Caitrin O’Shea is a Wisconsin event rider who’s doing the best she can with the geographic hand she’s been dealt. She offers this bit of advice.
Alison Springer, Becky Holder, Eric Dierks, Jon Holling, Ralph Hill…. what do all these people have in common? They’re Area IV eventers who got the **** out of dodge! But what drove them away? The unbelievable long, cold winters? Of course. But that couldn’t be all of it– after all, the nomadic eventing life revolves around going South for the winter anyways, so why not come back to the Midwest for the summer? We have a few decent events, and any four star eventer would have a glut of business from all the people scrambling to take lessons. So there must be another reason.
Culturally, we’re not as horse oriented as out east, and I learned that lesson in a BIG way in my recent attempt to secure a beautiful cross country course here in the Wisconsin for the next generation of young eventers. The original owner died a few years ago and had his land set up into a trust for future use. He was a lover of the sport– importing horses from Ireland, bringing in top notch trainers, and building all of his jumps to the absolute highest standard. I have never seen another place on earth where you could jump UP a bank, land in water, two strides, up another bank, INTO WATER!!! It was a pretty cool water complex.
Recently, I sent the most professional proposal I could to the members of the trust, with the full weight and support of the WDCTA behind it, only to be rejected because the land had been re-insured, and could therefore no longer host equine activities. I didn’t know the owner very well, but I knew him enough to say that anyone who knew him at all would tell you that that was not what he would have wanted.
So my point is, cherish what you have. Build relationships where you can. Steer clear of the politics. Do whatever you can to do your part to ensure that our sport continues… because if you don’t, who will?