It’s been nearly a month since 12 weeks of intensive equestrian competition wrapped at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida—which means it’s the perfect time to sit back, take stock, and reflect on the entire experience.

For most participants, this probably comes with a mix of feelings: sadness, relief, regret, rampant exhaustion… Within a month or two, that all-too-familiar daily hum of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center will be nothing more than memory, and spring and summer show plans are already in motion; in Spruce Meadows and Kentucky, the East Coast, Europe, and beyond.

But we’ll always have our memories of the emotional rollercoaster that was WEF 2017 (and likely every other WEF before that), and in case you’re worried you might not remember what to expect with the circuit rolls around again next year, show jumper Mavis Spencer has penned a list for you.

Here, Mavis Spencer’s 15 Emotional Phases of the Winter Equestrian Festival, circa 2017: 


1. Excitement.  We’re here! There’s sun! And palm trees (gotta love those palm trees)! Grab a Starbucks cold brew and start unloading—it’s almost time to horse show!

2. Determination.  This year, you’re going to make the most of the circuit. You’ve worked hard all summer and fall, your horse is fit and shiny, and it’s game time.

3. Trust. From grooms to managers and trainers, this is the greatest team you’ve ever worked with. You’ve done your homework this year and you feel prepared. You have purpose, and you have a plan.

4. Energy. Five a.m. wake up? Who cares?! This is only the beginning. Human beings are made to rise with the sun and seize the day. Otherwise, why would we have invented coffee?

5. Hope. By the end of the season, your Instagram is going to be filled with blue ribbons and victory gallop videos. It is known.

6. Eagerness. There’s no other place in the world where you’d rather spend a quarter of your life each year. Now is the time to prove yourself and really show the world what you can do.


7. Frustration. You don’t believe in negativity, but… still… some days you win, and some days you fall off in your whites. But hey, that’s horses for you!

8. Satisfaction. You’re still excited to get to the show each morning. By and large, things have gone well so far, and you’re hoping to ride this momentum through to the end of circuit. Which reminds you…

9. Anxiety. YOU’RE ONLY HALFWAY THERE. Which is fine. Totally fine. You just can’t believe it’s only been six weeks…

10. Fatigue. How many horses are on the list for tomorrow? What does that whiteboard say under your name? Who’s texting you now? Just keep telling yourself, six weeks down, six more to go…


11. Pride. Seriously, up-high soldier! Ribbons won, horses sold, clients happy—look at all you’ve accomplished!

12. Appreciation. You knew you were part of the best team ever and you were right! It’s been a long season, but you couldn’t have done it with a different group of people or horses.

13. Amazement. Wait, you survived?

14. Inspiration. There’s no better way to improve than by watching and competing against so many top riders in one place, day after day. You’re happy and fortunate to be in their company and learn from what you see.

15. Motivation. You won’t let this season go to waste. It’s time to take all that knowledge, observation, and experience (good and bad), and put it to use in the rest of your season. You just can’t wait to get started.

-Photos by Erin Gilmore for NF Style. 

Want to follow Mavis on a real day in her WEF life? Check out the video below!