Eventers have garnered the stereotype of being a bit…eccentric. I mean, hurtling yourself over solid objects at high speeds for fun would appear to require a certain degree of adrenaline-seeking behavior. And, anyone who can wear white breeches for multiple phases over the course of a weekend and have them even mildly clean at the end of it clearly possesses superpowers.
At my undegrad, we had Huntseat, Dressage and Eventing intercollegiate teams. There was some overlap of riders on those three teams, but for the most part, everyone stayed in their own lane; more often the Dressage and Eventing teams would have a lot of the same members, but only occasionally could we convince the Eventers to join the Huntseat team.
My roommate for the majority of the undergraduate career, as well as many of my close friends there, are Eventers. I learned a lot through them; I came to a few events and cheered them on, but it wasn’t really my ‘thing’. Now, as a boarder in a barn full of Eventers, I’m coming to realize that Eventers are my kinda people.
- Eventers work on a schedule. As a ‘Type A’ individual, I love that all three phases have a set time, so that way you can know exactly when you need to
start freaking outstart getting your horse ready. A lot of my own show anxiety I think stems from not being able to plan…a hunter/jumper ring can depend on so many things – how fast the course is going, how many people are in the division, when are they dragging, how fast the judge is running a class, what phase of the moon it is (okay not really, but you get my point). Eventers have a schedule and they stick to it. Sure, there can be delays, but even then you can prepare with a little more accuracy your plan of attack for the day.
- Fun colors. Hear me out on this one. I grew up appreciating a little bit of Western bling, color and flair, the elegant look of a Saddleseat suit, and the classic English hunt picture. If there is a group of people who know how to roll all that into one, it’s Eventers. I love a traditional color scheme, but sometimes you just gotta have some fun. Eventers come out in fashionable black and white for dressage, then open it up for self-expression in cross-country color coordination, and then find a middle ground for the show jump arena. There’s sparkles, and bright colors, and so much matchy-matchy going on it makes me unnecessarily happy. It’s fun to see horses and riders not identical fashion carbon-copies of each other; everyone has their own look.
- Eventers know how to pack. Every Eventer I have known has a show packing list several pages long; they pack things they definitely need, might need, probably won’t need (unless they don’t bring it, in which case they’ll find themselves in the situation that they did actually need it), and then extras of all of those things. As someone who packs like that for a trip to go home for the weekend, their preparation speaks to me.
- Eventers are good horse people. They might ask their horses to do one of the toughest disciplines out there, but they are also some of the most vocally praising of their horses and take great lengths to keep their partners in the very best shape they can. They might be tough as nails, but their horses are their hearts and they would do just about anything for them.
- Eventers are good people. Equestrians as a whole are a pretty highly competitive and driven group of individuals. But Eventers have managed to find this awesome balance between competitiveness and camaraderie. There is SO much support between riders. Whether they are from the same barn, different barns, different trainers, or vying for the same top spot as you are – Eventers are the first to wish another rider luck as they head out to cross-country, ask how your ride went or ask about a new horse as they’re passing by the barn, or otherwise lend a hand in whatever way they can – and they are genuine in their interest, in their compliments, in their actions. There is no malice, no sarcasm, no stand-offish-ness like I have seen in other disciplines at competitions.
In my riding career, I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of disciplines, and I’ve learned so much from all of them – aspects of every discipline I’ve participated in have influenced, and continue to influence, my riding and training. But the more time I’m spending with Eventers, I’m becoming more and more convinced that they might be my favorite crowd of equestrians thus far.