Category Archives: Horse Shows

CHP Novice Takeaways- Stadium

-I can pretty much guess what we’ll be doing at Trainer B’s this Friday. 


Wait, that’s not how you properly go through a one-stride?


All the yikes

Which probably stems from this:


October 2017

And while we eventually got it after multiple tries that day, my psyche was already damaged. Which I continue to relay to P 8 months later.


This only took five billionty times

Stadium is officially the worst phase. 

Out of the mouth of Trainer B. We get by when the jumps are small, but missing to 2’6″ is different than missing to 3′. Who woulda thought?

Heckling helps.

Now I had just taken P to our first jumper show this year and we cruised around 2’6″ and 2’9″, but the videos showed a much slower pace than I thought we had.


Jump-off. I thought we were flying. Not so much.

On our way to dinner the night before the horse trial, we all went out to dinner and Trainer B rode with me. As I was driving towards the restaurant, he goes, “How come you drive your truck so fast, but ride so slow?”


HA. HA. Maybe because my truck responds when I put my foot on the accelerator and doesn’t stop unless I choose to engage the brake?

Then later we were all sitting around outside the stalls and Trainer B says to Husband, “I’m going to Petsmart to get a shock collar to attach to P’s girth. Anytime I think she’s going too slow, I’m going to press the button. Cool?” To which Husband replied, “Yeah, man!” And then I laughed. And then Trainer B looked me dead in the eye and said, “Oh, you think I’m joking?”

Ummm, I actually can’t tell.


So. We rode fast the next day.


Made it over jump 1 on our first real Novice course 🙂

It wasn’t all bad.

Was it pretty? No. BUT. I didn’t micromanage him to fences. I didn’t freak out if I saw nothing or saw a wrong distance a few strides out. I added leg and we moved on. That in itself is a HUGE win.


I had to cut the turn after jump 1 to this oxer super sharp so he didn’t have time to think to stop.

Like, despite the rail at 4, I was really proud of how I rode this 7 stride. Because when we walked it, it walked in 7. And then I did 7. Not 6 + a flier. Not 8. SEVEN.


Count for yourself!

Even though SJ went nothing like I wanted it to, Trainer B said my riding was good (except the whole looking behind me. What an idiot), and this is all stuff we can clean up at home. So pray for me.

After SJ, we still had a number score, not a letter.

I mean, we made it around with no falls! Quite a different result than when I attempted BN at this same HT last June.

Go or Crash

Trainer B said I try to make things too perfect for P while jumping. And P has learned that if it’s not perfect, the answer is to stop and try again. And then I try even harder to set him up right, but if the Princess deems it not to be so, stopping is alright.

No. He said he’d rather P crash through fences than stop at them. Seems a little harsh, right? I did at first, but he explained that P has got to learn that not everything is going to be perfect for him, but that unless it’s absolutely dangerous for him to jump (like if I point him off the edge of a cliff..banks don’t count), the answer has got to be, “Yes, ma’am.” He also said P is smart enough not to WANT to crash into fences. But if I have that in my head as those are the only 2 options, chances are better that P will jump rather than stop. So basically he’s telling me not to let stopping be an option that I’ll accept, which I will then convey to P.

A new way of repeating something he’s been telling me for a long time. But the phrase is catchy enough that I might actually remember it.

Open-Fronts for Stadium. 

Because we had to go straight to XC after stadium, I opted to just put on P’s Majyk Equipe XC boots for SJ. Which, looking back, probably contributed to the rails we had. I was honestly really surprised about the rails, because well, we never have them. If P jumps, he’s pretty much going to do what he needs to do not to hit a rail.

But in warmup, we hit a rail, then went in and he knocked down 3 rails (technically only 2 counted- the organizers were supposed to take out a jump after the final 2 stride, but they hadn’t done that when we went in), and was very casual about the whole thing. So great, ME technology is wonderful, but open-fronts for P from now on.


First ever stadium round- August 2015 at Kingfisher’s CT.


June 2018 (something in his mane is obvi very interesting)

CHP Novice Takeaways-Dressage

“Hey, remember when P & I completed our first BN and I referenced it pretty much every post after that? Well, prepare for more spamming, this time Novice-style. Because Novice. And this time I have professional photos!

When I left CHP Sunday evening, I drove home with no radio, no phone calls, just drove and thought about the day. 48 hours later I’m still in disbelief. I can’t believe we did it!

But as always, there were lessons learned that I need to hammer into myself before the next one.

-Ride every movement in the dressage test. 


The smile when you nail centerline then think, “Wait, which way do I turn?”

Despite the error-on-purpose, I felt like I actually RODE the movements, vs just sat there and reminded myself what came next. Which is something that I’ve always struggled with in dressage. So despite the terrible score, there was something positive to come out of it. 



The look on your face when you can feel Trainer B standing ringside judging you.

My tendency is to freeze when P is going well, when actually, small movements with my aids will be what keeps him consistent and focused. Unless a trailer full of horses is banging down the road 10 feet from us. I guess he gets a pass for that.


30 seconds later. I wish there was a hi-res version of this.

P’s capable of a lot- he has good gaits and he’s more consistent in his balance than ever before. I need to shorten my reins and carry my hands a bit more to relay messages to him faster.


Would be a great picture if we could both keep our mouths shut

He’s come a long way since scooting around in hexagon shapes like a giraffe. And while we have a ton to work on, ahem, right lead canter, it’s the journey, right?


P: “I spy with my little eye…something to spook at. 3..2..1..”



The braids made it through dressage!



First dressage show- February 2015


June 2018



White Numbers

When I last left off, I was leaning towards entering BN at Carolina Horse Park, since we have only completed one BN last December, and then I retired on course earlier this year at Windridge, when P felt off galloping on XC.

Then I did this:



I entered before the closing date, with the reasoning that if I really panicked, it would easier to beg convince the office ladies to move me down a level, rather then asking them to move me UP a level if all was going great.

Logic. I gots it.


I arrived at CHP before everyone else, and headed out to check out the XC course by myself so no one would witness me sobbing if the jumps were too terrifying. The first white I saw belonged to #3, a big cabin, and I thought, “Well, it looks sorta big but I guess it’s doable.” Then when I got past some trees I realized it was a Training jump.

Who even am I?

The Novice #3 next to it looked extremely doable and the BN #3 seemed positively miniscule. So I headed towards the start box and walked the whole thing.

Jump 1 was right in between identical BN and Training jumps. So I just kept my eye on the Training jump to make this one look smaller, and then glanced at this one quickly to snap a picture at the last second. #CourseWalkTips


Then you headed right (straight towards the barns), and then psych! Turn left to jump 2, with the huge open oxer directly behind it. Nothing can go wrong here.


Then up a hill to 3, a small raised log pile. Since I had seen the Training jump next to it, I thought this one was pretty small.


Then head to the field and up a short steep hill (next to banks/ditches) and over this  thing that then lands downhill. P has done only one similar jump before, and the jump was the tiniest of logs, so this would be brand new. Trainer B said to tap him with the crop 5 strides out to keep his attention on me and not the ditch we were passing.


Then a right hand turn to this canoe jump, then 2 strides into water. Another first for P. He’s a champ at the water, but never has he had to jump a jump this close to it. I wasn’t sure how he’d reactXC5

Spoiler alert: no biggie.



He didn’t even peek at the shark in the water!


Then a left turn out of the water and in between 2 enormous jumps to this coop, that landed downhill and made it look like you were heading off into the abyss. Trainer B cautioned this would be a spooky one for P and to sit way back.


Then you go downhill and make a sort of awkward u-turn then have a good straightaway to this one. P has never been a fan of cutouts in XC jumps, so I was told to have a really forward gallop as soon as we came around the turn.


Then continuing up the hill and to this 5 stride. P and I suck at combinations (glaringly obvious statement right there, I know). And the B element is A LOT bigger in real life than it appears in the below picture.


Then head to the right, down a hill, and around to another combination, this time with the B element being uphill. We kept walking it in a 4 1/2, but due to the terrain, it was a 5 stride.


Then up the hill, turn right and down a hill to this log/coop/thing. Yay, more cutouts.


Then a left and up a steep hill to the “fruit stand,” which sounds inviting but was enormous when you got close. I never actually looked at it besides when I squinted through the camera lens.


Then this was the second to last:


And a bending 7 to finish the course.


Then I picked up my packet and got a little panicky. For better or worse, this was really happening.


Competition Day

I got up at 6 AM, and headed across the grounds to get to P, who had been freshly bathed the night before. I found my horse covered neck to back in manure, and I still had to braid (yep, it’s apparently a consistent thing with Trainer B). So I panicked, threw cold water over my horse who hates any sort of bath, then tied him in his stall to braid him for the 3rd time ever in the 4 years I’ve owned him. Sadly, Husband only got pictures from the opposite side, but they looked really good (and discreet- no one could see the bobby pins!) and stayed in securely,  minus the one closest to the saddle that was already thin and then I knocked repeatedly with my reins while tacking up. Oops.


Game face


Husband being a cheeseball


P won the warmup- he was so super fancy, supple, connected…all the good things. Trainer B was impressed, I was thrilled- this was going to be great!

Then we got sent to the spooky ring by the woods with the woodland creatures and the road. And my husband decided a good place to stand would at the edge of the woods (I still love you).




As well as it being our first Novice test in a Novice horse trial, we got another first- a penalty for going off course.

See, what had HAPPENED was…when we hit C to start trotting, P spotted my husband in the woods. I pushed him forward, we trotted, went into the canter, then a huge ass trailer full of horses came flying down the road by A. And P lost it. My only goal was to not exit the arena at that point, so I pulled him down to the trot to quickly regroup, but he dragged me past where we needed to turn and the judge rang the bell.


Fine- I looked back to make sure it was our judge, and she stuck her hand out and waved me over. OMG, no. I finally got P under control and as we headed that way she explained where I went wrong (I already knew), and what the movement was (I already knew). Of course it’s not her fault- she was really nice and was only trying to help- but restarting it and breaking up the test like that pretty much doomed us. The rest of it was tense and choppy.

Disclaimer: I’m SO SORRY for Husband’s language. Perhaps you’ll want to mute it if you’re around small children. He apparently is very passionate about lower level dressage.

I forgot to pick up my dressage test (another first!), so no idea what our individual scores were. We were in either last place or 2nd to last place after dressage. Whatever. I only wanted to finish on a number rather than a letter, and was pretty much just there for cross-country anyway.


We had a few hours until stadium, so I kept myself busy helping the rest of the team and cheering them on. When Trainer B said he’d meet me at warmup at 12:45, that’s when the panic started to set in.


I told Husband repeatedly on the walk to warmup (who was driving next to me on the golf cart blasting “Eye of the Tiger” from his phone. Yes, there were stares.) that I should scratch. I was so incredibly nervous because straight after stadium, we had to go right to XC.

Stadium is what I should’ve been more concerned about. Apparently I forgot how to jump altogether.

The actual round wasn’t much better. While I definitely had a better pace than I usually do (you can hear Trainer B approve of my “aggressive” riding around the 46 second mark), for some reason I cared enough to TURN AROUND after we knocked the pole down at 4, which slowed us in the turn and we had a stop at 5. I mean, seriously? I don’t even remember doing it, but sure enough, it’s on video. We have a hard enough time with combinations, and I made it even harder. Sigh. 12 jumping faults and I think 10 time faults. Lesson learned: look ahead.

But really, while yes, I struggle in SJ for sure, I think most of everything had to do with my trepidation for XC. I couldn’t imagine a scenario where we didn’t have at least one stop- and I had a sleepless night the night before, so I went through many a scenario in my head. Repeatedly. It just didn’t seem possible, no matter how much I lectured myself not to think like that.

Add to that, Trainer B had to get on his own horse after I did SJ, and wouldn’t be able to head to the start box with us to remind me to gallop.


Don’t want to be THAT client, but I was freaking out.

Side story: One thing that I’ve been repeatedly told by Trainer B (poor guy) is to “go faster than you want to.” Because I’ll THINK I’m booking it around and then I see a video and I have to check to see if the slo-mo setting is on. So this past March I ordered another bonnet from my favorite If the Bonnet Fits, even though she had a pretty long turnaround time. When I entered Novice, I asked if it would be ready in time and she expedited it to me and it arrived Thursday night, before I left for CHP. P debuted it at our first Novice- and it totally worked! I caught glimpses of it during XC and kicked on.



Cross Country

So Husband and I head to XC, with me saying AGAIN that I should scratch. Poor guy- his 2nd year in a row spending Father’s Day at a horse show with me in 92 degree weather and I’m obnoxious as hell.

Rather than fumble through warmup, they said they were ready for me so I went straight to the start box.

The volunteer at the start was so nice- when I had a minute to go he said, “What do dressage queens use for birth control?” I had no idea. “Their attitudes.” That cracked me up (sorry, DQs!) and was so nice of him to help ease my anxiety for a few seconds.

Then we were off- sideways. Familiar, if you’ve seen the helmet cam from Full Gallop. But Trainer B and I had walked the exact line we needed to take to jump 1 (since it was off-center) and we were definitely not on it, so I smacked him. He took sort of a leap over it, but we had successfully cleared 1/1 Novice XC jumps!

We had a little fight about turning left away from the barns, but he hopped over it and then zoomed off.

Besides a peek at jump 4 (unsurprising), a fumble on my part through the first combination, and slight spook at the people and carts behind 12 (the enormous “fruit stand”), he was a rockstar. See for yourself:

Husband was kind enough to trek across the field to video the last 4 jumps.

I didn’t wear a watch, but knew we had gone really fast. So when Husband was heading back towards me after finishing, he yelled “How was it?” and I yelled back, “CLEAR!” and the woman at the finish line said, “She had SPEEEEEEED FAULTS.” Hey, lady. Trainer B will be thrilled I had speed faults. It meant I actually galloped.


Yep. Galloping: check

I swear those are Novice jumps. I swear when you walk up to them, they take up more than half my height. So why does P make them look sooooo small?


We finished in 9th on 68.40, which is terrible but see the column under XC Jump? See how it says ZERO? That was all I really cared about.

aThe speed fault time was 4:04 so we ended up 10 seconds too fast, and 29 seconds faster than everyone else in our division. There were 51 total Novice competitors and guess what? Still the fastest time. So P’s got some zoomies in him.

I guess what I’m rambling on and on about is…WE DID IT! Novice baby!


Virginia Horse Trials

This is going to be a long one. I know a lot of you split up posts by phases/days, but nah. I got a lot of texts from people who had checked live scores so I’m just putting it all out at once. Maybe take a few days to read this one. Maybe just skim through and look at all the awesome pictures/videos. Enjoy!

To start, I’ve never been to VA Horse Center before, and WOW, it’s such a gorgeous venue. The stalls were huge, aisles were wide, and I loved the mesh stall fronts- made it so easy to hang all the things.


We got up there around 5 PM on Friday, settled all the horses in and headed out to dinner. Halfway through, someone mentioned braiding. Braiding? For Novice? That’s a thing?



Thankfully E, whose horse Trainer B was riding in Novice as well, saved the day and P looked suitably fancy for prancing down centerline.


And fancy he was.



All the heart eyes at this fancy guy.

When I did Novice A back at a schooling show (remember when the judge laid on her horn in our faces?) we scored a 35. This test was significantly better than mine (should go without saying) so I was a bit surprised to see the score of 34.3 pop up. The judge was equally tough on everyone though, as E’s horse, who takes the word “fancy” to an entirely new level and routinely scores in the low 20’s, scored a 31. But P was dinged for his open mouth (an entirely other discussion/post), coming above the bit a couple times to whinny (which he NEVER does ::facepalm::), and she wanted to see P cover more ground in the canter. Which would be ideal, yeah, but because of P’s tendency to get stronger and then strung out in the canter the longer he goes, Trainer B did a great job of keeping him rounder to prevent that from happening.

That score stuck them in a 3-way tie for 11th.


Not sure what P is staring at here, but he just looks so handsome.

Because the weather had showed storms all weekend (which never came to fruition), the schedule got changed up and P’s division ended up doing XC on day 1, instead of the SJ as originally scheduled. So that morning we treked up and down lots of hills to walk XC.

Jump 1 was just a simple log. It actually looks a bit smaller than the BN one to the left of it.


I didn’t see anything intimidating with jump 2, but it apparently caused the most issues on course- B said P looked really hard at it and on his other ride, he almost had a stop at this fence.


Then you went straight down this really steep hill to this table/box thing. It looks much bigger in real life, I promise. Trainer B said it was a bit unfair for the level to have that steep of a hill to this big of a jump. His words, not mine.


Then you made a left hand turn to 4.


Then curved back to the right and uphill to this rolltop. Which was green. Godspeed, Trainer B.


Then back to the left to this 3 stride. P gave a good peek at the B element with all it’s little branches. Then through the water, which I could say with great confidence that P would be fine at. And I was right.


Then up this massive hill with a fairly sharp left turn to 8, a coop.


Then down the hill to 9, which was a ditch/wall. Trainer B said he didn’t notice it had a ditch in front until he was galloping at it on his first ride of the day (P). But he said P didn’t give any indication that he noticed the ditch, or cared. So win!


Then 10- which landed slightly downhill and from the backside just looked massive. Remind me when it’s my turn not to turn around and look at jumps from the back.


Then 11 AB was a feeder with a 4 or 5 stride bending line to a corner. P has jumped a corner built out of rails before, but never seen one on XC. Trainer B said he could’ve cared less.



Not sure why this is so blurry, but it’s all I got 😦

Then around the woods and down the hill to this airy table. Again, not sure why it looks so small in the picture. I assure you, it wasn’t.


And then a right hand turn to the coffin ditch. Trainer B said he was really glad he jumped P over the ditch at his place 2 days prior.


And then 9 strides to this hanging log with brush.


Then curve around, up another hill and over the logpile.


Then a looong gallop straight uphill to this table. This was one of the very few jumps I didn’t really want to look at too hard.


Then over a cabin which again, looks super small until you walk up to it.


And lastly over a bench to be done!


Here’s where life gets a little disappointing.

Before I left, I plugged my Cambox in and deleted all the files off of it. Trainer B rode XC with it on his helmet, but when he got off, said it might not have worked because it beeped a few times and went dark. When I got home, somehow it had turned on in it’s case and used up all the memory because I could hear my kids’ voices. So bummed.

We headed up to warmup and P looked pretty good, so I headed down to get a good spot on course for videos. After I had left, I was told that P was galloping around and suddenly stopped and ducked to the left, nearly sending Trainer B flying. It’s a move I know well, as my face and P’s right shoulder are by now intimately acquainted. But usually there’s a reason, and this time there were no other horses nearby, he wasn’t anywhere near a jump, and nothing anyone saw could be the reason. Gotta love P, right?

Trainer B asked me how competitive I wanted P to be- did I care about the time or no? I said no, only thing I was hoping for was no refusals. So he didn’t wear a watch, and said he regretted it later; that halfway through the course he thought he was going way too fast. And yeah, out of the 25 horses in the field, only 2 were a couple seconds faster than P. Goodness.

The video starts with jump 3.


Making easy work of the jump on course that I deemed most scary

That clear run bumped them up to 8th, 5 points out of first.


The next day P seemed a bit off. Not lame or anything, but just a lot of standing at the back of his stall, not eating much hay (though enthusiastic as ever for his grain), and not really being very sociable. Since he’s turned out practically 24/7 at home, at shows I usually get him out every few hours, but this time I really couldn’t- Trainer B was riding 4 horses in 3 different divisions and both days were extremely busy. I just hoped that P would pull it together and have a good attitude for SJ Sunday afternoon, as they had moved his division into the coliseum and P has never stepped foot in an indoor, let alone one like that.

Luckily, the warmup was all clear by the time Trainer B got on P, as P was the last horse to go in his division. Trainer B had just won the division on E’s horse (yay!) so at least I knew HE’D be in a good mood, and hopefully that would transfer over to P.

Then Trainer B pointed P towards the first warmup jump, got him in all sorts of wrong and P clobbered the top rail. Uhhh, Trainer B doesn’t miss.


He would later explain the reason, which is actually quite genius. Because P can’t always be counted on to jump the jump, Trainer B wanted to start off by seeing which P came out to play that day. So while he didn’t exactly set him up wrong on purpose, he didn’t help him out with the distance either, and then he just sat there to see what he would do. I can only assume he was trying to ride like me. But P passed the test by jumping anyway, so Trainer B so kindly helped him out the rest of the warmup.



Then it was his turn. P definitely gave the hairy eyeball to the chute into the coliseum and was a little hesitant to go in for a second or two.

Now let’s just gush about this round. The flag jump in the far corner was definitely the problem fence for all the divisions and while P took it a bit long (unsurprising), everything else was pretty much perfect.


Blurry, but let’s all just take a second to admire those knees.

So THIS clear round put them up into 6th place, only 3.3 points out of first.


And earned P an enormous green ribbon!


Funny story- not one of the 3 beings in this picture actually wanted to take a picture. We’re all pretty good at faking it, right?





I’m a little sad not to be riding, as I love competing and it seems like it’s been forever. But then the experience portion got filled out and, well, I think P’s in capable hands. Cough cough.


Opposite ends of the spectrum 

Because of course, the most important thing is to give P a good experience. Besides a handful of schoolings, most of our XC experience has come from horse trials, equating to 5 minutes every few months or so- not a lot of education there. Currently P & I both go around cross-country alternating between “Cross country is so fun!” to “WTF is THAT?” It’s just been luck that we haven’t had the same WTF reaction to the same fences, and I don’t want to rely on luck. I want education.


Like our stadium education- which is getting pretty solid

And as much as I love competing, I’m a little excited to just play owner for the first time. My friend is one of the photographers, and will be there, and Trainer B is also riding another clients’ horse, so they’ll be there and they’re super cool people. And if Michele can stop by on her way to TN, that would just be ahhhhh-mazing (no pressure, Michele. J/K there’s SO much pressure.).

Come ON May 24th, I’m ready to go!

Oh wait. I need my trailer finished first.


Sport of Horses Dressage Show

I’ve been working on this post for FIVE DAYS NOW. Thanks, work. Better late than never though, right?


What being in non-profit feels like (especially during grant season)

Saturday morning came way too fast. My ride times didn’t start until 2:13, but BO was going at 10 so we had to leave the barn by 7:15. SO EARLY.

We got to the venue at 9 AM, unloaded, and checked in. And that’s when it started.

P is a solid citizen at shows. In a stall or at the trailer, just give him hay and he’s good to go. But we’re always alone…this time we had with us none other than the object of his intense bromance, Sandero.

I only have one tie ring on each side of my trailer so Sandero had to go on the opposite side. And P lost his ever loving mind.


Creeping on Sandero through the trailer windows. That was all grass when we arrived.


Now it’s a mixture of poop (5+ times) and pee (2+ times) stirred up via much pawing and stomping. Pretty sure we’ll never be allowed back.

But it had to happen sometime, since I would like to continue showing with friends. So while my horse flailed around like a crazed maniac loose from the looney bin, BO poured me a healthy sized glass of wine, no matter that it was 10:30 AM. BO is a great show partner.


Then the super nice show management team took pity on me and cut the judge’s break short so I could get my 1st ride in two hours early. And then weaved me in a few rides later. It was my first time riding in front of an “S” judge, and I was pre-warned that she was a seriously tough cookie. Only one rider out of over 25 had scored in the 60’s with a 62%. No pressure.


Despite P’s intense psychotic-ness at the trailer and the beginning of our warmup, he settled down for the most part after a few minutes in warmup. Since I was the first to go after the break, the venue’s owner told me when I rode by the judge to let her know I was going out of order and was doing Novice A. So I head over there on P…both car windows are up, with both the judge and the scribe just staring at me. I halted for a second, unsure of what to do, and the judge BLEW HER HORN IN OUR FACES. Like, we were literally less than 2 ft in front of her. And it wasn’t a polite little honk, either. Thankfully P just stood there and didn’t even flinch. But she had no way of knowing how he’d react, so I thought that was incredibly rude. But I turned around and we headed down CL. If she didn’t have the right test, probably all the better anyway.


I guess he’s sorta bombproof.

Surprisingly, we actually put in a decent test, save for the right lead canter circle in the first test where I panicked as we got super close to B and he was kinda like, “Naaahh.” And then another panicky moment at the end of the circle when we were fast approaching F and P was all “FREEEEDOMMMM” instead of coming down to the trot. But it was our first time doing Novice A, which was a nice break from the BN tests, and I was just happy he was as rideable as he was (re: no longer the lunatic he had been shortly before).

I finally took the time to add in the scores/comments for each movement. That took forever so you’re welcome for the effort.

Final score: 35 (or 65%)

Then we waited for a few more riders to go, and they let me go again. My original plan, and the reason for doing Novice A twice, was to ride, get my scoresheet and see the comments, then do it again while trying to fix the issues from the original test. It was a great plan, but since they were fitting me in before my ride times, it didn’t happen like that.


P wasn’t thrilled to be going back in- I could practically feel the disdain radiating off of him when I started the customary circle around the dressage arena. This time he gave me some issues in both canters, his free walk was non-existent (seriously…aimed him across the diagonal at K and felt him immediately suck back), but that halt…woot! It exists! I’ve been trying to unlock that baby for awhile.

Final score: 37 (or 63%)

I’m glad I went- it was low cost and a relaxed atmosphere, and the venue management was incredibly friendly. While better scores would’ve been nicer, I didn’t go for the scores, but solely to make it through a test while feeling I somewhat RODE my horse instead of sat there only thinking about the next movement. I left feeling like I did that somewhat in the first test…then the second test I had a brain freeze at the 2nd trot circle and never got fully out of my head after that.

All that means is more practice is needed. I would love to be able to get to some with Trainer J to really maximize our warmup and have her be able to see us in competition, because in lessons I’m much more relaxed and it shows in P. After going to that show with Trainer B last year, I’ve seen the light and how helpful it is to have a trainer with you. Not that I won’t go without one #adultammyproblems but I’m making it a goal to make it to at least one with Trainer J.

And here are some cherry picked screen shots in case you don’t want to watch paint dry, aka, a lower-level dressage test.



My plans for world domination, aka, Windridge BN, were slightly foiled when Trainer B had to cancel his trip up here thanks to being shortstaffed. But no worries, we still somewhat remember how to jump (that statement may be slightly iffy) and at least we were kicking ass in our dressage lessons with Trainer J. And since she was coming to the farm Saturday before we left, we were going to run through our test and really be prepared.

Then the windstorm from hell was unleashed on us and P was like, “Horses are running! Dogs are barking! People are fixing fences! Things that happen every day are happening right now in the WIND!”

We had some nice moments:



And some moves Trainer J has never seen (because P is usually trying to impress her).



Then literally 5 seconds later:


So then we headed down CL to run through the test. Sort of.


So majestic


Aaaannnddd…not on CL anymore

I just kept riding like nothing was wrong until we got to the first canter:


I said he was being an ass, but Trainer J noted that he was only exploding like that when we were going to the left and I was asking him for more engagement in his hind end. When we were just trotting around, he was fine, when I would ask for more bend, he’d get to a point where he couldn’t take it anymore. It had been super windy for a couple days now, and the horses had been running like idiots, plus he’s turned out 24/7 so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he had tweaked something and was a little sore.

I figured I’d still head up to Windridge as planned and take it one step at a time. If at any point he seemed off, we’d scratch and go home. So off we went.

Even though P hasn’t been anywhere since December, he settled in like a champ as always. He ALWAYS does this with his water in a new stall.

And off I went to walk XC. And. It was BIG. By jump 3, Bette’s words had come rushing back to me that Windridge was beefy at any level. And they certainly make use of their extreme terrain. It was intimidating at the starter level, so by the time I got to the end I was wondering why I had thought this would be a good way to kick off 2018. Though I WILL say that on my coursewalk I saw some of the starter level jumps that previously looked unmanageable just a few short months ago and thought, “Awww, how cute those lil things are.” So I just kept reminding myself that 4″ more is NOT that big of a deal.

Right out of the start box, you got to jump 1. Small but wide (to me because I have a complex about the width of jumps).


Then you went up a steep hill and got to this cutie:


Then down the hill to the Aiken Rail.



And then down another hill, then up to the rolltop:


Then a right turn and up a super steep hill. Like, I was huffing and puffing walking up it. And at the very top, before it leveled out, was a ramp. Omg HOW could he jump a WIDE ramp going UP a hill? The terrain made this a boogey fence for me.


Then as soon as you passed that tree just on the landing, you had to make a sharp left, then right to get straight to 6. 6….I have no idea what it was about that fence, but it was terrifying. I couldn’t convey it’s terrifyingness in pictures, though. In pictures, no matter the angle, it looks like a harmless little box thing. IRL it was a death trap.


Then you made a right and went down a SUPER steep gravelly hill, that I planned to trot at least, possibly walk. Then back up the hill and around to a cabin P has jumped before:



October 2017 PC: Bette

To a faux ditch:



October 2017 PC: Bette

Then you had to swing to the right, and up ANOTHER hill to the hanging log. P has jumped this one (the opposite way) so I didn’t think he’d have any issues with this either.



October 2017 PC: Bette

Then down through the water (or squeak between the edge and the flag). No concerns here, as P is excellent through water.




Hang a sharp right and over the step thing shared with Novice (N went the other way). We jumped the mini version of it for starter.



June 2017 PC: Bette

Then down the hill, to the left and over this boxy log on sticks:


Then make an immediate right and up the bank. The bank was at the top of another steep hill with no leveling out. Last time P went up this particular bank, he caught himself and knocked his boots down. Since we haven’t exactly practiced it since, I was envisioning having to readjust mid-course.



October 2017: Down wasn’t a problem PC: Bette


October 2017: Going up wasn’t as easy. PC: Bette

Then you had to arc out to the left and get to straight to this…object. Again, I couldn’t convey the horribleness of this thing in pictures. P has never seen a jump even remotely similar.


Then straight past the trees and over the steps:


Down the hill (sideways) and over the final table. Normally the table is what would’ve been the scary one for me, but I had so much trepidation over 5, 6 and 14 that I didn’t even give this one a second thought.


The next morning I lunged P like I always do at overnight shows and he came out looking pretty good. He was a little wonky going into the left lead canter the first time, but we were also on hills (seriously, there are no flat areas at Windridge. Even my trailer was tilted.) so I chalked it up to that. A couple hours later, we headed to dressage warmup and he was excellent. Picked up both leads just fine, was fairly calm, and had some nice trot and walk work.The judge liked us well enough and gave us a 30.3. We scored a few 7.5s and 7s, and got dinged for a couple things like the left lead canter she said was hollow and unbalanced, I didn’t make one of circles big enough, and I needed to maintain the connection in the free walk. Got it. That score landed us in 3rd place.

I had a few hours before SJ, so I went and walked XC 3 more times in an attempt to make the jumps look smaller. It worked somewhat, except for 6 and 14. Those still looked ridiculous. Finally it was time to get back on Mr. P for SJ.

About 25 minutes before my stadium time, I headed to warmup on a horse who, thanks to the wind suddenly picking up, was becoming more and more of a fire breathing dragon, and pointed him at what must’ve been a 2′ -2’3″ vertical. Suddenly it was “Bolt, leap, bolt.” Super fun. We did that a few more times until it was clear P was just riling himself up further so I took a walk break. And the volunteer running warmup goes, “They’re ready, you can head up now.”



Now. I’ve learned that the P I have in warmup is not necessarily the P I’ll get in the ring. P is notoriously bad in jump warmup, and I think it’s similar to his unflattering behavior while XC schooling in a group- he doesn’t seem to understand or enjoy the whole “jump one jump then stop” thing. And while that warmup may have inspired some smarter than I to just hop off the horse while you’re still alive, I told myself on the walk up to the arena that the warmup really meant nothing.

But thank goodness I was right.

The horse was a freaking ROCKSTAR. Listened to every half halt, every move up I asked for…I was grinning ear to ear from jump 1 until we crossed the finish flags. Then he bolted after the finish, but who cares? He was amazing.

Then we jigged and spooked all the way down to XC. I’m pretty sure he was just amping himself up for XC at this point because when we had a few minutes and it was clear we weren’t immediately leaving, he stood still and closed his eyes. Spooking for 10 minutes down a hill is HARD, yo.

Then we were off! He immediately went forward (no sideways shenanigans like at Full Gallop) and over jump 1, then tripped repeatedly galloping up the hill to 2. There was like one stride of level ground before takeoff so I felt like I was hauling his face off trying to get his shoulders up. He jumped it, then immediately took off down the hill to 3, again…tripping and swapping behind. I had enough time to wrestle him down to the trot, so we trotted 3 and I kept him at the trot for 4, then let him go for 5 because of the hill. He tripped his way down to 6 and I thought there was no way we were going to clear it. But he did and then I brought him down to the trot down the steep hill, where he tripped a few MORE times, one time almost falling to his knees. So I called it. Stuck my hand up and told the jump judge I was retiring. Something just wasn’t right.


But P didn’t exactly see it my way. He was jigging around and spotting jumps and trying to take off. So I finally dismounted my flying kite and led the unhappy camper off the course, feeling sad myself. And wondering if I had been imagining things and he was really just fine. But no. Looking back on the helmet cam footage, there were some close calls with the ground. Unfortunately when I edited it to make it IG friendly (under 1 minute), I saved the whole thing, thus deleting the full videos. Sigh.

Honestly though, I’m thrilled with us. No, we didn’t get to finish the course and take home a ribbon, but P jumped everything I pointed him at, including 2 out of 3 of the fences I was most hesitant about. With how he was jumping yesterday, I don’t doubt that he would’ve jumped everything on course. 2nd time at BN ever, first outing in 3 months, and he was awesome. So I call that a win. Now if I had finished the course and P had come up lame, I wouldn’t forgive myself. Better safe than sorry. Always a next time.


And he seems just fine. He got home, had some bute mixed in his dinner and was trotting and cantering around his pasture like normal. He’ll get today off and tomorrow we’ll do some hacking out. Love me some P 🙂