Lessons Learned: Worth the Investment

Ainsley Jacobs, our adult amateur event columnist, illustrates why well-fitting tack for both horse and rider is so important, and how not to spend a small fortune.

Adult amateur event blogger Ainsley Jacobs has been chronicling how she finds the takeaway lesson from the good, the bad and the ugly in her equestrian experience. Her horse JJ has been rehabbing from a ligament injury for a few months, so during his layoff time Ainsley is revisiting earlier lessons in her experience. Today’s story is from August of 2015.

The Drexel University Equestrian Team (DUET) reborn! Left to right: EJ and Onyx, me and JJ, Sarah and Kirby. Photo by Halliea Milner / Go With It Farm

I got a new(ish) dressage saddle recently. I realized that even if we go double clear in our jump rounds, we’ll need to improve our dressage scores if we want to actually do well and be competitive. As JJ’s jump saddle is totally awesome but also too big for me, I decided I needed to take my competition dreams seriously and invest in some tack.

I found a great Rembrandt dressage saddle that fit both me and JJ perfectly, and picked it up for $300 on one of the Facebook tack trader groups. We’ve only had a few rides in it so far, but I was really excited to try out my new equipment at a show.

There was a combined training event at Oxer Farm this weekend, and I was looking forward to doing a low-key show with only two phases. It seemed like it’d be so laid back, like a little “eventing vacation.” The only girls from Go With It Farm who were riding at this show happened to be my two best friends, EJ and Sarah! I met these awesome ladies while I was in college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we all rode on the DUET equestrian team together. We’ve been friends for a decade now, and it’s so cool that we can still ride together!

The warm up arena at Oxer Farm is a little small, so our early-morning exercise left much to be desired. My trainer wasn’t too happy with how it went, but I had a feeling we’d do better once we were in the dressage arena and had some space to ourselves. We headed in, and JJ was right there for me. He was focused, supple, and willing. My trainer said she was so surprised with how well it went after having seen our warm up, and she was really happy with our test. We were in the 30s for the third time in the row, and scored a 39.50 on our Beginner Novice B test.

Jumping around the Beginner Novice course to finish out our CT in 2nd on our dressage score. Photo by Oxer Farm

The short-format CT show meant that all we had to do was get through stadium, and we’d be able to call it a day. I was still having some anxiety from the Poplar fall a few weeks ago, but focused on just setting JJ up well for each jump and trusting him to do his job. As a result, we had a great double clear stadium round with only one wonky distance where he saved my butt by adding a stride. He’s so smart!

All three of us had great rides, and we ended our day with smiles. EJ and Onyx were third in Tadpole CT, JJ and I were second in Beginner Novice CT, and Sarah and Kirby were winners in Tadpole CT and took home the reserve champion award for their stellar dressage score!


If you want to be competitive, invest in yourself. That means working on your dressage tests to improve your scores, and investing in some proper, well-fitting equipment. You don’t have to spend a ton – buy used, quality tack that you can always resell later. You’ll ride better if you’re comfortable and in the right position, and that will show in your results.

Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She started riding huntseat equitation when she was eight, and has tried practically every discipline since then. In 2014, Ainsley discovered eventing and it changed her life! She purchased her first horse, JJ Spot, in February 2016 and chronicles their successes (and struggles) of learning to overcome literal and figurative obstacles in her blog at www.RideHeelsDown.com.

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

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