Why do I do it? The question all eventers ask themselves when things get difficult...
Coming back after a nasty fall in the Advanced at Wellington (August 2017), which involved dislocating my shoulder and tearing the ligaments, spending a couple of days in hospital, two months in a sling and many weeks of visits to the physio, I am delighted to be well and truly back in the saddle and ready for the 2018 season.
During Autumn 2017, anxious not to waste anytime whilst out of the saddle, I set-to with my mother/business coordinator and sorted out my new website, organised a new lorry, recruited a full-time groom and bought a horse from the new Billy Stud online Auction. I rode again for the first time after ten weeks off, the day I collected the horse from the Billy Stud!
Why do I do it?
I ask myself that question on wet, miserable, cold, winter mornings. The answer of course is because I love it! Horses, not just riding, all the work that goes into them, is my 'reason d'être' - my reason to be.
After a long day in my office (out in the fresh air, wind and rain or blissful sunshine) just before I walk off the yard I turn back to listen. The quiet munching and the total silence that surrounds it, is the sound of utter contentment. Success with horses cannot be measured only in cups, prize money, rosettes, dressage scores or clear rounds – it must be measured in terms of progression, coming back from setbacks (and failures) and the contentment of both rider and horse – no matter the level. But above all I do it because I am not afraid to dream – after all “nothing happens unless first you dream”
A history of Annie:
I have ridden and looked after horses since I could walk, talk and badger my mum to take me to the riding school every week. Aged 3, my best friend at nursery was the riding instructors daughter! When I was nine I was given my first pony, he was a rescue who couldn’t be sold. I fell off continuously, he dragged me round the field when I tried to bring him in and that was when I could catch him; why did I do it?
My next pony was a 14.2 loan pony. He was too big, too strong and capable of lifting my mother off the floor with a chifney in his mouth. However, he was a good old speed merchant in a showjumping arena and at the age of 25 was not afraid to still win. My motto was hang on tight and steer – my options were after all, limited. Why did I do it?
My first horse followed. What a character! Scared of his own skin! After super speedy he was a bit of a shock to the system; gently does it even if we’re walking! We learnt dressage together and my eventing career began. I had the fastest learning curve in my life, mostly through making mistakes as I brought him on, thankfully he was sweet natured, kind hearted and very forgiving and we figured it out as we went, pushing each other to our limits. Why did I do it?
My first real eventer arrived when I was 16. His record was patchy and he was known as predictably unpredictable. The first thing I did with him was a little hunter trial at Tweseldown, kick on and lots of vocal encouragement meant the rest of the year was reasonably successful competing up to BE Novice with some high placings. The following year didn’t run so smoothly – juggling A-levels and Open Novice Under 18s made for a busy time but I love a challenge! I was thrilled to qualify for the under 18 championships and be in the South-East Team. I trained hard, so was totally gutted when Casanova tied up half way round the cross country phase. However even though we didn’t complete, all I wanted to do, was to do more! Months of preparation, and dreams being shattered; why did I do it?
In 2014 I was studying for my university finals and writing my dissertation; my work breaks were looking at horse classifieds. I found a super mare; she was too big for me, dressage bred but now Eventing and lived 5 hours’ drive away. We drove to Cornwall and back on Easter Monday (a very bad idea traffic wise!) Somehow I managed to do everything and not make a mess of anything (thanks to a huge amount of support from my parents) and I graduated from the Royal Agricultural University with First Class Honours in International Equine and Agricultural Business Management - the horse arrived home two days before my Equine Genetics exam. A bit mad - but it runs in the family - as my Mum drove to Cornwall and back once a week every week for 4 weeks, twice with me and twice more for the vetting and to collect Pip – why did I do it?
After University I worked for Harry Dzenis Eventing for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In 2016 I set up Annie Forsyth Eventing at my own yard in Loxwood. I have added Toga and now Will to the string and can’t wait to get out there again in 2018.
I now work all day every day – riding, lunging, producing event horses to compete and yard duties. Forget days off - the occasional hour in front of the TV on a wet afternoon is a luxury!
Why do I do it?
For the love of horses, that’s why!
To find out what happened after Casanova tied-up in 2011 see Annie Forsyth's two blogs on Tying Up: Part One Symptoms and causes; Part Two Management of the Condition. Annie wrote her university dissertation on Tying Up and conducted the largest scale study of its kind into Tying Up in Sports horses. Casanova has never tied-up since. He went on to come 4th in the CIC* at Brightling in 2013.