SOUTH DAKOTA HORSE
This is part two of our series on the sport of eventing, written by South Dakota Horse Ambassador Sara Sigler-Fiegen. South Dakota does not have official or organized events, but the world of eventing is growing in popularity through schooling events.
Eventing is a sport that cannot be outgrown. In most sports, learning and progressing rarely stop but competing is almost always limited by age. In eventing, the ability to compete is only limited by the physical inability to do so.
This sport has taught me so many life lessons. The first is to always keep going and never give up - add leg and kick on! Always work for something and if one ride doesn’t go well, there is always the next ride. Keep that head up and keep moving forward.
Eventing has also taught me to be resilient and have tough skin; constructive criticism in lessons and clinics may be difficult to hear, but they can only help me grow and improve. Competition forces a rider to have goals. Always use that criticism to reach your goal.
I’ve also learned to be decisive. A rider must make a decision and then stick to it; indecisiveness makes your horse less confident in what you’re asking of them. Having that confidence in your decision makes for a safer ride. This is essential to all aspects of the sport.
Above: Sara in action!
Eventing includes three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. The cross-country phase of eventing is what draws me in and keeps me coming back for more; this goes for most riders in my experience. There is no other feeling that makes me feel as alive as I do on a cross-country course.
See the first part of our two-part series on eventing, "Eventing: could it be the next big equine sport in South Dakota?"
Dressage highlights equine grace and beauty and is enjoyable when things all start to come together; I (and possibly many others) do it because it’s required to get to the jumping phases. Work hard and really strive to excel in the dressage test; giving a buffer for if things don’t go as planned in the other two phases. Your dressage work helps tremendously in the jumping phase; preparing your horse to respond to your aids.
With all this being said its also very important for both horse and rider to be fit enough for the competition level. I do fitness days during show season to help with this. The teamwork this sport requires is quite amazing if you think about it. The horses I’ve owned have most definitely not been easy to train for this. There have been much blood, many tears, and more pounds of sweat than I care to think about, but I thoroughly enjoy the work of training through the levels because the reward is hard-earned and satisfying when things go right.
This sport is all about little victories and it’s important to have a sense of humor because you are going to fall off and you are going to cry. It takes a strong person to be able to withstand all that this sport and the preparation for competition brings. Wipe the dirt off and get your butt back in that saddle. There will be more frustration than winning while you’re competing, but if you give it a try, you’ll see why so many people love it.
Other eventers are so supportive and positive, and everyone involved with this sport has been so kind and helpful. At every show, as I’m walking out to the cross-country course or walking back to my stall, I am greeted with a, “Have a good ride,” or “Hope it went well.” The people are great, the horses are beautiful and the adrenaline rush is amazing.
If you have not tried eventing, I encourage you to check out the dressage clubs on the Equine Sports page at South Dakota Horse or contact us to find a clinic or schooling show and get out there and try it. As always, add leg and KICK ON!
If you need to find a horse to start training for eventing, check out how to buy a horse in South Dakota.
Watch Sara in action!