When you find an equestrian discipline you really click with, it’s a special thing. Lila Gendal explains why eventing is her sport of choice.
Like the majority of event riders who were unable to witness the intensity of Rolex first hand, I spent my weekend glued to online scores and live stream videos presented by USEF Network! I felt as if I was living vicariously through all of the competitors. I was wowed. I was shocked. I was thrilled. Rolex never ceases to impress me. This particular Rolex got me thinking about why I am an event rider today, and what it is about this particular sport that lured me in. So, without further ado, her are five reasons why THIS is the sport for me!
1) Cross-country! Even though I spent the better part of my youth scared to death of jumping, it’s really this phase that is contagious, and this is the phase I dream about on a weekly basis. I don’t compete at the upper levels, but I have hopes and dreams of getting there someday. For me, cross country offers this strange blend of fear combined with an insane amount of fun. Quite honestly, every time I leave the start box I am beyond excited, even if it’s only beginner novice!
2) Show Jumping. I love to jump… PERIOD. The fact that our sport allows for two different opportunities to jump is pretty darn cool. Even though cross-country provides that intense adrenaline rush, show jumping can be a close second as far as excitement goes. Not everyone would agree with me here, but I am definitely drawn to show jumping and actually am the least nervous for this phase. I love everything about show jumping, from the outfits we wear to the precision to the relationship you feel with your horse at the end of a long day or weekend.
3) Dressage. Hi, my name is Lila, and I am a closeted dressage lover. This was certainly not always the case, but fast forward through my teenage years and I am left with two horses that were bred to eat up this phase. When everything is perfect, and the stars in in alignment, dressage can be very fun. I don’t remember the last time I dreaded going down centerline. I see this phase as an exam. If you study diligently, and if you are confident, then maybe, just maybe good things will come together.
4) I’m a loner. Not sure how many people would admit to this or not, but I am definitely an odd duck. I am such a thinker, an analyzer and a problem solver. I have never really been particularly interested in large group activities, or taking center stage. From as far back as I could remember, animals were the coolest things ever. I would rather brush a pony, stare at a goat, or follow a turtle around than sit and gossip with 10 other females. In fact, the mere thought of the latter activity makes me want to vomit. Eventing is really about two things: YOU and YOUR HORSE. Makes sense to me.
5) Last but not least, eventing is an addiction. Because I am drawn to adrenaline seeking sports, and because I have a borderline obsessive personality, eventing is intriguing and luring on countless levels. You can literally be in first after dressage and go into showjumping 22nd out of 22 riders. You can be in 12th place and end up with a blue ribbon at the end a weekend. Eventing is almost unattainable at times, which is part of its unwavering appeal. This is the sport for me and I can’t imagine not being apart of it. So, what’s YOUR discipline and why have you stuck with it this long?!
My name is Lila Gendal and I am 27 years old. I am from Vermont and have been riding horses since I was 6 years old. I have been eventing since I was 10. I have been riding and training with Denny Emerson for the last 7 years. My goal is to compete at the upper levels someday. I currently have a 2005 Holsteiner mare, “Valonia” (Contester X Parlona), who is currently going training level, and I am riding one of Denny Emerson’s horses, a 2005 Selle Luxemburg gelding, “Beaulieu’s Cool Skybreaker” (Beaulieu’s Coolman X Une Beaute by Heartbreaker) who will be moving up to training soon! When I am not on a horse or in the barn I am likely working in my office on what I like to call Equine Media… or social media for equestrians and equestrian websites.