A View from the Stands – Part 1

Team SP rider Boyd Martin warms up Otis Barbotiere for the first ride of the day.

It’s a Small World After All

The Pak is across the pond and the action is officially underway in London. In this blog series, SmartPakers Sarah and Colby will be sharing stories about the people they meet while watching the action live in the stands (and on the XC course) in Greenwich.

From Colby: “We just wrapped coverage of the first day of eventing and we’re making ourselves right at home here in Greenwich, England. In fact, it feels like we’re right back in good old (New) England, where SmartPak is headquartered. In a stadium across an ocean, full of tens of thousands of people, we ended up sitting right between two Area 1 eventers from the States, Shannon Baker and Carlin Vickery.

We had a great chat with Carlin (who I’ve actually stabled next to at events) about the SmartPak products she uses for herself and two of her horses, Wellfleet and Kung Fu Panda. We try hard to make our customers happy and it’s always nice to hear that they are pleased with the products and services we provide…so much of our daily time and effort is focused on this end goal.”

From Sarah: “After one of the ring breaks, Colby and I swapped seats and I got a chance to chat with Carlin (between tests, naturally – we refuse to be the “rude Americans”). One of the first things I learned in chatting with Carlin is that she’s from New York, which is where I was born and raised. It’s truly an impossibly small world!

As Colby mentioned, Carlin positively raved about the SmartPaks system, and how she’s been using SmartPaks for over five years now, because as a doctor, she knows consistent dosing is important, and SmartPaks let her be sure her horses are getting what they need, every time.

Carlin competes at Training Level with Wellfleet, an eight-year-old Hanoverian/Thoroughbred with an impressive track record, including winning Training Level at the American Eventing Championships as a five year old. When I asked her what her goals are as a rider, she thought for a moment and said – ‘you know, I really just want to be better every time, even if it’s just a little bit.’ She then went on to explain that it would of course be nice to qualify for the AEC’s, but in her experience setting time- or event-specific goals often leads to more trouble than it’s worth. For example, if she were to set a goal of reaching the AEC’s, and her horse came up with Lyme Disease, she’d be missing her goal, through no fault of her own. I found that really interesting – the idea of focusing your goals on things that are entirely within your control – it’s certainly a useful tactic in the horse world, where there really are so few guarantees you can count on.

We both mulled over the concept of riding goals in our minds during the next test, and as soon as the rider saluted and the crowd broke into applause, Carlin leaned over and said ‘You know, I’ve had a fair amount of success as a rider, but it can be hard to put it all together and keep it all together. So instead of focusing on that stuff, now I try every day to remember that I’m grateful and curious, and that’s what keeps me going.’

My conversation with Carlin got me wondering – how do you all set your riding goals? Do you go with something concrete, but easily effected by outside influences, or do you stick with something that’s based more on the elements within your control? What are your riding goals, and how did you choose them? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook wall!

One last note before I go – I asked Carlin to define riding in one word. She considered it carefully and silently for a few moments, then said ‘Nirvana,’ before adding, with a wink, ‘…on a good day.’ How very true it is.”

Stay up to date on the latest London happenings by following @SmartPakerSarah and @SmartPakerColby on Twitter!

Sarah Paull

Sarah Paull is a lifelong rider and SmartPak’s Brand Manager. You may know her better as the life-size foam finger from the London Olympics, the host of USEF Network’s Live from London coverage, or “that girl from the Stuff Riders Say videos.” Prior to joining SmartPak in 2008, Sarah worked as a Veterinary Technician at B.W. Furlong & Associates in Oldwick, NJ, and obtained her degree in Equine Science from Centenary College. Sarah is the proud mom of Cody, a semi-retired, 23-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, and she’s currently looking for an eventing partner to help her get rid of all the extra time, money and energy she doesn’t actually have :-) If you're interested in her often-horsey, always-odd musings, follow @SmartPakerSarah on Twitter.

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