Just one of the many questions I asked myself, on yet another long ride home, reflecting on this crazy journey of being an eventer.
We had such an awesome February. Piney made huge strides in all areas, winning his second starter level event at Stone Ridge Eventing, and Stromboli seemed to have settled into a quiet routine for the first time in his life. Stromboli was jumping well, he was dressaging well (even got a 33 at a schooling show!), and everything was in its place.
I have been working on myself as a rider, fine tuning my jump position, trying to be more even & lighter in my hands, sitting up and using my core. Right now I am the strongest and fittest I've ever been in my entire life...and that's pretty cool!
We went to Texas Rose expecting to conquer --but that didn't happen...instead we got eliminated and had arguably the WORST dressage test of my life (i've said that a lot, but remarkably they do continue to be worse and yet worse again).
I'm about to present an unpopular opinion: You can work hard, but sometimes effort is not enough. You cannot fit a square peg into a round hole. Stromboli isn't even a square peg --he's a crazy trapezoidal one with some extra pointy points.
Stromboli has made me no stranger to the bottom of the score board. It has always been a huge fight, with seemingly very few victories, yet looking back on his career we have still achieved an impressive amount:
- We completed 17 out of 18 recognized events without XC jump faults.
- He absolutely killed it at all local jumper shows at all levels.
- We only finished one recognized event on a letter instead of a number.
- He earned his USEA Training Level Bronze Medal.
- We both moved up to Preliminary & finished our first and four others without XC jump penalties.
- He only had one jump penalty, a single rail, at the BN or Novice level.
- He only scored over 50 in dressage at the Texas Rose Horse Park...never at the many other locations we competed at.
- He only ever scored better than a 40 in dressage once (impressively bad)!
- We finished on what may be the WORST (highest) numerical score in USEA History without having any XC jump penalties or stops in SJ: 117.9 in the Open Prelim Division at Hunter Oaks.
- We did all of this with only one professional ever taking him over a jump --Buck Davidson, very briefly at a clinic in 2014.
Could I have ridden better? Sure....I picked when I should have kicked. But did I ride better than I did last year at that same location? Yes...absolutely I did.
Am I upset about the thousands of dollars I've spend on training and clinics for that horse? The thousands of miles I've driven him across the country to learn and compete? The thousands of dollars in vet bills, special tack, chiropractic work, special shoeing? Do I regret any of it? Absolutely not...Stromboli has taught me how to lose, how to take nothing for granted, and most importantly that being a good horseman is about a lot more than competition results.
So bring it on 2017!