20 Things I Learned From Starting Eventing Ireland

Photo purchased from Annaharvey Photos
  1. Always watch the 1 and 2* riders XC. No one gets it right every time but their ability to handle what comes up is what counts and gets them around. There was me having an asthma attack in case I got the wrong stride at a log when I saw someone get no stride at a massive combination, sit up, ride it with one stirrup and school a horse through clear – lesson learned!

2. It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to be between the flags. See point above.

3. Lots of people hate the show jumping phase, it isn’t just me. It is however quite weird watching someone who has just jumped an enormous solid skinny lump of wood at an angle at top speed start to sweat at a knockable 12 foot wide upright.

4. It is really hard to stud a horse who insists on eating grass constantly and will happily kneel down to do so.

5. Few things are as instantly sore as being trod on by a horse in studs.

6. Packing is a life skill especially if you have two horses and one jeep. Tack for three phases, studs, spare rugs, waterproofs and wellies (Irish weather) , suncream and shorts (Irish weather), saddle racks, number bibs, rider clothing for all three phases, buckets, first aid kit, partridge in a pear tree.

7. Don’t forget your girth. If you are going to forget something it will be your girth!

8. Telling an over hyper hyperventilating nervous first timer to ‘calm down’ or ‘relax’ does not ever make them any more relaxed – what a surprise. It does make them more likely to insert a stud tap in the offender where the sun don’t shine.

9. I love the dressage. Most people really don’t love the dressage.

10. When walking the course intro riders should first look at the massive and terrifying 1 and 2* fences before looking at their own ones. It makes them instantly look grand and much more appealing. You realise that jumping your log or little solid is much easier than riding to your potential death over something the size of a truck with an ABC on a bending line with a skinny part or five foot drop.

11. Same for the show jumping. Go and look at the 2* track and feel sick. Then go and walk your intro track and realise how small they look in comparison. Problem solved – your welcome.

12. I’m now pretty sure there isn’t enough whiskey, Valium or Becotide in the world to make me attempt anything bigger than a pre novice.

13. The fact that I would contemplate ever attempting a pre novice while stone cold sober is nothing short of a miracle

14. Results are all online fairly instantly. So while the temptation might be there to just do a dressage test, upload a few Instagrammed photos of the sj and XC fences (#eventing #eventingrocks #totallydidthis) and mooch off home pretending you did the whole thing might sound good – people will know. Suck it up Buttercup and finish the day.

15. Eventing is a great excuse to buy stuff. From XC boots to back protectors you need a lot of stuff. If like me you already broke your credit card buying other “stuff” (cough, bling browbands, nice saddle cloths, riding tights cough) online then ebay and preloved tack groups on Facebook are your friend. I got my prolite XC boots for £28 including delivery on ebay – sweet.

16. Bling isn’t really the done thing. Unlike my usual dressage world where you can literally stick Swarovski crystals in your nostrils and eyebrows and look acceptable, eventing is all about the tougher world of hard core protective equipment for the horse and rider from boots to breastplates. Think less princess sparkle and more transformers. You can get awesome looking XC silks though – see point 12. Apologies in advance to my credit card.

17. Just breath. Seriously and don’t over tighten your back protector. I went too hard and fast at the first three XC fences in my first event, felt the back protector, couldn’t breath and spent half the course feeling like I would puke up a lung and holding the mane hoping the horse would jump what I steered him at (he did). I have since wisely learned that engaging your brain and lungs first works much better.

18. If you survive your first event, you will want to do more.

19. People are actually really nice even if you are the total lemming who doesn’t know anything. Big shout out to the patient lady at Killossey when I turned up at entries with passports she didn’t need having no idea what my number was or what a start fee was. Thank you for smiling and not paper cutting me to death.

20. Eventing is expensive. I’ve been doing day tickets rather than buying membership but it does mount up over time so membership is less expensive long term. Entries range from €75. So if you don’t want to or can’t sell a kidney on the black market my advice is sell whatever you don’t need online, stop buying “stuff” you don’t need, develop a taste for really cheap noodles to eat daily or just abuse your credit card and do it – it is actually totally worth it.



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