Love The Journey, Not Just The Destination

Sep 30, 2014 - 1:59 AM

As always, time seems to get away from me in between blogs… To be honest, I feel as though some time needed to pass after Rolex, after feeling a bit kicked down, and I needed something new to talk about!

I’ve been pondering quite a bit lately all that’s gone on in between: What happened with America at the WEG, running my own business, and keeping good goals for my top horses going into the fall.

I had some good friends competing at the WEG and also my friend Hannah Sue Burnett competing at the Land Rover Burghley CCI****, and needless to say, it felt a bit like the last nail in the coffin when, a week after our disappointing finish at the WEG in France, Hannah jumped around clean in England but couldn’t trot up the next morning.

I ran into Sinead Halpin that same day at the Bucks County Horse Trials, where we were both riding a string of young horses, and thought to myself, “Wow, my friend just got back from the WEG, and here we are, both at it again…” Having just heard about Hannah, we had a little chat about how tough the sport is, both mentally and physically.

I went away from that talk and went on competing that day, and I had to smile as I trotted around the warm-up thinking, “I love going upper level and competing overseas, but I love this part too.” I think we all must, in one way or another, love the different aspects of the sport that keep us going when the times get tough.

I won’t lie: I’ve loved having Cambalda back and in good form coming off two advanced wins, but I get extreme enjoyment from seeing my young horses come along. Some of my proudest moments this season have been on a horse of Nina Gardner’s by the name of Class Century, who jump-raced and had some fairly serious mental issues when he first switched to his new discipline.  

I love the fact that with time and patience, the horse has come quite good, and whether or not he becomes an upper-level horse, he makes me quite happy every day. That’s because he reminds me that I don’t just compete horses—I am a horsewoman. And I’m very lucky to have owners who feel the same—who of course do love the big stuff, but love the journey first and foremost.

As time goes on and the season looks like it might be inching to a close, I’m thrilled how my first year out on my own has gone, with the young horses and the older ones both. After coming back from Richland Park, where Ping won the advanced, As Cool As Ice the prelim and Class Century the training, I received a package in the mail containing 10 USEA Blue Ribbon Award certificates for different horses I’ve had the pleasure to train and who’ve been in the top three at horse trials three or more times… And I had to stop and say,  “Wow, this is pretty cool.”

It’s very nervewracking to be out on your own and to realize that it’s up to you alone now to train the horses properly. So you do tend to second-guess yourself at times, and while I know I have a long way to go, opening up that package and seeing all those awards did make me text my right-hand girl Steph and say, “Well, we must not be messing up too much!” (I better knock some wood now.) 

So I guess I look forward to the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI in October, where Ping will be in the CCI*** and Henry the CCI**, and hopefully two of the Gardners’ young horses will be in the Young Event Horse Championships. I’ll start holding my breath and pulling out the bubble wrap!

I think as a country, whether you’re a rider, selector, or fan of the sport, we need to just put our heads down and work—be there for each other and try to kick on and look forward.

Best of luck to everyone going to Pau and everyone competing here for the fall.

Until next time,


Brannigan Eventing


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