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When you spend hundreds of hours to prepare for 10 minutes of competition those hundreds of hours have to be more important than the end result.

~ Bad Eventer

Tonight is my second to last jump lesson before our first BN competition in 3 (and a half) years. Nerves have been slowly creeping in and, along with them, purely irrational thoughts. (because the first rain KY has had in MONTHS definitely means that I have to have a full set of shoes, drilled and tapped for studs, put on my barefoot horse)

So I was sitting at work, doing work things stalking the Team Challenge entry list, and then I read the above quote. Ahead of all the last minute show prep, I figured I would look back on the last 6 months of prep and all that we have accomplished.

Basically, since April, May and I have been committed to our weekly jump lessons. If I am in the state, I am at the barn on Tuesday nights. There are some things that don’t make it into my blog posts a lot. Like all the times that I asked Mandy to make an oxer smaller or hesitated before a course.

The modifications that happened to ensure that I could give my horse the ride she deserved. Like making this small-ish oxer EVEN SMALLER to that I would ride forward to it.

yes. I had to put the front rail of this oxer down.

In fact, this felt scary, and you can see me PLANTING my  hands on my neck strap because that was as much as I could get myself to do.


But I kept showing up. I kept doing my homework. I kept working to rewire my brain. A few months later, and we have the photo above.

And then, we had this;


Then this….


And then we had this:


Fear and anxiety are still there. Every. Ride. But it gets better with every good ride I get under my belt. It gets better as Mandy keeps filling my toolbox and confidence bucket, ride after ride.

Would it be great to come home with some satin from Team Challenge? Hell yes. Does it really matter? No. Not really. What really matters are these videos above. The changes in my riding AND in my horse for the better. I can confidently say that the hours leading up to October 19th and 20th are worth WAY MORE to me than the results of this singular show.

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  1. the_everything_pony

    That was definitely one thing that drew me to eventers. They all wanted to be eveinting/training the horse for the long haul. I can’t tell you the number of times reiners would get so upset because that one 2 minute run didn’t go the way they planned, not to mention there aren’t a lot of reining events for horses older than 6. I really appreciate that eventers look at every show as a learning experience for horse and ride. It’s been so great following along with you and your progression with May! I know you two will do just fine!

    1. Emily

      Thanks girl! For me, it’s all about enjoying the process. For me, these last few months have been a BLAST, so no matter what happens next weekend, I know that won’t define our year. <3

  2. Amanda C

    This totally comes down to the whole process driven vs goals driven thing, and how you have to learn to find your joy in the process rather than in the results. Back to my favorite Chop Wood, Carry Water mindset stuff. Reading this post shows us that you’ve already been successful, regardless of what happens at the show! There’s such a massive and visible difference in the then vs now.

    1. Emily

      Great reminder! When I do set goals for this show, I totally want them to be process goals. I have no frame of reference for whether or not we will be competitive or what my nerves will be like. But I do know that I have built a pretty substantial toolbox to help wrangle in that lizard brain.

  3. roamingridersite

    I swear riding is more mental than physical and you are killing it!! You look amazing and I love the mind sent. That quite from Ban Eventer stuck in my head as well when I read her blog the other day because it is 100% true especially for me since I don’t really show so the reward has to be the hours put in growing and learning.

    1. Emily

      Oh it is WAY more mental than physical. once you have the basic physics down, it is just an exercise in focus and tenacity. I always try to remind myself that 12 yr old me would just be THRILLED to have a horse like May to toodle around on. Everything else is gravy.

  4. Bree

    I really do think that the hardest part of riding is the mental side as everyone else has pointed out! I also think that it’s easy to get sucked into the hole of disappointment when you do put the hours in and don’t do as well in competition as you had hoped, or to compare ourselves to others and their success. It’s all individual and the journey and training that makes it fun, and you are going to have a blast no matter what! I have a comp that weekend too, and I’ll be trying to focus on the training and not the results too 🙂

    1. Emily

      For sure!! The mental game is so hard (says the girl who got very close to a panic attack in her lesson tonight lol!) I think building up our mental game is as important, if not more so, than our physical one.

  5. eventerinprogress

    You guys are going to smash it. You’ve done the work, and no matter what level you’re riding at I always find it comforting to remember something Heath Ryan said to me – if you’re not nervous going out onto cross country, then you’re insane

    1. Emily

      Hahaha my trainer basically said the same thing to me tonight. Nerves make you normal. If you’re not nervous, then that’s when you should really be scared.

      1. eventerinprogress

        Damn straight! Someone once told me Matt Ryan has a cheeky spew before every XC round no matter the height. Can’t confirm if that’s true or not but hey, if he can win Olympic gold and still feel that way there’s hope for all of us.

        1. Emily

          See now? That’s the kind of positivity I need in my life ?

          1. eventerinprogress

            It’s a nuts sport, you’re right to respect it ?

  6. L. Williams

    Putting in the work is the important part and you both did it! You’ll be awesome!

  7. Emma

    Good luck this weekend!!!

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