This statement is something that has been on my mind a lot recently. Having moved with my horse to a new state one month ago, I have gone through some very interesting mental evaluations (yes, that's what we will call it) during this time. Some of you reading this have also relocated; some of you have never changed stables from the one where you took your first lesson. I feel quite strongly that this post will resonate with most equine dedicated people, though some may not have had to face this type of realization as abruptly as others.
I suppose it can go without saying that I attempt to over analyze things. Up until very recently, I had a sounding board of riders, stable mates, and a trainer on site to discuss all things equine. In many ways, my riding team was (is) my family. My biological family is, of course, amazing but I don't get quite the same reaction from them when I say things like, "Arvo was moving off my leg and coming into my hands brilliantly today!"
It seems the major reasons of riding safety and forward progression with your horse speak for themselves in favor of being involved with a riding team a/o stable of similarly minded equine obsessed individuals. I would like to draw attention to the smaller, yet immensely important and gratifying reasons that may not be as obvious to the individual rider.
Eventing, by definition of physical and mental requirements, draws a slightly adrenaline-oriented following. Most Event riders, by default, have a certain aptitude for taking on the world solo, if need be. There are many successful Event riders that do just that. They haul to shows, complete all three phases, and do it on their own.
I would like to propose, that while Eventing solo can be successful, having a team of friends and companions that train together, travel together, dust off the shavings together, and laugh together brings everyone's game to a higher level. Having additional sets of eyes are invaluable to riders. Guess what? Getting a hug after a rough ride or a high five after you and your horse nailed a cross country course is so immensely gratifying that words don't quite capture it. Hearing your crew screaming their heads off at different points of cross country can't help but put a smile on your face. You may not hear the announcer calling your clear fences, but you will DEFINITELY hear your team's show mom scream, "That's my girl!" As you go galloping past! Having a teammate hand you a bottle of water, while someone else is helping you untie your pinney because you forgot to take your helmet off before the pinney, as you come off course are just a few of the little things that we do to help each other.
We are a team.
That's the beauty of teammates. We laugh together, we cry together (well, we would, but Eventers don't cry), we have a beer together, and we memorize dressage tests on long hauls together.
I miss those things. I miss the knowing smile from a teammate while schooling a dressage movement at home that has been sticky. I miss cracking a beer after a kick-ass cross country schooling and chatting about upcoming shows and scary questions on those courses. I miss being the support and the supported.
I'm glad I miss them; I can't imagine never experiencing that type of camaraderie.
As I am slowly rebuilding that type of network here, I am constantly thinking about my teammates back in Utah, stalking them on facebook, and harassing them about what they are up to. We all miss each other. In fact, I think I have had longer phone conversations with my trainer about: how things are going, different exercises, what I feel, what she feels, etc. than we ever have before.
Once a team, always a team.
I know that no matter where I end up- these crazy, awesome people will be in my life. I will travel to see them compete, and some of them will travel to see my compete. They will add more people to their team there; I will add more people to my team here.
For you individual riders out there, I commend your personal motivation. I would still suggest finding a group of people or a team to become a part of. I couldn't have come this far without my equine family and I'm a pretty damn stubborn, "independent" person. (Just ask my boyfriend)
For my current team and future teammates- thank you. Your smiles, laughter, and support have made a tremendous impact on my goals, enjoyment, and general wellness as an Eventer and social being. I look forward to working with more of you, but know this- I will never forget those that have walked the course with me.