Before we get to the show recap

Y’all are gonna have to put up with me being a sap for a minute. Sorry not sorry.

that post-braid perm

Henry went to his first event 3 years ago, at BN. I remember walking the course and looking at the Novice fences as we went past, horrified about how huge they looked. Not really just that they looked big, but more that it seemed so… BEYOND us. Light years beyond. I️ swore we’d never go Novice.

And then at Henry’s first Novice, at Texas Rose, I remember looking at the last fence that Prelim and Training shared, sitting next to our last fence, and feeling like it too was way beyond anything we could ever do, or ever be. Training was a fantasy, something that looked – from where I️ was standing at the time – like it was a whole world away. At that point I didn’t really even know if I wanted to get there, much less whether or not we could. When it seems impossible, it’s not something that even crosses your mind. You may as well have asked me if I wanted to go to the moon.

QH impression – on point

I guess I looked at the people and horses at that level and saw something that was way better than we were. Way better than we could ever even hope to be. After all, I’m a very very average rider just trying to make it work as best I can in our less-than-ideal circumstances, and Henry is a mentally scarred, crooked legged, unassuming looking horse. We’re as “mere mortal” as it gets.

Over time he showed me that he was more than worthy and more than capable, but I’ve always struggled to find confidence in my own ability. I got so caught up in how great other people were that I forgot we all have a different journey and we all take a different path. I had to stop living and dying by how I️ thought we compared to everyone else. Somewhere along the way I perfected the art of at looking at other people and seeing all the things that me and my horse are not. I’m not a 16yo kid with balls of steel and talent to spare. I’m not in a regular program. I don’t get many lessons. My horse is not fancy.

#1 Poptart fan

What I so often have failed to remember is that sure, I have it worse than some, but I also have it better than a lot of others. We all have advantages and disadvantages. We all have struggles. And for the love of god, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Trying to use someone else as a template by which to measure our own success is idiotic, at best. It makes a lot more sense to focus on what we can do and what we do have.

When we finally did officially move up to Training, it was on “home turf” courses. Places we’ve been a lot, and schooled a lot, and we were pretty comfortable at. This weekend was a lot different. We haven’t been to Texas Rose in two years, and we’ve certainly never jumped any part of the Training course. It was only our second recognized Training together, and it was big. It had some serious questions. It was not a gimme by any means. This was a real test… can we actually do this? Do we really belong here? This is supposed to be the impossible for us, isn’t it? That’s what I thought a year ago.

Ice boot champion

But this horse has, time and time again, made the impossible… possible. Henry rocked right around that course, one that not too long ago seemed so far outside of our wheelhouse that it may as well have been the Olympics, and it was a walk in the park. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of a horse in my entire life. Holy shit guys. He is incredible. And WE DID IT.

I never really take the time to celebrate and appreciate these milestones. I’m more of the “that was cool… except for that mistake, or that fence, or that part of the dressage test. I need to do better.” type. We can have 17 out of 18 perfect jumps, and I always end up focusing on what I did wrong at that 1 bad one. Which is fine and all, when it comes to improvement, but I think I’m missing out on the sheer joy sometimes. I have a pretty amazing horse that allows me to do some pretty amazing things. I had The Best Time jumping stuff that was friggin BIG. But Henry made it feel easy.

the fence that has had me crapping my pants for the past 2 years

So for today, I’m NOT going to recap the show and tell you all the things I could have done better and all the things we still need to work on. Today I’m giving myself the luxury of just being tremendously happy with how far we’ve come, how lucky I am to have such a badass horse and awesome friends, and how much fun I had out there yesterday. The rest of it can wait.

46 thoughts on “Before we get to the show recap

    1. Yes! Push yourself and strive for improvement, of course, but return again and again to why you do this in the first place; why you started riding and why you keep doing it even though it’s hard and means a lot of sacrifices in other areas of your life. For me, it’s the connection with the horse, the joy, the state of flow.


  1. I LOVE this post. I constantly get overwhelmed by the “I can’t” thoughts. And all the people who are doing so much more than me, in way less time. But sometimes you have to look back and see how far you have come on your own journey. You and Henry are rockstars. Way to kill a tough training level course and just maybe give a little hope to the rest of us (even though we still aren’t half as cool as you two).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always a lot easier to see all the things we think we can’t do, instead of all the possibilities with the things we can. I’m still learning this. I’ll probably ALWAYS be learning this.


  2. those jumps scare the crap out of me. the fact that you got over them is amazing but that you enjoyed going over them. CRAZY. But you do have a special snowflake in Henry and yay you had fun and all went well!! 🙂 And he even wore his ice boots!! Congrats!! And Henry and poptarts. So cute.

    there was a jump at St Augustine (Training Level) that made me pee my pants almost and we just walked up to it to sniff it (Remus was sure it was going to eat him cause it was all polished was a corner with a tower on it and I was like Amanda jumps this shit. WTF. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This made me tear up…it´s about time you realized this!
    You have so much to be proud of.
    Dammit, celebrate your and Henny´s accomplishments more often. You guys are amazing!!
    You have done such amazing work with Henny, look how far you´ve come.
    You should listen to your trainers more often. It should really tell you something when they all tell you they want your horse. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There were a handful of area IV riders at Texas Rose this weekend (go JWE!), so I was following the live scoring. Congrats to you guys – at this point even beginner novice seems like a far fetched dream for me, so you give me hope!!

    And Henry does look like a QH 🙂 He and my Ghus could be identical twins, little star and all!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Those jumps look so big to me. I don’t think Amber and I will ever go Novice or Training, but Amber has always surprised me with everything. Although I really think I’m too weenie to do it, and that Training is too big for Amber, but Novice? Who knows. And you’re right. You need to feel the joy of the moment, of the accomplishment, of the journey for you. I know looking at all you bloggers going to these events and actually doing it makes me wonder if I’m ever going to get there, if I’m ever going to do it and that I should be getting things done faster, but Amber and I are new. We’re learning. And we had a few goals to get out of the way beforehand. Sometimes it still gets me down, but I have to remember to enjoy the accomplishments, to enjoy the journey and our growth. And I think you’re absolutely on target doing that with Henry ❤ Also, he definitely was on point looking like a QH lol

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  6. Congrats and so happy for your happiness with Henry! This day and age with so many pros and people buying fancy made horses, it is not realized by many how hard it is to find a good event horse for Training level and above. It took me 15 years to find another one from my first event horse and that’s why to me Penny is worth more than anything in the world. A horse that will carry you around Training safely AND you are having fun is hard to come by. Enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is a pleasure to come out of the start box knowing that if a) I point him the right way b) I don’t fall off, we’re golden. That’s a luxury that not everyone gets.


  7. I just kept nodding my head along to everything you said. I had the same thoughts all along. But they keep morphing and changing as Bacon shows me that we are more capable than I ever thought we could be. I remember being in the dressage warm up at Rebecca and thinking, what am I doing here with all of these people and their incredibly fancy horses? I started to get down on myself, but I shook it off after thinking about how lucky I was to be there at all.

    So congrats to you and Henry. We never doubt you and know you don’t have any limits until you say no!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post!! It’s been a joy to follow along as you and Henry grow as a team. What you guys do would be more like asking me to go to Mars rather than the Moon and you make it look so easy! Congrats!

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  9. I’m not at all surprised you and Henry had an amazing weekend. You’ve been working really hard for all these years, and Henry is, indeed, QUITE fancy. Maybe you couldn’t see it at first, but I really hope you do now! Congrats on your weekend! This hunter/jumper weenie is super proud of you guys!


  10. I haven’t jumped sticks that big in a LOOONG time but I loved this post: my father always told me it’s not about the fancy outside horse in eventing, it’s about the heart, and he was so right. You ALMOST made me want to jump big sticks again, but I’m too weanie nowadays after thirty years and a couple of kids: you have left me hankering after that feeling again though! There is NOTHING that compares to the feeling of pride in yourself AND your horse after a good cross country round.


  11. I relate to this so hard, and love this post. I remember thinking 4th level was something I could never do, then suddenly Pig and I were just doing it and all I could see were the mistakes. I had to really focus to make myself see the bigger picture and be amazed and pleased by it.
    You guys look awesome. Congrats on the show, and on smiling your way around. 😀


  12. For what it’s worth, I absolutely love reading this blog. Purely because for someone like me, who has no professional aspirations you are currently living my dream.

    You have a wonderful horse you love and trust, that you get out and compete with regularly. That is all I want.

    Well. If I get to the higher levels too that would be great, but I will settle for just competing right now.


  13. Thanks for this. I have the awkward quarterhorse that looks like a weird version of TB and we are trying to do dressage and eventing. We are at a barn with expensive, big, fancy dressage types and I’m on a $500 Craigslist horse. But I have to be reminded of his talents (he loves jumping, learning and is brave). It is amazing how one can dwell on the shortcomings and forget/ignore all the amazing parts. You just reminded me to do that. So Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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