This picture was taken in 1997 at Maury County Park in Columbia, Tennessee. I’m on my Quarter Horse mare Sadie and it appears we’ve just won third place in some kind of hunter class at a local Bridle & Saddle Club show.
I know it’s 1997 because you can see I’m proudly wearing my USPC pin on my jacket. I joined Pony Club that year and began the equestrian sport that’s remained my true love ever since: eventing.
Prior to joining Pony Club, I’d been taking riding lessons for 6 or 7 years. My instructor when this photo was taken was a wonderful woman who taught me how to jump, helped me find Sadie, and lent me her own pony for my very first horse show. She was a hunter trainer, so I entered hunter classes- equitation, under saddle, over fences. I loved riding and liked competing.
My mother found Pony Club in the late summer of 1997. The DC of the club invited us to come watch the club’s annual fall horse trial, which was a big deal in those days. It was a two-day affair that regularly drew 100+ riders from beginner novice up to preliminary. My family went to watch cross country on Saturday. I distinctly remember standing in view of a bank set on a downhill line to a jump called The Cannons (named for the way you were launched over it). The Cannons were the second to last jump on course; upon landing, riders galloped downhill to a coop and crossed the finish flags.
I watched horse after horse thunder down the bank, fly over The Cannons, jump the coop, and whoop with joy as they galloped to the finish line. I was immediately entranced with the sport. It looked like the best time someone could possibly have on a horse.
I’ve never forgotten that horse trial, and I hope I never will.
What about you- was there some pivotal moment that led you to your current discipline?