So… you want to become a Wobbleberry?
Well, before you sign-up, there are some important things to consider. Read on to get the inside scoop from a 2017 Wobbleberry Graduate who has been there, done that and literally ‘got the t-shirt’.
OK… if being a Wobbleberry sounds tempting, you are probably at least a little nervous about the thought of going fast and jumping stuff. If you’re like I was, you’re now feeling rather nauseous having just read the words fast and jumping! Not knowing what to expect, or how your journey may unfold, might now have you reaching for the immodium, so I’m going to give you a sneak preview of what’s to come.
You will feel inadequate… until to get on the FaceBook group and realise that you’re not the only one who has spent months/years/decades (delete as appropriate) desperately wanting to have the skill and confidence to get out there and truly enjoy your horse.
For me, being of ‘a certain age’, the distant memories of flying over dry stone walls and galloping across stubble fields merely emphasised my fear and frustration. But, suddenly I found myself ‘virtually’ surrounded by others who felt EXACTLY THE SAME. The realisation that I was not alone led to immense relief that I no longer had to constantly ‘pretend’ that this hobby that saps all my time and money didn’t actually terrify me much of the time. By admitting my wobbles to others online (the group is visible ONLY to registered WBs), those wobbles seemed less intimidating.
When Harvey and I jumped our first cross pole last November, I shared the pic … I finally had a forum in which I could to accurately express my feelings of achievement. Before becoming a WB, I would have dismissed the achievement because my yard-mates, friends, acquaintances would have (possibly) thought I was pathetic for being so thrilled about clearing 45cm. Not so my fellow WBs… they whooped, cheered, clapped and grinned (via emojis) and I felt like Mary King incarnate. Their support and genuine pleasure at my success spurred me on to greater things very quickly… well, to 50cm.
But, as we all know with horses and riding, things don’t always go so well. Crises of confidence, wimping out of the SJ competition, a horrific dressage test (my fault) all occurred, but those WBs on FB were always there with sympathy, empathy, encouragement and virtual hugs. So, occasional feelings of inadequacy never last long, and it’s very hard to feel alone when you’re a WB.
You will freak yourself out… Initially, at the enormity of what you’ve signed up for. Then, you will freak out at how amazing you are as you discover just how much you and your horse are capable of. At the beginning, you will freak yourself out looking at pictures of (or walking) a BE80 course and think I’m never, ever going to be able to jump those! Later, you’ll be freaked out by how inviting you think those same fences are. It WILL happen!
You will have less time for your friends… because during your WB journey you make new, lasting and meaningful friendships with your fellow WBs. Honestly, I have met so many lovely, inspiring people this year. This shared journey and the enormity of the challenge somehow means these friendships that have formed so very quickly and firmly will, despite the distances, be a massive part of my life for a very long time to come.
You will cry… a lot! This bit really annoys my other half, but it comes with being a WB. Yes, I’ve cried tears of disappointment, tears of frustration & tears of pain (not from falling off… mainly from my carnivorous equine beast). But, let’s face it, those are a normal side-effect of horse ownership.
What has changed is that I’ve cried water-troughs worth of tears of joy & gratitude (for myself, my horse and my WB sisters). My eyes have leaked every time I made a small breakthrough, or finished a clinic with the feeling I’d improved again, or watched one of my fellow WBs gallop across the finish line at her first BE80 and every time I look back on how far we’ve all come. But the best tears of all? Definitely those that I cried after we finished double clear at our 3rd BE80… at the end of a long, eventful (excuse the pun) journey.
You will have setbacks… and you WILL overcome them. The amazing sense of achievement will be commensurate with the number of setbacks you face.
The talented, kind, straightforward horse I thought I had bought in September 2016 turned out to be a chap with a taste for human flesh and the manners of a drunk rhino. To be fair to Harvs, he did have quite nasty gastric ulcers and although a bit of a monster on the ground, has never done anything terrible under saddle. Also turns out that although he schooled perfectly and boldly over XC jumps at our various clinics, when it came to being on course on his own, he bottled it. Totally.
At our first BE80 we didn’t make it over the first fence on the cross country course. At our 2nd BE80, we did… only to have H say an emphatic ‘NO’ at the 2nd fence. I’m not sure whether I was deluded or whether I had finally found some self-belief by being a Wobbleberry, but I went ahead an entered a THIRD BE80. I was determined to complete this one… and we did, albeit by ‘show jumping’ the first 4 and racking up a whopping 24 time faults doing so. BUT WE COMPLETED! I have never been so elated … the joy, relief and emotion after that round was epic. I would not have stuck with it without The Wobbleberry Challenge. Who knew I was that determined?
So, you still want to be a Wobbleberry? Then do it! It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made and I don’t regret it for one second.
So, now I’ve completed my challenge, what next? Well, the eventing season starts again in 3 months and I’m so excited. I plan to do 4 or 5 BE80s with the goal of completing within the time. Once we achieve that, we’ll don our brave pants again and give BE90 a go.
I feel no obligation to continue eventing, but I’ve caught the bug and will keep at it as long as this body and the purse are strong enough to cope. Watch this space…