Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why do I continue to run Events after all these years?

That's a question I have been asking myself a lot lately and to be honest with you there has been serious thought about not running a second recognized event.  I mentioned it to Dave and surprisingly enough he was OK with only running one recognized event a year.  It was then that I realized that  it wasn't just me who was feeling a bit burned out.  It seemed tougher to get ready for this one because Dave spent every spare minute over the last 3 week working on the barn improvement project,  Kevin no longer lives at home & has a full time job and goes to school at night and Kyle's time was somewhat limited by taking care of the barn chores, riding 5 horses and teaching (he actually could have competed 6 horses if he hadn't been so busy helping me).   Then the hay wasn't quite ready to be made yet and you add more last minute work and stress.

All the physical preparation wouldn't be so bad if you actually had people entering. It takes as much work to prepare the grounds for 60 competitors as it does 160 competitors.  Entries trickled in at a pathetically slow rate and it wasn't until I made several Face Book posts and sent out mass e-mails that we finally got up to 115 entries but more than 20 of those were Starters.  It really makes you wonder what's wrong when you have to beg for entries when other events in the area are popping at the seams. I fully realize that Hanoverton, OH is not the hotbed of eventing but it's quite discouraging when people who live less than 2 hours choose to go to KY, VA or further rather than coming here.  It's even more disheartening to only get half as many Preliminary entries as the other 2 semi local events.  I make myself crazy trying to figure out what we're doing wrong.  In the days leading up to the event I kept saying I couldn't wait for it all to be over! Yikes, that's never good.

Well now that it's over I am reminded why I continue to run Events after all these years ...  to provide the opportunity for riders, horses, family members, support crews and  friends to have some 'eventing' fun!!! In addition we're providing the opportunity for horses and riders to hone their skills and to aid in their development and not just as a rider.  This may include nailing that halt or transition in dressage, learning to ride in the rain and the slop, getting all the distances in the lines in show jumping or maybe just remembering your courses, to getting the balanced canter required to safely and successfully negotiate those downhill fences, to getting those pesky butterflies to 'fly in formation' to conquering your fears because of a recent fall.  Eventing is as much of a mental game as a physical one. It was refreshing to talk with some of those people who either had a 'brain fart' and picked up a TE to someone who said whoa one too many times trying to balance before a fence and her horse did just he was asked and stopped and even those who got the big E for refusals or popping off still said they had fun and learned something.  Yes they were disappointed but one competitor  reminded me that it's those low moments that make the 'highs' in this sport feel so much better!! And there were plenty of competitors who were feeling that 'high' as their weekend met or exceeded their expectations. So it appears that the weekend has meet my expectations as well 

But it's not just the competition with people & horses having fun and learning something along the way that keeps me running events; it's because 'Eventers' are the best people in the world. I have a small core of very loyal friends who year after year step up to the plate without being asked; you are the best!!!  The weather on Sat was miserable yet EVERYONE from competitors to volunteers to the officials were such troopers.  They had a smile on their face and claimed to be having fun in spite of the less than desirable conditions and being soaked to the bone even with the best rain gear available.  Some competitors pitched in and helped with Show Jumping & Cross Country on Sat after they were done riding while another competitor who had to scratch on Thurs called and asked what she could do to help. She drove an hour and a half to help on Fri. with a load of mulch and decorated all the # 1 and 2 fences.  Then the jump judges redecorated the fence at the end of cross country on Sun to send her a message. Yes the volunteers were having fun too ;) 
Jane and Claire Rowlands sending a message to Michelle Jewett

So what makes me keep running events?  Well... based on the rides I saw with smiling faces at the finish, Face Book posts that I've seen and the e-mails I have received; I know we are doing something right. Below are some pics and videos that will help you understand why I continue to run events.   Here's a link to a video of  Gabbie VanScoy & Crescent Dreams getting back into the groove on the Training level cross country.
Former Hunter Rider Abby Crumrine riding in her first event on Bev Patrick's Marvel
Another TE :( .....Jumping the wrong direction

People hanging out watching the Starter cross country Sat afternoon after it finally stopped raining!

My horse Wie Jubilee & Jessie Joerndt (XC weeder extraordinaire) doing her first event ever!! 
Such a good boy;)

There are two notes in particular that I would like to share with you and you will truly KNOW why I continue to run events ... for the future of the sport that we all love so much.  The first is from 9 year old Bethany Randolph who was a bit nervous about going cross country and didn't want go and her father asked if they could just go out and school and I said NO.  But I remembered seeing this pair in warm up for show jumping and I thought I can't just say NO, so that's when I  hopped in the Gator and  buzzed over to the warm up and asked her if she would like to give it a try if her Dad and I went with her.  So off we went and as you can see from this pic from Brant Gamma (be sure to check out her website for more great pictures) that she and Tinkerbell did just great!! The two of them just made my day ... a future Eventer!!  Well she made my day again on Sun when she presented me with this thank you note and picture that she colored for me.

Anne Claire Christiaen, who was jump judging on Sat., just posted this video of Bethany & Tinkerbell. Many thanks to Ann Claire for sharing the video and for jump judging.  I would also like to congratulate Ann Claire and Java Jive for their win as well!!Good karma for volunteering? ;)

Then I got this message from Dean Hennings this morning:

This weekend had its ups and downs, my girls competed at the Stone Gate HT, Lisa in Novice and Bailey in Beginner Novice. As a father and husband there could be no other extreme sport for a man than to watch his world and reason for life, flying around jumping things he can’t even climb over or would want to. I would challenge any man to sit next to me this past weekend. Lisa and Banks had it all going on and did fantastic, so very proud.

As some of you know, Bailey and Ms. Penny parted ways at the Ditch, I was at the top of the hill and like most of you know you cannot see what is going on. All you can do is listening to the announcer as your rider goes through the course. All I heard was “52 Bailey Hennings, needs to slow down” Bailey and Ms. Penny came over a stone tree line to a downhill open field to a ditch… Bailey pulled up to late and Penny started to slide, Bailey couldn't recover so she “stepped off”

Like any over whelmed Father would do is say, this is for the birds; she is technically 10 years old. I knew in my gut she was over confident the prior night! We walked the course and she just didn't have her head in the game. “I got this” or “Yep, I better pull up here” and “ yikes I’ll be ready for that” in a way she was to relaxed in my mind. Bailey has had so many successes, and at times I feel I need to pull the reins in on her. Protecting your most precious people in your life is what husbands and fathers do.

I was standing at the stalls and really was at a loss for anything to say, she had been over confident the night before and now we had a “rider fall” My rider, My eleven year old baby. I wasn't really paying much attention, searching for something to say. I heard “What happened Bailey” and standing next to me was Kyle Smith, Bailey and Kyle in a very relaxed way talked over the whys and hows. Kyle than asked if she wanted to give it a shot again and get through the problems, Bailey through the tears and red cheeks and nose, said “can I” Kyle said sure, Lets have the paramedic check you out ( Yep dads, here that and tell me about your extreme sport” and we will wait for the end of the event, and I will go out with you and we will figure it out.

Kyle and Lisa jumped in the gator; I stayed back, and they headed up the hill,  I saw Bailey and Penny shoot over the stone wall, than heard Kyle “Bailey Stop that pony NOW” I was pretty far away and that was crystal clear. Bailey came down the hill at a nice controlled pace, Kyle in the gator headed down with them, all met at the ditch, of course Bailey and Penny didn't have the courage to do the ditch. Kyle talked to Bailey for a few minutes and walked over the ditch together. Kyle said “come back over again” and Bailey and Penny hopped over like pros. Kyle than asked if Bailey wanted to try it again from the top and finish the course, Bailey with a huge smile said “YES” she trotted up that hill. A few seconds, I see her Shoot over the stone wall, get her control back, came down the hill at a very controlled canter and over the Ditch with ease. Kyle yells “Finish the course Bailey” So off she went, swelling with confidence, rode the rest of the course and finished at the top of the hill.  

As fathers you are always asking if you have done enough to prepare your child for life, will they make the right decisions. “Stepping off was the right thing to do” I went over and over this, where did I go wrong. I never even looked at that hill and ditch, Penny does ditches and hills without a wink. Walked the course twice because Bailey wasn't really planning, but at the end of the day, I never even talked to her about the Stone wall to a downhill and a ditch. Then I started thinking, and I realized all the little things that have happened to at gave her insight to “Bail”. I can only do so much to prepare her. She has to make the right decisions. If you take time to think its people like Kyle Smith that step in when you are at a loss, and provide the “extra” information needed to make better decisions.

Bailey made the right choice because of the people in her life, all through horses, I am confident she will continue to learn from all the caring people that have touched her life and are helping build the young woman she will become. !  I cannot thank all the people in our lives helping to create my young lady, enough. Sometimes you really have to step back and realize how blessed our lives can be because of the wonderful people that are involved. To have the courage to step off at 300 plus meters per minute takes guts, and as challenges come on the field or just in life, I know Bailey will “step off” and have the confidence to get back on!

You can see from this video why Bailey had every right to be confident ;)

Bailey & Kyle schooling the Ditch

So we'll never be a KY Horse Park or a Richland Horse Park and I'm just fine with that because I believe that what we have to offer is every bit as important as the big fancy venues. We open our home and share our love of the horses and the sport, and for many this is just the type of venue they need. That all sounds well and good now, but come next spring I know I'll be obsessing over the entries trickling in, not enough Prelim entries, and not enough help to get the courses ready.  Keeping that in mind; I'm putting out an early plea to please get your entries in early, plan some time, even if you don't live close, like Brush Run Pony Club and give us a hand getting the courses ready.  Finally, never underestimate the power of a thank you ;)  Sometimes all we need is acknowledgement that all of our efforts have been appreciated.

Well, now to continue with the 'clean up'.  At least the weather is absolutely beautiful!!

The Show Jumps got just a wee bit dirty

The Smith Family

Jackie, Dave, Kyle and Kevin