What I learned at Coconino

This is it, you’ve made it to the end of the Coconino posts! Congratulations, and I’m sorry for all the rambling.

I really had to do this post for me… I feel like Coconino was meant to be a learning experience. I walked away knowing a lot more about myself, good and bad, and with a greater understanding of why I do this. Some of it was a little hard to swallow, but maybe that makes it even more important to remember.


It’s ok to make mistakes. This could also be “it’s supposed to be fun” or “you can’t win ’em all”, and man do I struggle with this when I’m in the heat of the moment. I absolutely hate how it feels to dismount and know that I haven’t done my part. That’s difficult for me to work through mentally, and I tend to stew on it and let it fester. But this is not a sport where perfection is possible, and it’s not supposed to be. There will always be something I could have done better, and because I am but a mere mortal, sometimes I will make completely moronic mistakes. Everyone does, that’s part of it. I have to get better at forgiving myself, letting it go, and remembering that this is FUN, otherwise I’ll burn myself out. And while, no, I didn’t walk away from the N3D with the placing I wanted, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had at a show in my entire life… because it WAS.

I mean, come on!

My horse is a badass. Ok, I already knew this, but, for real though, have y’all met this creature? Henry continues to impress me at every single show with how brave he is and how much he loves cross country. He just keeps getting better and better, and he’s so incredibly confident in himself. Week 1 was by far the hardest course he’s seen and it was pretty much a piece of cake. He is legitimately knocking on the door of Prelim (uh, with Trainer obviously, not with me) and I’m just awed by him. How did I get this lucky?

Summer camp will never stop being awesome. This trip was like the best adult version of summer camp ever. We basically spent two weeks camping in the woods with our horses… which, now that I think about it, makes it better than any summer camp I ever went to as a kid. The only thing missing was the campfire and s’mores, but we had wine, so fair trade? I made several new friends, had a great time getting away from the real world for a while, and got to play with my pony for 13 days straight. That needs to happen every year because it was therapeutic beyond belief.


The Classic 3 Day format is an art. While I had a good idea of what the long format was all about before we got there, reading about it and actually doing it are totally different things. Spending more time on my horse on XC day, gauging how he felt during Roads and Tracks, and feeling how bold and forward the steeplechase made both of us… it was phenomenal. I do completely understand why the long format went away in the first place, but man, I wish there were more of these Classic events. I would choose them over the regular format in a heartbeat. Steeplechase was a huge lightbulb moment.


I need a new dressage saddle. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a difficult job when you don’t have the right tools. I really didn’t realize just how much better Trainer’s saddle was until I rode in it twice and then went back to mine. The right saddle makes everything feel so much easier. Shoulda just bought a Loreak in the first place. But, I do have some news on that front…

39 thoughts on “What I learned at Coconino

  1. Henry really is a rock star! And don’t sell yourself short, you’ve got that pony in the best condition ever and you’re letting him do a job he loves! It is unfortunate that you need a new dressage saddle, but at least you know what works, so you don’t have to shop around and second guess yourself. 🙂



    these are fantastic takeaways. i’m hoping next year or the year after i can do a N3D with runkle. i’d like that to be my end goal every year. steeplechase looks like an illegal amount of fun!! oi i might get run off with actually…


  3. I loved reading all of your Coconino posts! Don’t ever worry about rambling 🙂

    I’m so happy for you guys that you had such a good experience. And there totally needs to be more chances for adult horse summer camp!


  4. i have enjoyed every moment of your rambling so keep on rambling. SO glad it was worth the trip (no matter you placed). Henry is a rock star 🙂


  5. I’ve really enjoyed these posts and although I’m not an eventer, I can appreciate the hard work, the sweat and the tears of doing what you love, with a horse that gives it right back. Thanks for taking us along on your fan-freaking-tastic journey! P.S. Love the levitating jog pic. Literally 6 feet off the ground!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Agree with all of it! (Except the dressage saddle part, because while I may want one.. I don’t need one..) Glad you got to do this and damn it, will you PLEASE consider Rebecca for the T3D next year????


    1. We’re all dying to go to Rebecca. Problem is it’s a 24 hour drive for us, each way… that’s a loooooooooooong drive for one show! We need a plane.


  7. Question: When you are doing the Road and Tracks and Steeplechase and Cross Country, what is the length of time between each horse’s start time? Did you come across other horses in different parts of their roads & tracks? At first I was thinking you’d do your whole set of phases and then the next horse would do his, but that would have to take forever? Also, how long was the total time of all 4 phases?

    Ok, so that was more than one question. 🙂


    1. I think they started us about 3 minutes apart, if I’m remembering right. But yes we passed several other horses on Roads and Tracks, coming and going. It was far enough apart for no one to really overtake each other, but close enough together to keep it all running. Total time for all 3 phases was about 40 minutes, plus the 10 minute vet box.


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