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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 …

Pipestave Hill Summer Horse Trial

Dreamy and I had a great day at the Pipestave Hill Horse Trial on July 7, 2013.  This is a super nice venue with two grass rings and a cross country course that is a good mixture of inviting and challenging.  We competed here for the first time last fall and did well, so I was excited to be able to return.  My friend Tania brought her horse Otis along to try the "Grasshopper" two-phase division.  While it was a long hot day, we both had a wonderful time!

Dreamy and I warmed up easily for our dressage test that morning.  We were in the Beginner Novice senior division and rode BN Test B.  It is a very straightforward test and I was not worried about it.  I thought the test went fairly smooth and I was really pleased with her effort.  We ended up with a 30.5 with lots of nice comments from the judge.  She wrote, Lovely pair with harmony and good connection.  Well relaxed and active gaits.  Needs more activity and uphill balance in canter.  Overall well ridden!  I thought that seemed a very fair estimate of where we are now.  We had four 8s (!!!!!) on our first centerline, free walk, 10 m. half circle, and final centerline.  That made me super happy!  Ten 7s, including a seven on gaits and rider!  The canters were 6s.  But hey, in the past we had 4s and 5s on our canter work, so at least we have shown improvement.  I think we will also be in the 6 range for the canter.

Instead of the condensed format like that last fall, where we jumped stadium and went straight to XC, this year we did them totally separate.  Of course, as I came back from walking the XC course, I had to check the scoreboard.  We were in first after dressage in a field of eight riders!  WHOOO!!!  

We had to go way down to the cross country warm up area, which was a bit of a walk through the woods and fields away from the trailers and dressage/stadium rings.  Dreamy was fine, but seemed to get a little perky when we arrived in the warmup, which was unlike her!  She was sassy in the trot and when I first asked her to canter before we did a few warmup fences, she BUCKED!  It was just a little naughty buck, nothing serious, but I was like OH GOD.  Is she going to be a wild woman on cross country today??  In hindsight as I write this, I wonder if she thought we were about to set off on a foxhunt?  LOL!  There were several other riders (maybe nine?) in the warmup with us.  And of course, a girl fell (both she and the horse were fine!) and we all were held up for a while in the warmup ring; one girl loudly announced, "That doesn't do much for my confidence right now!"  I had to laugh.  I wasn't really nervous, but definitely was a little more keyed up than I normally am.  

Once things were moving again on course, I started Dreamy over the crossrail, vertical, and oxer.  She warmed up fine and seemed to get her head on straight; we walked up to the start box, which was again another hike and we had to cross part of the course.  We got up to the huge field and only had to wait a moment for the girl ahead of us (though her horse did stop at the first fence - oops!)  :-(

As soon as Dreamy locked onto the first fence, we sailed over it and cantered away, I knew this was going to be a good course.  There were fourteen different fences and nothing had scared me on the course walk, which is a good thing!!  LOL!  Dreamy felt like a well oiled XC machine the entire time and did not look at a thing.  There were long stretches of galloping, one low spot of mud that we trotted carefully through, a series of four fences close together, and a bunch of big hills.  It was awesome! 

As we approached fence four, I suddenly saw a horse stopped right in the path!  AHHH! The horse in front of us had decided that he was not leaving the field and going down into the wooded path to fence five.  A show official yelled for me to pass her, and as I pulled Dreamy up to a trot I shouted, "I am going to pass you, OK?"  The rider gratefully agreed and we picked up the canter again.  Dreamy slowed easily and passed the horse without issue, which I was thankful for.  It jolted me out of "the zone" for a second, but I got my head back into the game fairly quickly. 

All too soon, the course was over.  I could not stop smiling!!  Dreamy had been amazing and finally we had our second clear cross country course at BN level!  I truly think all the foxhunting has really helped her gain confidence over fences.  It was a very hot day, so I dismounted quickly once we were out of the way, ran my stirrups up, and loosened her girth.  We walked back to the trailer and I just couldn't stop smiling and petting her neck.  What a good mare!!

I decided to hose her quickly between XC and stadium, because while she easily recovered her breathing, she was drenched in sweat.  It was so hot and humid and as a dark horse she has a hard time in the direct sun.  After a drink of water and lots of pats and treats, I left Dreamy at the trailer to eat hay in the shade while I walked my stadium course.  I had to hurry a little so that I would have time to retack and change for stadium, but the course was fairly straightforward.  Lots of simple turns, one generous bending line, a one stride, and a few changes of rein.  The fences were all inviting and the only one I wondered about was the white barrels used as fillers.  It was just such a bright day and they really stood out.....

Of course, I had no reason to worry.  The barrels were fence #3 and she sailed over it without issue.  I had only jumped the three stadium warmup fences one time each (crossrail, vertical, then the oxer) and off we went.  It was hot out and she was ready to go.  (I will never understand the riders who literally jump 10, 15, 20 times in the warmup.  And there were plenty there that day, just cantering around and around and around and around in the early afternoon scorching sun.......*smh*)  The course went fine and we maintained a decent canter the entire time, with smooth simple changes.  I know I will never have auto changes on this mare, but I really don't care.  She actually offered a simple change through one stride of trot herself before I could even ask at one point on course!  LOL!  She knows....!!!

In the end, we went double clear and finished in first place on our dressage score.  Dreamy was simply awesome and I am super proud of her!  Tania and Otis did an awesome job as well, finishing in first on their dressage score too!  It was quite a successful day!!

There were a few pro pics from stadium (she didn't get any other phases of us):
Fence 1
Fence 3
Fence 3 landing
Fence I don't remember the #, but it was the second fence in a two stride
Final Fence!

(EDITED: And when I expressed interest in purchasing a few prints, the photographer added an entire album of us!  Whoa!  :-)
Modeling her dressage and overall blue ribbons!  Otis is totally photobombing in the background...LOL!
Most ridiculous part of the whole day (besides being so hot in my show clothes that at one point it felt like I wet myself??  LOL)  was after I was totally finished showing and having lunch.  Our trailer was parked near a wooded row on a slight incline and I knowingly (and stupidly) sat on the hill in the shade so that I was facing "up" the hill......yeah, can you see where this is going?  Suddenly, as Tania and I are enjoying our lunches, my director's chair decided to have a rogue moment and tip backwards.  I was like OH NO EFFING WAY AM I FALLING RIGHT NOW and had seriously ninja-like reflexes.  Somehow I sat up and FORCED the chair right back onto its front legs.  LMAO!!!  It happened so quickly and I was so shocked.  Tania and I busted out laughing at how ridiculous I had looked.  

Check out the bruises I had on the back of my leg the next day!!!  LOL!!!!!!  I have NO idea how the chair inflicted so much pain (it hurt!!) or made those bruises!

Yeah, you know, eventing is pretty badass.  And I have a Velcro seat no matter WHAT the creature underneath me decides to do!  HA HA HA!  Apparently I need to start wearing my helmet at all times...  ;-D


  1. Sounds like you had a great outing! How brave of you to compete in the heat. :) I've skipped so many shows this summer because I melt at the *thought* of wearing my show clothes in the 90's! Lol. Looking forward to the cooler foxhunting season.....and seeing you and Dreamy out in the field!


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