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Long distance eventing

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  • Long distance eventing

    How far is your closest horse trial? And what level do you compete at?

    I just started at the beginner novice level this year on a borrowed large pony. I loved it and had a blast. We always went clear for stadium and XC. Off and on over the last several years I've been working with eventing coaches, but this is the first year I've been able to compete.

    However, I'm moving across the country to an area where there isn't any eventing. The closest horse trial is about a 5 to 6 hour drive from where I'm moving to.

    My new horse (7 year old 3/4 tb X 1/4 han) is just starting to jump, but he is first level and schooling second with his dressage. He seems to enjoy jumping a lot, and shows good aptitude for it. He's done a hunterpace with solid jumps (about 2'3" and under) and a bank. He handled them all with ease and is good with his feet across variable terrain.

    Over the winter I plan to work on my horses jumping skills. And for the winter months he will be stabled at a self care type facility where I can build my own jumps. So I will be able to practise over solid objects, but not full XC courses. There is also a shallow (couple feet deep) pond there, but I'm unsure of the footing of the bottom.

    There are dressage and jumping coaches in the area I'm moving to, just no straight eventing coaches. Also, there are Pony Clubs there, which jump solid jumps, but no horse trials.

    Do you think it's possible for someone new to eventing, but with access to either dressage or jumping coaches to compete in eventing? Perhaps eventually up to training level?

    I think I would feel more confident eventing on my own if I already had a few years of experience, but I don't. My biggest concern would be schooling XC if we get up to pre-training/training level. But I guess I could always haul to an xc facility (5-7 hours away) and school there for the weekend? treat it like a clinic perhaps?

    The distance to the horse trials is a bit prohibitive, but I'm willing to at least try it a few times. Of course I wouldn't be doing a horse trial until my horse and I have done several local dressage and jumping shows at a level above we would be jumping at the horse trial.

    Anyone else here do something similar?

    Any words of wisdom/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    You've just described my situation. I was riding training level before my horse got hurt, and we were literally going to leave for a T3DE the day he got hurt.

    I live in BFE West Texas. My closest event is 5.5 hours away. The furthest one I go to regularly is 12 hours away (it's a two-weekend Horse Trial, so it's worth it).

    There is a dressage person here, and a couple H/J people. There's a young lady who's done some eventing, but she's hard to get to (she's busy with the local university's equestrian team).

    I work with one coach when I go west, another when I go east. I try to go to clinics when I can/when I'm confident re: the clinician. I've done multiple clinics with the trainers I work with at events; love them both, wish I could work with them regularly.

    I get things to work on from both of these coaches, and I try to practice at home with that in mind. I also have a couple friends I ride with, and we "spot" each other.

    I used to go and do horse trials w/ NO help--and I bumbled around at BN (with three different horses) for three years. I also did more schooling Horse Trials than real ones because of the expense. I really wanted to try "the big time", though, so I got a coach, started working on things, and bam! Things started coming together that last year of BN. I think you'll do great with local coaches if you can find someone you feel confident working with at the events. And don't be afraid to haul to some of the non-USEA sanctioned schooling trials to get some "miles".

    I have a LQ trailer and very dependable/newish truck. I have the best tires I can afford (and the ones best for the weight I carry). My truck has satellite radio, which helps on long rides--and I have a LOT of books on CD. I also have a stash of starbuck's doubleshot cans just in case. The worst part is the wear and tear on me/my horse from the long drives. Wrap his legs or use BOT quick wraps. Get the best trailer footing you can afford. And I use a BOT back brace for me, as well as my heated seats...and I'm still stiff as sin when I get out of the truck. If you can, try to get to places a day in advance...helps you both get more limber. I also use equioxx for the horse before the drive. And ulcerguard. And a LOT of advil for me.

    I don't get a lot of practice XC rides, so I have to make sure to ride every fence....and that's been good for me. I actually do better when I haven't ridden the course!

    You can do this....it's a pain, but it's also more fun than a grown up should be allowed to have, so it's worth it.
    Last edited by Kairoshorses; Oct. 7, 2012, 04:17 PM. Reason: Computos
    --Becky in TX
    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
    She who throws dirt is losing ground.


    • #3
      It's absolutely possible. I did it. I started eventing two years ago, my pony's first look at an XC course was when we were competing at St Johns. We did go pre-comp We're now doing BN. I've competed three times this year, as I don't have a trailer and have to hope one of my other eventing friends wants to go.

      Our closest event is in Albuquerque, 4 hours (also our closest XC course.) Everything else is recognized and at least 6 hours away.
      Pam's Pony Place

      Pam's Pony Ponderings


      • #4
        I actually just moved out of a similar area; average distance to an event was 6 hours. Fortunately, there were several amazing coaches withing an hour and a half drive, so lessons were possible, and since it was an active eventing barn the trainer was at least sometimes at the events I went to. I competed through Prelim level this way. And remember, just because there aren't horse trials in the area doesn't mean there aren't places with solid fences to practice over!

        I'm fortunate now to have moved back to Georgia for graduate school, where events are more like two or three hours away. I currently have a Novice horse and a 5yo who will hopefully be ready for BN next year.


        • #5
          We do it.

          Our closest HT is about 6 hrs, but we often travel 20 hrs or more. Most years we make 2 trips across the US to compete at the major events in the east.

          It is doable!


          • #6
            OMG You guys are amazing.Those are huge distances. My nearest HT is 15 minutes away - its what you would term recognised, with a 3* class. If travel up to 2 hours I can Horse Trial 2 weekends out of 4 during the season. If I'm prepared to travel a little further I can compete 3 weekends out of 4. But I have also started driving ponies so I am competing them too. Now I am competing something every weekend between now and Christmas, with a 2 hour or less drive.

            My mind boggles at the planning to have a real competition season when you are travelling 5+ hours to each competition. Do you work and so have to take leave? Who looks after your house / farm / other animals while you are gone? Do you have living accomodation in your trailer or do you use a hotel?


            • #7
              Yep, have to take leave from work and/or school. I was travelling from our family farm, so my brother would usually feed the other horses on the property for a couple days while I was out of town- I just make sure they're in separate pastures so he just has to feed them and doesn't have to deal with bringing them in to eat (not b/c they're bad, but because he's not particularly horsey). We got a living quarters trailer several years ago, which is great when the events have hook-ups- very convenient and much cheaper than a hotel room!


              • #8
                Trying to coordinate is difficult. If it's during the school year (hubby's a teacher) and my ride wants to go Thursday (which means it's a less rushed weekend) I have to drop two of the four dogs off to board for the night, as hubby doesn't have time to deal with them. Luckily the one horse not out on 24/7 pasture was the one I was taking so he didn't have to deal with feeding horses. He's generally good about making sure they have water once a day.

                If I'm going with the friend that has a less flexible job it means leaving Friday afternoon and pulling into places late. We always pray for early XC times on Sunday so we can get on the road before noon.f

                One of my friends has a LQ, that's nice to have, otherwise we camp or get a hotel room. Depends on time of year/where we're going. I have a little cheap tent that I can fit in the back of a 2 horse and an air mattress. I leave the ramp down and it makes a cozy little house that doesn't get wet if it rains.

                Having a real competition season is difficult. If a horse goes lame you're screwed, because you can't just compete anywhere else another weekend.

                I made a google map of events here. Mind you all those ones near Denver and Colorado Springs that look close? There isn't a direct route and the route there is requires hauling over several mountain passes. That's why we tend to do events in Area X, even though we're in Area IX
                Pam's Pony Place

                Pam's Pony Ponderings


                • #9
                  I just wanted to take this time to say kudos to all of you who travel those distances for the joy and passion that we find in Eventing.

                  The closest facility for xc schooling and recognized showing for me is about 40 minutes away and the farthest is about 2 hours away. I would certainly travel farther if I had to. Aside from not having a trailer, which is always a pain in the arse, my issue is always financial. Gas prices make me want to pass out at the pump (which is obviously not a good thing to do).

                  OP, thank goodness for local schooling and rated Dressage/Hunter/Jumper shows! If you haven't gone to a Trial alone before, I would suggest you take advantage of those shows in your area and go with a support team (friends, parents) or take a coach with you. Then go xc schooling alone. The last Trial I went to was last weekend and it was the first time I went alone; I had a non-horse boyfriend pull the trailer, but no one with horse experience to help me or tell me from the ground what I was doing right and wrong. It was certainly more nerve-racking at first without a trainer, but completely do-able. I had a freaking blast once I sat back and remembered my training.

                  You can do it!


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for the replies everyone! They're encouraging.

                    I do have a reliable towing vehicle. (A 2012 F150 with a tow package- I love it and I"ve only had it about a month now).
                    The reliable trailer comes next. I was thinking a 2 horse stock combo with a dressing room. Then horsey can haul loose in the trailer like a box stall during long trips.

                    I must've been a trucker in a previous life because I can drive long distances no problem. I've just never hauled that long before.

                    I did horse trials this summer on my own without coaching at the events. I did have some lessons and an XC schooling with an event coach though.

                    I'm also thinking of trying to get something local and unrecognized going in my area if there's enough interest. Maybe pre-training and below to start? Or shortcourse eventing. And a hunterpace with solid jumps was held for the first time there this summer. So that's encouraging!

                    There also seems to be a "clinic culture" in the area I'm moving to. Every other month or so there is either a dressage clinic on by a BNT or a jumper trainer. So that will be helpful as well.

                    I've heard eventing is contageous. Maybe my new area just needs one person infected with the eventing bug and it will spread like wild fire? Look out Saskatoon! I'll be there in a couple of months!