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Wentworth Hunter Pace - June 6, 2021

After Margaret and I had such a fun time at the fall hunter pace, we opted to go again this spring! This time, while I rode Rejoice again, Margaret rode her horse Jester and had a friend ride Ladyhawke. All Kennebec Morgans!! Jester and Rejoice have the same dam and Jester and Lady share the same sire. Unfortunately instead of a lovely late spring day, we had one of the first intensely hot and humid days of the year. It was definitely a bummer, but the ride was mostly in the shade of the woods and we had a great time!  most of the fences were 3' coops but we found a small log and this hay to jump haha Until we didn't. 😑 We brought along a third friend who rode Margaret's older mare, Ladyhawke. She's a good rider but hasn't known Ladyhawke for very long and didn't realize how much of a cranky boss mare she could be at times. She kicked Jester right in the front leg just about halfway through the ride, and while the cut itself ended up not being a big deal in the

CNER United States Pony Club Dressage Rally - May 11, 2019

Our very first ever PC rally was this past Saturday at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, MA. It kind of cracks me up that I joined PC for the express purpose of access to more jumping instruction opportunities, and my first mounted experience is a dressage rally hahaha.  

But honestly, it was so much fun.  Maybe it is because I am so used to showing alone or maybe because I love the show prep and set up just as much (if not more) than the actual riding, but competing in a PC rally is now one of my most favorite experiences.  And I cannot wait to do more!  I think the only thing different for this show was having to label EVERYTHING with my name.  Otherwise, my show prep was just the same as normal.

Sadly, our original team of four riders ended up dwindling to just two, as one young rider ended up sick with a 103 fever and a barn was quarantined because of a horse with EHV-4 so none of the PC members from that large boarding barn could attend. Therefore, my remaining teammate and I were split onto other teams; this was a bummer to not officially do my first rally with a full Atlantic PC team, but my adopted team from Rockingham PC was kind and welcoming.

Things were a bit modified since this was only a one day rally, so instead of showing out of stalls and a real tack room, we all showed out of our trailers.  We set up our "tack room" under a pop-up tent, and our horses stayed tied to our trailers.  It was definitely a different way for me to compete, but it didn't take much getting used to.  Hanging a stall chart on the side of the trailer kind of felt silly, but it was Ellie's "stall" for the day.

Apple Knoll Farm is a solid three-hour drive for me, but I have been there once before for the Area I Schooling Champs with Snappy in 2017.  The 3am wake-up and 4am departure from my farm were definitely painful, but at least I knew where I was headed and was prepared for the drive (and $14 worth of tolls OMG gross). 

Ellie trailered quite well (and I choose to use front bells and standing wraps all around for the long trip), and stood quietly on the trailer when we arrived at 7am. I parked and introduced myself to my team.  They were slowly getting their area and "tack room" set up, so I opted to help them get organized until we had our briefing at 8am.  Ellie remained on the trailer munching her hay, as she is not the best at standing tied to the trailer and I couldn't deal with her neediness while trying to help organize and then attend the briefing.

The briefing was basically a welcome with specific information about where things were located on the grounds and the expectations for the day.  I felt well informed yet knew I would have 5724654 billion questions throughout the day haha.  We had to bring our helmets to briefing to have them checked for fit, and then I headed straight over to unload Ellie. 

She came off the trailer fine and we took a quick walk around the grounds.  We stayed in the trailer area because the jog started at 8:30am and was run in numerical order; being #17 meant I was about in the middle of the pack.  It was already 8:15, so after a quick walk, I brushed her off and got ready to go.  I learned quickly that you were always better to be early than late, as they can and will deduct points for lateness.  The jog was to be sure horses were sound, and riders are expected to be dressed neatly (either riding clothes or the barn "uniform") with pinney, ID card or bracelet, and helmet. Horses are expected to be clean and wearing a bridle.  I wore our PC polo shirt, khakis, and my cowboy boots (Danskos are not allowed because they don't go over the ankle, so I was a little bummed haha). Ellie was totally fine for the jog out, though I have noticed she is MUCH calmer once we start getting tacked up to ride.  Before that, it is almost like she is anticipating what is going to happen; once the saddle is up, it is like she understands her job and chills out.  She was like this at the shows where I did in-hand before riding, so it is interesting to me she did the same at the rally.

I learned at the briefing we were expected to warm up in the indoor, so I made a point to take her in there after we were finished with the jog.  It is a spooky indoor with large wooden bleachers on one short end and four large doors at each side, so my heart had dropped when I heard this location was warmup during the briefing.  Ellie was predictably spooky and looky at everything, but a few minutes of groundwork and checking herself out in the mirrors seemed to calm her down.  There were two side-by-side dressage rings just outside the door where we would be competing, with a large sand warmup ring off to the side, so I was bummed we were being put into the indoor.

Turnout inspections were next, starting at nine.  Unlike the jog that simply went in order and you had to watch and be ready, we were given turnout times.  I had to be at inspection station #1 at 9:50.  All of my tack was in the "tack room" tent, so I had to spend a little time getting organized.  It wasn't a long walk, as there was just one rig between mine and the "tack room", and soon we were ready.  You had to be tacked and dressed in what you were going to be riding in for inspection because the judges want to be sure you are correctly and safely turned out.  You are judged that your attire is clean and appropriate for the discipline, how you handle your horse, appropriateness and safety of tack, condition and cleanliness of the horse, and your timeliness.   Our team stable manager, one of the most mature and sweet ten-year-olds I have ever met, walked over with me to brush Ellie and wipe down my boots.  Honestly, not only was she a great little horsewoman, it was pretty nice to have a helper after showing alone forever! I had no problems with my inspection at all, which was great!  The judge mentioned I had the cleanest boots she had seen so far haha.

My first ride time for Training 1 was 10:48, so there was plenty of time to complete the inspection, get a drink of water, check my test one last time, and mosey over to warm up.  I had spotted riders in the outside warmup ring, so I made sure to ask my inspection judge if that was allowed.  She double checked and indeed it was fine; I was SO much happier being able to warm up outside near the competition rings rather than having to go into the indoor.  Ellie would have wound herself up into a ball of tension, and also I think it is always better to warm up near the competition rings so it is not a huge change of scenery.

Ellie and I had a fairly decent warmup.  She was listening and responsive and not tight through her back/shoulder.  We nailed all of our canter leads and I felt pretty darn good about going down to the ring for Training 1.


Until I suddenly froze up and neglected to ride the canter transition.  I honestly don't know why I do this, because I truly wasn't that nervous and the judge is a friend of mine.  Our walk and trot work was decent with all 7s and 7.5s, but I just sat there for the canter and it was all a hot mess.  Both leads were wrong and we scored three 4s in the canter work UGGGG.  Our last canter to trot transition before coming up the center line was a mess and earned a generous 5. Ellie just noped her way into the corner with her head and neck flung into the air, bracing against me when I asked for the trot.  That was a LOT of opinion over such a simple request *sigh*.  Our overall score was a 58.3% and the judge wrote: Some lovely moments in trot, unfortunately tension/excitement in canter caused a few mistakes. Continue to develop consistent relaxation and suppleness.  Have fun!

I was disappointed in myself for not riding more effectively, but we totally won our warmup hahaha.  Ellie is capable, I just need to get my act together and ride the tests like I can ride in warmup! But as it was our first show of the year, I chalked it up to knocking the rust off and getting a needed wake-up call.  I don't get nervous about the canter, I just sort of freeze up and leave Ellie to own her devices instead of properly riding the transition, which translates into a young horse being abandoned, who then pops her inside shoulder, counter bends, and then obviously picks up the wrong lead.

After our test, I had plenty of time to untack and sponge off Ellie, get everything wiped off and reorganized in the "tack room", and get something to eat.  At this point, Ellie was much calmer being tied to the trailer, but she still was swinging her hind end around and pawing a bit.  I hope she eventually learns how much easier it is to just hang out calmly and eat hay.  

Soon it was time to get ready for our next test, and again the warmup went great.  This time, the team coach, Lauren, came out to help me, which was awesome.  I needed someone to remind me that I do know what I am doing haha.  Training 2 was a much more improved test, despite the fact that I screwed up the first canter transition (left lead with a 4), but everything else ranged from 6-7.5.   We ended up with a 64.3% and the judge wrote: Many lovely moments - continue to develop confidence in canter transition and balance into transition. Walk work has so much potential for higher scores with increased swing!  Good luck!

All in all, I was pretty happy with this test.  We need to improve our stretchy trot (scored a 6.5 but I know we can make that better) and eliminate the slight hurriedness in the free walk.  Instead of getting a bigger swing, sometimes we end up with hurried steps.  With a 6+ instead of the wrong canter lead, we would have had a respectable 66+% score.  But for our first show in May, I am pleased.

After riding, there is the turnback inspection, where you are judged on how well you wiped down your tack and boots and how well you have cooled out your horse.  

Honestly, none of the rally requirements included anything I don't usually do anyway.  I lost a point for not remembering to label my baby wipes (literally everything else was labeled with my name ugg) and for not having toe trees in my tall boots (I do have boot trees, but apparently I need a thingy in the toes, too.)  I immediately wrote my name in Sharpie on the wipes and have already ordered the little toe trees on Amazon for $8!  No way am I losing any points again!  ;-)  

Sadly, my team lost seven points on the team first aid kit, as the rulebook has been updated this year and requirements are slightly different.  The real bummer was that my club, Atlantic, had a brand new first aid kit to specifications in my DC's truck.  Ah well.  And two other riders lost a point each on turnback, one with green gunk on the bit and one for not brushing off the saddle pad.

My favorite part about this type of show, a PC rally, is that the rides do not count alone.  Each team receives a score for horse management and an overall score for horse management plus the riding tests.  So even though I looked through the scores out of curiosity (and ended up 10th out of 12 riders in T1 and 5th out of 17 riders in T2), dressage scores really weren't a focus at all.  Out of all the teams (I think there were 12?), my team ended up 5th for horse management and 5th overall!  It was such a fun day and I am now scheming a way to attend another rally as soon as I can haha.

this is my APC teammate, Morgan, who got her qualifying scores to compete at USPC Champs in Tyron this July!


  1. Thank you for such a thorough break down and congrats on a good first outing for the year. Ellie looks fantastic and I love how much you improved for the second test. It sounds like you already know what your strengths and weaknesses are and are set with a plan moving forward. I love the PC set up and wish everyone had experience with it. It's frustrating to watch people who just sort of slap tack on their horse, worry only about the riding, and then put the horse away dirty and gross without so much as dunking the bit in a bucket on the way out. In general, I feel like PC can be a little bit "over kill" (like the baby wipes) but really, can you be TOO thorough in horse management? It establishes such good habits that can last a lifetime.

    1. Thank you! Ellie is such a great mare and we do have a good plan to accomplish our goals (I hope!). I agree that while PC can be totally ridiculous in some ways, there really are valid reasons behind the pickiness. The idea of having everything labelled is to be sure you don't lose anything, which makes sense haha. I already do so many PC type things without thinking that really the rally wasn't much extra work at all. :-)

  2. Holy cow that is a lot of work :) glad you had fun but jeez not for me HA!

    1. Right?? It is so much extra work in some ways, but I kinda loved it hahaha. I am strange and way too Type A! ;-)

  3. Wow - sounds like quite the day. Labelling everything made me laugh a bit - but makes sense if you have a large team of adults and kids. I love that your team stable manager was 10 and helped you wipe down your boots. I love kids like that! Hopefully you can attend another event like that soon!

    1. Yeah, the labeling was a bit over the top LOL! But it definitely makes sense to have all your stuff labeled, so I understand why we lost points. Seriously, our little SM was the BEST HORSE KID EVER! I just adored her and wanted to steal her hahaha!

  4. for some reason your last 5 or so posts all just came through my RSS feed reader (feedly) this morning in a clump, instead of coming out when published. so weird! looks like i missed some stuff tho sorry!

    anyway what a fun day, Ellie is looking so so so grown up! bummer about the green canter work but even so it sounds like there's a lot to be proud of from the tests, congrats!

    1. That is SO weird about my posts! I did change my blog address from cloverledgefarm. to just, so that may have done something weird? I think we just had to obliterate the canter at our first outing so I could remind myself to ACTUALLY RIDE MY HORSE haha.


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