Kristin's Blog post # 1: Introduction!

Hi everyone! I am super excited about being a new Adult Amateur blogger for My Virtual Eventing Coach! I was asked to write an introductory post, but when I thought about making a short introduction, I realized it is like trying to sum up an eccentric and complex history in a couple sentence. So, my introduction will be a short history, a little bit of me, but a lot about my horses. They are the ones who make the riders, after all.

I grew up in the back country of Louisiana, and I proudly learned to ride at Red Oak Horse Farm. My family didn't have a lot of money, so I cleaned stalls and anything I could to work off lessons. I started riding at three, and it took six years of begging to get my first horse. He was a 9yo unbroken Arabian that still lived in a field with his mother. PERFECT for a small child! He was obviously not an ideal hunter mount (the main occupation of Louisiana riders), so I made my way to the event world

Ara-Bey loved to jump anything and home. At home I soared bareback over 4 foot fences, but at a show I never even completed a beginner novice. I gave it my all, back when you could fall off, get a million refusals, and still go on. It wasn't meant to be, so Ara-Bey and I never got ring experience. However, I did get around a beginner novice on a horse named By The Way.


That's me leaping to fifth place on By The Way. In this photo, you can see that I was as dedicated to jumping beginner novice height as By The Way was. At this show I got the nickname Little Linder (Linder is my maiden name), since my legs didn't go below the flaps of the saddle. At home hay strings kept my leg at the girth, but at a show I was all airborne. PS - I suppose boots weren't required then? Nevertheless, eye of the tiger!
Lousiana hosts a couple small events, but it is hours and hours from the big shows, big trainers, and big dreams. I desperately wanted to be a professional rider, and I knew I couldn't make a career in LA. Consequently, at 15 I packed up my things, and headed to Goosedowns Farm in New Mexico to be a working student. I had a two horse trailer and a 89 suburban with bench seats. It broke down on the way there, and officially died when I returned home, but it got me all the experience I needed that summer.


I spent the summer learning how tack should be cleaned, and that some horses need to be led with shanks, and had Sally O'Connor teach me how to leg yield, and a million other life lessons. I learned how to run a big farm, how to host shows, and how to ride. I had an OTTB named Art, and what I wouldn't give now to have that horse to jump. He was phenomenal, and we did my first Novice, but then after I came home he was injured and retired.

I was finishing high school, horseless, and with no direction. I had dreams of Young Riders and the Olympics, but no horse and no trainer. When you live in a remote location, you are left to your own teaching. I have read probably every book, made a few as my go tos, and occasionally could save and travel for a clinic.

I found a horse in the local classifieds that was an OTTB being barrel raced. I went and saw him, and thought he would do. He was 16.2, bay, and seemed like he might be something special. So, I had a horse, but no trainer and no actual plan. I named him "In A Trance," and honestly it was so long ago I can't remember a single reason why. I now hate the name, but boy do I love the horse.


Trance could jump from day one. I had my dad come out and see my "future Olympic horse" and we came barreling around the field at a literal brick wall. Trance leapt....

landed, and then promptly bucked me off. I fractured my arm, and despite wanting my dad to love this horse, admitted I needed to go to the ER. Dad said, "Long way to go on this one." When we got the photos developed, however, and I saw the jump, I was more than thrilled and couldn't wait to jump and eat it more on this horse.

After a year of trying to ride this precious thing and bolting at fences, running around with his head in the air, and coping with a rearing issue on the ground, I signed up for a Jim Graham clinic at beginner novice. I still have the clinic video, and I literally could not get Trance over a log. Like, a warm up log. Jim fell in love with him for whatever reason, and asked me to move and work for him. I knew then he was insane, but it was a ticket out of Louisiana and into high level eventing. I couldn't turn it down! I took a year off college and away I went.
I arrived and spent the first week trying to learn how to make Trance canter....and then once he cantered, how to stop. I had very little training, and was certainly not classical. The other riders were all Intermediate/Advanced, and I was a sore misfit. I worked hard, though, and after 7 days Jim told me he signed me up for my first event. GREAT! When? "In seven days at the Kentucky Horse Park." Ummmm.....
I enjoyed what I thought was my last week until death. I packed up with the big girls and went to KY. I had never seen the park, and let me tell you, that's a life changer. I unloaded Trance, got dragged around while he reared, and shoved him in a stall. I was so nervous that I would lose him that I didn't hand walk him all weekend! I barely made it to dressage warm up, and when I did, Trance was TERRIFIED there were a million people in one ring. I bolted about, screaming apologies as I flew into countless people, then they called me up. I entered the ring, which was my main goal, and then began my test. I thought things were going ok until the free walk (hm, some things never change), when he noticed everyone left for lunch. NOW he was upset there was no one around! He reared about screeching, leapt around, bolted here and there, and we made it past the walk and into the trot. The rest of the test was just....traumatic. When I hit the final halt, the judge actually came out of her box and asked me if I had a trainer. I just said, "Yes." I didn't say, he is an Olympic selector!
The rest of the show was perfect, we picked up a 20 xc and I thought GALLOPED top speed. Turns out we were 45 seconds slow, at novice. Stadium was perfect, and I did it! I had an event horse! I was an eventer!

The rest of that year flew by, and from June 2004 to May 2005 we flew up the levels. I ran the VA CCI* in May 2005 and came in 4th, and then we did NAYRC in August and brought home team bronze. What a rush! What a sport! What a world!
I came back to Louisiana after Young Riders to take a break, and two weeks later hurricane Katrina hit. Trance was injured and had to be retired, and I went back to school. I moved to Virginia (horse land!!!) in September 2008. In May of 2010 I had Trance checked to see if he could be sound enough for trail rides. My vet, Dr. Nolan at Piedmont, insisted I should try and bring Trance back. I said ok, did a couple months of work.....and then took him to an event at Training. He was great! He was sound! So we did some trainings, then some prelims......then some intermediates.....then a CCI** in June 2011 at Bromont. The miracle horse was back and better than ever. I trained with Skyeler Icke Voss and Angelica Run Eventing, and had an event family all over again. Trance and I went to the AECs last year and brought home 6th in the Intermediate!

We have been hit and miss since the AECs, since he got Tildren to prepare for the Fair Hill CCI** and went into renal failure. He lived (again!), but lost the fall season. He came back this spring to make a go at Advanced, and for one reason or another we send in that Advanced entry, and then something random comes up and we have to take a break again. Currently, he is off for a couple months due to a stress fracture, with him making a beautiful go at Chatt Hills in July and finishing 5th in the Intermediate. I hope he can stay sound, and that we get that Advanced done, but this horse owes me nothing. Ten years into this relationship, he took that girl in the first photo and taught her how to fly and showed her how to run with the big boys.

I just got a new OTTB 4yo named Khaleesi (Lizzie). Here she is free jumping (look familiar?!)

I bought her sight unseen, had her shipped over, and couldn't be more thrilled. There is something special about this horse. Here is a video of her first jump school:

She barely steers (really) and doesn't understand rein contact, but I will save all those fun issues for future blogs.

While this is SUPER LONG, I wanted to give a history of my horses, so you can understand me as a rider. When Trance was injured in Katrina, I went back to school full time, and every since have (happily) been an amateur. That will also be a different blog, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Riding at the upper levels as an amateur is very different than when you train full time and sit on ten horses a day, but such is the life I have chosen. I own a tutoring company I began in 2008 that works in Arlington, VA and Washington, DC, and also am the business manager at the recently purchased Morningside Training Farm.

I hope my stories will interest those of you starting new horses or facing difficult issues, and the many of you that have to balance riding with family/jobs/a million other things.

Blog by Kristin Carpenter @

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