Everything Else

Sitting on the Sidelines

Are you sat at home at the moment thinking the whole world appears to be eventing and having a great time while you are missing out on the party? Everyone you know is winning, being placed, getting to regional finals etc?

I can tell you that you are not alone.

Screen shot 2015-05-14 at 11.15.32In the past year Skiver (which should be the horse’s real name) has managed to withdraw from more events than he has attended. Nothing is ever seriously wrong with Skiver but he has a sense of when eventing is on the horizon and develops something pretty non serious yet manages to curtail his workload into the run up to an event. Normally, I would perhaps be looking at my own management but we have ranged from a virus, foot abscess and now a sore neck. Yet when hunting and team chasing on the horizon, Skiver manages miraculously to be fine and it’s usually me who has an appalling lurgy.

As I write this my horse chiro, who I begged to come to sort the horse out, is stuck on the M5 motorway because of course Skiver would choose half term for it to happen, when the rest of the UK loses people and they fill the counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall with screaming children, fed up parents and caravans. Lots of caravans, driven badly up and down the M5.

At the moment while trapped in my self-pitying mood, I think to myself, why do I even bother with horses?

Sadly this is not a new thing for me. I also don’t think I am the world’s most unlucky person when it comes to horses. It’s just the thing that nobody mentions. Horses break a lot. Especially, when we want them to event. The Armada’s of the world who event at 4* with a big knee and keep going year on year until 18 are freaks. They are the equivalent of finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

In the last 11 years I have evented several horses.

Horse 1 – my old PC eventer who I came back to riding on after a break living in London. He hated dressage, was already 15 years old and so I gave up after a year.

Horse 2 – Bought to replace PC eventer. He was bought as a naughty horse to try and straighten out. He went Novice in 2007, I turned down decent money for him out hunting and then in 2008 he was diagnosed with hock spavins. Unfortunately his show jumping deteriorated at anything above 1m. Sold as a schoolmaster and still going strong.

Horse 3 – loan horse competing at Novice. Quirky at the best of times, he taught me a lot, mainly to stay on but in the end he was knocking my confidence so I gave him up.

Horse 4 – the rescue horse. This horse came along by accident and he ended up going Novice. I was so excited about actually doing all the things I wanted to do on this horse and then tragically he slipped over on concrete and smashed his pelvis.

Horse 5 – Sent as a one season horse to have some fun on. Ran at unaffiliated 1m level. She was a super fun mare but went back to her primary job of hunting in September.

Horse 6 – Skiver – Skiver the horse who has been withdrawn more than he has run. Skiver was never meant to come to me but he disgraced himself out hunting and so ended up with me.

So as you can see I am certainly not doomed with horses, I have not had vet bills coming out of my ears and they have been nice horses but I cannot remember the time I did a whole BE season without issues. I have never managed to do more than one season at Novice before something crops up.

Yet I am not alone.

I know there are lots of you sat reading this that have horses on box rest, with long term issues, with short term issues and worst of all undiagnosed issues. You are not alone.

So if you are as fed up as me, slightly jealous at all those sound, tough horses that seem to surround youHIO5 and go up the levels year after year and your patience is wearing thin. Then I raise a glass to you and say, don’t worry its just horses and if it does not grind you into quitting then it will just make you stronger and more paranoid about every step your precious charge takes.

What am I going to do? I am going to continue this cycle of insanity. Buy another horse, drink a little more and hope that I find that elusive tough one which might do more than one season at Novice and manage a 1*on a paupers budget.


About the author


An amateur rider who produces all her own horses. I have competed at novice level and sadly never got further due to bad luck with horses but I am still ambitious to achieve a lot more. I have a riding qualification in UKCC2 and a diploma in NLP. Sports science and particularly the mental game fascinates me. For a day job I work for a large multinational brand.