For everyone who read this post title and thought “oh god, there she goes again waxing poetic about eventing” – you’re right, here I go again. Today we embark on our journey to Coconino, and while to most people it would probably seem like just another show (that you can’t wait for me to stop talking about), I can’t help but reflect on just how much this opportunity really means to someone like me.
I don’t have a fancy, expensive horse. I don’t have a new, pimped out truck. I don’t have a shiny, pretty trailer. I have a $900 horse that I bought on Facebook, a used and slightly dinged truck complete with old school crank windows, and I pull a very, uh, “vintage” trailer that cost even less than my horse. Heck, I sleep in a truck tent at shows. And I’m deeply grateful for all of it, every single day.
This is a sport that has room for everyone. Sure, sometimes we lose to the people on a 60k import with a 100k rig, but lots of times we don’t. When I see a fancy horse trotting around dressage warmup, I don’t feel instantly defeated. I admire them, drool a little over the pretty horsey, and then go about my business knowing that we all have 3 phases to get through. At the end of the day, those three very different phases are a pretty great equalizer. Some days you win, some days you find yourself rocketing face first into the water.
The best part is, in the sport of eventing I am not unique — not by a long shot. Many competitors have stories similar to mine. There aren’t a lot of sports where the field of entries is pretty much always split between horses that cost $1500 or less or horses that cost 30k and up. They might range from 14 hands to 18 hands. They could be Arabs or Quarter Horses or Thoroughbreds or warmbloods. Their riders might be sitting in a $300 saddle or a $6000 saddle. The competitors roll into the show grounds in all sorts of rigs, big to small and fancy to total jalopy. There aren’t a lot of sports where just about anyone could win, regardless of how simple or how fancy.
Being able to show in other states, travel with my horse, spend multiple weeks on the road… those have always been far-off dreams. They seemed far-off because in my mind those are the things that wealthy people do, and I’m not a wealthy person. I was the working student left behind while the other kids went to winter circuit. I’m the adult shopping for a project horse on facebook with a 1k budget. I considered all those things to be pipe dreams, just about as far from my reality as you could possibly get.
Yet here we are, embarking on a another journey I never imagined I’d be able to make, with the kind of horse I never thought I’d be lucky enough to own. First Nationals last year, a dream come true in it’s own right, and now this. I will never stop being thankful for the relative affordability of the sport of eventing, for all the friends and family who continue to enable my addiction, and for all the opportunities that it has given me. Two weeks in the mountains of Arizona, a long format 3 Day, and my horse’s first recognized show at a level I didn’t even dare dream of just a year and half ago when we started… how freaking awesome is this?