Recognized horse trials have a big ol’ rulebook that most of the time isn’t really needed. Most competitions I have attended run very smoothly, the officials and management know what to do, the competitors do what they do, and it comes off with minor glitches. Every once in a while, a major problem happens, as did occur to a local horse trial this last weekend. While I was not there I did hear about the accident to a rider that required a medical evacuation via helicopter. To avoid scaring horses, the officials close the course and keep horses and riders away while this happens; if you have ever had horses near a landing helicopter (I have) you will be grateful that officials keep horses away. As it was toward the end of the day, the division currently going cross-country had to be stopped before they completed the time schedule. Fortunately this was Saturday night, so somehow, they were going to try and squeeze in cross-country for the remaining postponed riders on Sunday morning despite a pre-arranged schedule of other divisions that day. It sounds to me like such an occasion would certainly have been the worst possible thing to have happen if you are an organizer or official. You want to keep everyone safe. You feel badly for the rider who was hurt. You feel badly for those who did not get to complete their horse trial, and I am sure they moved heaven and earth to do things like get volunteers back early Sunday morning so they could jump judge and get the divisions completed. But it was probably just not enough time to get everyone informed or notified, and I certainly can relate to everyone who was consternated by the whole thing. We are so used to instant communication these days, and anything less than instant texting and messaging seems unfair, but there are only so many hours, minutes and seconds in a day. As an organizer you dread these situations and pray you are never confronted by one, and as an official I am sure you also dread them. Competitors dread them too, as it means a lot of logistics if you are riding one or more horses — gas, time, effort, and plans all go to hell. There is so much that can go wrong with horses, you get one ready, they are sound, you get to the event in one piece, you even get your dressage and your stadium over with and are ready to hit the cross-country with all you have — and somebody comes along and puts a pin in your balloon. You want to just scream. We’ve all been there.
It is important to remember that no one is perfect, and nothing goes exactly as planned sometimes, and as eventers, we have to roll with it. Life is very much like this sport. No one guarantees anything, nothing is set in stone. When you enter, you hope you can make it, you hope the weather cooperates, you hope you don’t have to scratch after closing date and lose your entry, there’s a lot of “if’s” in this business. If you have never lost an entry, you just haven’t evented long enough!!! Be kind to others, consider fairness first, be polite and accept somethings cannot be fixed after the fact. If you put yourself in the shoes of the folks who have to worry about our safety in this sport, I think you may find that we all have to just let it go on occasion. I strongly believe in fate, and that it all works out for the best, in the end, and that there is a design to this, and we aren’t always going to know the pattern but we have to trust that it will all work out. Eventing so much like life, eh?