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The Fringe Eventer blog post # 1: Introduction!
Back In The Saddle # 1 - Intro
I guess Back In The (Jump) Saddle would be more apropos for this blog, but you get the idea. Who am I you may ask? I comprise the largest segment of the eventing industry or base. Actually, if you want to get technical, the largest segment of the entire consumer driven horse industry. Figure it out yet?
I am an adult amateur. We spend more on horse related merchandise, lessons, entry fees, clinics, etc. than any other consumer group. Demographically we are roughly between the ages of about 28 and 52, most often married, and have full time jobs. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, if you’re not there yet you will be.
This is my journey back to my first love, eventing. In order to (hopefully) tell the story of the next leg of my journey, one that I think many out there can relate to I need to tell you where I started.
In 1997 I purchased a 16.2 h flea bitten grey jumping machine off of the sales rack without knowing what in the heck I was doing. Ignorance for me was indeed bliss and Lady Luck was holding my hand. He was my first horse and less than one month after purchasing him I took only the second riding lesson of my entire life. A little backwards maybe, but it worked for me because I had just purchased the words best 1175 lb babysitter.
In less than six years I learned my posting diagonals, how to ask for a canter depart, how to jump, how to fall gracefully and well let’s face it, not so gracefully, and lastly, how to event. We made it all the way to preliminary safely and even finished our first preliminary cross country course with a speeding ticket. Whoops! Hey, it wasn’t my fault, we were told not to wear our watch, but rather ride the course and have fun. Mission accomplished with a smile.
I was the typical twenty something eventer and I was on fire! We traveled the southeast competing at every event we could (afford), eating up highway miles and cross country fences with gusto. Every time I swung my leg over the saddle we became even more of a team. Unfortunately at our peak, my personal life took a nose dive and I hung my eventing vest up for what I thought would be a brief hiatus. I was wrong.
Ten years later everything I thought wouldn’t happen in my life did. I was married with two incredible step children, a nice size mortgage, and I had laid my event partner to rest in my back pasture. Please don’t think I had an aversion to the whole grown up life of marriage and kids, actually it has been really fantastic, but horses had been my world. Pretty narrow view, huh? At the time I didn’t think so, but now I do, for I have had the opportunity to experience a whole new world and it has made me a better person.
Never fear though, I never ‘quit’ horses, but rather put eventing and competing in general on the back burner. Okay, maybe I just turned them down to medium-low. Who am I kidding? Over the years I was able to foxhunt my gelding a few times and I have to admit, galloping in two point just felt good. It felt right. It felt like coming home. I began to classify myself as a fringe eventer. I perused eventing blogs regularly, made several pilgrimages to Rolex to shop immerse myself in the sport, and even wrote about it. Eventually I was forced to sell my jump saddle in order to buy one that fit my new horse. Think transitioning from a Ferrari to a Mac truck.
In 2008 I bought a 2 year old American Warmblood mare that is bred up one side and back down the other for dressage. No seriously. If my gelding was on the sales rack, she was on the clearance rack and I was elated to be able to afford something so nice. Yeah, I don’t believe in taking out a second mortgage to buy a horse. Besides, I now had the ‘family budget’ to think about. Instead I decided to tackle the world of dressage, because let’s face it guys it IS really harder than it looks and I actually thought it would be more affordable. Buwahahahaha! Boy was I wrong. I also knew that as the primary bread winner for my family it would probably be best to slow down a bit. Did I mention that I don’t bounce when I hit the ground anymore? Getting old(er) stinks.
Anyhoo, we competed very nicely up to 1st Level and even qualified for Regionals. Everything was going well until I began to notice subtle changes in my mare’s attitude while riding in the 20 x 60 meter sand box behind my barn. After much thought, we took a jump lesson with my former trainer Ralph Hill. HELLO! It seems my mare thinks jumping, especially cross country is the shizzle. I think my dressage mare wants a career change. Now at a crossroads in both my life and hers, I decided it might be time to break out my eventing vest, dust it off and get down to business.
I’ll be honest, I’m not rich and I still have to cook dinner, clean house, manage my backyard barn and stay within budget. But what I am is determined to have fun and the lure of eventing is pulling me back.
I am the Fringe Eventer and it is my hope, that in writing this blog and sharing this journey I’ll be able to inspire those AA’s out there like me who are either returning from a life hiatus or are thinking of diving into the world of eventing. Eventing I’ve learned is as much a lifestyle as a sport and it has never been far from my thoughts. Perhaps now is the time for me to return.