Today I took my first lesson with an eventing trainer, Megan Lazarone at CEO Team Eventing (coincidently Megan is from Ashland and also started out riding Saddlebreds... small world). I've been riding hunters for about a year now and my interest in three day eventing grew with leaps and bounds. After spending a long weekend at Rolex I decided I was ready to give eventing a try.
For any of my friends who are reading this that don't know, three day eventing (or combined training) is a competition that takes place over three days (duh) and the horse and rider are tested in three different disciplines. Day one is the dressage test, day two is cross country, and day three is stadium jumping. Eventing requires both horse and rider to be at the top of their game.
Today for my first lesson I rode a Thoroughbred named Casey, one of Megan's veteran event horses. I was really happy to find that I didn't feel as "off" as I thought I would, even though I hadn't been on a horse since late February. Megan said Casey wasn't as forward today as normal, and my legs really got a work out, especially doing our flat work. I rode with three older-than-me ladies who are beginners. This was fine with me the first time out, since I wasn't sure how slick I was going to be after three months off.
I haven't ever done much dressage work, but I did manage to have a few nice side passes both ways of the ring. Jumping also went well. We just jumped two lines today: a line of crossrails to a crossrail and a vertical. Casey is a really nice jumper (I believe Megan told me he does four or five foot), and I got after him a bit and he was a lot of fun. He gets a little strong on the backside, and you can tell he really wants to haul ass.
It was actually a much better ride all around than I expected. My seat hadn't suffered too horribly and I had no problem with my releases. I picked up all my leads but one where I got sloppy. I think all the time I have spent watching the top show jumpers lately has paid off. I wish I had more opportunities to watch top riders on a cross country course. At any rate, it was a great start in a new discipline, and I cannot wait to ride again.
What struck me most today was how friendly and helpful everyone was. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Megan, the working students, the people boarding their horses, the other people taking lessons, the kids...everyone was super friendly and genuinely willing to help. I have been in several barns over the years, where I considered the people to be great, but I have never seen anything like this. I am so impressed, they tell me this is the norm in the eventing world. I know I've made a good choice.