One of the main goals of the newsletter is to help Area 1 riders connect with each other, to share our successes and our struggles, to help build a stronger community. To further this, we have invited Area 1 riders to contribute to the newsletter updates of their experiences in this competition year as we all try to figure out our new normal. This year, we would like to introduce you to Susan Mutter Boquist and her horse Ivy. They are going to update us on their progress throughout the year; look for updates in each edition of this year’s newsletter – and say hi if you see them out and about in the area!
I have been riding horses most of my life and started Eventing in 1999, purchasing my first horse the following year. He was the first of a cast of characters and for a while there I had a reputation for either winning or falling off. Born To Be Wild or Ivy, as she’s known in the barn, is my current horse and arrived as a project. She doesn’t like cows.
For my first season update, I am not writing about what I thought I would be, when I offered to do this. Ivy, after a series of ailments, was finally feeling good and coming home from a successful winter in Aiken, so we were looking forward to getting back out again in Area I. Long story short and the perpetual heartbreak of horses, Ivy’s career as an Eventer is suddenly over. I can’t even express how gutted I am over this. I will know more this week about what her future looks like and have already started looking for another partner in crime.
I had to scratch from GMHA at the last minute. I decided that rather than stewing at home, I would use my otherwise non-refundable Inn reservations, suck it up, and go up to Vermont and volunteer. I signed up to be a Dressage ring steward on Saturday afternoon and a XC jump judge on Sunday morning. The signup information encouraged arriving early to grab lunch or breakfast in the Youth Center – volunteers are fed well.
I had not been a dressage steward before, but having competed a gazillion times, I knew what I needed to do but wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it. Competition type anxiety cropped up, so I did arrive early to get my lunch and radio (priorities) and was told clipboards were out there and I could pick whichever ring I wanted. I was the first out there and was alone, except for the maintenance crew grooming the footing. The steward’s chair for ring 1 was under a tent, and rings 2 and 3 were in the blazing hot sun. “Hmmm, which one?” The morning steward for ring 1 had left me some notes about riders that would be coming out of order and one who would warmup elsewhere and arrive minutes before her test. I also noted she had scribbled descriptions of the horses to know which direction to yell in (good tip!). Folks started to arrive. I found that I really enjoyed myself. I got to talk to riders, coaches and parents/friends. I heard some great stories about the horses and partnerships. I almost got run over by a horse that noticed the cows and bolted across three rings and right out next to me – his rider mumbled, “Thanks, Teddy…” after she got him to stop. I realized that I had to be careful about how I delivered the news that my ring was running early – it would be way too easy to mess with the minds of the JBN riders. I also amused myself by noting the description of paints/pintos as “patchy twat”, which a couple of them actually were. I answered copious questions. I found ways to gently nudge into the ring riders that were dilly-dallying. I felt useful and like I was participating. And no, the cows were not out when Ivy and I would have been doing our test, sigh.
Sunday started very early with the XC judges’ briefing. As we all munched on breakfast, the TD reviewed the rules and how various situations should be handled and the announcer went over how to use the radio and when to talk and when to keep quiet. As a jump judge, not only are you responsible for recording how each horse did or did not negotiate the obstacle(s) assigned to you, but also things such as crowd control, stopping horses, timing how long they were stopped, determining if the fence needs repair, summoning medical help, communicating ground conditions, etc.. You are the eyes on course for the announcer and the TD. The radio is your connection to this not so little community that comes together while XC is running. Some voices you recognize. Some folks are new at this and struggle a little as to how to phrase their reports – every judge radios in a report for every rider at each jump, in real time. You follow the progress of each rider. “Rider 25 has one refusal left” – they need to be stopped and asked to leave the course at a walk if they get one more. “Rider 37 fell off but is okay. Horse is okay. They are walking back.” “Rider 87, clear, fence 17.” “Rider 37 needs to get checked by the EMTs, anyway.” “Rider 121 is on course.” “What color flags are BN?” “Rider 120 is down. Need medical. Vet should check horse when he is caught.” “My pencil broke, may I have another at Fence 6?” “Rider 122 is about to overtake 121 who had trouble. 121 needs to let 122 pass.” “Wait at your fence for your scoresheet to get picked up.” Think about this when you are walking your course (please, not when you are riding). There is a team out there supporting you. Take the opportunity to give back and volunteer sometime (unless of course your virtual adult team has more points than mine does). I like how the announcer put it, “Okay. Radio check is complete. Everyone is in place. Starters, send out the first horse. The course is hot and remember, every horse over every jump!”
About Susan Mutter Boquist: My passion for horses was ignited over 50 years ago, when I was put on a friend’s pony at a birthday party, much to the horror of my non-horsey parents. I rode ponies in fields and woods at summer camp and then took lessons and rode on the team at Mount Holyoke. Then followed a number of years of catch rides and lessons, with the occasional hunter/eq outing. My first leased horse had competed as high as preliminary, so I was invited to give Eventing a try. I got hooked running BN cross country too fast at King Oak in the rain and never looked back. I am a true amateur and fund my habit by leading a statistical programming team in the clinical trials industry, which up until a year or so ago, most people weren’t familiar with. Unfortunately, my current horse, Ivy, has re-injured herself, so this year I will be figuring out what her new career will be after rehab, while I try to find a new partner and keep active in the sport. I look forward to sharing my story with you.