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Is eventing impossible for a chicken rider?

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  • Is eventing impossible for a chicken rider?

    Hi, all. I've been toying with the idea of trying some baby eventing but wondering if it is a fool pursuit for someone like myself. I'm an experienced mature rider and jumped a lot in my younger days, but have not jumped anything in 10+ years. I'm very comfortable riding on the flat, including green horses and really forward/sensitive horses, but I no longer want to risk getting hurt so stay away from anything with a likelihood of purposefully dumping me. I had a near fatal fall many years ago that I never really fully regained confidence from, especially jumping (incidentally, the fall didn't happen jumping). So for those experienced in the sport, can someone with jumping fear issues who really doen't want to get hurt find some enjoyment in the lower levels of the sport? My horse is a good soul and made on the flat but green to jumping so we would be working on this goal together.

  • #2
    I think so

    I'm not super chicken, and am younger so probably have less fear of death, but for quite a while was a huge wuss about dumb things like... cantering downhill. It took a friend kind of constantly telling me I could do things to get me more ramped up - and as I found out she was right about one thing, I started to trust her judgement about other things too. If she told me I could hand gallop down a hill and jump downhill, I'd just believe her and go do it.

    I don't know if you have someone like that in your life, but it helps a ton

    The other thing is that eventing is super fun. I got a teeny tiny taste last year, and now that's what I want to do next year with my own horse *grin*

    AND the weenie levels at unrecognized things really do build confidence - if you need to slow down or trot, go for it. The course I did had a couple spots that made me think, but it was built so that you start off super easy and when you get to the harder stuff (harder being relative, most of you would laugh at it, ha!) your confidence is up and you're having a good time.

    I know I haven't done it enough or long enough to really "know" all about it, but it seems like there really is a place in eventing for all kinds/types, and so many training/unrecognized events and pipe openers out there really are about building confidence
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.


    • #3
      I think that it is possible that you could come to really enjoy it, and find your fear receding.

      But please, please start the right way; find someone who has experience working with new eventers and green horses, someone who understands the needs of adult riders, and who is willing to go at whatever speed you need.

      If you start out with good instruction this way, and give yourself permission to go as gently into this as you want, I think you will be terrifically surprised at how much fun the sport is.
      The big man -- my lost prince

      The little brother, now my main man


      • #4
        Sure it is. I am living proof.

        My recommendation? An old, wise, competent partner who knows their job and whom you can trust to get you to the other side of the jumps without question. Dressage doesn't require any courage--you can always get better at that. Get yourself a XC machine.
        Click here before you buy.


        • #5
          I think I would like to ask you what is it about eventing that is drawing you? After all, there are two phases of jumping (stadium and XC). I think that yes, one can overcome fears but do you want to? What are you hoping to enjoy or find motivating about eventing? (And please understand, I am not trying to discourage anyone, but life is too short not to be doing something you really enjoy for your hobbies. )


          • #6
            I would say it is possible, but I think you have to approach it with an attitude that you are willing to tackle your fear issues and to some degree overcome them. I can't see much fun going into it with the belief that your fear is what it is and it will never get better but you are going to do it anyway.

            Of course the tricky part is to what "degree" you need to overcome them to feel successful/satisfied. One thing to remember is that to some degree ALL eventers deal with fear issues. Your goal doesn't need to be "fear free" just "fear manageable." Part of the XC euphoria many of us are addicted to is related to overcoming "apprehension." (I won't even use the "fear" word when discussing my own riding!)


            • #7
              yes and there are levels just for you. Eventing starts at the crossrail and log level and works its way up from there.

              If you're having fun and don't care about being competitive you can spend your time on XC trotting the fences and most of the course.

              You may find on down the road that you like the little glimpses of speed you find and you will begin wanting to go faster or jump bigger.

              If not who cares.


              • #8
                It all depends what you are sitting on. I have never been super brave, had some courage taken away by horses I really should not have been riding in past years (especially with lack of good instruction, that was a huge factor). Now in late forties I'm weenier than ever. BUT... on the right horse, with some empathetic coaching, I have found it's still a possibility.
                We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


                • #9
                  As a very chicken rider myself (who's almost 50 years old) I say you definitely can event and can really enjoy it. I rode well in my younger days, but took a number of years off and find it's very different as an adult. I also went through a spell of owning a few horses who stopped alot and I had some pretty bad falls which made me VERY scared. Now I've been eventing BN with lots of clear rounds and planning to move to N in the spring. I have a great horse who's very very honest, but the big difference is having the right instruction. I finally found someone who made jumping simple for me but made sure I had the tools I needed to jump around. I fell off our first 4 lessons and could barely trot an x, and in 6 months I'm jumping courses up to 3' competently and happily. It's great if you have a trained horse, but if you're learning together it will take more time and you MUST have a knowledgeable, experienced trainer to take you through the steps


                  • #10
                    I am in a rush to go feed but wanted to respond..

                    I am a weenie about certain situations - horses tripping scare the bejesus out of me, I am afraid they will fall on me. However, my 17.1 hand TWH doesn't scare me, she rarely trips, and even though she was green as grass, I felt that she would be a nice horse for me and she has been. We've had some spooking issues lately, but am working on that, so for the most part all is good.

                    This lead me to say: I have ALWAYS wanted to event. Even riding western in my 20's I wanted to do eventing, just never could get the funds together (had twin daughters) to do so. Then I got hurt really badly, so badly that I thought I would never ride again. Well years later, I'm riding and still wanting to event. Leased a TB that had done some eventing and started lessons and enjoyed them tremendously. Had NEVER jumped anything "officially" before - i.e. in an arena, under supervision.

                    I still think about the day I took a lesson from Mike Winter..he put up a jump (small baby one) and told me to do it. Just do it. I did. I screeched on landing and then I knew..I could do this. I COULD if my back would allow it (boy did I pay for that one little teensy jump)..but anytime now that I am afraid, I think back on that one day..that Mike made such a difference in my life. Sure it was a tiny thing, one that he probably doesn't even remember, but one that really, really changed me.

                    I get scared sometimes, but always think back to riding that TB over a jump and knowing that I CAN do it and not fall off. It was too bad that said pony had a back problem and I had to return him, and that TWHs that pace can't do x-c..if my mare could do it (she could but I doubt the dressage judge would be impressed -lol..no trot in this mare at all), I would be out there doing BN today.

                    Find a great instructor, get some lessons, have your moment over one fence and you will know one way or another whether you can do it. BTW - I bet I am older and more broken than you and I STILL want to do eventing. Wish those trot horses came in a "smooth" gait package, I'd buy one today and take it up. I have never had so much fun nor learned so much about trusting someone as I did that day at Mike's. He must have believed I could do it, as I sure didn't, so I did as they do in the military..just followed orders. I did do the jump twice and the second time I didn't screech..lol..and I shall always remember it. It was worth every.single.penny to have that ride. I seriously doubt I would be riding a green TWH today if it had not been for that day. Now when I think I can't, I remember and know I can.

                    Get lessons, and just try it, you may be pleasantly surprised.


                    • #11
                      It all depends what you are sitting on.
                      Ain't that the truth!

                      This is why, although I agree with the above posters, I'm a little concerned that your horse is inexperienced jumping. Can you practice on a safe, experienced horse first? Or have someone else teach your horse?
                      Taco Blog
                      *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you for the encouraging (and realistic) replies. For the person who asked what is attracting me to the idea of trying eventing, it is mainly that I would like to compete again and don't really find the straight dressage or H/J scenes very appealing. I also enjoy riding out very much, love to canter in open fields, etc. and so does my horse. Mind you, we have not added any jumps in the path of said canters! Regardless I would want to work with the horse I have (he is my baby) even if I got another who was a x-country schoolmaster. I would definitely seek qualified instruction if I decided to try this venture, but just getting my thoughts sorted out before I even think about making any moves forward on the idea.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Trigger View Post
                          I also enjoy riding out very much, love to canter in open fields, etc. and so does my horse.
                          That you are already comfortable cantering in the open is huge. You are only afraid of 10-20 strides out of a course of hundreds or thousands of strides! Yes, this is doable...

                          Before you start jumping go work and things that will physically make you stronger and more balanced when you do jump--things like working in 2 point for extended periods of time and even some work without stirrups. Reducing your fear to a mind game by eliminating some of the physical feelings that are scary will help.


                          • #14
                            Yes. It is possible to be chicken and still be a successful event rider and have fun at it. As others have said, find a good coach who you feel very comfortable with, who you can share your fears with, and who will help you overcome them. A good event coach knows how to gently and safely challenge you and overcome your fears. Riding a horse that you enjoy and feel safe with is huge, too. While an eventing packer is great, it isn't always realistic or necessarily right for every rider. One option is to have that coach ride your horse for you, either just schooling or in a few events (a lot of riders get a lot of confidence by seeing their horse do its job with another rider).

                            I can rattle off quite a few chicken turned event rider stories. We even have a teen who was terrified of the idea of cantering on her pony this time last year. She's a jumping fool now and will be doing her first recognized stuff this year. Another client, a woman in her 50s who did the hunters quite a bit before she became a mom (her daughters also competed) came to us with the intentions of just being a dressage rider. The horse she ended up with was quite literally bred to be an eventer (but is perfect for the dressage job, too). She started jumping her over little things for fun and cross training, and after walking xc with me a few weeks ago and seeing what BN looked like up close and personal, she's decided she can totally be an eventer! It IS possible. You just have to have the right help and the right horse.


                            • #15
                              I didn't read the rest of the responses, but I saw this and had to say yes! I'm still a teenager, but I have never really had the fearless attitude that many people my age have. My first pony was green, and then I also rode a great little experienced event pony. However, he had some quirks. He dumped me ALL THE TIME when I was younger and just getting into eventing.

                              I wasn't sure for a long time if I was going to make it in eventing even at the Intro and Beginner Novice levels. I remember one time I couldn't even make it through a trail ride at the walk at home when my pony started acting up a bit. I got off and cried my eyes out as I walked my pony back to the barn on foot. Well, long story short, it may have taken me longer than other braver people, but it can so be done with a good trainer and by taking things slow. I absolutely love eventing and have now gone to Training which I never thought would happen four years ago.

                              With good support and training, go for it! It might also be to your benefit to try to get some rides on a horse with experience eventing. The confidence from that can really transfer back to a greener or less brave horse and help you out.
                              T3DE Pact


                              • #16
                                Go for it and HAVE FUN!!

                                I'm an adult re-rider who evented as a kid (when I was young and brave) but then didn't ride for years. While shopping for my "been there, done that" eventer, I ended up adopting a feedlot horse with little to no training.

                                We are both working with a wonderful trainer who is bringing both of us along nicely. After nine months, we both successfully schooled our first BN jumps together and had a blast. Up until then, I had mainly only jumped logs and x-rails.

                                I admit, I wondered if I would have the heart and guts to actually get back to eventing, especially since I had a greenbean, but because I found a fabulous trainer (Meg Finn, Tally Ho Farms) who understood our shortfalls, we are both gaining extreme confidence together. I know Meg won't suggest I do something unless she is positive both my horse and I are ready.

                                If you take it slowly and find a knowledgeable, patient trainer you will end up having a blast. I look forward to hearing about your progress.
                                Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                                • #17
                                  I would STRONGLY suggest finding a horse to at least work with initially that is a packer. Just get the first few shows under your belt and go from there.

                                  A green horse and a green rider do not make a good combination. I thought I was not 'green', having ridden in hunter/equitation for 15 years before venturing into eventing. It is a different story when you know the jumps fall down, compared to when they don't. My mare was green and a little timid as well - not the greatest combination. Not bad at the beginner novice and lower level, but once you start getting some height and different types of jumps, it gets harder.

                                  So, get yourself a good instructor that is good with working with chickens and adults and get a packer at least to get the first few shows under your belt so you don't have show nerves on top of everything else. Find out what kind of jumper your horse is (brave, kind of brave, not so brave), by going to some cross country schoolings, as well as working in the ring, then form a game plan from there.

                                  I fully understand wanting to learn with your horse - my mare was not broke when I started working with her and everything she knows, she knows because of me. But, both of us green to eventing and experiencing everything together the first time. Typically the worst case scenario goes something like this (for me, this is only really cross country = I don't have a problem with stadium jumps that fall down):

                                  ME: That jump looks scary, we've never done one like that. I'm not sure we can do it.
                                  MARE: What? you said your not sure we can do that? what if we can't?
                                  ME: I don't know, its solid - I don't want to think about it
                                  MARE:that's it, we're not doing it! (insert refusal here)

                                  It is great now...just takes longer to get there when both rider and horse are green.


                                  • #18
                                    Yep! I have always wanted to event - learned how to jump when I was about 35. Did the 1xweek lessons for a couple years, took about 8 years off for kids. Got my first horse in April, then did my first events this year - on my 4yo green mare. Had a complete blast! We only did 18" jumps, trotted most of the XC course (partly due to slippery footing, partly due to being unbalanced down hill). Made no difference the size of the jumps to me - we had fun and made it around. First time I was terrified - because I was not secure enough in my seat, and thought I'd get dumped. Second time, I was just having fun. Next year, we'll move to Intro (2'3") and take it from there based on how both of us are doing.

                                    I have a great trainer and am in no hurry - so am taking my time to build my confidence and my mare's. I find that when I'm chicken, it's because I'm afraid of something. So I figure that out and work on it until it no longer scares me.

                                    For me, the process is the fun part and the fact that at the end, I'll accomplish a goal I've had for 25 years. My top goal now is BN - but based on how my mare is shaping up....wouldn't surprise me if we end up at Novice or higher.


                                    • #19
                                      Is eventing impossible for a chicken rider?
                                      Absolutely. You could always go and watch.

                                      And if you are inspired, then go and get some fantastic lessons to build your confidence and then consider it.


                                      • #20
                                        I would say chicken is relative, not absolute... Most of us, the smart ones, at least, are scared of something! Expand what that something is, and stay below it in competition, and the sky is the limit.
                                        In eventing we often talk about schoolinga level above where you are competing. At the lower levels I suspect a lot of this had very little to do with what our horses can do. It ha smore to do with the fact that we forget to breathe, and *ride* when actually at competitions. If we can actually breathe schooling over 2'11 courses, then a BN 2'7 course at competition may not look so big. If we can breathe over 2'7 courses, 2'3" Maiden courses may not make out inner chicken squawk too loudly...