Monday, July 26, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: Epona Shed Flower Curry

I love this thing!  I am usually a traditionalist and have used a black rubber curry forever.  But last summer when I was purchasing new brushes for Reva's arrival, I decided to try one.  I had admired it for a while, since it is SO cute, but I figured nothing could work like my big-as-my-hand rubber currycomb.

I was WRONG!  I loved it so much that I decided to buy one for each of my other two mares.  I still have my rubber currycombs and rubber grooming gloves, especially for legs and faces.  The Epona Flower Curry is really just for the larger areas of the horse, over the muscles of the neck, barrel, and hindquarters.


They sell for about $5, which is pretty reasonable I think.  They are great for smaller hands like mine.  I love the colors, they clean easily, and don't seem to loose their "shed-ability".


This is a definite must-have for every grooming kit!  :D

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marshaling at Bangor Raceway - July 24, 2010

To me, there are few horse activities that can compare to jumping cross-country and flying around in a roadster class.  But marshaling at the racetrack is pretty close! 
Yesterday, three of us members of the Standardbred Performance Society traveled to Bangor Raceway here in Maine to marshal the 13 races.  It was the last day of racing at Bangor because  the fair race season begins next week.  We had an excellent time!  :)  I rode Dreamy, my friend Shelly rode her gelding McKeever, and Jessie rode Bruizer.

Bangor is quite a haul for me.  First I left my farm at 8:15AM and drive to my friend Shelly's farm, which is an hour away.  Then we loaded Dreamy into Shelly's trailer with her gelding McKeever.  We trucked them up to Bangor, which is about two hours north.  When we arrived, it was heavily misting, which is NOT good weather in which to spend four hours in the saddle!  :(  Thankfully it stopped about the time we decided to get the horses tacked up.  I much rather marshal in overcast weather than sunny weather any day, and that is exactly what we got.

Dreamy and I have now marshaled races nine times since 2006.  This was our first time at Bangor, as we usually marshal down at Scarborough Downs and at the local trotting park here in my hometown.  Dreamy has always gotten "hot" at the track; while she has never been rude or dangerous, she would get VERY excited.  Basically she would grow about a hand, sweat profusely, and lose her halt.  LOL!  Despite her excitement, she was always obedient.   And in the last few times we have marshaled, she has been a cool customer.  No problems.  But still I had NO idea how she might be at Bangor...not only had she never raced there as a youngster, but she had never been there period!

I should have more faith in my little mare.  She was PERFECT.  We went out and crossed the track to the infield to warm up.  She was relaxed, reaching down to the bit and happy as a pig in mud.  She watched the horses warming up on the track with interest and got into that happy mode, much like she does when we do roadster under saddle.  She genuinely seemed pleased to be there!

She especially loved how close the people on the apron were.  They were actually leaning over the fence and she liked stopping to visit and see what they might have to good to eat.  I swear every time we trotted by on post parade she had her right eye and ear cocked to see if she might swipe a hot dog or popcorn.
Here we are coming back after the post parade.  Dreamy is on the far left.


 Here we are cantering down!

The funniest part is what people will say to you.  I mean, of course, we get the typical "what breed are they?, can I pet your horse?, how old are they? what are their names?" But sometimes you get the weirdest things...one woman told me my horse had pretty socks on (she was wearing maroon polo wraps on her front legs).  LOL!  Another man at the end told me during the first post parade that he had shaved his legs today.  AAAAAAALLRIGHT!  LOL!  Another man kept calling me "honey", as in "You're bringing me good luck today, honey!"  AHHHHH!  Scary old men!  X-P

Here Dreamy has found a tiny spot of grass near the winner's circle.  She felt very abused for not being able to spend the day grazing in her field!  LOL!

I had a fun day, even though by the end of the races I was tired and my behind hurt!  LOL!  Dreamy, on the other hand, was still happy as ever.  At the end of the thirteenth race, when the track cleared, Shelly and I took our horses out around the track for some fun.  Dreamy and I trotted about halfway around, going as fast as she could without letting her break to the canter.  She does have a wonderfully fun trot, and I love feeling the wind whipping by us as she flies across the track.  Then in the second turn (we went around backwards so as to NOT encourage our ex-racers to actually RACE!) I sat up and asked her to canter.  She was SO much fun!  There is nothing like galloping on a racetrack!  :D  The track photographer took some pics of us and I will post them when I get them. 

We mounted up at 1:15 for a 1:30 post and we were done by 5:15.  WHEW!  I hosed Dreamy off in the paddock and we stopped at Dysart's , a Maine landmark, for dinner and diesel on the ride home.  Dreamy and I pulled in here at 10PM.  I took care of her, took a shower, and was in bed by 10:30.  LOOOOONG day, but SOOOOOO fun!  :D

Here we all are.....back in the paddock to wait for the next race.  Dreamy is on the left, McKeever is in the middle, and Bruizer on the right!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shout Out to VTO Saddlery

I purchased my dressage coat last year through VTO Saddlery.  They are not a company I usually used, but they had the Romfh coat I wanted.  Yes, I admit I wanted a Pikeur, but my budget would not allow for it.  LOL! 

Anyway, at my last dressage show, I noticed the last button on the front of my coat was missing!  Horrors!  Of course, all my safety pins are in my hunt seat garment bag, so I just had to ride the way it was.  I figured most people would not even notice, but it bothered me!

So I emailed VTO Saddlery to see if they might be able to sell me a spare button or two.  Within 10 days of my original email, I had two new buttons from them.....FOR FREE!  I offered to pay, but they just sent them to me!  How awesome is that?  Not only did they get the buttons quickly from their supplier, they did not even charge me. 

THANK YOU VTO SADDLERY!  You now have a VERY happy customer.  I was happy with my purchase before, but now I will be sure to always check their website when I need to order something.  

I love my coat, BTW.  It fits great and it has a neat Teflon shell that does not pick up dirt and wipes off easily.  It is pretty lightweight and breathable, as much as a black coat in the summer can be!  I just took a moment this afternoon to replace the missing button and it looks as good as new.  Oh, and I saw my bronze medal pin on my office shelf and decided it was time to attach it to the lapel.  I can't believe I forgot to do that before today!  LOL! 
Here I am with my coat at Standardbred Nationals in 2009.  The pin on the lapel in the pic is a NEDA pin.....now it has my bronze pin!!!  :)

Please use VTO Saddlery!  They have great customer service!  :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: Horse Shave

I absolutely adore these little purple horse shaver things.  They are so easy to use and are very economical.  In the past, I used the disposable Bic razors on my horses' muzzles, but they never really seemed to work that well.  This thing is perfect.

The only downside is that they are VERY sharp.  You have to be careful you do not cut your horse's muzzle, so slow and steady is best.

I do not shave my horses' muzzles very often.  In fact, Sparky and Reva have full beards.  LOL!  :D  Dreamy only gets shaved just before a horse show where we are doing in-hand classes.  

There are many products I just cannot live without......this is definitely high on the list for showing!  :)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today's Lesson

I took a lesson today with my instructor Judy.  It was a different type of lesson than normal.....I began warming Dreamy up and then Judy offered to ride her for the first time ever.  Then I got on again and finished the hour ride.  It was neat for many reasons.  In the past, I have begged Judy to ride her when I have been having trouble with something, usually the canter.  Judy is great because instead of just getting on my horse and "fixing" her, she really encourages ME to take the lesson that day and learn techniques to fix it myself (not to mention she totally calms me down when I am all stressed).  As she reminds me, I have to be able to work through things on my own at home.  If I had really pushed the issue, I know Judy would have gotten on her.  But every time I had one of these meltdown moments (LOL), Judy would work us through it and I would leave my lesson feeling 100% better and knowing that I can train my horse.  I use the term "instructor" and not trainer, because Judy really is instructing me how to train my own horse.  (And I just think saying "trainer" sounds incredibly snotty.....but that's another post.  LOL)

In my last lesson, I made a comment about Judy getting on Dreamy "next time" so she could feel and understand her better.  I had no idea if she really would, but today she came out with her helmet and offered to get on.  I was super pleased.  Just watching from the ground is valuable (obviously.....or we would not have improved so much since 2008 when I started riding with her!) but having Judy actually feel what my horse is doing was important to me.

It was funny to watch her ride Dreamy since no one else ever rides her.  She rode her well, of course, and it was interesting to see how Dreamy reacted.  She was definitely worried, but never had any of her meltdowns like she used to.  Judy made her work with more contact (read: CORRECT contact.....unlike me who likes to throw away the reins and pray) and instead of fighting it, she really tried hard to do what Judy asked.  Judy did not think she was heavy in the reins as I sometimes feel she is....but what the heck do I know?  LOL!  I think when she actually accepts correct contact, I end up thinking it is too heavy.  And Judy discovered she was not as one-sided as she thought.  

And I got to see Dreamy's fantastic canter transitions!  HOLY BALANCED HORSE!  She looks nothing like she used to, lunging and flinging herself into the canter!  I thought and then said aloud...."Did I really do that???"  Meaning, did I really train her to look that nice!?!?!  LOL!  And indeed, I have!  :D


Big lesson for today?  I ride with my reins totally uneven (left shorter than right), which is what makes Dreamy feel like she is "better to the right".  Judy knew this and told me this, but it finally clicked for me today when I started looking at the braids on the reins at the walk.  I realized that while my right hand was on the "second" braid, my left was on the FOURTH!  Seriously?  I need some of those little kid rainbow reins!  I am actually going to find some colored electrical tape and make marks on my reins.  I can fix this, but I have to THINK about it.


Our canter was much improved, enough so that Judy was grinning.  Instead of only going around half the 20 m. circle before coming back to the trot to regroup and re-balance for another half of the circle canter, we were able to maintain a good 3-beat canter for a full circle.  This is HUGE progress.  We continued to do the tiny trot before and after.  She was balanced and happy, maintaining the trot (and I was able to sit....) coming down from the canter.  I am trying hard not to let her fall into the trot.  I also tried very hard to be "still" in the canter, and not allow my seat to be "too following" and "scoop" the saddle with every stride.  It was much better because I am trying hard to improve, but also my new saddle sits me in a much better position.  When I told Judy it was because of my saddle, she teased me and said it was more than just a new saddle.  True......it is not like a new saddle can suddenly make you a Grand Prix rider!  LOL!!!!!  Sometimes I have to work SO hard to make my body sit and move correctly, but I am getting there!!!


It was a great lesson. I have another exercise to do with shoulder-in and 15 m. circles which we will practice.  We'll get there!  :)


Then I tried to ride Reva when I got home.  Of course, it had to RAIN like crazy for the rest of the afternoon/night, so I only got as far as grooming her before the skies opened and the thunder/lightening began.  She has not had much attention for the last 10 days, between shows, the heat, and my strep throat, so I really wanted to ride.  Oh well.  :P

Here we are waiting to see if the rain will stop.  It was POURING but my iPhone did not really pick it up.  


 Didn't even get to try our new saddle pad!  :(

Aw, big trotter ears!  LOL!


Sparky got a good grooming this evening, too.  Dreamy came in for dinner covered with mud, having had a nice roll when we returned from our lesson, so she got to go to bed dirty.  LOL!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Saddle Fitting Woes Might Be Over.....

Dreamy was seen by the saddle fitter Nancy Shedrick this past April.  Of course, our current dressage saddle, a Duett Fidelio, was just not working for her anymore.  I knew that, but I wanted to see if she could do something with it before I gave up.  The nice thing is that while the Duett no longer fits Dreamy, it does fit Reva quite nicely!  :)

So since April I have been searching for a new saddle.  I knew I only had a limited budget this time around, since I was not going to sell the Duett, which was $1650 new two years ago.  I could not spend that much again unless I was planning to resell the Duett.  

That left me with either buying a new cheaper saddle or a nicer but used saddle.  I opted to go with a used saddle, as none of the "cheaper" saddles I tried really fit her anyway.  :P  And plus I wanted a NICE saddle, not a cardboard one.  If I could afford it, I would have loved to buy a Custom from Nancy, but that was not going to happen unless I decided to not buy hay this year.......LOL yeah right.


So I tried:
  • Dover Circuit
  • County Competitor (I used to have one, my dad bought it for me new 100 years ago, but I sold it!  :( 
  • Collegiate Mentor
  • Klimke
  • Albion Original Comfort
  • Stubben Juventus
None of the first four fit!  The Klimke and the Dover Circuit were so bad on the crossties I never even sat in them.  The Albion and Stubben just came this past week.  Both actually fit her VERY well.  I thought the Stubben fit a little better, but I decided to ride in both.  The Albion was OK.  But not only was it in poorer cosmetic shape than the Stubben, it had a weird cantle and NO knee flaps.  My knee was almost over the edge of the flap too.  I like a good sized knee roll and I need a narrow twist.  The Albion was a bit more wide than I liked.  It rode OK, but not how I wanted to ride for the rest of forever on Dreamy.  LOL!

I LOVED the Stubben.  A Juventus is actually a children's saddle and they come from 14-17".  I, of course, need the 17" seat!  But I am only 5 feet tall so all the dressage saddles "normal" length flaps are wicked long for me.  My boot barely goes over the edge!  But the Juventus has shorter flaps.  It has a nice deep seat, great knee rolls, and a narrow twist, which is exactly how I like my dressage saddles I have figured out.  It rode very well and Dreamy was super happy with it on, so I figured this was it.  I had wanted to try to arrange to get Nancy out here when I had saddles to try, but that never happened, OF COURSE!  I just dread her telling me that the Juventus does not work!  :(

This is what the Juventus looks like....it almost looks like an all purpose in this pic, but it totally rides like a dressage saddle.  It is super comfortable to me.  It does have a small superficial scratch on the cantle, but I am assuming it was a kid's saddle and the kid(s) probably did not take super care of it like I do with saddles.  And it has a funny Havana colored stripe on the front.  At first I kind of hated it, but I think it looks OK now.  Sort of unique.  :)




So I happily sent back the Albion and now have a new Stubben Juventus, 17" seat, 31 cm tree!  Well, new to me.  LOL!  I wrote to Stubben today and asked about the serial number to see what I could find out.  Seems Stubben tracks all their saddles and the US guy, Buddy Baird, is pretty serious about it.  Good old Buddy wrote me back in 18 minutes flat.  LOL!  Here is what he said:

This specific saddle has a unique past.
Born on 06-01-2004..it was in our showroom as a proud addition to our facility until  06-07-2006. Then it was pressed into service by a Tack store in Va. that no longer is in operation.
Enjoy the ride
Buddy Baird
Stübben North America


I love how he said it was "born" and not made.  LOL!  I think Buddy loves his Stubbens!  :D  So my saddle was born in Stans, Switzerland (which Buddy tells me is near Luzern, like that helps.......LOL.  My Switzerland geography is not exactly um....existent!?) and sat in the Troy, Virgina, USA showroom for two years.  So even though my saddle is technically six years old, it has only been used for four years!  I got a great deal!!!!  

I registered it with Stubben today and supposedly I will be sent a care package for it.  LOL!  I have always heard Stubben was a great company.  

So now I am waiting to hear back from my saddle fitter so I can set up an appointment to be sure it is perfect for Dreamy's back.  :)  Gotta take care of my pony!

Isaac Royal Dressage Show - July 10-11, 2010

Dreamy and I did quite well at this past weekend's dressage show at Isaac Royal Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, ME.  The judge was Sara Schmitt who is an "S" judge.  I drove the three hours north on Friday afternoon, got Dreamy settled in, and spent the night at the farm.  Saturday morning was overcast and slightly misty, which was fine with me.  Better than being roasted in the hot sun.  We were riding Training 1 and Training 2 both Saturday and Sunday.  I decided to move from Training 4 to 1 simply because we had already earned our qualifying scores at Training 4.  I just wanted to accumulate a few good solid 60%-plus rides and Training 1 is easier for us than Training 4.


My ride times were early and close together.  Training 1 felt a little tight.  We were riding both tests in the small arena, which we have not done in two years.  But it was an OK test.  I made a few piloting errors and our canter was a bit strung out.  But we scored a 61.304% and a third place out of four riders, which I was happy with.  All were 6s and 7s, with a few 5s on our left canter....while the right canter scored 6s!  AND WE GOT A 7 ON GAITS!!!  WHOOOOO!!!  First time ever!  Her canter is coming so nicely!  :)  The judge wrote at the end...."Willing horse, needs more elastic connection".


Within 20 minutes it was time for our Training 2 test.  I really like this test very much and I have been riding it for two years.  It did feel cramped in the small arena, but I was much more prepared for it this time around.  It felt like a really good test and I was super happy leaving the arena.  We scored a 64.642% and a first place ribbon!  WHOOO!  It was rewarding to look at a test from a rated show and see ALL 6s and 7s!  We again scored another 7 on GAITS (that makes me so happy!) and a 7 on rider.  I seem to be stuck at 6 for rider score, so that was nice.  And two 7s on gaits.......so rewarding!  Usually we get a 4 or 5 with the word CANTER in the margin.  I know she has a great walk and trot, but her canter seems to pull us down.  :(  I personally think a 4 or 5 just because her canter was iffy last year was sort of harsh, but hey whatever.  We have improved SO MUCH this year and each show we pull our scores up even higher.  We started at 60% on Training 2 in May, then 62%, and now a 64.642%!  This is why I like showing, because I can clearly see our progress.  The judge wrote at the end: "Well done!  Work for more stable connection and suppleness."


I was completely done riding just after 9AM.  And my Sunday ride times were not until 3PM.  UGGGG!  The TD is a good friend of mine, as I first met her when I took her "Intro to Equine Studies" class at UNH back in 1997.  I love catching up with her at shows and she gives me great advice with Dreamy.  We chatted and she told me she would be sure that if anyone scratched, she would allow me to ride early......even if it was not a Training level scratch.  That was SUPER nice of her, but I just felt like I needed to go home.  I really did not feel good, but I thought of waiting it out for a few hours just to see about early Sunday scratches.  I took my time getting Dreamy untacked, cooled out, and organized my trailer.
Then it began to rain.


Well, I was out of there by 10:30 AM!  LOL!  


And to be honest, even though I did scratch my Sunday rides and lose that money, I am SO GLAD I went home.  Something just told me to go.  I ended up getting VERY sick on Sunday afternoon, all day Monday, and finally went to the doctors (realizing this was NOT a virus as I tried to tell myself...) and was diagnosed with strep throat.  Oh joy.  Of course, the antibiotics work quickly and I was feeling much better by Tuesday night.  


So anyway, despite the short sickness (feeling totally fine now with just two days left of meds), Isaac Royal was a huge success.  I was super proud of my Dream Girl.  :D  It was also fun because a young friend was there riding a Standardbred gelding (owned by another friend.....) at his second ever dressage show and first ever rated show!  They did well at Introductory level and it is neat to watch them progress!  :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Finally, a lesson!

I was finally able to take a lesson with my awesomely wonderful instructor Judy last week, Thursday, July 8.  YAY!  It was the day before I left for a dressage show, so it was great timing.  It was hot but worth it!  

I love riding lessons for so many reasons.  I love learning new things, getting good immediate feedback on my horse, getting "homework" to work on until my next lesson.....and I love my instructor.  (Are you reading this, Judy?  LOL!)  She lives close to me, she is easy to talk to, she does not make me feel dumb when I don't understand something, she supports me even though I ride a Standardbred, and she knows her stuff!  And she explains things in a way I understand...I guess she matches my learning style!  :)  Seriously, she is the reason Dreamy and I have progressed as far as we have.  Yes, I work my patootie off, but having someone like Judy has been invaluable.

So my PSA for today?  Find an instructor who you adore.  It is fun to have lessons and be a student!  And I usually only take a lesson every other week to help on my pocketbook so I can show too! 


Anyway, I really just wanted Judy to see where we were at, give me some good feedback, and I NEEDED HOMEWORK!  LOL!  I am such a teacher.  :P  The biggies right now are the connection in the canter (I like to let my reins get too long, which makes Miss Dreamy get strung out) and getting Dreamy into the outside rein when we track left.  She has been a bugger about staying in my outside (right) rein to the left, and I know we can do it because she can do it at the walk.  But something weird was happening at the trot.  I was desperately trying as much "inside leg to outside hand" as I could, but I knew I could be doing something better.  

Judy seemed pleased with how Dreamy was going.  I felt proud of our hard work this year.  She had me work on doing turn on the haunches and shoulder-in/shoulder-fore tracking left to really push Dreamy into that outside rein.  She was really resistant to me, which was good at the lesson.  I hate when I am having an issue at home that magically resolves itself at a lesson.  Then I cannot get any help!  :P


Dreamy was actually trying to turn right when I took up real contact with the right rein as we tracked left!  ACK!  I knew I must be doing something wrong as well.  But I started to feel everything change as we tried some shoulder-in work down the long side at the trot, then to the walk, turn on the haunches across the ring, trot shoulder-in, turn on the haunches, etc. until we made a big "box".  It started to help and I was happy to feel that.  I think I have been riding Dreamy too heavily on my left rein to the left, so it is going to take some time.  And Dreamy ALWAYS likes any excuse to not take a completely true connection to the bit, so if she can fudge it she will.  LOL!

At the canter we did an exercise that really worked well........I picked up the working trot rising, got a good balanced rhythm, and then sat on Dreamy and thought about almost walking.  Judy called it a "tiny trot".  As she said, it was not as though the steps of the trot got smaller, but they stayed the same as the working trot; instead I had to sit up, sit deep, and Dreamy had to simply slow down her tempo.  This made for some nice balanced canter departs.  They are usually pretty balanced anyway, but really thinking about a "tiny trot" beforehand made me sit better which of COURSE made my horse move even better.  We cantered about 3/4 of the way around a 25ish meter circle before coming back to that tiny trot.  Having to really sit and use my core muscles was hard, but it felt so much better than just "BLAH" falling into the trot and starting to post.  And this will help Dreamy balance more after the canter.....and of course get even better scores on those transitions!  ;-)

Of course, then we had a weekend dressage show (more on that later!!!!), and Sunday I became horridly sick.  I figured it was a virus, suffered all through Monday, and by this past Tuesday realized I needed to get to the doctors.  I knew it before they told me....I have strep throat!  UGGGGG!  No fun, especially when you are on your summer break!  LOL!   And I majorly crash when I have strep, and while I had it a lot as a kid, it has been MANY years since I have suffered with it.  Usually I get it during the cold/flu season, so WHO KNOWS why I got it in July!?!?  So, Dreamy got a few extra days off this week.  :(  But I did ride her yesterday for a short time (yeah, stupid me, riding with strep throat and only about 7 hours since I started antibiotics) and tonight.  She is going so well.  :)  And doing both the turn on the haunches/shoulder-in and "tiny trot" exercises have begun to show some signs of progress!  :)

I have a NEDA Flextime lesson this week with Jennifer Wilson-Horr of Cedar Hill Farm, which is exciting.  And I have another lesson with Judy for next week.  Now that lessons are back in full swing, I will have lots more training advice and tips, based on what Dreamy and I are doing!  :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Baby Tooth!

This morning after cleaning Reva's stall, I began to push the wheelbarrow out the door when I stepped on something.  Figuring it was a small rock, I bent down to get it....and to my surprise found one of Reva's baby teeth (caps)!  LOL!  So now I have two of her baby teeth...though this one did not cost me $20 like the first.  ;-)  LOL!!!!!

Most horses swallow their caps, but I can totally see Reva eating her hay.....and being like "Whoa, what was THAT?" and proceeded to spit out the offending tooth.  Don't ask me why, but that is just her personality. 


And why in the world do I get so excited about her TEETH?  (I seriously have them both in my office here on the edge of Dreamy's humongous - like could smash someone's skull humongous - 2007 High Point Standardbred horse head bust trophy. HA HA HA HA)  I have no idea why it is so exciting to me.  X-D It is not like the tooth fairy is coming to pay up......good LORD that thing could bring like $20 bucks from the fairy!  tee hee!  Just me being my silly horse girl self.  :D

All the mares are happy and doing well.  I have had some really nice dressage workouts with Dreamy this past week.  We took an hour long trail ride this morning, which was super nice!  Sure was a nice break from yesterday when I went to my hay guy's field to pick up 106 bales of hay.....by myself!  :(  It is not so bad getting it out of the field, it is the stacking it in the barn that SUUUUCKS!  Ah, the things we do for our horses!  :D

Thursday, July 1, 2010

UNH Dressage Show - June 26-27, 2010

I love showing at UNH (University of New Hampshire) for many reasons.  It is not that far from home, it has great trailer parking, and I went to college there!!!  :D  That is the biggest reason I love to show at UNH; as an alumnae I feel like I am riding on my home turf.  A lot of people dislike riding at UNH because of the set-up and the small(er) warm up.  But I just love it.  And Dreamy really likes showing there too.  UNH has two summer USDF/USDF shows each year, as well as three USEA horse trials.

The bad part about UNH is that they do not split classes junior/senior for pinning.  So that meant that last year we totally went home empty handed.  :(  That is fine, since ribbons are not what showing is all about, but c'mon.  I admit that after spending hundreds of dollars to show, it is nice to bring SOMETHING home!  LOL!  So last year I just focused on improving our scores and being happy to place 14th in a class of 20 something riders.

So, this year I was just thinking of my scores.  Let's have four good rides and not worry about everything.  I signed up to ride Training 2 and 4 both Saturday and Sunday.  Thankfully we are close enough (80 minutes) away so that we can ride and go home, not have to stay overnight.


Well, my positive thinking paid off.  We had the BEST show EVER in our USDF rated show history!  :) :) :)


Dreamy was a complete peach.  She was Little Miss Perfect Manners Pony.  I think that has a lot to do with my own mindset (of course!) because I feel so at home at UNH.  And I really have tried to focus on just enjoying her this year and not stressing so much about scores.


We rode a nice Training level test 2 on Saturday morning.  It was a gorgeous summer day, and I really loved being able to show.  I was pretty happy with how our first test went and really felt that we scored well.  We then had FIVE HOURS until our Training 4 test, which was boring!  But again, I just enjoyed being with my horse, played on my iPhone, and rested in the shade.  It was not that bad!  And, as I always seem to do at dressage shows, I met another mom who was showing.  It is neat to meet another working mom trying to show and enjoy dressage on the weekends!  :)


I took a walk over to the scoring table to pick up my test around noontime.   I was speechless to find we had not only scored a solid 60.357%, but we placed SIXTH in a class of fourteen riders!  YAY!!!!!!  


I felt really good about Training 4.  Dreamy warmed up very well.  We put in what I thought was a very well ridden test.  I took my time cooling her out, cleaning up the trailer, and getting everything organized.  I knew that by the time I got home I would not want to fuss around to get things ready to show again tomorrow.  Also, there was still an hour left of my class, so I knew it would be almost 2 hours before the results would be ready.  And there was NO WAY I could go home without picking up my test and seeing my score.  I knew that in order to sleep, I needed to see my score.


I was SO HAPPY to see the 60.800% next to my name!  YAY!  It was a bigger class with nineteen riders, and I was pleased to have placed 11th.  Big deal about the ribbon.....we had FINALLY broken 60% at a USDF show at Training 4!  We had our first qualifying test for an All Breed Award!  YESSSSS!!!!!


After being gone for almost 12 hours, Dreamy and I were happy to be home.  I am sure we both feel asleep easily on Saturday night!  :D


Sunday morning was another early morning, another gorgeous day, and we left again at 6:30 AM.  My rides were much closer together on Sunday, which was nice.  Again, Dreamy warmed up well.  But I think we were both a little tired, and I KNOW I was sort of feeling cocky.  We had a "tough" judge and I knew it was not our best test.  It was also in the grass ring and by Sunday it was very pockmarked so Dreamy tripped a few times at the canter, which really threw off her already tenuous balance.  Yeah, we got fours on that canter circle, which is what hurt our score.  But it was the best we could have done at that moment.  We earned a 57.857% and another sixth place ribbon out of nine riders.  The ribbon was fun, since as I said we had never won anything at UNH in 2009, but still I wish we had broken 60% without the ribbon!  LOL!


We had a 2.5 hour break, and I really tried to mentally prepare for my last test.  I had purposely NOT gone up to get my Training 2 test (so I still did not know my score) because I did not want to get myself all upset over a low(er) score.  It was a VERY good move, because I know seeing that 57.857% would have rattled me.  Instead I gave us both a good pep talk as we headed over for the last Training 4 test.  The sky had darkened a bit, and while I hoped the rain would hold off, it was NICE to not show in the blazing sun.  :)  Showing alone has many benefits, but the one thing I hate is not having someone in the warm up to hold my black dressage jacket for me until I need to wear it in my test!  LOL!


We were in Ring 1, which was were most of the upper level tests were.  We had Dot Demis again as our judge, who scored our first Training 2 test on Sat.  I rode into that ring feeling like I was riding a Grand Prix test; I was confident and ready to nail it.


I knew we had done a very good test at the end.  I could not help but smile.  Maybe it was not great in the entire scheme of dressage, but I KNEW it was the best test we could have done.  And because I was the last rider in my class, as soon as I had cooled my horse out and packed up, the scores were ready.  With 12 riders in my class, I had no plans for a ribbon.  I just really wanted to see that we scored about 60%. 


AND OH MY GOD!  We scored a 62.400% and A FOURTH PLACE RIBBON!  :)  Out of 12 riders!!!!  WHOOOO!  Again, I know that is not a really awesome score in the scheme of life, but for us it was like getting a 70%!  LOL!  That is the BEST score we have ever gotten at a USDF rated show, and it was at TRAINING 4!!  That is a hard test for us!  Seeing the two 8s, multiple 7s, some 6s and only two 5s (left canter) was amazing! 


I literally stood in front of the scoring chart in amazement for a few moments.  I was so shocked I couldn't even cry!  LOL!  But I had a PermaSmile a mile wide.  We did it!!!!!  I then turned around to the table to sign for my test and collect my ribbon, and I completely plowed into a woman standing just behind me.  WHOOPS!  I laughed and said I was sorry, but my score made me forget how to walk!  LOL!  

We got nice comments too...
  • Capable horse
  • Nice team
  • Very capable horse (underlined) This was cool because it was on our last Training 4 test!

And each test said "Needs better connection in canter".


But NO four beat canter!  We got 6s and 7s on GAIT!  :D :D :D


What an awesome feeling to do so well so early in the year.  I am SOOOO proud of my Dream Girl!  She might only be an "old horse with COPD" as someone once viciously said about her, but she is an awesome little horse!  I have worked so hard with her, I take very meticulous care of her, and she is just blossoming for me.  She is doing well in a sport that she is not bred to compete in.  She is always the ONLY Standardbred at the dressage shows we attend.  And if my "old COPD" mare can do it, ANYONE can!  I really hope that my story can help inspire others to try showing their Standardbred or even get a Standardbred to show!  :D


So all in all, what a great show.  What a wonderful milestone for us.  In one weekend, we earned the two qualifying scores at Training 4 that we need for a USDF All-Breed Award.  We are halfway to qualifying completely for an All-Breed Award; we only need two more scores at two more shows.  I have earned my USDF rider award at Training level this year (four 60%-plus scores) and Dreamy only needs a couple more scores to earn HER USDF horse performance certificate at Training level (ten 60%-plus scores).


No matter what anyone says, no matter what anyone wants to think, we have "done good".  It has taken  lots of sweat and tears, but we are having fun and doing well this year!  I know my mare is awesome, and THAT is what matters.  :D