Friday, July 11, 2014


We have a sport filled with tradition making it so very different from all others.  There is a sense of adventure, camaraderie with our fellows and above all, love for our partner horses.  Our horses may be fancy or not...  it doesn't matter since the work together balances it all out.  There is also bit of agelessness* that equalizes us all - we are one when we event.
Marching to their lessons....

I also believe that there might be a little bit of masochism thrown in to all that good cheer and fun.  Name a sport that demands grace and precision one day, speed and bravery on another and then, asking to finish with grace, boldness and athleticism.  Oh, yes there are sports that offer all of that but those sports do not require a partnership between human and animal.

And, we do this, not for the lavish prizes, money or even for the piece of polyester that marks an achievement, but for the challenge, the accomplishment and the true partnership between horse and rider all alone getting it done.

Are Eventers born or taught?  Hmmm, that is a question I've always wondered about and at the GMHA's Junior Horsmanship Clinic, I believe I saw true Eventers being born. 

These campers and their horses spend 10 days attending two mounted sessions and two unmounted horsemanship lectures each day while attending to their horses.  The focus is on eventing -
Dressage, Stadium Jumping and Cross Country lessons are provided to every participant - ditches, rolltops, trakenhers, "peasant" feeders, water crossings, up/down banks - ride-critique-ride dressage lessons...  everything all taylored to the level of the camper and horse.  It is the longest "event" ever.

B Roadside in a VT rainshower
The Instructors and Barn Managers were selected for their experience and, assigned groups based on that expertise.  There was a barn of young newbies that needed the strength and organization of someone who taught or worked in a riding school program.  I believe, as a Barn Manager (and Master/Old), I was assigned the 14-17 year olds because of my age... 

No one cared more for these campers than the Camp Staff.  Each day we talked about which kid/horse needed what and how to make the experience successful and educational.  Instructors talked to the Barn Managers about what happened and each offered suggestions for the next lesson or day.  We were a team really dedicated to pass on the tradition of eventing that we loved so much.
Neat and tidy stabling

I have a million stories, some will be told, others will fade and others, will remain anonymous.

Are Eventers born or taught? 

The evidence that, while some are born Eventers, the tradition can be taught came to light at the schooling horse trial.  It was the only day I got to see "my kids" ride. 

One girl had a talented but naughty pony.  She rode him well but as an opinionated pony can be, he kept running away after he landed a perfect stadium jump.  Having been taught to circle to slow him down and she got eliminated for doing too many circles in the wrong spots.  Her tears of disappointment ran down her face when she was told she could not go on to XC. 

5:30 am rides were heavenly!
An older girl came up to her, put her arm around her and said, "Welcome to the club, I got eliminated too."  And, another barnmate said, "Yup, me too!  I forgot a jump!"  And a third said, "Hey we should celebrate...  I fell off!  We rock!"  And, the tears turned to laughter and the desire to do it again (this time at a trot) superceded any thought of quitting.

That was my best day at camp.  There is nothing better than to talk to someone after XC, to listen to their story and to see the joy of the adventure - ribbon or not!

We are all alike, no matter what the age*...  Huge kudos for the staff at GMHA's Junior Horsemanship Camp for keeping our traditions alive and putting a new generation of eventers on the right path! 

*One wise young camper explained the "age gap" to me...  "Adults put too much emotion into it.  We care but more technically and not so emotionally."  I believe she might be right!


Amanda said...

How fun! I wish I had been able to experience something like that when I was a kid.

Jodi said...

That picture of the kids is adorable! What an amazing experience for them!