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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

NEDA Spring - May 15, 2010

CHECK BACK FOR PICS! Waiting for the professional ones..... :)

Dreamy and I rode at NEDA Spring again this year. NEDA stands for New England Dressage Association, which is one of the largest and oldest GMOs in the country. Last year, read about it here, I was so very scared, as it was our very first EVER USDF recognized dressage show. Add that to the fact that we had to drive through Boston and we still had to use the junky old work truck.....yeah it was a nerve racking experience!

This year I was not nearly as nervous. Sadly, my bestest horse buddies do not show dressage, so I had to go alone. :( And none of the folks who originally said they could come along as support could make it. Of course! :) So I bravely left the farm at 7AM, by myself with Ms. Dreamy. I apparently have nerves of steel, as I had to navigate the Tobin Bridge and the tunnels of Boston on my own. Truthfully, I like driving my rig and the only thing that scares me are the other idiots on the road. And in Boston, they have NO idea about horse trailers and distances and stopping times, so it was interesting for sure!

Going down there was a lot of traffic but it flowed right through the city with no issue. NEDA Spring is held at the Marshfield Fairgrounds and there is really no good way to get there without going on 93 through Boston. Coming home it was a little more backed up, but luckily we never went below 10 mph, never got stopped in traffic, and the tunnels were not as bad as they could have been. :)

I arrived with plenty of time to warm up, or so I thought! I got up to the warm up ring for Training 2 with about 30 minutes until my test. It was pretty warm, Dreamy had been on the trailer for three hours, and I knew she would only need about 20-25 minutes to warm up. I never like to get her too tired before her test.

Of course, they were running ahead of time AND the rider right before me was eliminated. I wanted to wait until my actual ride time, which you are allowed to do in dressage, but then the ring steward reminded me I was the last rider in Training 2. UGGG.....I really did not need a judge waiting there for me, getting annoyed. I still had 12 minutes before my time, but I figured I might as well just get it over with. :( I knew we were not as warmed up and ready as we could be. I was also hot and knew I might as well just ride. Suck it up, baby!

The test was not that bad, but I knew we were not as through and bending as well as we could have been if I could have warmed up maybe for that extra 10 minutes I lost. Oh well. Our judge was Susanne Handler, R judge, and she scored us a 61.071%. For our first dressage show of the year, I was pretty impressed! The test is mostly 6s and 7s, with 5s on our canters and an 8 on our free walk. We did get a 6 on our left lead canter depart and NO FOURS! Nothing was less than a 5 and that was just the canter circles. Pretty decent. The only comment I received was that my horse was strung out in the canter. We placed fifth in the class, as they split juniors and seniors. Sadly, they combined open and adult amateurs....oh well.

We finished Training 2 before my actual ride time of 11:27 AM....LOL! We went back to the trailer, I got her all untacked and cooled out, picked everything up, changed out of my riding clothes, and then just chilled for a while. It was not even noon time and my Training 4 test was at 2:08. I planned to start getting ready at 1PM. I ate lunch and then took Dreamy for a walk.

Thankfully, although it was mostly sunny, there was a nice breeze all day. We headed back up to the warm up at a little past 1PM. I wanted to get her really steady in the bridle and using her back. I did a long slow warm up which seemed to help. We were scheduled to ride in the "Ann Villani" ring, which is the "FEI" ring at NEDA Spring. They have four rings running at once, which is pretty cool. I was excited to get to ride in the "big kids" ring...LOL!

Dreamy was totally on the aids and ready to go when we entered for Training 4. I knew we would do well, maybe not break 60%, but be close. She was sooooo good! There were a few bobbles, with the canter not quite as smooth as Training 2 test, but oh well. We did the best we could have done for that day.

I was super surprised to see my scores.....the test said 60%!!!!!!! But then I realized I had TWO tests for Training 4. Hmmm.....I asked someone at the score table about it. OH the big FEI ring, there are TWO judges! LOL! One at C, like usual, and then one at E. The guy at the scoring table asked me what I thought that judge was doing at E. I told him I never noticed her...and that it probably was a good thing! I did not think they ever used two judges at Training level, but he said that because it was a qualifying test, they did. Okie dokie! LOL!

So, while the judge at E Lois Yukins, FEI "I" judge, did score us 60%, the judge at C, Gabriel Armando, also an FEI "I" judge, scored us with a 58.400%. So the averaged score for our Training 4 ride was 59.200%. I was bummed to not actually break 60% on the final score, but I was happy to see that 60% from judge Yukins!!! I wish she had been the only judge, and then the ride would have counted for qualifying! CRAP! :( Oh least I know we can do it! We surprisingly did end up with a fourth place ribbon!!!

I was impressed to get good marks and comments from two FEI "I" level judges. We scored all 7s and 6s again, with more 5s on the canter in the Armando test. Yukins gave us more 6s. I was happy to get two more 8s on our free walk! And the stretchy trot circle, that I have been working SO HARD on......we got two 6s! Last year I got 4s and 5s....LOL! So hard work pays off!

Armando wrote that Dreamy was very obedient (with an exclamation point!) but needs to show a better connection over top line into the contact. Yukins wrote "I am quite impressed with your patient and correct aids and contact. Your horse is lovely and needs better balance in the canter." NICE! They both judged us very fair and were right on in their comments.

Overall, NEDA Spring was a great experience. It is a well run show that I like to attend. I am proud to have braved the long trailer ride by myself. Dreamy was a champ and showed me we really are progressing in our training, even if they are VERY TINY baby steps. I never said I was anything but an adult amateur! LOL! I wish I could have also shown on Sunday, but for one thing the stalls have no ventilation (they are permanent wooden stalls with no windows) so Dreamy would NOT be able to breathe. She only does OK in show stalls with the bars so there is lots of ventilation. Plus, the beginning of May is a busy time in my life, both for my family and my job, so going away for two days just cannot happen. I am thankful I was able to go on Saturday horse is sound, I am healthy, I could afford to do a show like this....the list goes on. Going for one day is better than not being able to do it at all! LOL! And even better, my husband has been fantastic. He had to handle not only a t-ball game for our son that day without me, but also t-ball photos! LOL! ;-) It is not easy keeping a 6 year old's t-ball uniform clean for more than two seconds!!!!

Go Dreamy mare! :)


  1. Wow congratulations on your show! It's a bummer that you didn't qualify though =/ But it sounds like you're making progress with Dreamy!

  2. Yippeeeee! Good job, both of you!

  3. Well done!!! Great job to both you and Dreamy! Ms. Yukins is very nice lady...she judged our Dressage Prix de Ville this year and I drove her back and forth from the Equestrian Center and got a chance to really sit and talk with her...she definitely knows her stuff so congrats on getting a 60% from her!! Can't wait to see the pictures!


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