the people I ran across as there are plenty of bloggers who do endurance and speak highly of all their interactions with others, but in my region they sorta, kinda really suck. At my last ride, I watched people move other’s corrals when they went out on trail to give themselves more room, my own stuff was picked up and thrown across the road in the crew area when a lady wanted to make room for 5 horses and my stuff (which had been there for 24 hours prior to her showing up) was deemed in the way (this nearly resulted in a fist fight and they returned my stuff back to its original setting as I watched with flames shooting out of my eyes), I had a friend’s brand new heart rate monitor grow legs and never be seen again, and I won’t even get into the debacle of the lady who decided to squeeze her rig into a half spot beside me and then declare that she did not like my tent and I should move it. Guess how well that went over. I will say that once out on trail, things always improved and I found nothing but the nicest people for the most part.
By the time I finished that ride, I was done dealing with petty, high school cliques and drama. I had a brief love affair with Ride and Tie as those people are the best group of people on the planet, but talk about time commitment to get both the horse in endurance shape and myself in ultra running shape. And you need a partner. Once Wyatt is old enough to safely stay in camp while Dusty and I are out on trail, we will be returning to this sport that I love so so so much.
So I found myself at a cross roads. The lure of endurance was gone. Wyatt was old enough that he cared when I was gone for 8 hours on a conditioning ride and I found that the challenge, with Gem anyway, was taken out of the equation making those long hours alone on the trail not so compelling any more. I needed a change of pace that would fit into my life better.
Arena riding was the solution especially once the horses would be moving home. While I could no longer justify to myself or Wyatt the need to be gone on a weekend day for 5-8 hours riding, I could justify a quick spin on the horse in my own back yard. But what to do while in the arena? Toodling isn’t my style. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I do need something to focus on or I lose interest. Western was out of the question solely because it doesn’t interest me. Looking at the english disciplines I had dressage, jumping and eventing came to mind. It happened that during this transition period I was boarding at a private farm with an eventer. She gave me a few early lessons on Gem and I really liked the idea of mixing things up: doing dressage one ride, stadium another, and throwing in some cross country schooling here and there as well. The trail always will be my home and what I love best about it is that it is always changing. Sure you are still going down a trail, but the scenery changes, the topography changes and the terrain dictates a lot of the challenge. With eventing, it seemed as though I could capture that sense of wonder and change while still being in my own back yard.
And so I began my journey down the path of figuring out eventing. The more I got into it, the more I liked it. Sure, my current goal is to survive an amoeba level event and I highly doubt I will ever go beyond BN, if I even get brave enough to get that far, but thats something I absolutely adore about eventing and something that is lacking in endurance these days. There is no, or at least not in my area, looking down on someone or saying “you are only doing sticks on the ground that isn’t real eventing” as I hear so very very frequently in endurance when people say “that is only a 25 mile ride that isn’t real endurance” Next time I see or hear someone say that I will punch them in the throat. There is room in eventing for everyone it seems. Starting with me being happy to get through a w/t test and over 18″ sticks at basically a walk all the way up to those competing internationally at the highest levels. Perhaps in other parts of the country this isn’t the case as I am sure in other parts of the country endurance is one big happy family, but around here it is eventing heaven. Between Tryon and Aiken as well as local events, there is a show nearly every weekend all year round. The season never ends, though there is a shortage of events in the heat of summer.
I chose eventing not to become popular, hit the upper echelon, or smoke it around a prelim level course. I chose it based out of access, atmosphere, and curiosity and I plan to stick with it at my own wimpy adult ammy level. Who knows? Maybe H’Appy will give me wings and I’ll find myself moving beyond my current dreams and goals or I’ll be that 65 year old woman forever at starter. It really seems to me that nobody cares and everyone will cheer regardless. I agree that eventing can require 6 days a week to train, three different trainers and tack sets, and a lot of money to hit up all those recognized events. But eventing can also look a lot like an adult ammy squeezing in a ride as the sun goes down behind her barn, working sporadically with a trainer, and walking over 18″ fences on her way to becoming the amoeba champion of the southeast.