View Full Version : Your journey through the levels in eventing

Jul. 5, 2012, 11:30 PM
I'm new to this whole sport but love it. Just did a 1 day intro and planning to do BN in September. I am just curious as to what various paths people/horses have taken through the levels. I don't think I aspire to do higher than training- or MAYBE prelim tops. I would suppose that you spend more time at a level as you move up? I would imagine I would do a few BN's before moving to N- though it totally depends on how we are doing and I'd rather move slowly versus too fast. Anyway I am just curious and would love to hear from folks.

Jul. 6, 2012, 11:08 AM
I think there are so many "paths" that it would be hard to generalize. So much depends on you, your horse, soundness/injury, access to coaching, schooling, competitions, budget, time, etc.

Most of us who have been doing this sport for a while have had long chunks where we did not advance, or even went backwards, because of one or more of those factors.

I think for many people the marker for moving up is when the cross country at your level begins to look easy, small, or even boring, and the next level up begins to look doable and maybe fun. But how long that takes? Who knows!

Enjoy, do NOT put yourself on a timetable (sure way to have the eventing gods smack you down), and appreciate the journey.

Jul. 6, 2012, 11:17 AM
I started the sport at age 12; watched Rolex in the spring of 1997 and was hooked forever. Did my first mini-event (pre-novice) in May, some h/j shows that summer, and my first BN that fall. Was in Pony Club, too. Moved up to novice the following year (1998). Spent the season at training level the year after that (1999). During all this, I was riding a wonderful older QH who lived for xc and showed me the ropes.

I got a green horse (ex-barrel racer) in the winter of '99, and competed him at novice during 2000. Moved him up to training in the fall of 2000; competed training in 2001 and was a working student that summer (fast-forward on the learning curve!). Moved up to prelim in the fall of 2001. Competed prelim all 2002, did my first one-star (long format back then!) in the fall. Continued at prelim 2003-2004.

Basically, I moved up about one level per year. My "starter" horse wasn't exactly a packer, but he gave me worlds of confidence and taught me a ton. In return, I was able to use this experience to move along well with my first green horse after that; still about one level per season.

Then, in 2004, I got a nice, talented green horse (ex-fox hunter). She did her first novice in April, and her first prelim that October; her first intermediate a year after that. I did my first two-star and advanced horse trials with her. She came to me with a good understanding of xc, so she was able to move up quickly.

There is no set time to move up; it's whenever you and your horse are confident and ready.

Jul. 6, 2012, 11:45 AM
Agree with the others that its hard to plan these things or put a set time frame on them. Agree even more with you know you're ready to move up when you're walking cross country and staring longingly at the next level up.

In September 2008, I did my first event at Elementary (2'3") with my trainer's pony that I was leasing.

I competed that same pony at three more events in 2009, at recognized Beginner Novice.

In late summer of that year, I free leased my own pony from August-June. I took her to one Elementary event in the fall of 2009, and one recognized BN in the spring of 2010. Then she unfortunately had to go back :(

I bought my current horse as green as could be in April of 2010. He did his first BN combined test in July, and his first BN event in August. We did one more BN in early September, and then moved up to Novice in late September. We finished off the 2010 season at Novice.

We started our 2011 season at Novice, before finding out we had a severe phobia of larger ditches. (Any Novices we had done so far either had no ditch or a very small one.) The ditch issue, paired with the diagnosis of ulcers, paired with some lost shoes, some unlucky rainy days, and finally the closing of our boarding barn and therefore the move to a new barn really took its toll on our season that year. We didn't have much of a season, and I think we only ended up completing one event that we entered between being eliminated and withdrawing for various reasons.

That is why I started the 2012 season back at BN. (See, eventing teaches you a lot about ups and downs :lol:) We completed two BNs in May, moved back up to Novice successfully last month, have gone schooling for our ditch phobias, and our now hopefully back on track until the next wave of the wrath of the eventing gods.

My hope is to finish off this season at Novice really strongly and then move up to Training in 2013.

Divine Comedy
Jul. 6, 2012, 11:50 AM
I started eventing in 2002, but didn't have my own horse until 2007. From 2002-2006, I bounced between BN and N, riding trainers sale horses and project ponies.

In 2007, I bought my first horse, a 5 yr old OTTB who'd been restarted at a hunter barn already. In 2007, we did his first BN, moved right up to N, and then unsuccessfully attempted T. He fell in a lake right before his supposed final N and became terrified of water. Everything else he jumped fine.

In 2008, I finally cured the water phobia. We did two N, then moved to T successfully. By the time we finally got to T, the height of the fences didn't impress him, so he didn't jump great at T. I knew I needed to move him up to P quickly so he would jump better. Spent the summer and early fall at T, then did our first two P at the end of the year.

In 2009, the entire year was spent at P or 1*. He was very successful at that level.

In 2010, did one 1* as a warm up, then moved up to I. Did two I, was injured and off for the rest of the year.

In 2011, did a lot of I, a CIC**, and attempted two CCI**. His soundness issues began at this point. He was unsound after hard ground XC at the first CCI**, and became ill after dressage at the second. At this point, we've run around a ton of I and he's phenomenal.

In 2012, did one I, moved up to A. Did two A, then dropped down and did another I before a CCI**. Horse was again unsound after XC (after being super sound all season). Was going to be allowed vacation rest of the year anyways with me graduating and beginning my career. I am using the time to completely overhaul the shape of his feet w/Rood and Riddle, as that appears to be the crux of his issues.

Keep in mind horse is only 10 years old now.

Jul. 6, 2012, 11:56 AM
Just don't lay out the path too far ahead of yourself . . . life happens, and can lead you quite far out from your original trajectory. :lol:

I came by eventing somewhat randomly, having decided to tag along to a local HT (Queeny Park) with some new acquaintances at a barn I moved to with my hot TB mare. Said mare had never, once, seen a XC jump, but I figured (oh to be young!) I'd done plenty of foxhunting, how hard could it be? :lol:

We entered at BN, which was the lowest level they had, and I sat in a dressage saddle for the first time and did my first test ever at that show. XC was not the disaster it might have been, bless the mare, but I had no clue what the rules were and figured I'd just skip the last jump since it was spooky looking and call it a learning experience. Instead of doing SJ the next day we schooled the XC course again and I believe I was hooked . . . :p

It took us a couple of tries to begin getting around successfully, but eventually we made it up to Novice and even a couple of Trainings, but this mare, NO DOUBT because of my complete lack of a clue about how to develop a horse properly and the fact that I had NO trainer and NO lessons, never became terribly brave. :lol: Poor, dear mare.

Anyway, I set my sights quite high and decided I wanted to do NOVICE for the rest of my life. Then I bought Gwennie, quite on impulse. Within 18 months, she hauled me right up to Preliminary! :lol: Bless that mare, EVERYONE should cross paths with a smart, game, opinionated and bloody brilliant schoolmaster/mistress of a horse at some point in their lives! :yes: Thanks to her I can walk Prelim courses still to this day (not having shown at that level since 2005) and not pee my pants, mostly. :D It did completely ruin me on the thought of doing Novice, though--Training is my new happy place and after many, many sidetracks (see above about not planning the road too far ahead) I'm about to get back there for the 3rd or 4th time. :p

Enjoy the journey. Be open to rides on horses that can show you the ropes. Get lots of help--don't do it the way I did! :lol: And enjoy the heck out of it. :)

Jul. 6, 2012, 12:04 PM
I think there are so many "paths" that it would be hard to generalize. So much depends on you, your horse, soundness/injury, access to coaching, schooling, competitions, budget, time, etc.

Most of us who have been doing this sport for a while have had long chunks where we did not advance, or even went backwards, because of one or more of those factors.


Funny how true this is! I think eventing is different than other equestrian sports because (and not to throw any other disciplines under the bus), but it arguably requires a lot more of a commitment. I think this is why so many people end up stuck at the same level or moving backwards... because when obstacles get in the way... like work, budget, transportation, time, etc., it makes competing and especially moving up through the levels nearly impossible.

I know I have definitely experienced this first-hand. My eventing career went on a huge hiatus while I was in college because I moved my horse to school with me and it was in an area located in the middle of hunter country... with the nearest place to event being 5+ hours away and I did not have a trailer or any way to get there. It can definitely be frustrating to watch the seasons tick by without being able to get to events or train the amount you would need to in order to move up. I know, at that time, I was in the dreaded novice to training gray area, and we all know that's a pretty big jump. I needed to get out and school xc a LOT in order to make that jump to training, which was impossible in the area I lived in at the time.

We all deal with those sorts of things. I would venture to say very few of us have it all handed to us or have an extremely easy time moving up through the levels. Unless you have the money to buy a push-button school master that you can readily move up on, and you are not limited by a budget as far as buying a truck and trailer, paying for events, paying for lessons, etc., you will likely find yourself "stuck" at some point.

As far as the differences between the levels, I agree with what most people have said. Everyone has a different "system" for judging when they and their horse are ready to move up. Some people have a set in stone checklist of things which they must accomplish before moving up. Others go by a "feeling" of readiness and just kind of wing it. However I do think many people get caught up on the jumping phases and tend to forget about the dressage phase. Remember, your flatwork is the foundation of your jumping!

I'd say the highest number of people get stuck at novice or training. The difference between BN and novice is not huge... to be honest that one is mostly mind over matter. You might see a combination on a novice course but nothing that is really meant to question or challenge you. It's still fairly straight forward. However, as I stated before, the jump from novice to training seems to hold a lot of people back because it is definitely a big difference. The fences are a lot bigger, there are a lot more questions both stadium and cross country, the speed is increased significantly, and the dressage gets a lot more technical. I've seen many people get to training and get stuck there as well, because prelim can also be a scary jump.

It really does just depend on you, your horse, and your circumstances. Everyone is different but we all do seem to get stuck at one point or another. I tend to believe the "once an eventer, always an eventer" mindset... and I know quite a few riders in their 60s who still get out there! Don't worry too much about the time scale.

Jul. 6, 2012, 12:15 PM
There is no set time to move up; it's whenever you and your horse are confident and ready.
If only more would heed that advice (including me :) )

I started as a green, never rode before rider in 2008 (at 47) with an older rescued mare who had never evented. It took over two years to get her and I to a point where we could enter our first "soft" BN show. In that same show she tripped going down hill with the result being retirement from eventing.

I tried pushing myself and worked with a horse that was way to much for me and as such he not only scared the hell out of me in the one show I tried him in, he almost broke my confidence.

In 2011 I bought my current fellow who had dressage experience, but no eventing. By now I am not so green, but have confidence issues. I again pushed, he pushed back and I went from jumping BN heights to poles for three months.

This last round I finally got what AJ says, there is no timetable. We are amateurs doing this to please ourselves, no pay for performance required. When I stopped pushing Sterling he and I finally had time to get to know each other and really grow. So after my fall with Mercedes, it took over two years just to get back to where I was...oh well, it is about the journey.

My goals (besides enjoying the moment) are simple:

1 - Complete a BN event with a happy confident horse
2 - Complete a Long Format event (at BN to start)
3 - Qualify for AECs at any level.

Oh, stay on the horse, but that is a typical given.

I have no time table to make that happen, but I am almost to #1.

Enjoy the Ride! :D

Jul. 6, 2012, 12:28 PM
I probably have a slower path than most because life (college, law school, work) got in the way. I started riding at age 8, started eventing at age 10, but only twice a year. Otherwise, I was a hunter/jumper and showed in h/j shows every weekend. In 1996, I bought my first pony and competed her through beginner novice. In 1998, I bought my first horse and brought him up through novice. I also showed him extensively on the hunter/jumper circuit. During college and law school, we would school training, but only ever competed at novice at recognized events because I was depending on others for rides and they were always doing lower levels. I also rode extensively in the IHSA. It wasn't until this year that I did my first training level at a recognized event. Why? Because this year, I finally saved up enough to buy my first truck and trailer and now I am officially mobile!

The best advice I can give you is move to an eventing barn if this is your passion. I stayed at my h/j barn and now have been there so long that I could never leave. It doesn't matter a whole lot for me anymore because I can trailer to lessons with my eventing trainer and trailer to events. But, before I was mobile, I would have progressed a lot faster had I been at an eventing barn. I'm 28 now, and I'm making up for lost time. :-)

Jul. 6, 2012, 12:36 PM
The great mass of eventers don't compete above Training level. In both starter numbers and overall experience level, riders tend to clump at Novice and Training, with the pyramid shrinking fairly dramatically as you go up through Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced. Instead, what you start to see is a smaller set of riders with multiple horses at the upper levels (in contrast to the lower levels, which has a much higher one rider/one horse population).

Given that, don't think of it as a journey through the levels. Think of it as finding a place in the sport where you are having fun, where whatever goals you have for yourself and your horse are achievable. That may be at Preliminary, it may be at BN. Doesn't matter. What does matter is learning to be safe, to be prepared to the best of your abilities for the test asked at whatever level you are competing at, and to respect the questions asked by that level.

Jul. 6, 2012, 12:36 PM
My first event was 34 years ago; I was hooked from the start. My 1st recognized was in 1979- I was 12, and the lowest division was Pretraining (US Novice)[1st photo on 12.1hh pony]
I've made it as far as Prelim only on 2 different horses [2nd & 3rd photos], horse trials only, no full-phase 3-days... (yet).
I've attached a photographic journey over the last 33 years[4th photo this year, starting out again]:

Jul. 6, 2012, 12:50 PM
I agree with everyone else. You move when you and your horse feel ready to move. I started eventing in my late twenties on an AQHA mare that had been a reining horse reject. Went to only two events(UR) at the intro levels before circumstances changed and I had to give her up. And never having taken any lessons with a trainer.

Spent three years out of the west coast, one of which I rode straight dressage on school horses.

Came back east, rode my trainers retired Prelim horse at two events(UR) again at the intro level. Bought my own OTTB mare straight from the track and it's taken my three years to get to the point where we might be doing BN at UR and R this fall. The mare-beast and I have trust issues with each other, I have a confidence going at speed issue and we both need lots and lots of miles.


BN at UR some time this century
BN at R some time before I die
Qualify for the AEC's at BN some time before I die.

Do I want to jump bigger, oh yeah. Is my current horse capable, definetly. Can we do it right now? No way. Mare-beast and I have to find a happy medium between slowest hunter at the party and steeplechaser wannabe.

We'll get there some day. But I'm happy working on the issues we need to fix before attempting a recognized event.

So it's all a matter of persepctive and getting what you want out of it while keeping your horse happy.

Jul. 6, 2012, 03:42 PM
I agree with others. There can't be a plan, or a schedule. Even goals can be sketchy. :yes: Just do what you can do, enjoy it, and move up as needed and wanted.

I did my first little event in the spring of 2000, I think (I was 18). It was more of a "why the hell not" moment than anything, as my horse and I had been home bound for an extended period of time due to a quarantine and other issues. I had moved to a new farm, was chomping at the bit to GO someplace, and my new barn mates invited me to go along. Someone helpfully copied parts out of the rulebook for me, I jumped some logs out in the pasture (real logs...not xc fences...just wind fallen trees), and went. We did elementary or intro or whatever they called it (it was 2ft-ish...we had been showing competently on the local level at 3ft in the hunters and jumpers, and were stupidly brave at home up to 3'6"ish). My little spotted horse- who I had always said was too chicken to jump xc- and I- who had always said would never jump fences that wouldn't fall down- were hooked, completely and totally (side note: that little horse went on to become one hell of a BN/N packer for a couple of people!).

For the next two years, I did the 2 or 3 local, unrecognized events local to us, plus the hunters and jumper and even made some forays into the dressage world. In 2002 I decided if I wanted to really do this sport, I needed to move where I could seriously do it and find serious help.

In the fall of that year I took a WS position with an UL rider. I did one recognized BN that fall (I probably would have done novice, as we were ready, but I couldn't get a number in time). I was given a bit of a schoolmaster to ride (he had gone prelim, not to mention YEARS of foxhunting in Ireland). That little Irish horse taught me how to take a joke in dressage (our classic move was "Enter at A. X, halt, salute, stand up and wave at the judge. Proceed working trot) and how to actually gallop. I also learned, by eating a lot of dirt, how to sit freaking still and not jump ahead.

I did one novice with that horse in the spring of 2003, and then moved up to training with him. There was talk of me going prelim on him, but he and I could NOT show jump together to save our lives, and he really much preferred to hunt than to show.

The next year I was given another horse to ride. He had gone novice and was ready for training, but was a bit of a chicken. With him, I developed my skill to stuff horses over fences and made a very brave training horse in the process. He was far too big for me, but I loved riding him. I realized I had reformed my giant chicken of a horse when he grabbed the bit and dragged me around a tough course at Groton House. We attempted prelim, but the "chicken" reared it's ugly head (we later found out he wasn't chicken...he hurt :cry: He had the biggest heart in the world and was incredibly stoic. RIP, Reilly Monster).

That same year, I acquired a little, mousy brown TB that we name Ralph (As in "Ralph S. Mouse", since he was tiny and very mousy indeed, but smart :yes:). HE was unbroke and a little ugly at first, but he turned into a hell of a cool horse. I took him from unbroke to prelim in about 18 months. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=6883921599&l=440027bbc0 We weren't 100% successful at that level...he was cheeky and I was green, but it was fun. He only did a handful, though. Long story short, he had to be put down. We now think his issues stemmed from a possible brain tumor :cry: He was awesome and I miss him dearly. I was FEARLESS on xc on him. He wasn't the most athletic, but he could gallop and jump, and was worth the heartache.

So, Ralph was doing prelim in 2005, and by 2006, he was more or less retired/in a constant state of trying to break through his issues. I started a few more youngsters over the next couple of years, mostly doing BN and N (this, btw, is one of my favorite things in life! I love riding babies and love doing their "firsts" with them). I rode a few others, off and on, at training (including a brief time back at training with Ralph).

In 2007, I noticed an adorable 3 year old TB http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=35161816599&l=605816aa7b on a local classified website. We bought Vernon Tiger for a song, as a resale prospect. I brought him along http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=20342216599&l=adae9a23f8, trying not to fall in love (yeah right). Just as became really marketable in the fall of 2008, the economy crashed and NO ONE was looking. Eventually, he was "given" to me. I took him from barely broke to prelim. He was/is my pride and joy. :yes: While dressage was NOT ever going to be his strong phase, he allowed me to squeak out NQRs, and we attempted my first three day http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=454892041599&l=03e1300391 (where, after having a blast on R and T and steeplechase, he snagged a bell boot at the 10th fence on D and I went sailing between his ears :cry:).

After the 3 day, I came to the heartbreaking conclusion that Vernon and I weren't on the same page about how we saw our competitive life. While he was more than happy to run really fast and jump really big, he HATED, with a fiery passion from hell, dressage. We were certainly looking at being very close to being ready for intermediate, but squeaking out NQRs at that level was going to get tougher and tougher. And I wanted to do WELL, not just get by. He was miserable, I was miserable. Every dressage school tended to end in tears. I decided to sell him. Major :cry::cry::cry:

Well, selling him allowed me to do something I've NEVER gotten to do before- shop for myself! Through a set of wonderful circumstances and some kind people willing to help a girl out, I bought Toby a little over a year ago as a going training level horse. It was weird acquiring a horse that wasn't a rank baby, but I lucked very much out (my budget really was only going to allow for a baby, but Toby came along in a fabulous twist of fate!).

He is, indeed, the most athletic, talented, amazing horse I have ever been blessed to ride (well, at least ride more than hack or occasionally lesson on...but I even doubt that!). http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150779778796600&l=fb2ed9b00c I am head over heels in love with this horse and cannot believe my luck. He is an interesting character- a total badass most of the time with a soft, squishy middle that I am only allowed to see when we're alone. He is the hardest worker I think I have ever sat on, but also has a totally wicked, obnoxious side that is only tolerable because of the work ethic (hacking is....interesting). We made a valiant effort at our first attempt at prelim a month ago, where he was flying around like an old pro, then oh so boldly left a stride out at the first water and I made an very wet exit out the side door. :eek::lol:

We are actually on hold due in part to summer weather and footing and in part to the fact that because he is the nicest horse I have ever sat on, I now have a huge case of Perfectionism and am spending the summer working out my show jumping issues. We'll re-debute in the fall, hopefully much more successfully.

There are a lot of "if onlys" in my story. "If only" Ralph had stayed the good boy he had been, I might have been able to move right along with him. "If only" I could have kept the ride on that sales horse. "If only" Vernon would have played along....Even, "if only" Neigh (the little spotted horse) and I had discovered eventing a few years earlier.... The "if onlys" get depressing. You cannot be on a time table. There IS no time table. You will develop and move along the way you are meant to. The only thing you can control is the quality of help you can get...this has been the biggest stepping stone for me. I would not even be HERE, in a holding pattern at "competent but not spectacular at prelim" if it wasn't for the help I have gotten. Just try to enjoy the ride, and DON'T be a perfectionist like me...it SUCKS. :yes: Just be safe and have fun.

Jul. 6, 2012, 04:34 PM
Finding the level where it is fun and comfortable is what it is about, for most of us amateurs. :) If that's Novice, ignore the division name because a lot of people in "Novice" have been there 10 or 30 years. :lol: Or wherever you and your current horse are happy.

Especially for the introductory period, eventing is a huge ramp up in fitness for a lot of newbies even with riding experience, in addition to adding new skills. For those of us who work full time, or have school, family or whatever demands, that often means riding comes second for a day or a week, and that affects the essential fitness part of our preparation. Part of finding a happy level is realistically assessing the degree to which you can maintain yourself and your horse. Experience will tell you that, once you get out to a few events.

The level you are riding is as much fun as you want to make it on that day. If you aren't challenging yourself particularly, challenge yourself to have fun with the people you are showing with. Your horse will be just as happy. :)

One of the fun things about eventing is that if the first reaction to a new level is "I did it and it was easy," knowing that at a different event the course can ride very differently. Each event has its own character and challenges.

Riders that are used to showing in another discipline sometimes find it a bit unsettling that they have to let some things go in their preparation for 3 different disciplines. Decisions have to be made based on time constraints and the needs of that horse and rider. Those decisions teach us to think in terms of fundamentals - in what training do we invest our time and riding to make the best preparation for the next goal event?

Some of the best advice I can give you: VOLUNTEER as a Jump Judge for the next level up, and for the upper levels. What an education to see one rider after another use their own strategy and skill. Really gives one a mental picture of some specifics they need to be working towards in their own riding.

So that isn't really my story, as I am one of those who looked at the demands of the sport and my time constraints and decided to have fun on an un-ambitious schedule at the lower levels. It is so much fun to get together with friends and make an event a picnic and riding day, and oh by the way they give ribbons. I love watching and jump-judging and assisting the UL's, but have no desire to ride there myself. :D

Have fun! Great people, great horses and a great sport! :)

Jul. 6, 2012, 05:25 PM
The great mass of eventers don't compete above Training level. In both starter numbers and overall experience level, riders tend to clump at Novice and Training, with the pyramid shrinking fairly dramatically as you go up through Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced. Instead, what you start to see is a smaller set of riders with multiple horses at the upper levels (in contrast to the lower levels, which has a much higher one rider/one horse population).

Given that, don't think of it as a journey through the levels. Think of it as finding a place in the sport where you are having fun, where whatever goals you have for yourself and your horse are achievable. That may be at Preliminary, it may be at BN. Doesn't matter. What does matter is learning to be safe, to be prepared to the best of your abilities for the test asked at whatever level you are competing at, and to respect the questions asked by that level.

EXACTLY! This was inspiring, and so very true.

Jul. 6, 2012, 06:03 PM
Agreed, everyone takes their own path! Here was my timeline:

8 – 9 years old – Get first horse, I am totally green walk trot – He is young and totally green walk / trot
9 – 10 years old – Join Pony Club – start “speed bump jumps” and totally elementary eventing
10 – 12 years old Novice level eventing
12 – 14 years old – solid training level, schooling prelim (same horse I started with)
15 years old – New OTTB start at novice
16 – 18 years old – Training level, then prelim with the TB

Never went above prelim (never had a desire to!!). I am 33 now and still ride / train, but no longer event competitively.

Jul. 6, 2012, 06:07 PM
Everyone's path is different.

I didn't event until after college. I had been riding since I was 7. I had friends who evented at the 3* level and I had been fox hunting and done jumpers. While in law school, I got my first OTTB (still a stallion too) and took him to his and my first event--a recognized training level (6 months after I got him). Dressage was painful to watch I'm sure (still is;)) but we did well jumping. Sold him (wasn't going to go beyond training and found him a good home)...got another OTTB....did one novice with her and then several training with in the first year. Sold her before moving up to Prelim (she was more a jumper/hated dressage)....got my next OTTB. Got him in the fall...started at novice in the spring and ended that first season at Prelim....he was a cool horse and I had extremely good help (rode with Jimmy Wofford weekly). That horse took me up to Intermediate before the real working world hit. I had more time for horses in law school than I did working!

So sold him...back to green beans for several years and still have lots of green beans. I'm hopeful my current OTTB mare will be my 2* horse but she is going to need some time. You have to go at the pace of the horse. For me....it isn't about the level...but I enjoy the process of training and bringing a horse along even if now a days, I'm a bit quicker to let my trainer get on. I just don't bounce like I used to :) But I do like riding the green horses...and I do like riding a horse that I started on up through the levels.

Have fun with the journey and learn what you can from each horse.

Wee Dee Trrr
Jul. 6, 2012, 09:20 PM
I started eventing at 11 yrs old with an AWESOME TB mare, Heather. We started out at novice, did two events and moved up to training. We did training for 2 years and moved up to prelim. We did prelim for 2 years. I was prepped and ready for a one star and hoping to make the Young Riders team. She ended up not staying sound.

Simultaneously, I was bringing up a young horse, Spec. I got him up to training in 2 years... however he didn't want to play at that level.

So, Heather was retired and Spec was sold on to be a novice packer.

SOOOO... with LAZ's help I bought my first OTTB, Rudy. We did one BN and moved up. We did a season of novice and moved up to training. Did a whole season at training, and training 3 day and then did one prelim. I took him down to FL to be a working student for the winter with the Hollings. Two weeks into being there my horse died.

SOOOO... with LAZ's help I bought my second OTTB, Cinder. We started at novice and did a season at that level. After a year it was evident that he wasn't going to be an upper level horse. So I sold him on to be a novice packer.

SOOOO... this time I bought LAZ's TB, Will. I started Will out at novice, did a few and moved up to training. Did a prelim, but didn't finish. Did a training 3 day and decided that he wasn't the horse me at that time. So I sold him on to be amazing and training and prelim for someone else.

SOOOO... with LAZ's help I bought another OTTB, Westley. As of now we are doing schooling novice HTs due to lack of time and money. I think I'll keep this horse for a long time and hopefully get to do a season or two at prelim someday.

In between some of the TB's I had ponies that we bought, trained got going to BN or N and sold on...

It's been a long road back to prelim...

Jul. 6, 2012, 10:33 PM
Note here the very definite lack of "one horse" stories where people start out with and reach their ultimate goals with one horse. :)

Jul. 7, 2012, 12:15 PM
Note here the very definite lack of "one horse" stories where people start out with and reach their ultimate goals with one horse. :)

Exactly. While I have high hopes that my horse will make it to Prelim, I have no doubt in my mind that he will not go any higher than that. And my goals are to go all the way, which means there will be plenty more horses after him. :lol:

Jul. 7, 2012, 12:52 PM
And along those same lines, often our first "nice" horse is, sadly, our "throw away" horse. I was told this about Ralph. To be prepared for him losing some confidence because I would make the majority of my mistakes on him. I was VERY green on him at prelim. I think we did admirably well (especially since he had a cheeky streak a mile wide!), but he was definitely hampered by my lack of experience. Vernon reaped a lot of benefits from what I learned on Ralph (and what I learned on other horses, even though I did not take them as far). Toby is reaping even MORE rewards from what I learned on both Ralph and Vernon. Very, very few people get their first horse and go right up brilliantly well. But you learn a hell of a lot on each one on the way, even if you only ride them a handful of times, or at BN, or if they were naughty. Elf (the Irish horse after Neigh) was painfully bad sometimes. He was hell to show jump, but, man, the day I learned to really GALLOP on course on him was eye opening. :yes:

Jul. 7, 2012, 03:32 PM
Well, I love my horse and intend to keep her forever. She's 8 so for the next 5 years (or more depending) she'll be the one. I'm more sentimental than ambitious.

Jul. 8, 2012, 10:52 AM
Why just 5 more years? I didn' t even BUY Gwen until she was sixteen and we did our last Prelim stuff when she was 18. :lol:

Jul. 8, 2012, 11:05 AM
Well, I love my horse and intend to keep her forever. She's 8 so for the next 5 years (or more depending) she'll be the one. I'm more sentimental than ambitious.
I didn't mean that people have horses that are "throw away" because they are overly ambitious an unsentimental, but that they often don't meet their goals on their first horse because of learning curves. I am extremely sentimental (you can be both) about my horses. I may not keep them forever, but that's also because I do have high goals and not every horse is going to be happy going there with me (Vernon). I would have kept Vernon and hunted him and enjoyed him for who he is if I could have kept two horses in shoes and vet bills.

Not everyone can and wants to do forever. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong and something very right about finding a horse that is unsuitable for your desires a good home doing what it loves.

Jul. 8, 2012, 11:48 AM
I hope that my mare will be suitable for me to go as far as I aspire in eventing. I think she will- trainer thinks she has good potential. I don't ever intend to sell her because she is too loveable and cute :D She's also a fantastic trail horse, sensible, smart, as sweet as the day is long, and so fun to ride. That said, I certainly agree with you, yellow britches that a horse may well be better off with someone else if he/she is not suitable for what you want and/or would be happier doing something else.

Jul. 9, 2012, 12:55 AM
I have competed at BN and N, but lots of it wasn't pretty! I wish Ben had been my second good horse and not my first -- I spent a lot of time on the ground and he struggled with soundness issues. I wish I had all the entry fees back that I spent and then had to scratch, but took non-compete horses so I could groom and not leave the ponies at home.

Originally, I wanted to ride at Red Hills, since I had been so involved in the event for so long, and that would require getting to Prelim. I also wanted to be a TD, which has the competed at Prelim requirement. But now? Not so much.

I've taken a very long break now, and have hopes that the Princess Mare will actually become a baby event horse. She did the FEH stuff in November of 2008 and while she wasn't placed first, she got so many compliments on how wonderful her mind is.

And that is what is going to be important to me this time around - riding a willing horse with an excellent mind. If I end up at BN forever, I'm ok with that! I miss the sport, I miss going to shows, and while I have no interest in chasing points and awards, will be ok with cruising around at BN.

This from GotSpots is brilliant and deserves to be reposted a third time:

Given that, don't think of it as a journey through the levels. Think of it as finding a place in the sport where you are having fun, where whatever goals you have for yourself and your horse are achievable. That may be at Preliminary, it may be at BN. Doesn't matter. What does matter is learning to be safe, to be prepared to the best of your abilities for the test asked at whatever level you are competing at, and to respect the questions asked by that level.

Boom! That is what I want -- and if you see a fat lady on a fat pony crying tears of joy as I cross the finish line at BN somewhere, you'll know it is me! :D :D


Jul. 9, 2012, 10:04 AM
I think it very much depends on the horse/rider combo as to which path you take.

My first horse was a stopper so I was limited to Novice and Training with her.

I bought a horse, jumped some logs on the trails and decided to enter in an event.
I was one of those rouge kids and started eventing without knowing what the heck I was doing (well, I was 17)...for instance...I had NO idea why rider wore XC watches and had no concept of time. I just went out there and galloped around like a cow girl.

I did finally find a coach who I worked with for a few years...then I went rouge again due to finances.

During that time my mare was retired and I picked up an unbroke 3 year old because that's all I could afford. Read some books and broke that sucker. He was awesome.
Did a couple of Novice when he was 4 and moved him up to Training when he was 5.

I decided he needed to go prelim at which time I picked up 3 lessons before moving him up as a 6 year old. I had done a few clinics in that 3 year time period as well.

He was injured as an 8 year old (pasture stupidities) and I sold him as a 10 year old.

While he was off I picked up riding jobs and a really nice lease to train horse.

Now I'm playing the waiting game after breeding my own eventer. She was born in May. I'll be back in 3 years!! lol.

The rouge way has worked but [ok] I do wish that I had the funds to pick up coaching on a regular basis. :yes: but, it is what it is.
There were many fine tuning issues that I needed help with to be successful at Preliminary. I'm a little sad that I wasted my horse's time actually--he was brilliant and could have won easily at the ULs if I had the help. But I didn't have other options.

Due to money issues I've backed off and ride for fun. I never feel obligated and I just hang out and do my own thing now..meaning no rec HTs and I enjoy the local schooling stuff that doesn't take so much time. :cool:

Jul. 9, 2012, 03:48 PM
So far my story in eventing has been mostly a one horse story :). Not sure what my ultimate goal is though. Used to say Rolex but not sure I have the guts :)

Started riding, trail riding, at 19. No previous horse experience. Started taking H/J lessons in vet school, bought an OTTB with a little jumping experience and enjoyed jumpers. 3', for awhile.

Went to Rolex for the first time the same year I bought a 4 yr old OTTB. Decided I had to try eventing, went to an unrecognized event, a hunter pace, and then recognized BN with the greenie. Moved right up to N, did 1 1/2 years at N, 1 1/2 years at T, and the last 4 seasons at P. Would try I except for some rating issues on XC that we are still working out. So my green horse and I have learned eventing together from BN-P with all the associated ups and downs. He is 11 now so hopefully we can continue to achieve our goals together for awhile!

Did take my jumper horse eventing after I'd gotten my feet wet with the other. At his age he maxed out at N and went on to be a BN/N schoolmaster for a good friend into his 20s.