Karen Czarick – Guest Blogger
Here we pick up from Karen’s first article on Intro to Eventing
Eventing from the beginning – A very good place to start
I’ve struggled a bit about where to start this series. If you’re still reading, I know you’re at least a bit interested (and hopefully a lot interested) in giving eventing competition a try. So, where to start? Probably the same place I would start with a new student who has approached me about getting into the sport. For me, the foundation involves a good bit of “theory” and information a rider (you) must process that is just as important (and at times even more important) as training in the saddle. First, you need to assess your level of commitment. This is not as daunting as it sounds, but a crucial first step nonetheless. Even if you already compete with your horse, you may only compete in one discipline. And, while the training for even a single discipline has many facets, the training for eventing competition has many facets times three! The good news: there’s a lot of “overlap” in training and conditioning among all three phases, and at the introductory levels, the cardiovascular and muscular fitness required most likely will not be terribly far beyond where you and your horse already are.
But, ideally, if you want to compete in eventing, one ride a week is probably not enough to prepare. As far as how many rides per week beyond that are enough depends very much on you, your horse, and on your definition of “success.” I do not necessarily view being “competitive” and being “successful” one in the same…and I rarely view “winning” as synonymous with either! I’ve seen plenty of sub-par performances that have been “enough” to garner a blue ribbon. How you “place” at any competition has as much to do with others’ performances (over which you have no control) as it does with yours.
Practice makes perfect
For me, especially when introducing a horse and/or rider to the sport, success means that horse and rider come to the event reasonably prepared to navigate all three phases in a manner that is safe, educational, confidence-building. A bit of trouble with a movement in a dressage test, some normal “show jitters” tension, a missed distance or two, a stop at an obstacle either due to its unusual appearance, construction, or a piloting “error” are all to be expected and will most likely be a part of your eventing competition experience from here on out. Breaking a rule because you had a “moment” where you either simply forgot that rule or other circumstances you were dealing with at the moment took precedence and caused you to break it…these are to be expected as well. But, being unprepared is something different.
Preparedness involves controlling factors over which you have control. Not having familiarized yourself thoroughly with the rules, not having the necessary equipment or being properly turned out (more about that in subsequent chapters), not learning your test so well that you can recite it and walk through it in your kitchen flawlessly. And finally, not being realistic about the amount and quality of training it’s going to take to have a reasonable expectation of being able to complete all three phases without error these examples reflect a lack of preparation. This doesn’t mean that if you are truly prepared that an error or errors won’t occur; it simply means based on the work you’ve done and where you are in your training, you could expect that you’ve got everything you need to complete all three phases well. Granted, there’s no guarantee that those planets will align…but they at least need to be visible in the sky! Walking away from an event saying “we made some mistakes” is fine and crucial to learning (and pretty much inevitable). Walking away saying “we weren’t prepared” means you need to reevaluate and adjust your level of commitment to that preparation.
As in a lot of endeavors, eventers often quip about the sport, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” True, but I also believe that once you get a glimpse at how fun the sport can be, the very challenge of the sport becomes less of a deterrent and more of an inspiration.
Proudly sponsored by: