By: Maddie Sokol
Just a over a century ago this eventing made its olympic debut.Equestrianism also known as horseback riding. In this sport, there are three main disciplines; eventing, jumping, and dressage. One of Blessed Trinity’s seniors, Kate McFarland, participates in the dressage discipline, working ambitiously to gain a title.
Over Labor Day weekend, Kate competed at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA, an annual show hosted by Georgia Dressage & Combined Training Association (GDCTA). “It’s called the Labor Day Classic (LDC) 1&2, so that means it counts as two shows in one weekend,” said Kate, “The two shows are significant for qualifying purposes.” She had two rides and won both of her classes. Kate mentioned that the great part about the LDC is that on a Saturday, they host a USDF Youth Team Competition where three to four riders come together to create a team. “All scores are averaged and then you are placed. It’s a great way to meet people,” said Kate.
Before a competition, many things go on in Kate’s head. “Before I get on, I’m focused on the judges and my competitors”, said Kate, “and in the arena, I’m thinking random things such as ‘What do I do next?’.”On good rides, she tries to focus on certain movements and stays conscious about everything going on around her.
Kate chose this unique sport because she loves the environment and has the chance to meet new people. Kate stated, “I ride because I have always had my heart on horses and it seems like such a part of me now. The relationship with a horse is absolutely incredible.”
She leases a Quarter Horse mare, named Port’s Cover Girl. “I have had a Mecklenburg German Warmblood and a Thoroughbred,” she said.
Kate said her biggest inspiration in riding is the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. They do not compete, but they are all about riding correctly and classically. “I believe that everyone should aspire to be the most correct rider that they can be, instead of riding to win,” she said.
Kate’s coach said that she is passionate about riding. However, like anyone competing in a sport, she tends to doubt her abilities. “She has become a very assertive, intuitive rider. She does have faults but with how aggressive she can ride, but overall her seat and ability to read the horse has improved,” her coach concluded.
One of Kate’s favorite things about this sport’s environment that it is a lifelong sport. “Yes, it is frustrating when you hit a wall that stays up for awhile but it’s so comforting seeing older riders making their way up and peeking at later ages. There is no rush to training,” Kate admitted.
“I ride because as frustrating as it can be sometimes, it truly gives me confidence, peace, patience, and a sense of purpose. There’s nothing quite like it, riding a horse. You feel in complete control but subject to the whims of the horse. Sometimes you get something just right and it feels like it flows perfectly and it makes you want it again, even if that means riding for months and months before that feeling again. I think I enjoy it because I feel connected to something so much bigger than myself. There is such a history to dressage and at shows you are part of such a large community,” Kate concluded.
Kate’s short term goals include moving up from the training level to the first level. Her long term goals include reaching the tenth out ten levels, but also staying humble and positive on her journey. “I want to be the best I can be at the highest level. It might take a while, but I am determined to reach the top,” said Kate.