Karen Czarick gives us her insight into the world of Eventing through her series of seven articles .
Karen began riding and competing as a child in western New York, starting out in the hunter/jumper world and transitioning to dressage and eventing shortly after moving to the Southeast in the late seventies. Over the years, she has owned, trained, and competed 30+ horses in eventing, not one of them having any previous eventing experience.
Eventing: You Don’t know what you are Missing!
I believe a lot of riders who have never entered an eventing competition may be missing out. The majority of riders (and horses), if brought into the sport properly, really like it and many become “hooked” for life, not able to imagine a time when they didn’t event. At the very least, the training and schooling necessary to compete safely at even the elementary levels of the sport present a change of pace, some welcome variety, and broaden the scope and deepen the intensity of the relationship you have with your horse.
So, what’s the hesitation? I’d always wondered myself, having been introduced to the sport very early in my riding career (more years ago than I care to mention) and “raised” in eventing, so to speak. Throughout that career, where I am in life with regards to time, finances, the horse I have at the moment, etc., has affected how immersed I am in the sport, especially competitively. I’ve always regarded the “combined” training that includes dressage, stadium jumping, and riding in the open over varied terrain and natural obstacles. The cardio and muscular fitness conditioning in addition to the schooling of technique, obedience, and the tenets of the training pyramid) to be the elements of “complete” training. Eventing training is a chance to “dabble” in several disciplines. And while the amateur eventer may not train to the levels of FEI dressage, Grand-Prix jumping, or 100-mile endurance rides, the time, effort, and accomplishment of being a jack of all these trades, even at the lower levels, becomes an accomplishment much greater than the sum of its parts.
Opportunities open Up
A few years ago. I was fortunate enough to be chosen by an equestrian magazine to attend a weekend-long, intensive, adult dressage camp in my region in exchange for writing an article about the experience. Most horses and riders arrived in the afternoon before the first day of camp. Many of us chose to do a light hack that evening, and I’d managed to coerce my stabling neighbor (an upper-level dressage rider whom I’d met for the first time that day) to ride out with me on the venue’s cross country course. She was positively giddy and a bit nervous about the idea of going out, admitting that she rarely rode outside an arena. As we walked, she asked me about eventing, and I was shocked at the misconceptions she had about the sport. She didn’t realize that the dressage phase was the only subjectively judged phase, nor that there were options in eventing competition that did not involve jumping large fences at gallop speeds. She was a fabulous rider, and her horse was amazing, but as brilliant and happy as they looked in the dressage arena, even just walking along quietly, they both seemed so keen and curious about what excitement lie out in that field. I couldn’t help but wonder how the pair would have taken to the sport, and feel a bit sad that to the best of my knowledge she never tried her hand at it. That was the first time I realized, that while many know a good bit about eventing, a lot of serious, accomplished riders in different disciplines (even kindred dressage riders) have a somewhat unclear concept of what eventing entails, especially regarding how non-daunting (and fun) the entry levels of competition can be. So, I’ve since taken it upon myself to serve as an ambassador of sorts for the sport, especially regarding introducing horses and riders from other disciplines to it. I’d like to take the next several months to do just that in this “introduction to eventing competition” series, each installment covering another aspect of preparing for your first event. If you are unfamiliar with the sport, I hope you find the series insightful and informative. But, perhaps more importantly, I hope you find it intriguing and inspiring, and that I ultimately convince you to give eventing a try, whether just to enrich your riding with combined training, or to prepare for eventing competition. You truly don’t know what you’re missing!
Part One: Karen Czarick of Dancing Horse Farm who led a team of four to win the Chronicle of the Horse 2013 USEA Training Adult Riders Eastern USA.
Part Two – Intro to Eventing
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