My last horse trial took place in September of 1999. I was 19, and injured in a freak fall during Stadium Jumping. My horse at the time, Kismet (show name Celtic Prince), was a horse with tons of scope and talent. After the fall, the surgeries and physical therapy that followed told me that I was doing Kismet a disservice by keeping him for myself - he could really bring joy to someone else, so we sold him.
When Matt and I moved out of NYC and bought our little farm, I thought getting back to the sport of Eventing was a bit of a pipe dream - my horse, Midnight, was my retired eventer. I would occasionally look at Thoroughbred rescue websites and daydream about a youngster I could bring through the ranks of the sport, much like I did with Midnight, Storm, Kismet and others. When we suddenly lost Midnight and I adopted Zeus, the dream to event again was a distant, but somehow reachable goal.
So the work began - the schooling, lessons, trailering around to little shows and various places so Zeus would learn that he left our barn, did some fun stuff, and came back home. I knew it was time to try it again - the sport I keep up with daily on Eventing Nation. The precise movements of dressage, the rush of adrenaline of cross country, and the execution and fine tuning of show jumping.
I chose Riga Meadow because it was relatively close to home and is known for being a great course for first-time horses and riders. There were still a few questions and tough jumps on course, but overall, it was very well done and it was clear the officials and staff created a course that would be a great experience for horse and rider.
More than anything else, being back in the eventing community was like coming home. I saw familiar faces, exchanged a few hugs with long lost friends, and introduced my new-to-eventing husband to all of these people who knew me so well in my teen years. While walking the cross country course the day before, I saw some volunteers watering all of the flowers and plants surrounding the XC jumps, and went out of my way to tell them the course looked great and to thank them for all their hard work. The response I got with a smile was, "So, you've worked an event before, huh? Thanks!"
Everything about the day reminded me why I fell in love with Eventing. From the bit-checker at dressage who spoke softly to my frazzled youngster, to the TD (the incomparable Ray Denis) who emailed me personally after the event and all of the staff and volunteers who made the day possible, everyone was so friendly and happy to help, even after standing out in a field in 90+ degree temps!
Next to us in the trailer area was a woman and her husband, with a little chestnut horse who didn't mind Zeus' spastic moments. We chit-chatted with them, commenting on our color choices for cross country, wishing each other luck, congratulating each other after our successful rounds, discussing the course and - what else - our horses. I don't know their names, but I felt as though we met as strangers, and left as friends. I'll know if I see a little chestnut wearing lime and turquoise running cross country, I'll be sure to cheer for them!
These are the people who make my sport so much fun. This is the sense of community and support that I've missed so much. I'm grateful for the 12 year hiatus from eventing, because it makes me appreciate everything so much more.
So to the sport of Eventing, I say to you.....I'm back.