Horse Life


Before I forget, I have to confess something. Thanks to everyone who left a nice comment on yesterday’s post! There were 2 in particular that made me go, “Whaaaaattt?”

Thanks Amanda and Olivia:


What option? You guys are seeing things. Then I went back and looked at the video….and yeah. In my drowning despair when I found jump 5 (and also being rushed to get back and tack up for SJ), I failed to look at where the white flag was. And… will see that the TINY PLAIN NOT SCARY TABLE is, in fact, between the flags.


When I ran to go find jump 5 between dressage and SJ (it wasn’t numbered the night before), I saw the number, noted the never ending width, and booked it back to the barn to get ready. And this, kids, is another example of what NOT to do.


I’m actually glad it happened like that, though. If it had been numbered the evening before during my course walk, or if I’d been in less of a rush, I would’ve resolved to take the smaller option for the same reason I chose the option at 8, the down bank: we needed a good experience. But I guess it’s true that what you don’t know won’t hurt you because we successfully made it over the “giant” one.

But seriously. Rookie mistake much?


Next time I have to walk a course alone, maybe someone should FaceTime with me to make sure I’m doing it right….

Anyway, this weekend was a whirlwind. Between entering on Friday afternoon, hauling to Aiken the next day and showing the next, I didn’t really give myself time to panic or think about how I was trying YET AGAIN to move up after so many failed attempts.


Sidenote: Can you really call it moving up if you’re talking about the lowest level of recognized eventing? For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to.

But really. BN is 2’7″. It’s not large by any stretch of the imagination and even that damn jump #5 was really just a blip in the grand scheme of things. Pilgrim could probably hop over any of them from a standstill. BN is where most people start their horses.


But it’s not where I started. I started with zero confidence, thinking a stick on the ground was too daunting. It was nothing like I remembered from riding as a teenager and I honestly have no idea why I didn’t quit and move on to something else.

And when I think, “Holy crap, it took us (me) THREE YEARS to compete at BN,” I cringe. But really, even though we’ve done eventer-ish stuff for 3 years, P doesn’t have a lot of actual eventing experience.

We did 2 horse trials in 2015, both at the 2′ division. In our first one we were eliminated because he wouldn’t go anywhere near the water (we had to go past it, not in it, to get to our jump) and we were holding people up at the start box.

In 2016, we competed in 3 horse trials, and of those, completed 2. In one of them I eliminated us by leg yielding him out of the arena in dressage. The other 2 were still at the starter level and both had refusals in SJ and/or XC. Not exactly a sign to increase difficulty.

This year we competed in 5 horse trials, and completed 4. That’s more this year than the other 2 years combined. So more exposure this year than ever before. Not just in horse trials, but in jumper shows as well, which is really what I needed to get me so out of my head. The other key: we switched to a good, stable trainer who, like a ninja, gradually increased the difficulty of our exercises to build our confidence without an agenda or timeline.

P’s never been the simplest horse to ride. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not nuts or uncontrollable (usually), but he’s so very sensitive and requires a lot of tact that I, quite frankly, am still trying to obtain. And being young, his needs are ever-changing. When he was younger and would lose his brain, that was it for the day. He’d shut down with added pressure. Now he requires more pressure to tell him to get over himself. Couple that with a short walk break, and he’ll typically get back to work. But he trained me early on to back off of him, so now that his needs are changing, it’s up to me to step up and forget our baggage.

So yeah, first BN might not seem like a big deal to most, and the fact that it took 3 years to do so is not exactly something I enjoy advertising to the world (hence why I don’t publicize this blog anywhere…), but I’m so proud of us for finally making the leap! It really felt like I would be stuck at starter forever.

Now it’s time to fix whatever the hell has been going on with dressage lately. Thankfully Trainer J is coming to my barn for lessons today. Because that’s now become the weakest phase.

23 thoughts on “Unstuck”

  1. I didnt notice it in the video till Amanda posted her comment then went back to watch again and LOLLOL. I would probably have done the same thing, not even noticed 🙂 HA HA HA OMG This is just priceless i am still giggling here….HA HA HA


  2. That’s so awesome! I would definitely have not noticed the flags. I would’ve jumped the giant table too hahaha! I am so happy that you’re proud of this show. You should be. You really attacked it, and it seems that yes while it’s taken you 3 years, you and P did it and you SMASHED IT. You didn’t quit, you wouldn’t let him quit, and it was awesome. I smiled so big when you tapped him with that crop. You go girl! And honestly I only have BN goals right now too cause I think that’s all Amber may be able to do haha!


  3. I did the same thing when I was competing my old guy Gus! There was an up bank out of of the water that I thought we had to do (bc the number was on the bank!) and I didn’t pay any attention to the white flag. So on XC I took the bank up and had no idea until someone came up to me and said “wow you took the option good for you!” And I was like “ummm what option?” 😂

    But with that said you still have so much to be proud of!!!! Who cares what level you’re competing at… all that matters is you’re having fun and going at your own pace. You’ve had a lot of ups and downs and issues on the way but now you’re at a place where it works. Sometimes I feel like you need the “bad” to make you appreciate the “good” that much more and know that you’re in the correct place to achieve your goals. It takes time to find the right niche with barns and trainers but it seems like you’ve struck gold and that’s what matters in the long run 😁 So keep being as badass superstar and make BN your Rolex! And then Novice can be your Rolex, and the Training, and then… 😉


    1. 😂😂😂 You badass you, jumping out of the water! Good to know I’m not alone.

      And thank you for that! I don’t care so much about the actual level as I do about the reasons why I couldn’t commit to anything bigger than starter. Definitely appreciate the “good” more so than if everything had been perfect along the way.


  4. No two journeys are the same so its futile to beat yourself up over how fast or slow the progress goes. You’ve come pretty far when you add in the emotional components, changing trainers etc etc So much to be happy about and proud of.


    1. It’s not really about comparing myself to others- though I’m definitely guilty of that- it was more like wondering if I’d EVER have the confidence to move up. And if I wasn’t ever going to progress, why bother trying? Horses are so expensive and time consuming, and for awhile I wasn’t having any fun at all. That’s over now!


  5. i’m so happy for you in having such a successful BN run! we can always find ways to delegitimize our own efforts and successes (ie: most ppl start at BN, 2’7 isn’t that big, can’t call it moving up when it’s already the lowest level, insert whatever other down playing commentary you want), but that’s so unfair. NOTHING beats that feeling of crossing the finish line and just BEAMING. just knowing, deep in our heart of hearts, that we just accomplished something that was a true challenge for us, and a real test of all that hard work, dedication, and blood/sweat/tear equity that we’ve poured into this hobby. that’s definitely something worth savoring, bc we don’t always get those wins often with horses 😀 congrats again!


    1. You’re right, I’m probably too self-deprecating (I’m actually still super proud of myself over here!), and it wasn’t so much about the height or level or whatever, it was more that I was questioning why I was continuing to throw all my time and money into something that became the opposite of fun for me. It wasn’t, “I’m not jumping BN, I suck,” it was, “I’m terrified to jump BN, why am I doing this to myself.”

      And for real…NOTHING beats crossing through the finish flags. The blue from Windridge and the yellow from this last weekend are my favorites of all because both of those HTs had me practically panicked, but we did it and lived to tell the story!


  6. You should be damn proud of your run at BN. It doesn’t matter how long t took to get there or what “typically” happens for others. Nobody else is you and nobody else is riding Pilgrim. You two have come so far since you got him back from the sale barn. Bask in that. You deserve it


  7. I never even noticed. But I don’t generally know to look at the flags either. You guys did crazy good though. Look at you taking an option like it’s nothing!.


  8. It’s no small accomplishment at all. Y’all did a big thing and you did it well! Even if jumping the bigger option was a slight “error” it’s still badass and that’s something to be proud of =)


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