Well, the time has finally come for me to write my obligatory introduction post. I will try to keep it short and sweet. Essentially, I started this blog to chronicle my love for the sport that is eventing. I’ve had a consuming obsession with the sport since I was a teenager, and that obsession has grown into a lifelong goal of competing at the highest level. I will touch on a lot of reasons why I love the sport throughout future blog posts, and I hope that you as well will learn to appreciate, respect, and love eventing.
A bit a bout me! I hail from St. Louis, MO, where I have lived for the vast majority of my 26 years. I was adopted from South Korea, and I think my horse obsession came as part of the package since I did not grow up around horses. In fact, I’m pretty sure my parents are both quite resentful of the species after seeing the bills for all of the lessons and shows that they were saddled with (pun intended, of course). I did not actually start seriously riding until I was 13. At the time, I was fascinated by dressage, but mostly because jumping kind of frightened me and dressage seemed like a good alternative. I am thankful for the fact that I got my start in dressage, however, because it later became apparent that dressage is THE founding principle on which you want to build your riding. More on this in a future post. A few months after I began riding at the lovely Town and Country Equestrian Center in St. Louis, a new hunter/jumper trainer was hired. I remember shaking in my paddock boots when I first heard her giving lessons. My trainer was very correct and strict in her lessons, but I had never heard yelling. The first time I heard the new trainer yell, I wrote her off as a mean lady who wants to make people cry. After awhile though, the jumping bug got the best of me and I started taking lessons from both the jumper and the dressage trainers. Lo and behold, new trainer was actually not a mean lady who liked to yell, but rather just a very knowledgeable and thorough instructor who just happened to have a very loud voice and a personality to match! I was hooked.
I am forever grateful for the instruction I received during my time with both of these phenomonal trainers. I completed high school at this barn and was able to lease several horses and really hone my riding skills while I figured out what I wanted to focus on. Eventing? Was not at the top of my list. We were fortunuate enough to stable directly across the street from the only cross country venue in the St. Louis area, and we took the opportunity to go over and school as often as possible. I never really got the eventing bug, though, and just kind of played around in the local events.
One of my lease rides, Leo, and I getting ready to compete at the Queeny Park Horse Trials - c, 2003
I won’t touch too much on this next part of the story since that is following in the next post!
Anyway, I went to college at the University of Georgia in 2004 and was accepted onto the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team there. I competed at the Novice level and again and eternally grateful for the opportunities that this team afforded me. There, I learned how to catch ride. You literally draw a horse’s name, walk to the arena, get on, adjust your stirrups and away you go. I learned countless amounts of information about being able to ride whatever horse you are put on, and I try to apply this knowledge to my riding today.
My UGA IHSA team! Fall 2004 after a competition at Berry College
My riding career has also included a few hiatuses. My parents finally threw in the towel on the financial support in my second year of college, so I cooled it with the team since I was unable to afford the dues on my own. I would come back over breaks and ride with my original hunter/jumper trainer, but I found that this was also difficult to pay for on my own. So I ended up with a couple 1 year+ breaks.
3 years ago, I was living in St. Louis again and, on a whim, looked up a local barn that I’d heard about on Google Maps and wandered over there. As soon as I pulled up, a thought occurred to me: “I could really be happy here.” And I was home. I spent 3 very happy years there. There was a resident hunter/jumper trainer there, and I trained with her and was able to ride and lease several nice horses during my time there. She is also the one who found me the horse who I thought I would have for the rest of my life. I learned a lot and made some of the best friends I will ever have there. Recently, the trainer there moved to a new facility, which has worked out wonderfully for her. I briefly followed her there, but my financial messiness was starting to catch up with me and I found that I had bitten off way more than I could chew. I was forced to cut way back on board, training, etc. and found myself losing everything. The past 6 months are extremely painful for me to even think about, mostly because I know that everything was my doing.Icould have made better decisions andIcould have prevented the mess, but I didn’t.
My beautiful boy, Sutton aka Rock and Republic, who I only recently gave up. I miss him every day. Summer 2011
And that brings me to today. I’ve ventured back to my original trainer, knowing that she does a lot of event training and has horses that will teach me. I am currently preparing for a jumper show in May and will just kind of see what her schedule is like and how I am doing in training to map out the rest of the year. I have both time and financial constraints that prevent me from training full time, but I am still able to ride twice a week. I feel stronger and healthier than I did a month ago when I went back to her, and I am happy. There is a very sizable hole in my heart where my old life used to be, but I am slowly but surely working to fill that hole with my hopes and dreams for the future.
And that is a not so brief introduction! I hope you enjoy my blog. I hope to eventually be posting from Kentucky Horse Park as I get ready for my first go-round at Rolex, but in the meantime I am going to use this as a platform to express my love for the sport as well as chronicle my journey to The Start Box.
The start box for Rolex Kentucky, my lifelong goal. One day you will see me galloping away en route to my first 4* cross country round!
Til next time!