5 Reasons to Try Arena Eventing
The gap between one eventing season coming to an end and the next beginning is probably the longest six months of the year. Cue tumbleweed.
And whilst you can go and try your hand (or hoof!) at some dressage or show-jumping, the reality is that doing one discipline on its own is really, well, boring.
Add to that the effort that goes into washing, trimming, pulling and plaiting a very muddy, cold horse before a competition and it suddenly doesn't seem quite so worth it for a 5 minute ride that is over before your unfortunate groom manages to snap a few photos for your Insta.
The one ray of sunshine in dark and depressing times such as these is ARENA EVENTING.
Essentially, all the fun of eventing condensed into a slightly shorter format (for the sake of your trusty groom who will lose all feeling in their fingers and toes 10 minutes into watching - ironically - you warm up).
For those that aren't convinced, I have put together 5 reasons to give it a go!
1) There are usually fewer competitors at arena eventing competitions.
Not everyone is as hard-core as you/willing to venture out in below-freezing temperatures, gale-force winds, rain, sleet and fog.
The upside of this is that you might actually place.
Sid and I are a perfect example of this, coming 7th at Aston-le-Walls and getting what will be our first (and last) eventing rosette.
An added bonus is the warm ups resemble a ghost town compared to the usual hustle and bustle. You may even have enough space for a few 20m circles - the holy grail.
2) As the name suggests, all phases tend to be on a surface.
This means no studs, which means an extra 30 minutes in bed the morning of the event.
I don't know about you, but my mood increases in direct correlation to the number of ZZzzzz...'s I have achieved the night prior.
More sleep = happy Hannah.
Everyone's a winner.
Another benefit of competing on a surface is that there is no mud.
Efforts to remove thousands of stains from your grey/coloured horse (why did you buy one? why?!) won't seem quite so totally pointless halfway through the day.
3) The jumping runs on time.
There is nothing more annoying than rushing around after your dressage to get to the show-jump warm up and find that 26 riders have their names down before you.
Even worse when you warm up with 4 to go, and another 26 manage to slot in ahead of your spot!
Can I have an Amen.
Whilst on the subject of jumping - do take a Garmin when course-walking as arena eventing seems to follow the rules that:
a) you must double back on yourself as many times as possible;
b) extra points for jumping things backwards more than once;
c) it is perfectly plausible that jumps 15 and 16 will be the complete opposite ends of the arena for no good reason; and
d) if you don't get lost, you haven't done it properly.
4) At the end of your jumping round, you can jump a JOKER and have penalty points deducted.
This means that you can end up finishing on a ridiculously low score.
Those not in the know might stumble across your BDWP results one day and be amazed at that 25.2 you finished on.
Of course, they might also look to the left and see your original dressage of 33.2, but THEY MIGHT NOT!
It's impressive, goddamnit.
5) Because it's eventing all year round!!!!!
At there's nothing better than that.