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ME Morgan Benefit Show - August 10, 2019

I had not been planning to bring Ellie to this show, but an email had gone out to members a few days prior that entries were a bit low.  So in order to support the club, we headed out to Pineland Farm the morning of August 10, for what promised to be a gorgeous summer day!  All photos that I am in were purchased from the show photographer!
I always think these types of shows are going to be fine, but at the end of every single one of them, I always remember why I should stick with dressage and eventing haha.  That is not to say there is anything wrong with open shows or the club that runs them; this is just not the type of showing we do well at because she's not a "show horse".
The show was held at a gorgeous facility that boasts both large indoor and outdoor arenas.  They chose to have the show indoors with warm-up outside, which is fine, but Ellie was not a fan of the indoor.  One corner was open to the large and echo-y storage area where they had set up the secretary…

Course Brook Farm Horse Trials - July 28, 2019

After a successful first-ever horse trial with Ellie in the spring, I decided to try a new-to-me venue for our July horse trial.  I also felt we were definitely ready to move up a level, from Introductory 18" to Elementary 2'.  Honestly, could we jump higher and do a more difficult dressage test?  Yes.  But I am a firm believer in setting my horse up for success by not over facing her, and knowing this would be a true cross country course through the woods, I didn't want anything to seem hard or scary to her.  I wanted us both to feel confident by having a positive experience.

Ellie and I traveled down to Course Brook Farm in Massachusetts on July 28, and while it was a long trip there, Ellie unloaded and settled in easily. Traffic had been heavier than I anticipated, so while we were not running late, I definitely had no extra time once we arrived. I did not realize this venue was actually A LOT bigger than I imagined, with 160 (!!!!) horses competing that day.  Ellie had every right to lose her marbles, but she actually was amazingly perfect.  I was shocked and pleased lol!

I wasted no time in signing in, getting my bearings, and set about getting Ellie and I ready for our dressage test.  She definitely was bug-eyed walking down to the warm-up, as we passed tons of trailers and the showjumping warm-up and ring.  But she took it all in stride, and soon we were fighting for space in the small dressage warm-up.  It was hot and dusty and there were sooooo many horses trying to warm up in a small space.  There were instructors, parents, spectators, volunteers everywhere.  Ellie was more obedient than she has ever been in her entire life hahaha. I honestly think she was overwhelmed enough to completely listen to me (instead of having her own Big Opinions that may be in competition with mine haha) but not overwhelmed enough to shut down or meltdown.

Not only was the warm-up super busy, but the way two (of three) dressage rings were set up was quite tight.  Both the entrances were close together and you couldn't get around the long side by H-E-K.  The judges were sitting in vehicles and there were horses and people hanging out in the corner of my ring right between C and H.  Like I could have reached out and pet a horse on my way by hahaha.

my silly diagram - those little brown hourglass things are horses and the blue stars are the judges
the rest should be self-explanatory
But Ellie was so focused that she just went in and knocked out a great test.  I honestly couldn't believe it.  I was super happy with how it all went, and while I thought it was a good test at the moment, I never imagined we would end up scoring a 27.3!  I didn't look at scores until the entire thing was over, so I did not realize how well it went until the end.  That was probably a good thing because otherwise, I may have psyched myself out. 

it was a good test for sure!
No media, because I went alone and never asked anyone to take a video/photos, as I figured there would be a pro photog there.  Sadly, there wasn't.  :-(

There was plenty of time after dressage to walk both showjumping and XC courses.  The event was set up so that we did SJ in our XC gear and went straight over to XC afterward.  The XC course was really great for only being 2', as it wasn't a watered-down version with just a few jumps in a field.  It was truly through the woods, on trails, out in a large field, and back around to end near where you started.  I appreciate that as someone who wants to move up the levels with this horse, as it was a true course where we could canter along between fences, had to go in and out of the shade, and there were hills to canter up and trot down.  Everything I saw during the course walk looked doable and inviting to me, which felt exciting!

I made the choice the week before the event to pay one of the Pony Club instructors who would be there with a student to coach me.  I have shown alone and without an instructor for so long, it felt weird to have someone coaching me in warm-up haha. But it was so nice to have her there to walk the courses with me and help me develop a plan of how to ride each jump.  It took a lot of my nervousness away and bolstered my confidence in my own ability, as everything she recommended made sense to me and was in line with my own thinking. 

I walked over to SJ, thinking I would be on time for the scheduled fence change/break in order to walk the course, and saw they were running behind.  Uggg.  I opted to stay and watch a few rounds to at least start getting an idea of the course.  It looked as though it flowed really well, with the only sticky spot being on the opposite long side where the upper-level XC track ran right along the SJ fence.  Even if there wasn't a horse galloping down the side, there was a solid XC fence nestled right against the showjumping ring's fence.  We would have to jump a fence off a turn on the long side, so this was the only place I saw that maybe would be an issue.  Once the course was open for walking, it seemed quite doable and well within our wheelhouse.

So, with that, it was time to tack up and JUMP ALL THE THINGS!

bad screenshot haha


Honestly, I rode the SJ course quite conservatively, trotting when I felt like we needed to slow down and focus (or because she landed on the incorrect lead).  But I am so happy with how well she listened and though we had a few weird chips, it is a course I am pleased with at this stage!

We didn't have much time before we had to head over to XC, but once we arrived, I found out they were running behind.  I choose to delay the start to my warm-up, just walking her around at first.  There were logs and coops in the XC warm-up, which I like, as it gets the horse ready for XC more so than little airy jumps with poles haha. 

I popped her over a few fences and we were almost ready to head out.  But then I heard the two XC start officials' radio; a rider had fallen on course.  Ooof.

In the end, they had to call an ambulance, so XC was delayed even further.  I am unsure why they had to call an ambulance, but the rider and horse were both ok.  I chose to go back to the trailer and grab a snack and drink since we had sooooo much time to wait.  Let's just say that I ended up home nearly three hours later than I had anticipated. 

Once things were finally back on track, I got reorganized, remounted, and got back down to warm-up. I hopped her over a jump again and we were ready!  XC was not timed, which is such a nice feature of low-level schooling events.  Our course was SO FREAKING GOOD.  Ellie listened and felt super brave.  We were totally in sync and had I seriously think she had as much fun as I did!  

I bustled around to get Ellie cooled out and pack everything back up.  It was getting late, after 6pm at this point, so I loaded her up and moved my rig up to the front of the field we parked in.  I parked at dirt road we had to take to get out the driveway and hopped out to run over to the secretary's booth to gather my dressage test and maybe a ribbon.  I really hoped we had done well.

To my utter amazement, this is what was waiting for me on the wall of the booth.

HOLY. SHIT.

I actually squealed when I saw this lol
I was sooooo ridiculously happy and proud!  What a day!  To have so much fun AND win our division???  I thanked the secretary profusely and jogged back up to my truck, texting the PC instructor the good news.  She had left just a few moments beforehand.


This was a huge boost of confidence for us!  I feel like we have really made a lot of good progress through the summer and this was such a positive experience.  Not everything is always perfect, of course, but I have been incredibly lucky with this little mare this year.  Stay tuned, because we have done another HT since then....!!


had to screenshot it on evententries.com of course lol

Comments

  1. This is so great! She is so cute and appears to be so capable of everything you ask her!!!

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  2. Yay!! Congrats on an awesome outing :)

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  3. Wow - that is great!! Sounds like you and Ellie are really in sync as team. What a great little mare you have!

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  4. Congratulations!! You are doing such a beautiful job with Ellie. Really enjoying watching you two develop as a partnership. :D

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  5. Sorry if you get multiple copies of this comment, but I keep getting weird error messages. Anyway, congrats on the HT. It sounds like a really fun event!

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  6. So exciting! She's turned into such an awesome, game horse for you!

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  7. i may have squealed out loud reading this YAY YAY YAY. this is how our schooling events up north in PA were run. Stadium then right to XC I love it to get it all over with. WOW you guys are amazing!! CONGRATS!! I am so proud!

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  8. OMG! Huge congratulations! You ARE a lovely pair.

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  9. Ellie and you have become quite the professional pair! Your hard work is definitely paying off. Great job!

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