I’ve been in this game a long time now and have had my fair share of ups and downs and mistakes along the way. I think that if you choose eventing as your sport, then it’s inevitable that you have some bumps in the road and moments of reflection when things don’t quite go to plan.
This story first appeared in the August 2022 issue of Sidelines Magazine.
I have had many young horses in my time, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s rarely the perfect, easy baby that becomes the next superstar. In fact, I’ve always considered it a positive to have the well-behaved youngster throw a little bit of attitude my way, as I believe that it takes fight to become a great event horse.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a slight obsession with bits. I like to say, “Some women buy shoes; I buy bits.” I should bring a chaperone if I’m heading to a store with a wide assortment of bits—so I don’t come home with an expensive selection of new ones. While the addiction is real, it has also served me well through the years as I’ve managed to help many horses improve by finding them a bit that they’re more comfortable in.
When introducing a horse to a new concept, it is important to make the entire learning process enjoyable. Make sure to always praise your horse so they continuously understand that they are supposed to be enjoying this time. In eventing, the skinnies have gotten so small that the sooner the horses begin to lock on and enjoy it, the better.
When we arrived in Haras Du Pin, the area of France was beautiful and the people couldn't have been more helpful, but it did all seem quite "rustic" for the site of the next World Equestrian Games, especially coming in after a venue like Kentucky.