Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 29
For many event riders, the thought of going into show jumping grips them with fear, and Savannah Blackstock is no different. But in her last lesson before heading to the USEA American Eventing Championships, her coach Kyle Carter had one piece of advice for her.
“He was like, ‘You have to think of this like it’s a puzzle,’ ” she said. “He’s like, ‘It isn’t like a competition, it’s a puzzle. So you go in and you jump into a combination, and however your horse landed, find the puzzle piece to fix it to jump the next one.’ And he said riding is like a puzzle and every time you ride you should be putting the pieces together, fixing everything.
“And that really made me think this shouldn’t be scary and so nerve-wracking, which it is because we’re so competitive,” she said. “But thinking of it like this, ‘We’re here because we love this sport’ puts it into perspective how much we love the sport. It should just be fun and not to put too much pressure on it.”
That advice paid off when the 18-year-old put in a double-clear performance with Garryndruig Albie to take the win in the Bates preliminary junior/young rider division on a score of 29.3.
“My ride was amazing,” she said. “My horse was incredible. Show jumping is not my favorite part of this sport, but I came in there, and he’s such a good boy. He came in there, and he knows when he’s competing, and he just went in there, and he ate it up. He was so good. It was such a fun ride.”
Blackstock started riding western when she was about 3 years old and did barrel racing until she was 10. Watching “The Saddle Club” inspired her to try jumping, and she never looked back.
“I got this little Quarter Paint, and he bucked me off every time I jumped him for like a year,” she said. “And I still continued to do it, and I loved it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Blackstock did her first event at starter level at the Kentucky Horse Park, but she hasn’t been back since she was running around at novice level four years ago.
“I was so excited to come back here and being here and doing so well, especially riding in the Rolex ring,” she said. “I came here my whole childhood watching Rolex Kentucky after I started riding. Walking down that pathway you’re just like ‘Wow! It’s just amazing.’ And taking a victory gallop in there, it’s just amazing. The whole week all I can say is it’s amazing. Hopefully I’ll be back here in a little bit actually riding [the Kentucky CCI5*]; that would be nice. It’s a little teaser. I’m going to work hard and be here again in a few years.”
The Chronicle is on-site at the USEA American Eventing Championships bringing you coverage and beautiful photos from the competition. If you know a pair with a unique story, email Kimberly at email@example.com.
Ride times and live scoring are here: https://eventing.startboxscoring.com/eventsr/aec/ht0819/
The schedule is available here: https://useventing.com/events-competitions/aec/aec-schedule-of-events