In the world of sports there is a term referred to as second wind, defined as the ability of an athlete to summon strength and perseverance following exhaustion and fatigue. In the world of eventing, and any other equestrian sport for that matter, we would be hard pressed to apply a more fitting word to a community of such dedicated athletes. These two principles, second wind and community, became a guiding theme throughout the year and in my decision to re-apply for the 2013 Worth The Trust Scholarship.
In November of 2011, following a monumental week at Fair Hill, I arrived home to find my beloved homebred colt had experienced a pasture accident that is still considered to be career ending. Weighing options to protect my amateur status and begin repaying vet expenses, I left my job with Sally Cousins. I spent the duration of the fall and holiday season (Christmas and Thanksgiving included) working doubles and overtime in a restaurant that closed shortly after New Year’s Day. Second Wind. Community.
Through some networking within the event community I was connected with organizer Joannah Hall Glass of Sporting Days Farm in Aiken, South Carolina. Through discussions, we made an arrangement for me to become a working student-apprentice to the facility for the impending show season beginning in mid-January. In exchange, I would receive room and board on the farm.
Upon my arrival I was introduced to Kristin Schmolze, a four-star rider and Pan American Games alternate, and through this meeting I obtained a working student position cleaning stalls each morning in exchange for lessons. Following stalls, I kept busy with the various tasks that go into running an event facility; painting show jumps, assembling dressage rings, processing entries, flagging, raking, recruiting volunteers, moving cross-country fences, building fences with Eric Bull, and much more. At the end of the day I would ride, sometimes in the dark, before heading to my restaurant job that allowed me to attempt to cover my hay and grain costs. This was my schedule seven days a week, with the exception of a night off every few days.
About halfway through my stay, a second promising homebred young horse was kicked and fractured her hind leg. The experience was devastating. By the time I left Aiken, Sporting Days had held two recognized events, five schooling shows, one jumper derby, and two cross-country schoolings. Living in the same house as an organizer, I was exposed to every aspect of preparation, management, and breakdown of an event. Second Wind. Community.
I returned North financially crippled with vet bills and mounting debt from Aiken. During my absence, my family was unable to renew leases on our small farm in Fair Hill that we inherited from my late aunt, and I subsequently lost use of the farm as another tenant obtained a two-year lease of the entire property. With limited options I returned home to Southern Delaware to live with my parents and began a full time (60+ hours/week) position in a restaurant. I relentlessly picked up shifts on my days and nights off in order to save for entry fees and make lesson opportunities possible. My mornings were split between horses and volunteering for the education and outreach department of a local environmental advocacy group.
My location in lower Delaware made it extremely difficult to get access to quality instruction without driving at least two-and-a-half hours each way. There were two recognized events within two-and-a-half hours. The rest were between three and four. During these times of frustration and exhaustion I received mixed feedback; “Just take a break,” “You don’t have what it takes,” and my personal favorite, “You just don’t have the money.” Instead of abandoning goals, the experiences of the previous year became pivotal in providing me opportunity to further my education and address weaknesses. Second Wind. Community.
I now enter the fall with some uncertainty. In an attempt to be closer to quality training (YouTube tutorials just aren’t cutting it anymore!) I am moving back to the Fair Hill area, at which point I hope to find a pasture to lease on my own in addition to working full-time (and inevitably then some) in a restaurant. I finish the fall having completed a solid season of less than brilliant finishes at Training level with aspirations of attempting Preliminary. This time, in retrospect, has allowed me to identify a budding passion: event management and course design.
Should I receive this scholarship, the funds would be allocated initially to two short-term areas: lessons with an ICP Certified Instructor and course design seminars and certifications. For me, my lessons with Molly Rosin (ICP Level II) have been incredibly constructive. In addition, I would like to attend the Cross-Country Course Design Training Program at Loch Moy Farm next July to become more educated about course design at the lower levels.
As a long-term interest, should I successfully complete my qualifications at Preliminary, I am interested in the “r” Technical Delegate program and pursuing my “r” for Course Design. I have spent many hours following and questioning Technical Delegates and course designers in order to further my own understanding of rules and regulation. However, I need to be proficient at Preliminary to attempt this and that will not occur without more education in the saddle. Lastly, at some point in the future, I would like to begin my ICP Certification process to obtain a more thorough understanding of riding, and more importantly, teaching. One thing has become painfully obvious this summer, and that is that there is little access to quality training in Delaware. I want to be part of changing that.
My ultimate goal, simply put, is that I want to organize my own event, preferably somewhere in Delaware. I have even gone so far as to start drafting jump designs and possible sponsors. A boy can dream. I am able to approach this goal having surrounded myself in every aspect of the sport, drawing off my experiences with my local environmental advocacy group in outreach and priding myself on being a good ambassador for our sport.
I discovered a quote one day in Aiken on the inside of an iced tea bottle cap that read, “Good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger the winds, the stronger the trees.” My setbacks this year have not been easy, but I am hoping the ability to find opportunity in every situation will pay off in dividends at some point in the future. For the time being I will continue to work as much as possible to continue improving myself in every aspect of our sport, but being chosen as a recipient would create defining and lasting opportunities.
I know that some would argue that having more than one horse (injured reserve or not) does not qualify one as being financially needy, but I argue otherwise. I think it makes one even more financially strained. However, the rewards of concepts learned through a lesson on one horse can create opportunities that are exponentially increased through disciplined practice on another.
My hope is that in reading this submission that you too find your second wind and agree that I am a candidate for consideration in our eventing community.
Interested in submitting an application for the Worth The Trust Educational or Sports Psychology Scholarships? Applications are due on October 1, 2018. Click here for more information on the Educational Scholarships and click here for information on the Sports Psychology Scholarships. If you have questions, please contact Nancy Knight, (703) 669-9997.
About the Worth the Trust Scholarship
Since 2000, the Worth the Trust Scholarships has provided financial assistance for young adult amateurs and adult amateurs for the purpose of pursuing continued education in eventing. These scholarships is provided by Joan Iversen Goswell in honor of her horse, Worth the Trust, a 15.3 hand Thoroughbred gelding (Wind and Wuthering x Stop Over Station), who competed successfully for many years, including winning the Kentucky Three-Day Event in 1997 with Karen O'Connor. In 2017, to continue to offer a helping hand, Goswell created the Worth the Trust Sports Psychology Scholarships to help amateurs master the ever-challenging mental side of the sport. Click here to read the story of Worth the Trust's 1997 Kentucky Three-Day Event win.
This article first appeared in Volume 43, Issue 1 of Eventing USA.
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