HN columnist Katy Groesbeck and her horse just rocked their first Advanced-level horse trial, during which Katy rediscovered just how supportive the eventing community can be. From Katy:
The first weekend of March was quite possibly the most nerve-wracking, nausea-inducing time I’ve had in several years and also probably one of most rewarding and exhilarating weekends also. Funny how those feelings always seem to coincide when it comes to horses!
March 2-4 was Twin Rivers’ first recognized horse trial of the year in Paso Robles, Calif., and it was also my first attempt at Advanced. That being said, I am hereby issuing a public apology to anyone who happened to come into contact with me from about Feb. 15th onward: I am afraid I assaulted each and every one of these poor folks with all of my anxieties about “moving up,” as we call it in the trade, and those anxieties were numerous!! No matter how many times I told myself I was ready and that my horse was eager to stretch his legs, I must admit I was withering under self-induced pressure. Thank God for my friends and family who talked me out of numerous meltdowns, and thank God for my wonderful little gelding who patiently and forgivingly meets me each day with a kind nicker; his confidence in himself and his abilities NEVER waivers, so at least he makes up for me! I want to grow up to be just like him someday.
Speaking of giving thanks, let’s get to the crux of this report (because surprisingly, I didn’t actually set out to write about me and my perfect horse): EVENTERS ARE AWESOME! Even though I traveled to and from the event by myself, I was greatly mistaken in thinking I was going “alone.” You see, usually my parents, or at least one of them, is along with me to shows; this trip, however, for one reason and another, neither of my parents were there. I had resigned myself to a weekend of relative solitude, but much to my delight it was anything but that. From the get-go, I could feel the embrace of my fellow eventers: before the event, a friend generously loaned me her truck and trailer for the trip, and then I received the most gracious text message from the phenomenal Hawley Bennett, asking if I needed any help at the show and saying to come find her. She was kind enough to include me in all of her course walks and helped warm me up before show jumping; with several upper level rides of her own and students in multiple divisions, that woman is nothing short of a magic act. We’re lucky to have people like her here on the West Coast representing our sport. (Hats off as well to James and Taren Atkinson, Tamie Smith, Deb Rosen, and many others who make it look easy and do it graciously! The list is long.)
I was also in the company of many good friends who lent a helping hand polishing boots, scrubbing muddy tack, hosing down Advanced Horse Extraordinaire after cross country, filling water tubs, tying a pinny that came undone seconds before I left the box, and other general help. I also could not have survived the weekend without the spare blankets I was loaned to endure the freezing temperatures overnight; the same wonderful folks also helped fill my stomach and gave me the opportunity to take a much-needed hot shower!! I did my own part where I could, loaning out my optimum time watch to my show-neighbor. That little watch did its last earthly deed valiantly, timing Sierra Matthias to a tie-breaking and blue-ribbon cross country run; it failed to work a second longer than she needed it, and even new batteries could not revive its brave little soul.
But beyond the material support I was given that weekend, I can’t even find the words to express the emotional support and positive energy that seemed to flow from everyone around me. Everywhere I turned I was met with a smile, and I can’t count the number of “good luck,” “how’d it go?,” or congratulatory phrases I heard, both in person and online. I felt like I had the entirety of USEA behind me, cheering me on, and I was on top of the world receiving so much positive feedback. Trainers, friends, relatives, innocent bystanders: all sent their encouraging words my way at some point or another.
And the best part is, none of this has anything to do with me and has everything to do with the warm-hearted nature of the sport and the people involved; we’re all in it together, sharing victories and heartaches alike. It’s a giant community with a small-town feel, full of love and support, and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of it!! It was an incredible weekend and I’m still smiling. See you all next time!
(As a post-script, I’d like to share that my horse did happen to have a phenomenal weekend. There’s still a lot of room to improve but he’s pretty sure he just won Rolex. Hmmmmm…..maybe next year hehe. )