The Canadian Eventing Omnibus is out!! Have you seen it?  I sure have – and then I had a freak out….$200+ for Pre-Training (Novice) Level eventing (sometimes +tax)????

The Canadian Levy has increased by $2.00 per event and membership fees have gone up.  Five years ago, going preliminary cost $120.  As someone recently said to me: “Eventing just isn’t the same anymore.” It sure ain’t!

It makes me wonder why this is happening and I have two trains of thought.  The majority of entries at an event (in Ontario anyway) always seem to be at the Pre-Training Level and below, so:

1 – the organizers know the majority of ‘income’ will come from this group of riders, or;

2 – by having higher entry fees, the organizers are trying to limit the amount of horses who come – because of scheduling, timing and really running the risk of not being able to fit everyone in.  Do you want to be going xc at 7:30 p.m.?  I know I wouldn’t.

As it turns out, my favourite Ontario Events are also all conveniently being held on Long Weekends (and I take my long weekends very seriously as I reserve them for cottage time – which I consider precious in the summer months given the whole horse thing).  Unfortunately for me, the Ontario eventing schedule is not really Carrie and Colby friendly as, additionally, the events which are ‘close’ (i.e. less than a 2.5 hour drive) all seem to be on back to back weekends with 2 or 3 weeks in-between.  Sigh.  I had a typical “the-World-is-ending-and-doesn’t-anyone-else-see-any-problems-with-this?” conniption the other day because of it.

Getting bucked off....orrrrr having a nice cold beer on the dock on a Summer Weekend at the Cottage. Not going to lie, sometimes, it's a really tough decision.

Getting bucked off….orrrrr having a nice cold beer on the dock on a Summer Weekend at the Cottage. Not going to lie, sometimes, it’s a really tough decision.

Our inconsistency issues from last summer boiled down to a couple things.  Mainly, attempting to introduce a 4-year-old chestnut OTTB Diva to the eventing atmosphere and well, the lack of times we attempted to introduce a 4-year-old chestnut OTTB Diva to that sort of atmosphere.

Schooling off property has never really been an issue.  Taking Colby to an event, separating her from her trailer buddies and attempting to not get bucked off during warm up is the issue.  (Although if Colby’s career as an event horse doesn’t work out, she would give the Lipizzaners a good run.)  The hope (I am praying to the eventing Gods), is that as she gets older and gets more exposure to show atmospheres, the likelihood of me getting bucked off in warm up will diminish. (That is what I keep telling myself anyway – hummm – maybe I should wear my nifty new  Hit Air Vest during dressage warm up?!)

When I sat down and tried to come up with a schedule, it was a disaster and ended up looking exactly like I described above.  Then, I added the costs of it all up and just about had another conniption.  If I were to go to all the Events I had planned on attending – adding in gas, coaching, and everything else – I would be looking at spending upwards of $5,000 from May through to October. O.M.F.G.  Now, as someone who doesn’t have an extremely large trust fund, winning lottery ticket or rich owners, and, who has to pay for everything herself – I knew there was absolutely no way I would be able to get to all the events I had planned.  Given that one event will be costing me about $400 -$500 (entry + gas + coaching etc.), the last thing I want to have happen, is to get there and have it be a disaster.  Well, how am I supposed to give Colby exposure to show atmosphere unless I go out and well, show?

Then – my coach said, “why don’t you try to fill in some of those weekends and your planned xc schooling sessions with some Combined Tests (CT) and Short Courses (SC) instead?” Brilliant.  Idea.  She is one smart lady that coach of mine!  Not only are SCs and CTs significantly less expensive than full events – they are also usually less hectic, but still representative of a show atmosphere.  Lots of horses, lots of stuff to look at, lots to take in.  While I am not downplaying the importance of going xc schooling regularly, the importance of exposing Colby to show atmospheres is more important at this stage.

When I reworked the schedule, I added in a handful of SCs and CTs, switched some of the full events – even added in a pure Dressage show (!!??) – and now, it looks a little friendlier and a teeny tiny bit less strenuous on my bank account.  While we are still going somewhere every week, I saved myself about $1,000-$1,200 because of the changes I have made.

About 3 years ago, I opened up an ING account to help me save for the expensive passion which I somehow never outgrew.  So, with each paycheck, a portion of it goes directly into that account.  While not coming close to covering the costs a full show season, I would say I can usually put away about a 1/3  of what I need over the course of the year.  Every little bit helps – especially when things consistently seem to become more and more expensive.

Where does this leave me?  It leaves me about six weeks away from our first time out this year.  Let’s hope the $500 it is going to cost me doesn’t end up with me begging the TD to let me continue on after I get bucked off in dressage!  Ahhhh – the love/hate relationship I have with my feisty little red-head.

I would imagine I am not the only one who is struggling with the same sort of dilemma.  My completely non-professional advice, is to have your conniption (because, really, it does feel good), then take a deep breath, figure out what it is you truly want to accomplish this season and be a little creative in how you go about doing it.  That way, when you’re spending the big bucks on one event, you’ll know you have done everything you can to ensure a successful outing for you and your horse!