Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Continuing to repost the entries from my previous monthly blogs Back To Eventing and Back To Riding. This was originally posted on the USEA website Thu, 2011-06-09, archived here. Illustration by Jean Abernethy.

Not only my last Back To Eventing column but my last assignment of any kind for the USCTA/USEA. I wrote for their magazine for many years, under both names and several editors [Summary]. By the time the column was canceled, the magazine had a new, young editor who was bringing in her people to do their thing. Oh well, shift happens. I picked up my typewriter in my arthritic paws and tottered off into the sunset.

April finished art revised 2 j

Back To Eventing: Forward Planning
(A series on – slowly, slowly – renewing one rider’s eventing career)

“Even if you get knocked down, pick yourself and keep trying to be the best you can be despite the odds.” Joe Fargis

“Follow your dreams even if they seem impossible.” Mary King
from How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson [Trafalgar 2011]

As of April 1st – 161 days to the American Evening Championships 2011

The Clinic
I’ve done something very stupid, very brave, or very both. I’ve signed Rodney and me up for a Jimmy Wofford clinic in October at Foxwood Farms. I have signed up for an eventing clinic with a horse I can’t ride who has never jumped a cross-country fence. I figure that in the next six months, we will have made:

A) No progress. My fancy new horse will have turned into a 1400-lb pasture ornament. In which case, I will be fit company for neither man nor beast.

B) Little progress. Riding, but not enough to participate. In which case, I will audit the clinic and chug Maalox out of frustration.

C) Great progress in the wrong direction. We will have evented several times, and he will have let it be known that he would rather be a Show Jumper, thank you very much. In which case, he better have decided to be a darned good one.

Or, theoretically possible,

D) Great progress. We will have evented several times, forming the start of a wonderful eventing career of which the clinic will be an educational and entertaining step. In which case, hubby will have sprained his jaw from saying I told you so.

The Event
In a similar spirit of optimism, hubby and I checked out cross-country day at a local event. One or two of the Novice fences elicited eyebrow elevation. However, Beginner Novice is mostly variations on the theme of log. Add a ditch with no depth, terrain, and a trot through water and we’re good to go. This doesn’t preclude a bilateral meltdown when we come out of the start box, but at least the concept is feasible.

Back when Novice was called Pretraining, I dimly recall attending my first event on a green horse without a clue between us. We’d done zero formal cross-country practice before showing up on the day. On the other hand, I was boarding at a 1000-acre farm. We were on the trail more often than in the ring: galloping through mud, jumping pasture fencing, and doing all manner of other things we should not have been doing. I promise not to turn into a nostalgic curmudgeon constantly yapping about how it was back in the day. If you were there, you know; if you weren’t, you don’t care. I bring up the past to illustrate that I will need to deliberately recreate that background by shipping to trail rides, riding in hunter shows, visiting other barns, and jumping lots and lots of cross-country schooling to prepare for my first event this time around.

Back in the present, one highlight of the day was meeting the titular heroine of The Chronicles of the $700 Pony & The Further Adventures of the $700 Pony [Half Halt, 2006 & 2008] written by Ellen Broadhurst and illustrated by Patricia Naegeli. When reading, ya gotta wonder how much an author embellishes for effect. I can report that Pony-in-real-life has just as much attitude and just as much beautiful tail. Pony’s adventures continue in a blog by her new rider, Marisa Goode. Broadhurst now blogs about her family’s life abroad.

One low point of the day was the horsemanship. At the risk of reranting, after cross-country – GET OFF YOUR HORSE. To the riders who did, thank you. To the ones who rode back to the barn on hot and sweaty horses, who do you think just did all the work out there!?!
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To access back columns in the USEA archives, check out Rodney’s Facebook page: Rodney aka Perpetual Motion.

(Repost ends. Back to current comments below)
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I wrote about the Wofford clinic later that year: Weekend with Wofford.
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The Further Adventures of the $700 Pony is available on Amazon as an ebook.
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The Goode & Broadhurst blogs are defunct. As is my Perpetual Motion Facebook page.
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Rodney’s Saga repost locations
BTE 1 of 9: How I Won the Training Level AEC
BTE 2 of 9: The Cast Assembles
BTE 3 of 9: The AEC, a Realization in Five Phases
BTE 4 of 9: New Horse Blues
BTE 5 of 9: Buying the Horse is Only the Beginning
BTE 6 of 9: Back To Square One
BTE 7 of 9: Getting to Know You
BTE 8 of 9: Spring Fitness
Or
List of all nine direct USEA links

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