Article (part 1 of 4) by: Karen Czarick of Dancing Horse Farm who lead a team of four to the Chronicle of the Horse 2013 USEA Training Adult Riders Eastern US win

Honestly, I wish my new horse’s first year of competitive eventing didn’t make such an interesting (or humorous) story. I’d have loved to write “we came, we competed, we kicked pony butt.”

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Instead, I ended up with an almost farcical string of events to report.

I’m sure quite a few of you will be empathetic…your lives involve horses, after all…so you know all about things not always going as planned.

The more I sink into this sport (especially competitively) the more I marvel at the number of us who do. Yes, it's great fun.... but man, what a roll of the dice it seems to be.

With that said, my goals for our first year were pretty simple.

Forget the “performing well.”

Simply “finishing,” and sometimes even just “starting,” were looking like pretty good options.

I bought Omaha as a weanling and he turned out to be by far the most difficult horse I’d ever ridden. But of course, he was also one of the lightest, most responsive, talented, and athletic ones as well. Go figure.

So, even as challenging as he was, I stuck with him. We were moving at a snail’s pace competitively…largely due to the fact that when I tried shipping him alone on my straight load, he’d jump the chest bar.

We could only go to an event (or anywhere else) if I took another horse. The other two horses at my farm were not competing, and even if I took one of them for companionship, that would mean leaving the other one alone and stressed about being alone. So, I had to come up with an alternative.

After testing some friendships I decided that I needed to go out and find a third horse, even if I ended up with something only suitable as a companion.

As fate would have it, that very night I got an email from a dressage queen friend in Florida. Her neighbour was going through a divorce, and had to place her horse. My friend thought of me, because I have draft crosses and this guy was ¾ thoroughbred, ¼ shire. And, as she put it, he was “probably nice enough for eventing dressage.”

My friend texted me one photo of this horse. He had four legs; that was about all I could see. But, I needed a horse, and I couldn’t argue the price, so I told her to send him on up.

When Grant arrived, he was really actually quite nice…no new sail, but nice. He was big (a true 17 hands), black, in great flesh, lots of bone but not heavy, and nice to handle on the ground.

What about his feet?

Well, they were draft/thoroughbred cross feet, which is often not a good thing. In Grant’s case, it was definitely not a good thing!

After riding him for the first time I realised he needed a good deal of training and conditioning, was a bit lazy, but was relatively uncomplicated…something I’d not experienced in a long time.

This could be fun....

Read Part Two here.