Eventing is insane

Every time I’m at any kind of horse show I find myself sitting there watching people get ready to compete and thinking about how absolutely insane eventing is. And not just because of the whole galloping-and-jumping-big-solid-fences thing, but mostly because of how we try to be good at three very different sports that are all really difficult in their own right. When you take a step back and really think about it, we’re all completely certifiable.

Proof positive. He’s been eventing for like 60 years and look how bat-shit he is.

Sometimes I miss the days of Jumperland where I could wake up in the morning at a show and go “Okay self, today you are going to remember your course and sit up!”. Now I wake up in the morning at an event (assuming I ever slept at all) and am so overwhelmed with all the things I have to remember that my brain pretty much just immediately explodes, then in the ensuing post-brain-apocalypse silence I think “Shit. I have to get up and braid.”.

Getting ready for dressage is an art in itself. You want a relaxed, obedient test from what is, most likely, a fit and fairly “blooded” horse. No one but the person showing the horse is allowed to ride it on the grounds, so forget a trainer ride. If you want enough horse left by the time you get to show jumping, forget a lunge or a long warm-up. Dressage is already really really hard, and we’ve managed to make it even harder. We have to remember the dressage test and all the tiny little things to try to maximize our score. And for the love of god, open your shoulders, look up, and keep riding inside leg to outside rein. Oh, and try not to look like you’d rather be anywhere else than in that sandbox.

sheer terror

Then we get to XC, where we want a horse that is bold, quick with it’s feet, moves efficiently across the ground, gets across the fence without wasting energy, and is enough of a “thinker” to get itself out of trouble. Totally different from what we wanted in the dressage test. We also have to remember the XC course (which requires at least 3 walks on my part – one to learn my way, one to make a solid plan, and one to re-affirm said plan) and everything we’re supposed to do along the way. Meters per minute. Minute markers here, here, here, here. Start your turn for that combination at that tree. Land slightly left here so your line works out better. Jump the right fences. Don’t fall off. I mean really… brain goes poof again.

we’ve lost it

Then there’s stadium, if you’re lucky enough to have survived all that other business. Now you get to remember a stadium course and all the little nuances that go into riding that cleanly (no pressure). You need your horse to be rideable, respectful, and careful, with lots of lift and power. Different yet again. So really, not only does the horse have to essentially be three totally different things, we have to be three totally different riders. Each phase has it’s own unique demands and styles of riding and to be successful we have to somehow be good at all of those things, all at the same time. Does anyone besides Michael Jung ever do everything right from start to finish? If you want to constantly feel challenged (and/or you have a touch of ADD) eventing is definitely for you. This sport is stupid hard and complicated and we are all 100% crazy for even trying to master it. And the fact that we do all of this while wearing head-to-toe white is all the proof you need of just how idiotic we really are.

whose idea was the white, anyway?

We won’t even talk about all the different rules for each phase. Or all the tack. Or all the clothes. Alright.. admittedly I don’t mind all the tack and clothes, but packing for a show looks more like you’re just plain moving out.

All of these things combined are probably why most eventers travel with at least one kind of alcohol. On some level I think we are all overwhelmed, whether it be just 1% (oh, if we could all be Buck) or 101% (I’m looking at you, lady that looks like she’s going to throw up before she goes in the start box. High five girl, you’ve got lady balls!).

and probably a moderately tipsy trainer

But this is also probably why we are all generally so helpful and supportive of each other. I’ve never felt more “at home” in any discipline. Everyone is welcome and everyone gets support from their fellow competitors. We’re all in the same big stupid boat together, just trying to survive through the end of the day and finish with a number, not a letter (because – minor detail – if you fall off or go off course, you’re out. Done-zo. Finished. There is no coming back later for another class, you have to pack your toys and go home. No refunds, but enjoy trying to get those mud stains out of your whites!).

There’s no doubt that nary a one of us has even a lick of common sense. No one in their right mind would do this, much less pay boatloads of money for the privilege. I’m pretty sure I live in a perpetual state of brain overload. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t want to be any other kind of insane with any other kind of lunatics.

a bunch of crazy people


34 thoughts on “Eventing is insane

  1. “No one in their right mind would do this, much less pay boatloads of money for the privilege.”

    I’m just about to dip my toe in to this world. I’m pretty sure most of my friends and colleagues think I’m a tad out there…so this just confirms to me I’m making the right choice of discipline. Cannot.Wait!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean. Sometimes I have “OMG this is so stupid, why am I driving myself crazy trying to be good at everything?” Then a few seconds tick by and I’m like “But I refuse to be beaten by this, dammit…”.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The first time I found myself voluntarily choosing to ride in a dressage saddle because I WANTED to learn to sit the trot was the day I declared myself insane.

      The few seconds in the start box consist of me wondering why on earth I agreed to do this.


  2. You eventers ARE insane. Cross country scares the sh*t out of me, so the fact that you guys even attempt to gallop around OUTSIDE OF AN ARENA and jump up and down and all around stuff, mad props given.


      1. There’s a video of me jumping a training water combination and my horse is all “I got this!!!!!” And I am, out loud, going “nonononono!”

        Time faults are definitely an issue.


  3. It is the people that make me love eventing. I fell into it by accident and I am not going to lie jumping solid objects makes me want to pee myself still, but the people are amazing. Someone forgets a helmet, here borrow this one. Someone is struggling in warm up, a 4* rider who has their own horse plus students in the warm up helps the struggling rider and celebrates when they go put in a clean round. It is a tough sport, but it is also an amazing sport.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. SIXTY?!?! You’re like 5 years older than me so whatever! AND I am not sure if it’s the knowing you for a little over a year or that I’ve evented for… a while… that’s made me bat shit.

    Liked by 1 person

              1. No Holly Hill for me. I’m doing my first Rolex trip ever and they’re too close together! I really, really need to get my shit together and enter a freaking three phase soon though. I haven’t done one in a year and a half, because stupid and weenie and idiot horse. Add to that the fact the xc jumps here are OMG WAY MORE HUGE than those in Georgia and I’ll probably do freaking starter my first one back. but I’m trying to rewarm my balls.


              2. Ok now Boo to Starter or to no Holly Hill? DON’T YOU JUDGE ME.

                What else is on the schedule for you guys? I have no idea what I’m doing this year, besides the Cedar Creek CT schooling show this weekend.


                1. BOO TO NO HOLLY HILL. I’m not doing any other recognized events til Coconino in Arizona. I think Bobby is planning Pine hill, holly hill, aaaannd… maybe willow draw? I forget. His life is unimportant to me.


  5. my favorite thing about eventing is that there’s really a place for everybody. like you say – each phase is hard, but that provides so many opportunities for riders who might each have very different strengths/weaknesses to still excel and have a lot of fun while doing it

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eventers are crazy. Water is wet. The Earth is round. 😛 You’ve gotta be a little bit crazy to gallop full speed over solid items (or to even get on the back of these sensitive large dogs that we love so much). Props to you guys, seriously. I know it’s hard, yet y’all still make it look easy. Also, go Bobby.


  7. You’ve captured eventing so well! What I love best is that the three phases level the playing field. I feel that it’s rare in other disciplines for amateurs to bring along their own horses and be quite competitive against “made” horses. Eventing very much appeals to my scrappy nature 🙂


  8. It is the only place where I have felt like I fit in a little bit. I have been told that I am crazy or weird every day of my life, so it was just time that I ended up in the crazy eventer bin. I like it here. YOU CAN’T TAKE ME AWAY!


  9. I think it’s Jim Wofford who has been doing a slew of articles for Practical Horseman that address exactly what you are talking about here: how the sport of eventing has changed so much over the years, and how it has impacted what we need from our horses. I thought it was an intriguing read: I’ll see if I can find it anywhere if you haven’t read any of them.


  10. I am crazy, therefore I event. No one else has embraced my crazy quite like eventers do, and I love them for it. My people. I mean hell, I was discussing my huge-headed disgusting horse’s butt juice with Nick Larkin on Facebook last night. Can you see discussing butt juice with Beezie or McClain or GEORGE?? Hell naw.

    I love me some eventers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s