at least I tried

Theodore Roosevelt said something that has made an impact on me at different times in my life.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Last weekend I rode at the Ocala Winter II Horse Trials. I ran two horses that are coming back after some set backs. Elliot did his second preliminary since time down for a tendon stain, feet problems, and lymes disease, and Heidi ran in her first intermediate of the season after last year's bang up season at preliminary following a couple uncharacteristic falls.

Both horses have come a long way since I first started riding them, and both horses have had some pretty serious ups and downs. As I've said in the past, progress with horses is rarely linear... In this particular weekend, I did not ride either horse well in the show jump and had rail after rail. I should preface this with, the horses were super; I was the weakest link. Show jumping has always been my monster under the bed. You'd think after so many year of doing this sport, I would have gotten over it, but alas. I got into the ring, jumped the first few fine, and then let the horses get rolling. The longer their stride got, the more I held, and the more rails we rolled. Poles weren't flying; the distances weren't bad; it wasn't scary to watch. We just got flat, and instead of jumping around the fences, we got jumping at them. I wont say it doesn't burn. Both of these horses have been jumping very clean and out of their socks in our lessons. I guess it wasn't our day.

All that said, both horses did however run spectacularly across the country. They were smart and quick and brave. Cross county riding takes accuracy, but the horses can also jump flatter than in the show jump. If they rub a jump, it won't fall down, and they just continue along their merry way. I may not be the greatest show jumper, but I am a damn good cross country rider. I feel comfortable out there so it makes sense that my horses do too. They are confident. They love their job. Ears are pricked looking for the next (just look at any of my horse's helmet cams)

Eventing is a tough sport. You have to be the master of all three phases on any give day. I've been lucky to work with some pretty excellent professionals. Anna Marek helps regularly me on the flat. Buck Davidson helps me regularly over fences. I work with some fantastic vets: Jill Copenhagen, Cate Mochal, and Nathan Mitts. My farriers, Tim Fowler and James Luttrell, are unreal. And the list goes on. All of them and more have done tremendous things for me and my horses. They have advised me about fitness plans, training regimes, where to move up, what to aim for, etc. Everyone agrees, the horses are going better than ever. They are sounder and also more broke. It just happens that when you aim big, you aren't necessarily the biggest winner. On this weekend, I was not master of all three phases.

People may give me hard time for this. To all of them I say, 'at least I'm out there and as long as I am safe and my horses are safe, I will continue to try'. I'm lucky to have a fantastic support network full of professional, clients, and friends who I trust and who back me up. I will accept my failures, my errors, my shortcomings, and continue to strive valiantly.