Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Even though you are really keen don't jump your horse to young. I wouldn't really start seriously jumping until my horse was about five. Small caveletti and small grids are good for teaching a horse rhythm, strides and balance but don't make the mistake of going too high too early. A four year old is still young and growing.
I'm not in America so I can't really advise you on shows. My advice is to get the dressage down pat. At the low levels a lot of people can do cross country and show jumping, and you will find a lot of people going clear so dressage will be the main opportunity to get the most or least points or however it works over there. Not only that but the control you have in your dressage will translate over to the other two phases. In my experience I see a lot people focusing on the jumping aspect because they see that as the majority of the competition, as well as the "scariest" parts, but you really need to work on getting control, balance and rhythm.
I don't think they would mark you down much for riding in a CC saddle at the lowest levels but you are not going to be sitting in the optimum dressage position in that saddle and you may get marked down for that. I used to compete in show jumping but I always do everything except for jumping in a dressage saddle. If you are serious about eventing consider getting one, even if its cheap.
Long clinics will be more expensive than shorter things, and unofficial competitions will probably be much cheaper. I usually find its not so much the entrance cost that adds up, but the floating, petrol and all the extra time.
Good luck, and take care of your horses legs. Don't over jump him, don't skimp on your dressage and control and be patient.