2013 Kristin Carpenter Blog
Kristin Carpenter juggles her riding with running her own company, Linder Educational Coaching, working as the business manager of Morningside Training Farm in The Plains, Va., and riding her two horses, In A Trance and Lizzy. She grew up in Louisiana and bought "Trance," a green off-the-track Thoroughbred, as a teenager. Together, they ended up competing at the North American Young Riders Championships and to the intermediate level. She's now bringing another OTTB, Lizzy, up through the ranks.
I am an overachiever by any standard measurement: I speak multiple languages, I am a successful entrepreneur, I have a husband who doesn’t hate me, etc. ad nauseam. Every holiday season I find myself contemplating self-improvement. Do I need to know another language? Should I do a better job with my finances? Is my horse as well managed as she could be? Do I spend too much time on my horses to the detriment of my marriage or my business?
At any level, a good event horse has character and a desire to do the job. If doing a four-star were as easy as having the potential to do a four-star, all of our top riders would have an army of top horses. If you check in their barns, many have the most incredibly moving, scopiest jumping prelim and intermediate horses you have ever seen.
While I was thrilled with her marks, I was not kidding myself about cross-country. For all four phases of endurance day, she would be working for about an hour. I didn’t know how she would mentally or physically handle that pressure.
As a competitor, I try to always be accountable for my horse’s welfare first and foremost. Only after that do I consider the results of a given weekend and make myself accountable for what I can do to improve the partnership moving forward.
For most people, collecting eight million points and a pair of wet breeches would be considered a failure, but for me it was the furthest I had ever gotten in an event.
The barn has taught me about unconditional love. The barn doesn’t care what you drove to get there, or what you are going home to. It is a haven for those who give it their all, and it will take everything you have to give. It will take your immaturity and give you discipline. It will take your excuses and give you failure. It will take your dreams and give you opportunity. But it makes no promises, picks no favorites, and spares no hardships.
My friends that have upper-level mares, even the hormonal ones, say that they try harder than a gelding ever will. I am not one for gender stereotypes, but I can say that when Lizzie wants to work, she will work harder than any horse you will ever sit on.
With the summer off, those pressures disappear and I can assess myself as a rider and make a list of priorities. For me, it is always when the stirrups disappear both on the flat and over fences. I work on my position and feel, and can spend entire rides only thinking about one thing. I can finally let the precarious house of cards fall down, and just work on one card at a time.
This is a tough sport to catch a break in, and for a lot of people a break is all they need. I see the army of young riders that are coming up in this sport, all with unique circumstances and various levels of talent. I have personally always felt that dedication and discipline will get anyone a lot further than deep pockets or natural talent.
I knew I would only ever ride a horse around the upper levels that I felt safe on and that loved his job. I did not want to fix someone’s expensive intermediate horse that has all the talent in the world but doesn’t want to play the game. I didn’t want to be forced to make due with the horse I had, if I realized he was not meant for this. That horse’s hesitation could kill me.
This will be a key year for our partnership. To be a great event horse, she has to learn to trust me. I am sure we will have many more moles pop up this year, and I am certain the water might still be an issue at points.
If you are lucky, once in your life you will have a once-in-a-lifetime horse. Just be aware that with that blessing comes a monumental responsibility—knowing when to say when on their career.