Hello, my name is Emily Worth and today I am writing to tell you about my experience with the long format three-day event. I live in Selma, North Carolina, and am 15 years old. Three years ago, in 2015, I competed in an assisted Beginner Novice division, and while I was there I got to see the long format being run. It looked like a lot of fun and seemed like an amazing opportunity. For the next two years, it became one of my long-term goals to compete in one. I was having trouble with my horse at our level, so, unfortunately, that dream got pushed back for a little while. However, I wasn’t giving up, just postponing.
When looking to start training for the long format, I asked around to get more information on what exactly it entailed and what I needed to get both myself and my horse ready. I was astounded by the response that I got from those around me. I was told from multiple trainers that doing the long format would not be good for my horse, that it would make her too hot to go to regular shows and that it would mess her up, make her “too fit". I found myself surrounded by people who kept telling me that I shouldn’t do it, that they wouldn’t help me train to do it. I personally think that all those reasons are not very grounded, especially considering how much other research was out there to support it.
I was extremely disappointed, but not deterred. I decided that if those who I thought I could turn to refused to help me, I’d simply have to keep looking. I found a trainer by the name of Cassidy Sitton, who does support the long format, and she helped me to condition and train for the upcoming Heart of the Carolinas USEA Classic Series Three-Day Event at Southern 8ths Farm in South Carolina. She helped me write out a conditioning schedule and plan for the supplies that I would need. She was there whenever I had questions and saw to it that they were answered to the best of her ability. It was really refreshing because when I talked to her about what everyone else said, she laughed and said that was ridiculous. I really like Cassidy and am glad I met her.
Back to training, I worked with Raisa, my mare, on the conditioning schedule. It was a bit easier for us because we fox hunt, which is a great way to keep your horse in shape through the winter if your toes can survive the 21-degree hunts. I also worked on pacing and all the rest, getting ready to run the Beginner Novice Three-Day. Just getting ready was a blast, but it was nothing compared to the actual event.
When we got there, it was around 10:00 p.m. at night and we were getting Raisa settled. It was then we met the first person at the event. The entire Preliminary Three-Day division was one person with two horses, Jodie Potts. She was very friendly, and I soon found that everyone at the event was. The next morning, I met the rest of the people stabled around me, and many from my division. Everyone was happy, willing to help each other in any way they could. The event itself was an awesome experience. There were many educational opportunities to learn the ins and outs of what to do, and if you were confused or worried, there was always someone you could go to and ask. I loved the fact that they didn’t just let you flounder, they would help you figure out what you needed to do.
On the topic of riding, dressage was normal, as was stadium, but the best part for me was endurance day. This is the day where you have your roads and tracks and steeplechase followed by cross-country. The roads and tracks was a lot of fun and I’m sure that the checkpoint judges out there were laughing at me because I’m a talker. Out on cross-country, and now roads and tracks, I talk to Raisa the whole time. Often about ridiculous things, most recently I compared her to a crazy bird that wanted to fly away into the clouds when she jumped big over a fence. On a regular basis, I compare her to the grumpy dwarf from Snow White in my lessons. I keep telling my mom that she should put a recorder on me to hear all the weird stories I tell Raisa. Then again, I’ve always been a talker, and believe that it helps me communicate (no pun intended) with my horse and keep both of us calm.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I can get off track pretty easily, unless it’s a cross-country course, so let me get back to the event. After going out to cross-country, I felt like I had a whole new horse. To be honest, I was a little worried. Not that Raisa couldn’t handle the jumping, but that it would be more difficult than usual. Oh no, as per her normal self, Raisa blew all my premonitions right out of the water, or off of the ground to be more accurate. It was like we had discovered a brand new level of energy. Hands down it was one of the best cross-country experiences that I’ve ever had.
Now, I can’t help but think of all those people who told me the long format was bad. I look back on how amazing my experience was, and I can’t believe they would deprive themselves of such an experience. I would rather go to one or two long formats a year than 15 short formats.
I want to extend a special thanks to Brad Turley, the owner of Southern 8ths Farm. He had such an awesome time competing in Classic Series events that he wanted to be able to pass that same opportunity to everyone. I understand that feeling of exhilaration and am beyond words to describe how thankful I am that he has made this event possible. Also on my thank you list is USEA President Carol Kozlowski, who came out to the event and ran several of the information and training sessions. She graciously donated her time and expertise to help all of us who competed that week. While I’m at it, I want to thank all of the people who make the show possible every year. I feel as though the preparation leading up to it and the event itself helped me bond with my horse even more, and I really enjoyed having the chance to compete in a long format.
I fully intend on coming back next year at the Novice level, and if any of you reading this haven’t been in a long format, I highly recommend that you give it a try. It may not be for everyone, but you never know. If you have been in one, hats off to you my friend, and perhaps I’ll see you next May at the Heart of the Carolinas. Thank you for taking the time to read the thoughts and opinions of little old me, and I hope I at least made you smile.
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