So there is a lot in life that is wildly difficult right now. Even going to the grocery store has become a complicated dance of protection and necessity. I am widly thankful to be in a small, but careful, program where we are able to enact biosecurity measures that keep everyone safe, while still allowing me to ride my horse. I am INCREDIBLY lucky and grateful right now.

But it doesn’t negate the fact that riding horses in general is HARD and often times eventing feels like trying to push three boulders up a hill at the same time. Maybe you can keep a hand on two of them, but the third one is trying to roll down the hill anyway.


A few weeks ago, I felt like May and I had made all the progress in the world. We were getting to the point where our step, balance, lines, etc were all really good, and we just needed to dial in on the rhythm. Great!

Then we had a lesson where we just COULDN’T get through a course. (link here) It ended well, and I was able to shrug it off. Oh well, we all have off days. Then, we had our combined test, and while all the rails stayed up, I felt like we had really struggled to get ANY forward momentum going. Again, I shrugged it off. Our next lesson was focused on finding accurate lines and distances, and it mostly went well.

After a week off to do some Dressage work, we were back at it. In that lesson (which apparently I never blogged about), we were forward and covering ground. But for some unknown reason, I couldn’t maintain a line or rhythm. I finally got it together and we did one good course… Again, it seemed like we had overcome things and were doing well.

So that brings up to this week… There is an online virtual combined test that I want to enter. (I guess it’s good I’m nowhere near the FEI levels) The plan was to ride my Dressage test (Novice A because why not get some feedback there), and then SJ at BN round. Fine.

The dressage test was good, and I’ll blog about it more once I get the video.

The show jumping… never happened. We set up the fences at BN height (everything measured), and for once, everything looked pretty small and totally doable. I felt confident, and I went to go do a quick warm up. A vertical, an oxer, another line set in the arena to get things moving.

It became clear pretty quickly that I. Could. Not. get May in front of my leg in a way in which she was covering any kind of ground. I put my leg on and the legs moved faster but didn’t actually GO anywhere.

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It never felt scary or unnerving. It just felt… kind of hopeless. It got to the point that to get a standard 12′ stride I had to gallop out of the corners so hard that she was slipping in a freshly dragged, dry, and not deep, arena. And guess what, we were so flat and running (and tired I am sure) that we were catching rails.

It felt awful. I felt awful. Thoughts spiraled down VERY quickly. Like maybe I am asking for something that just isn’t doable for this horse. Maybe asking her to have that 12′ stride just isn’t feasible, and she really should just be a starter level packer. Or a dressage horse. Or a trail horse. Or a hunter pacer. Or something else that doesn’t require her to move in a way her body wasn’t really built to move.

Logically, I know these thoughts are coming from a place that isn’t entirely rational. The whole world is humming at a higher level of anxiety than ever before and, like everyone else, that anxiety is leaking into other parts of my life. But I am still struggling to see the whole thing with any kind of clarity.

Luckily, I have great friends, and one pointed out a really interesting fact to me. Teaching a horse a new skill is not a linear process. Things will get better then worse then better again. Covering ground and operating in that “fifth” gear is still a new skill for May (and me), so it’s not going to click into place immediately, every ride. But it should get closer to being the norm (and not the exception) over time.

So… tonight we are going to try again. Maybe it will go better. Maybe it won’t. If it’s not better, it might be time to adjust the game plan. But this little mare is still telling me she wants to try, so we’re going to keep giving it our best shot.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. martidoll123

    I think you are overthinking this. See how tonite goes. IF it doesn’t go great slap a label on her ass and send her south to TN. Thank you in advance 🙂 HAHAHAHHAHA

    You have come so far with her. Don’t give up!!

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      me? overthink? NEVER 😉

  2. AMC

    Sounds like you need a nice chill hack out before and/or after your next ride. Or just make it your ride with no agenda or “hard work” even if you go for a gallop. That’s what I do when I start to get like this. You guys still look great to me!

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Thanks! You’re probably right. Just need to take all pressure off for a bit. At least there isnt a show this weekend…. right?… I guess? haha

      1. AMC

        Yep I keep reminding myself I have plenty of time to work on things at this point whether I plan to show eventually or not

  3. Nadia

    So, Georgie and I struggled to get an uphill, balanced, forward 12′ stride. And even going Training, we didn’t always get it. You’re being too hard on yourself. This shit is HARD. And, honestly, like Georgie, who was an incredible event partner, May isn’t built for this. BUT that doesn’t mean she can’t do it. It’s just HARDER. Which sucks. BUT, you have SUCH a willing horse, with so much heart, and you’re a team, and a SOLID team, so you’re totally going to rock this.
    I used to sit at the SJ rail and watch horses go and Sarah always said to me “Don’t watch the big fancy jumpers. Your horse doesn’t go like that. Watch the riders on short strided, behind the leg horses, who ride this course well. That’s who you need to watch and learn from.” And she was absolutely right. There were horses just like Georgie in EVERY class. Some struggled, and some didn’t. It was all about how they approached the line, and how they adjusted within it depending on how things were going. I honestly just had to learn to ride what was under me and know what was under me SO WELL. There are so many pieces to getting it right, don’t worry if it doesn’t always happen, OR if some days just suck. You’ve both made so much progress and are so capable!

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Thank you <3 I really appreciate the reality check. It's tough because I have so be so much more accurate with every part of my courses vs. someone on a big, fancy purpose-bred horse. But I do love this little mare, and good gosh we have a blast together.

      I also think we are missing getting XC rounds in lately, which always get up opened up a bit more.

      1. Nadia

        Yes- it’s totally harder and honestly, it’s one of the reasons I appreciate June. She makes such light work of the strides and jumps…But..she doesn’t have the heart (yet) Georgie did…so it’s a trade off.
        Xc makes everything better. I hope you get out there soon 🙂

  4. roamingridersite

    Awe…hang in there!! Go soak up some yellow pony sunshine and take a big deep breath. You’ve got this in you and so does she. I’m not super experienced but I’d take heart and try over perfect striding any day. She is there for you and you know what she needs. Keep it fun for both of you because honestly that is what it should be. Hard work sure, but FUN too.

    As an aside – how does the virtual CT work? Did they send you a course map with distancing and you set it up so everyone rode the same course or could you set up whatever you wanted as long as it was at height and x number of fences?

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Thank you. I appreciate the support from our little community here 🙂

      As for the virtual CT, the dressage is done in a standard dressage court (long or short depending on the test). For the course, they do give you a course with distancing and all that. It only uses 6 fences, so is nice and friendly. (and hence why I had a bunch of fences I could jump outside the set course on Tuesday).

      Here the link:

  5. L. Williams

    While I will say yes you are catatrophic thinking in this moment (we all do!) I do think it is always good to consider tough questions like “Am I asking too much? Is the horse made to do what I want to do?” but taking your time and having metrics along the way plus the advice of trusted professionals should feed into whatever that answer is.

    Please blog about the virtual horse show! I am interested in learning more about them and bloggers experience with them, though I’ll probably never enter one.

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Yeah. I think my issue was all this thinking happened very quickly in a vacuum. Like… on my 15 min drive home. Very quick, very steep spiral. Going to put the work in and continue to evaluate!

      As for the virtual hose show, I’ll probably do a primer early next week and then the results once I get scores back!

  6. eventerinprogress

    Good luck. I think we can all relate to how you’re feeling right now because you’re damn right. Training sometimes feels like the most non-linear process in the world, and you don’t even realise you’re through it until a few months down the track and what used to be “really hard” isn’t even an active thought anymore. Because at that point you’re usually doing something else that is “really hard”.

    1. Emily - May As Well Event

      Isn’t that the truth!!! A few months ago, jumps at this height would’ve freaked me out. But they’re starting to look (dare I say it) small!

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