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What's your story? How did you become an event rider?

I’m a youth rider, currently studying dressage, and I would LOVE to become an eventer but I’m having trouble finding resources (no eventing barns or stables nearby, not many competitions either) and as a soon-to-be college student I can’t afford to take jumping lessons right now. So I was just wondering how all of you came into the sport. What disciplines have you done over the years? When did you start eventing? How did you find trainers? What experiences and opportunities helped shape your skills and interests?


I was 12, had been riding reining and cutting horses since I was 3 ( though there was a 3 year break in there). I’d never heard of eventing but I told my Western trainer I wanted to jump (had seen show jumping on tv and thought it looked fun), and she was friends with a pair of French eventing trainers. I did both sports until I was 14 or so, then went to eventing exclusively. I’ve also done a little endurance, and more than a little pure dressage. I’d love to try riding a Reiner again.

You can blame Brian Sabo and his crew for my addiction to the Dark Side. I leased a horse that was stabled at Woodland Hills Pony Club, and was enveloped into a great group of eventing evangelists in Southern California. Before long I was at Moorpark every weekend doing something and catching rides to Wild Horse, and all the regular haunts…my first “event” was of course Meadows of Moorpark and I think we are talking late 70’s early 80’s. I have a ribbon from 1981 somewhere.

I bought a green bean off the track, and I moved to a new barn shortly after buying him (moved from a hunter barn to an eventer barn.) My horse chose is job, and I got bit by the bug. I’ve grown up doing hunters and only switched late last year. Our official first event is this Saturday at Fair Hill.

To me anyway, there seems to be a lot more “the horse is doing XYZ poorly, he’s telling you something isn’t right so lets figure this out” in the eventing world. Also the few times I’ve taken him XC schooling the other riders and trainers were EXTREMELY helpful–there was no air of being judgmental or catty. Last time I had trainers who I had never met before giving me pointers as I was riding parts of the course, it was great! I’m hoping for the same type of environment this weekend!

Eventing was always something I wanted to do since I was a little horse crazy girl and watched International Velvet. I didn’t start riding until 2001 when I was 22. I started at an endurance barn and took lessons with a dressage person and showed in some schooling dressage and hunter shows. Where I was in life, and maybe location, and being new to horses I was kind of at a loss at how to get into eventing. I ended up selling my then horse to an eventer multiple states away. We became friends and a year later bought a mare who had evented through Training, I moved to where my friend was and we spent lots of time on the road going to events and shows. I’m very grateful for my mare and my friend (and her mentor/friend who taught her everything). I’ve learned so much from all of them. My mare is now teaching a young rider about eventing while I bring along a new young horse. It’s been a few years since I evented - got back into it this year and am loving being back at it.

We found our current trainer by watching people ride at horse trials. We liked the way her students rode and the way she taught. While I was out of eventing my friend started working with her. I’m working with her now too and she works great with my harder to ride older mare and my young guy.

I’d love to try riding a Reiner again.[/QUOTE]
I rode a reiner for the first time a few months ago…AMAZING! It was my newish boyfriend’s FEI reiner. I’ve never ridden a horse so well trained before. It was like driving a sports car! I definitely want to try a reining show sometime.

My instructor/barn owner was taking up a horse for us in a feeding stall when the horse next to it bit that horse. The horse she was tacking jumped to the side and slammed her into a pole. She hurt herself pretty badly (broken rib?) and while she did teach the lesson that day, she had to take a break. Barn owner set up lessons for us with one of the college students boarding there. The barn was an eventing barn but we were just doing fun stuff (trails,obstacle courses ect) and not eventing yet. The new instructor taught us to event and we fell in love.

My childhood trainer and mentor was one of the early members of USCTA. So I started eventing when she brought eventing to our barn.

I was seduced by a woman of dubious morals.


I switched from piddly weenie hunters to eventing a year ago exactly. My horse was acting up, needed flatwork help, and it seemed. Like he was bored out of his mind. He was, and dressage helped just as much as I thought it would.

Now, Ollie thinks xc is the best thing EVER.

The horse I was leasing at the time (reject reiner) wasn’t fancy enough for hunters or scopey enough for jumpers. Friend in the barn was doing eventing and our co-op barn had xc jumps scattered over the property. So away we went and I’ve been hooked ever since. Don’t know yet if the new guy wants to event, what he’d love to do is be a plow horse, slowest OTTB on the planet. But I’ll find out this weekend as I’m taking him to a CT and XC schooling after.

I attended an event and thought “man this looks fun.” At that point, I’d been an adult re-rider for about a year.

Took me another 3 years to do a pony club version of an event (XC was essentially hay bales and jump standards in a field) and then 2 more the following year with slightly more robust XC (13 jumps, most of which were solid, but conducted in a field where you could pretty much see every jump from one vantage point). Then Sandy, then relocating last May to a barn with an experienced eventing/dressage instructor and a horse (leased) that is loving her new job.

Two elementary events last fall, 2 unrecognized BNs this spring, and my first recognized event this Sunday!

Yeah, it took a while – 8 years this October since I started riding.

I moved next door to a horse farm when I was 6 and started taking lessons from a BHS-certified instructor. I rode in my first event when I was 13 and joined Pony Club (which really helped further my eventing career) when I was 14. You are not too old to join Pony Club! Look for a club either where you are now or where you’ll be going to college. You can also join so that you can participate in both clubs. Check at www.ponyclub.org

I was seduced by a woman of dubious morals.


I’m not sure anyone else is going to top Reed’s 9 word response… :lol:

Me? A little bit of “in my blood” and a whole lot of hard work! My mom evented back in the 70s/80s (though she was the first horsey person in her family - I’m sure she will post her story too) and my dad was involved in horses as well. I was first on a horse at a few weeks old and haven’t been able to rid myself of the addiction since then. But, I have had to work really hard to not just ride, but to event.

I actually spent the first few years of my childhood bombing around bareback in the back yard - didn’t even get a saddle until I was 7. Then I joined 4H and spent 12 years doing a little bit of everything including almost every class offered with 4H (all but gaited classes! but including driving, contesting, reining, halter, showmanship, pleasure, jumping, etc.), a ton of trail riding (and I’m talking 8-10 hr rides in hilly Southern Indiana), and still bombing around the back yard. I did some unrecognized eventing on the side, but never had the right horse to really event. I also spent about 1 year in Pony Club before becoming a PC reject. :wink: So most of my eventing dreams as a kid came from watching my mom’s video tapes of WEG, Olympics, etc. from the 80s/90s and going to Rolex every year.

I then took 4 years off when I was in college and when I graduated, happened to finally have the perfect (for me) event horse waiting (foaled at home my senior year of HS). So I jumped back in feet first!

Sometimes you just have to do your best to make it happen. I don’t have an event trainer and do most of this on my own. I’d never even had regular lessons until 2-3 years ago. Luckily, eventers are pretty accepting and friendly, so I’ve never felt like I didn’t have a support team to help me in this sport. So my advice to you is to just take it day by day and do what you can to learn and grow. Volunteer at local events to learn the sport and meet people, go xc schooling, travel to big events to watch and inspire your dreams… :slight_smile:

Where I grew up, there really wasn’t much eventing (I’m not sure any). But we were exposed to a lot of different things, from dressage to polo to chasing cows. Our horses did it all…we rode bare back everywhere and jumped a lot of things we shouldn’t have…Yet we were also forced to ride dressage and well (I was a better dressage rider then) and always put the care of the horse first. When I moved back east for college, the school had a xc course and I was exposed to a bit of the eventer mentality…or I guess realized that I probably already was one. We would jump the school horses over picnic tables for fun. After I graduated, I took some time off to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and ended up working in a barn and grooming for an eventer friend. I ended up grooming at several long format events and walking a ton of Advanced HT tracks with my friend and her coach Jimmy Wofford. Learned a ton. Went back to law school and was given an OTTB stallion (quickly made a gelding) and started to bring him along. Did my first (and his first) real event (training level) at Morven Park. That was almost 20 years ago and have been eventing ever since…mostly on OTTBs that I brought along from scratch.

I was very fortunate when my family moved to Canada when I was 10 years old, my family found me a tiny little school horse program at a small barn. The trainer there did a little bit of everything, and exposed her clients to all disciplines at the lower levels. We showed in a variety of English and western events, even driving, and she also took us to a few horse trials.

After my first event I was hooked. I found a local eventing coach and quickly learned what eventing was all about. I rode with him for a few years and moved up the levels, but began to really struggle with the bigger cross country on a fairly psycho (but talented) mare who really shot my confidence cross country.

That mare was amazing, so I chose to do just jumpers with her, rather than sell and buy an event horse. I spent several years on the “A” circuit with her. When I lost interest in competitive riding I sold her and bought a baby horse.

Fast forward to now… My baby horse is all grown up. Last summer I was looking to get her some experience off the property and took her to a cross country clinic where she was absolutely amazing. I caught the eventing bug once again, and now I’m eventing again. We have done some pre-training (novice equivalent here) horse trials and more cross country clinics, and we are having and absolute blast.

Oh goodness! You can thank “Accelerated Reader” which first enticed my 8 year old self to start reading the Thoroughbred Series because there were at least 30 books in my school’s library which earned you 4 points a piece. (Accelerated Reader Champ 3 years in a row.)
This led me to dream of one day running a race-horse farm. To appease my now love of riding, my mother bought me a subscription to Young Rider. What a great year, because Kim Severson was riding Winsome Adante at the time, and there were huge posters of the pair running in each magazine!

I thought Dan was the most gorgeous horse in the world, and I ought to be part of that. Lessons started, and now I’m running my own training program, I have a few young horses coming in, and Kim is back on top with Fernhill Fearless!

I just got tired of having extra money all the time. Plus, riding and taking lessons in only one discipline is just too easy and boring, so I decided, why not make SURE you will never run out of training challenges EVER EVER AGAIN! At that point, it was clear: just pick the hardest sport possible and let the humility flow!

I’m a youth rider, currently studying dressage, and I would LOVE to become an eventer but I’m having trouble finding resources (no eventing barns or stables nearby, not many competitions either) and as a soon-to-be college student I can’t afford to take jumping lessons right now. So I was just wondering how all of you came into the sport. What disciplines have you done over the years? When did you start eventing? How did you find trainers? What experiences and opportunities helped shape your skills and interests?


Why not look to your local Pony Club? If you’re under 25 you’re young enough. Where are you located? Someone here can help you out. :encouragement:

That being said… my horse and I were too fast and too untraditional to make any sort of hunter… so the leap seemed natural. :smiley:

After growing up in Miami and taking basic riding lessons at a local hunter barn, my family made the move to Louisville, KY when I was 12. As luck would have it, my mom got us lost one day and we made a U-turn in the driveway of a beautiful farm - which happened to be leased by Sue Burnett (Hannah Sue Burnett’s mom!). I begged my mom to call the number on the sign, and the rest is history.

This was a most influential time for my riding, as Sue was a wonderful mentor, teacher and friend. I was bitten by the eventing bug, joined Pony Club, and got to ride every type of horse there was.

I am eternally grateful to the Burnetts for introducing me to the sport I love so much, and I am still going strong 19 years later :wink:

Why not look to your local Pony Club? If you’re under 25 you’re young enough. Where are you located? Someone here can help you out. :encouragement:

This is how I started eventing and I would highly recommend it! It will also give you a community of friendly, supportive equestrians even if you stick with dressage.