Aug 08, 2017

The Road to AEC: Overcoming My Fears

Photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson.

The Road to AEC is a series of articles contributed by our members about their journeys to compete in the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, N.C., August 30-September 3, 2017.

My road to the AEC has been full of ups and downs. This time last year the AEC wasn’t even a goal I had in mind. I have had some time off in previous years due to injuries, surgeries, and a limited budget, but I was finally ready to take the plunge at Beginner Novice, even though the thought of cantering jumps still terrified me. My forties were looming in my near future and I figured it was now or never.

In the summer of 2016 my plan was to compete at my first recognized horse trial with my off-the-track Thoroughbred, Bo. Unfortunately, in July Bo started having soundness issues and would be out of commission for months to come. My trainer, Morgan Batton, graciously offered me the use of her ex-event horse, Chesterfield Pilot aka "Pilot". He has been the best teacher for helping me work on my confidence. I started riding him that August and we had our first horse trial less than a month later and got our first AEC qualifier.

Our next event was the Oktoberfest Horse Trials at Stable View Farm. I was still struggling with my jumping fears and as I walked the cross-country course it was more intimidating than any course I had ever seen. My nerves almost got the best of me and I considered withdrawing from the competition because I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I woke up the morning of the trial with the mindset that if I could get around that course it would be the biggest accomplishment in my riding career. It must have worked, because we won our division and got our second qualifier for AEC!


Photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson.

For the winter my plan was to continue working at defeating my fears of jumping. In December I had a jumping fall and broke my collarbone that kept me from riding for several months. We focused on dressage for the first two months after I was able to start riding again. My fall did not help with my fear of jumping, but two months ago I was ready to try again. Pilot began experiencing some back trouble about a week later so we both had another month off. At this point I wasn’t sure if we would be ready in time for the AEC, but we have him comfortable again and started jumping a few weeks ago. We have our first horse trial in almost 10 months this weekend at WindRidge Farm Summer Horse Trials, just three weeks prior to the AEC.

My family and friends are my biggest supporters. Even though my husband, Brad, doesn’t get the “horse thing,” he has been my side through it all, even when I’ve been laid up from surgery and he had to take on all the farm chores.


Photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson.

I am very thankful I found Morgan, Pilot, and New Venture Farm. Without their guidance and encouragement I don’t think I would have ever found the courage to leap outside my comfort zone. My dreams have now become a reality. Morgan will be moving from my area in a few months to work towards her goal of competing at the four-star level. I will miss her tremendously but I’m very happy for the time I’ve spent with her and the knowledge gained. I look forward to what the future holds for both of us.

Will I ever overcome my fears? Probably not, but that’s the driving force that keeps me going. "Scars show us where we’ve been, they do not dictate where we are going." - David Rossi

Sep 22, 2020 Profile

Now On Course: Jennarose Ortmeyer Shoots for the Stars

My road to success is a bit different and quite a bit longer than most. Hi, my name is Jennarose Ortmeyer. I am 24 years old and my eventing journey started three years ago in the summer of 2017. Originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, I moved to North Carolina in June of 2017 seeking to further my career. I was a professional in the hunter/jumper world then and I hadn’t the faintest idea of how drastically my life was about to change.

Sep 21, 2020 Education

How Strong is Your Training Game?

How competitive have your Training results been? What’s a good dressage score? What scores could earn you a top finish? We’ve been taking a look at each USEA level and as we continue this series, EquiRatings offers some stats and graphs to help evaluate your Training game.

Sep 20, 2020 Competitions

Smith Wins CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S; Turner Takes CCI2*-S at Twin Rivers Fall International

The CCI4*-S had an exciting shake-up of the top placings to finish out the International divisions at the Twin Rivers Fall International. It was Tamie Smith and Passepartout, an 11-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Pasco x Preschel) owned by Tamie's daughter Kaylawna Smith-Cook, who came out on top with the fastest cross-country time of the group. Ruth Bley’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik) took second. Erin Kellerhouse and her own Woodford Reserve rounded out the top three.

Sep 20, 2020 Education

Foregut or Hindgut? That's The Question!

Knowing what sort of support your horse needs can be tough, but it can also make a big difference. There’s a lot of confusion between your horse’s foregut health and hindgut health. After all, the process of breaking down food and absorbing nutrients is all technically “digestion,” so isn’t it all the same? Not quite. The organs in the foregut and hindgut have different functions, and each area has unique health concerns.

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