It’s late at night, and the glow from your scrolling Facebook feed is suddenly illuminated by a video from one of the top event riders, cruising around some pretty impressive obstacles at top speeds, making it look equal parts terrifying and thrilling. And because you’re a horse person, and already a little crazy, you think “hey, maybe Princess Buttercup and I should give this eventing this a go”. (and luckily for you, eventing goes all the way down to the very doable starter levels)
There is so much to love about eventing. Here’s a few things that you should prepare yourself for:
1.Become versatile – Yes, there are three separate phases (dressage, cross country, and show jumping), requiring the horse to be versatile, however each of these phases can improve other disciplines as well. Have a Derby horse that needs to be a bit more brave? Cross Country gets them moving and thinking on their feet. How about a hunter who needs to learn to rock back and push from behind for a better jump or clean change? Dressage should get it done. Or how about a dressage horse who needs to open up thru the shoulder more? Schooling for either of the jumping phases will for sure help.
2. Embrace your inner safety police – Eventers may have a reputation for being crazy, but we are not negligent. The list of ways eventing has made strides to improve the safety of the sport is extensive, and so is the list of equipment that riders themselves use to stay safe. The #alwaysamazing innovators at Ovation have released the Comfortflex Protector, which is a SEI-ASTM, CE level 3 certified and Beta level 3 protective vest. This vest provides riders with optimum comfort and protection when they leave the start box. And in order to stay safe and utilize all that color-expression freedom, riders can don the Jump Air Helmet, featuring 4 colors, and a removable, washable Coolmax ™ liner (because eventers sweat… a lot).
3. Go shopping – In addition to the safety equipment, eventing is basically a shoppers paradise. Three phases to outfit yourself and the horse for – THREE! Now, you can go conservative, and limit the expanse of you and your horse’s wardrobe, or you can go all out, with completely separate outfits. Luckily Ovation has you covered, including all your bridle needs with the ATS line of bridles. From dressage to jumping, they have all the noseband options you could ever need, with ultimate comfort provided by an anatomic crown piece and foam lining.
4. Brush up on the rules – With more phases, comes more rules. Luckily, there are large amounts of resources to introduce you to the requirements, and most every eventer is glad to answer any questions you may have. Here are a few things to remember for each discipline:
- Dressage – Bit selection is very important, and is basically limited to non-leverage, snaffle bits. Whip and spurs have required lengths, and no boots are allowed on the horse. Smile at the judge and wait on the whistle to begin the test.
- Cross Country – equipment requirements on cross country are less strict, however every rider is required to have the required safety equipment (including an armband with all your medical information… because it always makes you feel better to need your personal information strapped to you while competing in a sport). Also, make sure you go thru the finish flags at the end (if you don’t, it’s a mistake you’ll only make once).
- Stadium Jumping – Still less strict than dressage in the equipment department, however, make sure you that you wait on the start buzzer to begin, and do not go through the start timers until you are heading to fence one (again, a mistake you’ll only make once)
5. Be prepared to make friends – Eventers are friendly people – so get ready. Those stabled next you to you will share what’s in their cooler, pull together equipment, and give you heads up on rough course situations. We are competitive people, but most of the competition is with ourselves; therefore we will always help and encourage the rest of our fellow riders.
6. Reap the rewards – The feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line for the first time is indescribable. The process will bring you closer to your horse, and you’ll get to have all the pretty, colorful new equipment that you’ve always wanted – and probably get to try different types of beer from your neighbors.
7. Have fun!!! (self explanatory) Enjoy the ride!
For more information on eventing visit http://www.discovereventing.com