|My friend, Amy, walking her Training course at FENCE, 2005|
I am infinitely thrilled, on this beautiful sunny day, to announce that I have now -- for the second time in very recent history -- had the opportunity to title an eventing post after a Snow Patrol song. I'm thinking I might take on the challenge of "A Week of Snow Patrol Titles," and see if I can do it. But, that's a no-brainer.....I KNOW I can do that. And, yet, this is an eventing entry, not another babbling monologue about
After my thoughts on lower-level cross-country courses went global last week (thanks to Eventing Nation and my friend, Lauren, posting it on COTH), I was so surprised to find that there are hundreds (possibly THOUSANDS) of LL ammies out there who feel the same as I do. Why should it be such a mystery? How do we know the best courses for what we're looking to accomplish? Where are the real beefy challenges and what exactly should I expect before moving up a level? It might take one person many avenues of networking or question-asking to possibly find the right answer to these queries. (rant: And don't tell me, "Oh, your trainer should be the one telling you where to compete," because I am a grown-up and my trainer does not want to/need to hold my hand when it comes to where I enter competitions.) Anxiety over choosing the right venue for lower-level competitors shouldn't cause the stress that it does in a very real capacity all over the country, everyday. Deny it if you like, but the truth is in every barn out there. I love a quote I read a few years ago from Dorothy Crowell that speaks to this very same issue. She said, "When the joy of galloping to a cross country fence is gone, so is the impetus that brings us home safely. Both horse and rider should be in the start box trembling with anticipation, not fear." This still rings true, today, although her letter to the USEA was written almost 3 years ago. Why is it that some of her suggestions for improving the sport (listed at the bottom of that letter) have still gone unheeded, in certain cases? It's always pleasing (yet sometimes frustrating) to look back on earlier commentaries to see how far we've come; and how far things have gone neglected, ignored, or completely unaltered, in other cases.
The feedback I received from my thoughts early last week was overwhelmingly encouraging! Yes, there are many of my peers who feel as set adrift as I do. Since so many of us have to make decisions on where to compete because of financial restrictions or geographical proximity, we don't get to realize the chance to physically see everything that is available out there. It is so intriguing and eye-opening to feel like I can view and understand lots of what is on offer for the lower levels. If you can't get to and be at every event out there, then who would know? After a few days of consideration on this topic, I was bolstered by the encouraging comments from friends and strangers alike (both here and in other nations, if you can believe that!). This past Friday afternoon, I sat down and started a Facebook page to upload and share virtual course walk photos from anywhere/everywhere and at every level (although primarily BN-P). I was thrilled to get some quick responses from eventers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Florida, and here in Tennessee. In only moments, and a few clicks of the mouse, I was able to view and consider courses that I might never have personally seen in a typical, ammie event season. I compete at the KHP a lot, so those photos were familiar to me. But, bump those up against Marlborough, Poplar, or Southern Pines and I could make an instant plan for structuring my lessons, schoolings, and future entries. Put all of that together with a few quick questions to other participating eventers and I feel like in only moments I can do a fair amount of research and due diligence (I am an over-thinker, afterall) to satisfy me in the knowledge that I am able to make good decisions and be a more confident, safer competitor. Of course, we never know exactly what will happen 100% at any given event, on any given day, but at least I can mail a check and pull up to the stables feeling ready to go, with one more layer of preparation having fueled my readiness.
So, I hope the Facebook page will be a positive resource for anybody who chooses to use it and I will endeavor to keep it updated as often as I get new material, and I really hope that it will provide assistance to even one other person out there. We will see how it goes and I wish everyone the best of luck and happy eventing!