Friday, February 3, 2012
Go East Young Women! by Whitney Weston
When attending school in Philadelphia and working with Phillip and Boyd, I remember Phillip asking, "Is there eventing out there in Oregon?" Why yes, yes there is! But a very different sort, attitude, and culture than on the east coast. I am asked all the time which I prefer, east or west coast, and the answer is: "I love Eventing, no matter what coast I'm on", but it certainly is a different ball game played by the same rules 3,000 miles apart.
For a bit of history on myself:
I was born in Philadelphia. Then my family moved to Oregon, where I grew up on a farm, competing up and down the west coast. I returned east to attend Bryn Mawr College, and had the opportunity to be a working student and rider all over the east coast and even represent the USA on a catch ride team in Switzerland. With my new found knowledge of the business, I returned home and have been running a training, lesson, and competition facility at Westwood Stables in Oregon. I have spent the last five years bringing along prospects, teaching, clinicing, and generally running around Oregon, Washington, and Cali.
An opportunity came up to travel to Ocala to train with Buck Davidson. I haven't been able to focus soley on my own riding for a while, am planning to move to advance with my fabulous mare, Rock-On Rose, so no better time then the present! I sold my sale horses, found other homes for my students and working students, packed up and made the trek out east in early January.
So far this move has been magical (all besides the actual drive across the country). I am learning like never before and really able to focus on my craft with Buck on his beautiful 600 acre farm here in Ocala, FL. We just completed Rocking Horse Trials in Altoona FL this past weekend. I had a blast getting to know a new event, and had some interesting observations:
1. Hauling in vs. overnight stay
On the west coast, events are very spread out. I don't usually bat an eye at having to drive 6-12 hrs to get to an event. We get there several days early so the horses can rest, set up our stable area, and get a feel of the show grounds. This has a very methodical and routine feel to it, much like a marathon. All this compared to the "sprint" on the east coast, where there are several shows within a few hours of our stable. It is much more convenient and economical to haul in and out each day. The haul-in situation felt very hectic at first; driving in the dark for early rides, horses having to be loaded and unloaded several times throughout the day to access a specific horse, and quick tack changes. When I win the lottery I will be buying a straight load trailer, a "must-have" for easy pony access!
2. One discipline per day?
Back home, we all know that friday is dressage day, saturday is for cross-country, and sunday finishes with show jumping. Not so in Ocala! Having dressage, show jumping, and cross country on different horses in a single day forced me to adapt to this quicker paced schedule, which actually helped me relax and just....ride!
3. East coast vs. West coast people
What I am about to say will surprise all you west-coasters: I found the show environment out here to be very....relaxed! Despite the saturation of legends and Olympians, everyone seemed easy going and having a great time. I truly think that because less time, energy, and money was spent to actually arrive at the show, everyone had less pressure to perform. Each ride was "just another ride", and not a measure of worth for the week. After the first day, I was able to catch on to this attitude, and possibly had the most fun competing I have ever had!!
I am very excited to be moving all my horses up a level next month, with the goal of Jersey Fresh *** this spring. Thanks Pro for the opportunity to have me on as guest writer!
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Jump like you mean it!
Photos provided courtesy of Whitney Weston