Whoa Dammit!

By Brad Turley

So how did I become an Eventer? My story is pretty straightforward. I have an 18+hh, 1800 lb. draft cross named Sudden Impact a.k.a. Whoa Dammit. He’s a little strong, a bit forward, thinks pretty highly of himself and strikes his own path in life. I bought him about six years ago to ride trails and do an occasional hunter pace. I only got into horses about 10 years ago to ride with my daughter.

About four years ago, the local pony club asked if they could use my farm for their lessons. I liked watching the kids ride so I said, “Of course.”

The Pony Club Trainer said, “That’s great and thanks, but you’ll have to promise to take some lessons on how to stop your horse.”
Whoa Dammit!

Me: “Why?”

PCT: “Have you noticed that not many people want to trail ride with you anymore?”

Me: “No, I just figured everyone was busy.”

PCT: “It’s not that they’re busy, it that people don’t like to ride with a person who puts his feet on the horse’s ears, pulls back on the reins and yells “Whoa Dammit!”, to stop. It is a bit frightening.”

Being the considerate person that I am, and to help the pony clubbers, I agreed to some lessons on stopping Whoa Dammit. It took me about four weeks to learn how to stop him without using the fence or a wall. As I became an accomplished “stopper,” the PCT said, ”Now that you’re getting this stopping thing down, what do you want to do next?”

Me: “I’d like to learn how to jump logs and rocks and things just in case I come across some on the trails. I think that looks pretty cool.”

So over the next several months we did ground poles, cross rails and even an 18” vertical or two. WD and I were on a roll!

Just as I was thinking I was very cool, I was asked if there was a place I could go to jump some logs or something. In fact, did they have a place where you could compete in log jumping?

PCT: “Sure, it is called Eventing. It’s a lot of fun and you really get to become a horseman.”

Me: “Sounds like a winner to me, what do I have to do to start?”

PCT: “Well, you have to start learning something about Dressage …”

Me: “Dress what?”

The whole dressage thing set me back a little. At first, I figured how tough could it be? Two out of the three phases were jumping and I just had to pay the admission ticket with this dressage thing. And all I have to do is ride in a straight line, a couple circles and halt and make it look easy. How hard could that be? I already knew how to halt.

A few months later the pony clubbers tried to get me to ride in a schooling trial. But I was leery. I thought some old guy on a big white horse that could only trot his jumps and could only canter on a trail, might be kind of embarrassing. So I worked on cantering a jump, learned how to ride a 20-meter circle and bought myself a blue jacket. I was ready!

My first horse trial made it official. I found my new passion. It didn’t matter that I didn’t break 50 on my dressage (who knew that 12 meter ovals were only good for a 2 or a 3) or that Whoa Dammit was a bit strong on x-c or that I even knew how to walk and count the strides let alone ride them in stadium.

It was exciting, challenging and just downright fun. No doubt about it, I became an Eventer that first weekend in September 2004.

Over the last few years, I did learn how to do 20m circles (most of the time), have retired Whoa Dammit, added a couple of new school masters to my bag of tricks, got into a program and even learned how to walk my stadium course to count my strides (although I’m still not very good at riding them). Each day I try to ride and each day I get off feeling refreshed. Yes, I am an Eventer!