Experience is something you got, just when you needed it.
I have always associated this phrase with an image of someone tipping forward over a drop fence, or coming into a one stride without enough canter. Those are moments where there is exactly one thing that you, as a rider, should have done, didn’t do, and then wish you had.
I’m now using the phrase in association with managing my first USEA recognized event. I can’t wait until me and my team have more experience, then perhaps we wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes that we did.
Overall, the Equestrians Institute HT event went very well. We had 265 competitors at a new venue, and all in all it ran smoothly, on time, and with a lot of happy riders. But, if you are a perfectionist, then that is all well and good. But I wish that I had done some things better. For instance, on Wednesday we were setting up the dressage arenas. And although we had a plan for how they would be situated in the large arena, it all looked so very different when I was standing there. When we have run schooling events, we had squished the arenas into a portion of the arena, side by side. The judge was parked with the car nearly in the trees, but at least the arenas fit. This event, I spread them out. The arena had been enlarged and therefore we could spread the proverbial dressage elbows out. But in retrospect, this congested the warmup arena too much. I wish I had done it better.
Or another moment was: since this was a new venue, maybe we should have drawn a parking map for people who had never been to the horse park before so they didn’t feel so lost upon arrival. And how could I have forgotten the dry erase boards for the rider order of go?!!! As a rider, I am always thankful to see the list at a glance and continue with my ride, rather than bother the poor steward. That was a silly mistake.
Overall, I know that these sorts of mistakes will be fixed next year. We write lists and get input from people and improvements will be made. Top on my list to do differently, is to have as good a time as the competitors myself. It is 3 days post event and I am still muscle sore from so much walking, lifting, fetching, filling-in and building. What I need to do is find a better system for having arenas put up, torn down and show jumps moved, and moved back. The event isn’t held at my own farm, so we need to leave there Sunday night with everything put away. It is terribly exhausting.
But all in all, I am so glad that we put this event on. The timing of it could not have been better because there was a loss of two events in our area this season. Area VII definitely had a need, and I am proud to have helped fill it. I cant wait until we have done the event so many times that it is easy!