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NER United States Pony Club Show Jump Rally - July 20, 2019

Ellie and I had SO MUCH FUN at our first Pony Club jump rally this year.  We drove up to Clay Brook Farms, where we had our D-1/D-2 rating, in order to compete for the day on July 20.  This happened to be one of the hottest days of summer, so the organizers modified the schedule a bit.  Instead of doing two rounds in the morning and one in the afternoon, we all did just two rounds (with a ten-minute break in between) all in the morning, so we were done and headed out just after lunch.  
Everything ran so smoothly despite the condensed format.  We were able to do our formal inspections right before we mounted up, and we were all encouraged to limit our warm up time.  We were not allowed to wear jackets, and there was a TON of horse water and ice cold human water available at numerous stations around the field.
I was competing with Epona Pony Club, but I was again put on a Horsemaster team with two other adults from Foxcroft Pony Club, Angie and Beth, the two riders I competed with at the…

Vermont Morgan Heritage Days - July 5-6, 2019

One of the big goals this year was to compete at an overnight show with Ellie.  I hemmed and hawed a little about which show to choose, but in the end, I decided to head over to Vermont at the beginning of July for what is known as Vermont Morgan Heritage Days.  It is a three-day show, with dressage on Friday open to all breeds, in-hand and rail classes (with both open and Morgan only classes) on Saturday, and carriage driving all day Sunday.  

Just fair warning, there are a gazillion photos in this post!  All pro photos were purchased from the show photographer, Lasting Moments Media (you can see her watermark), and some photos are from friends, and otherwise, they are my crappy phone photos haha.

Ellie and I left on Thursday afternoon around 1:30 in a nasty 90+ degree heatwave.  It was far from ideal, but seeing as I was traveling alone (and needed to find my Airbnb after settling Ellie into her stall at the fairgrounds), I did not want to be doing everything in the dark.  I had never been to Tunbridge Fairgrounds either, so I wanted to arrive in the daylight.
headed out!
Thankfully traffic was not bad at all, despite the fact it was July 4, so I drove straight through three hours to the fairgrounds.  I had hoped by then it would have started to cool off, but it was just as hot, sunny, and humid as when we had left Maine.  
arrived!
the fairgrounds are beautiful!!
After checking in to show the secretary Ellie's health certificate and to find out which barn we were in, I immediately unloaded a bag of shavings from my trailer into Ellie's stall and filled her water bucket.  There were only four other horses on the grounds at that point, two in completely different barns and two behind Ellie, so I was honestly a bit worried how she was going to react to such a quiet place and perhaps she would think she was all alone in the world.

I unloaded Ellie and her hay net and she marched right into her stall with me.  As I emptied her hay net into the corner of the stall, she drank half a bucket of water and then started eating hay.  She was totally quiet and unfazed, which was so good!  I set about to unloading everything and getting my tack room set up.  It was hotter than six shades of hell, but I worked quickly and had everything all unloaded and into my tack stall as fast as my sweating body would allow haha.  
all moved in
I met the neighbor behind me, who was a super nice woman named Karen who had been coming from Connecticut to show there for many years.  She had two Morgan geldings there to compete, and three dogs and her husband in tow.  They were tenting out on the grounds, and she and her husband were both super friendly, so that was great, as I knew NO ONE.  
Hi Mom!  Where are we? -Ellie, probably
As soon as I felt confident Ellie was settled in, I headed out to find the Airbnb.  It was easy enough to drive there, though it was a solid 30-minute drive.  That was kind of a pain, but it was a comfortable little basement apartment and a good deal.  I took a shower, found some dinner, and headed back to check on Ellie.  She was happy and relaxed, so I basically drove all the way there and back to the Airbnb for like a ten minute night check hahaha.  Note to self: try to get the Airbnb within walking distance of the fairgrounds next time hahaha.

It was fine though because honestly I only needed a place to shower and sleep.  I was up bright and early Friday morning, arriving at the fairgrounds by 6:30am.  Ellie had eaten all her hay and drank almost another full bucket, and she was still quite calm.  I let her eat while I cleaned her stall, and then I gave her a bath.  To help dry her off as well as let her stretch her legs, we went for a walk around the grounds.  I took her in the main ring, where they had the dressage ring set up.  Sadly, everyone was riding in the large standard arena, so I was rightfully worried about my geometry.  We walked around and she took in the metal bleachers, tents for the secretary, announcer, etc. and the big box trailer that held carriage driving supplies.  Of course, it was still early and quiet, so while she was looky, it wasn't really spooky to her.  Later on, once the bleachers were full, people were all around, and there were random sounds from the box trailer of things moving around, she was much more spooky.  Ah well, I had a feeling she would be!

My first ride wasn't until 12:44, so I had lots of time.  I watched Denny Emerson ride First 1, as well as my new horse show friend, Karen, ride the same test about fifteen minutes later.  Back in May when I did my entry, I had decided to enter Training 1 and 2, throwing in BN Test A as well.  It is rare for a dressage show around here to offer the eventing tests, so I figured it was a good chance to give it a shot for the first time.

It was even hotter than Thursday had been if that is even possible.  I gave Ellie a conservative warm up and she was a little forward and unwilling to listen, but I just rode her tactfully.  I was worried about the weird center lines in BN-A, but the actual test went really well overall!  Well...that is until the last centerline where you are supposed to go to K to start a change of rein and the centerline starts at X.  I navigated a lovely straight normal centerline and just before X I realized my mistake and started to giggle.  The judge (a very nice man who is known for scoring really low!) just sort of laughed me off and had me restart the movement, starting to judge me at A.  
I wasn't happy with myself though. The test itself would've been in the 30s without the error, but we were at sitting at a 58+% for first place hahaha.  Show management just scored me with a percentage, and as the only eventing test rider, I was lumped in with the western dressage tests.  The judge was definitely a low scorer when the high point junior scored a 57% (and the senior high point was a random 70%).  Even Denny's highest test was only a 65% lol!

Ellie was quite good in BN-A but held a lot of tension, which wasn't surprising as our first ride of the show.  It was so hot I had no intentions of doing more warm-up and there were supposed to be two riders doing Intro C before I was to go back in for Training 1.  Neither of those riders showed up, so I stood in the shade for a few moments to look at Training 1 before entering to ride the test.  It was so hot, I just wanted to get the test over with!  


Ellie seemed to take a deep breath and relax more in this second test, so we ended up with a second-place finish with a 56+% (the first place horse didn't score above 60% lol).  My biggest issue was riding in the larger ring after doing this test in the small arena for so long so my circles were a little large.  

This was a weird test because, at the end, the judge asked me if she was a carriage driving horse.  I said no, not yet anyway.  He remarked that she is really lovely when she is on a straight line.

Uhhh, ok...?  Was that a compliment because I'm not sure it is? hahaha


At that point, I had an hour break before Training 2.  I completely hosed Ellie and set her up in her stall with the door open (stall guard up) and sat in front of her stall in the shade to study my test.  
trying to study tests with the friendliest horse ever haha

Apparently doing three tests in one day was too much before I ended up going off course TWICE in T2 LOL!  It was hot, too, so maybe that can be part of my excuse??  

Ellie decided this time around that the metal bleachers were REALLY SCARY, so besides my errors, we also earned a 4 on our last canter transition (which is a 2 coefficient, of course) because around the corner near the bleachers, a person jumped down, she spooked off the rail, and I had to ride her back towards the long side to start our circle.  I am not sure why a spook on the correct lead netted us a 4, but whatever.  We ended up in sixth place with a 57+% (which would have been a 61+ had I not made two errors omg lol).

Honestly, it was so hot I was ready to be done.  Ellie had done quite well, as spooking at someone jumping off metal bleachers does not bother me, though the fact I had so many errors was kind of weird!  I have never had errors in a dressage test, so I guess I was due for it haha.  

After I took care of Ellie, I went up to the fairground's showers and I have to say it was the best shower ever haha.  It was so hot and humid!  Sadly, I totally forgot to bring my towel up with me, so trying to get dressed wasn't fun. 😂 

I had signed up to volunteer that evening, which was the Justin Morgan competition and other trotting races.  I ended up helping as much as I could, which was mostly just organizing the entries for the races on the track and handing out ribbons, and then ate a ton at the free chicken BBQ afterward!  That was a really nice treat!  I was able to chat with and meet a lot of nice folks, and as it neared 8pm, things were wrapping up.  I realized no one was sticking around to help clean up, so I stayed and helped clean up the BBQ food and mess.  It was dark by the time we were finished, so I checked on Ellie and headed back to the Airbnb to shower and CRASH.  It was a long but fun day!
night check!


Saturday morning I was up early again, remembering to pack up everything at my Airbnb and gas up my truck.  I was still at the fairgrounds by 6:30am and had Ellie fed and bathed before the trailers started rolling in again.  So many people live close enough that they just trailer in, some getting stalls for the day.  Again, I took her for a walk around the ring, and she was mostly unimpressed and wanted to just graze haha.

I had entered two in-hand classes, thinking Ellie is pretty typey and might do well.  It is no secret I personally don't enjoy showing in halter classes, but I figured I was here and might as well help fill classes!  There were 11 horses in Morgan Sport Horse In Hand, 5 and over, and some were super gorgeous sport types that I would have taken home with me in a heartbeat haha.  Interestingly, Ellie placed 7th; not that I was expecting to win, but some of the horses that didn't pin looked like lovely sport horses and one horse in the ribbons was an ex-park horse (with a broken tail...) so that left me wondering about the judge's taste.
photo by Denny Emerson

There were seven horses in Morgan Mares In Hand, 5 and over and I fully expected to not place.  I was thoroughly surprised when we placed sixth, beating one of Denny's mares.  😉  
photo by Denny Emerson
We had a bit of time before our first riding class, Morgan Hunt Seat Pleasure, Adult.  Ellie warmed up well but the minute we got in the ring she was a tense mess. 
warming up - photo by Denny Emerson
 Everything was spooky, the people, the secretary's tents, everything, and anything lol.  I had to ride her in that weird mode between pushing her forward to make her move past the scary stuff but also being tactful and soft so my strong aids didn't offend her.  I don't like riding like that and was definitely not loving my show experience at that point.  Our first canter she BLASTED into the gait and of course on the wrong lead because I could NOT get her to bend around my inside leg.  I was bummed in the lineup, but I figured it was our throw-away class and maybe she would be better after lunch when our next class was scheduled.  I was surprised to place fifth out of six with the wrong lead.

It was still hot and humid, but there was finally a bit of a breeze.  I took care of Ellie, changed out of my show clothes, and treated myself to a chicken finger meal from the horse show vendor.  Horse show food always tastes so good and bad for you haha. 

Our next class was Open Sport Horse on the Flat.  Again, Ellie was great in the warmup and I had hope that the class would go better than the first one.  As is customary in Tunbridge in the summer, a thunderstorm started to roll in.  It was still sunny, yet the dark ominous clouds crept closer and closer.  I was hoping they would at least get through our next class, but just as they were pinning the class immediately before mine, they announced there would be a break in the show to wait out the storm.  Ugggg.  So we all trooped back to the barn and eventually, the sky opened up.  Thankfully, besides a few rumbles of thunder, it was only rain and no lightning.  The rain was refreshing after such a humid and gross few days, but it also was making the grass ring slippery!  


I opted to put my new(ish) suede helmet and new riding boots away and wear my plastic Ovation helmet and old boots for the remainder of the show.  Now that the rain had arrived, I didn't want to deal with getting the new/nice stuff soaked.  It poured for quite a while, but soon the clouds were over us and things started to let up.  In the barns, we heard that they were going to give us a ten-minute gate call, so I started to get tacked up again.  We were ready minus our bridle, but then there was no announcement.  So we all waited and waited and waited.  Some people left, which I briefly considered, but I didn't want to load up everything in the rain and I also wanted to do at least a few more classes to redeem our hot mess express in the only riding class we had done that day so far LOL!  Eventually, another rider and I decided to just get on and walk out to the warmup hahaha.  Just as we were getting on, they announced the gate call!  The show had been delayed for a full hour, and suddenly I realized there was no way I would be getting home at a reasonable hour that night haha.  I could have stayed over again, but I wanted to get home.

So we went in for Open Sport Horse Hack on the Flat, and Ellie seemed a bit more settled.  She still didn't want to go close to the tents on the far short end, so I just cut off the ring a bit.  I also had decided to do a small 10m. circle right before the canter in order to get her set up properly to get the correct lead.  The ring was HUGE and there was plenty of room to put in a small circle.  This class went much smoother and we ended up third out of seven.
free walk in sport horse class
photo by Olivia


Olivia from DIY Horse Ownership stopped by to visit!  It was SO great to meet her and have her meet Ellie!  She took some photos for me and even helped me load up at the end of the day, which was amazing.  She hosed Ellie and stripped my stall while I hooked up the trailer and started taking things out of the tack room.  That was the nicest gesture ever, especially after a LONG day of showing and just wanting to head out for home.  THANK YOU, Olivia!! 💕
photo by Olivia

photo by Olivia
I had entered Morgan Jack Benny Pleasure, All Seats because it was listed as 39 and over.  Being 39 this year, I thought it was a hoot to finally be able to enter a Jack Benny class haha.  There were four riders, and we ended up only walk/trot, which I thought was strange since it wasn't listed as a walk/trot class.  Ah well.  It was a good class to get Ellie around the ring again and cool her jets a bit more.
it rained again and I was glad to be in my old helmet and boots!
You can see how huge the ring is!
photo by Olivia
From there we had Open Sport Horse Suitability with four riders and pulled another third.  Ellie was much better about cantering and the small circles before the transition seemed to help.  Next was Open Hunt Seat Equitation, Adult and we pulled a second out of five.  I was pretty happy with Ellie by this point in the day.  It had started raining again at one point, but she was quite good and had settled down a lot compared to her outburst in the first class that morning.  
open hunt seat equitation

photo by Olivia
All we had remaining were three championship classes.  We ended up reserve champion in the adult equitation and reserve champion in Morgan pleasure.  Oddly enough, just before our last class, the judge spoke to me (for the first time) in the lineup.  She expressed her displeasure with my small circle before the canter, stating there was no reason to do it especially in a ring so large (meaning usually you only circle to get out of a knot of horses).  She went on to explain that it had really hurt my placings all day, as she marked me down for doing it all day.  I couldn't help but laugh.  I think thirds and seconds are pretty darn good (and the fifth place was well deserved for the wrong canter lead).  I don't think the judge appreciated my laughter, but I explained I was doing it deliberately to set Ellie up for a smooth and correct canter transition.  The judge just stared and me like she couldn't comprehend what I was talking about.  Ah well.  This is a good reason why I don't normally show in rail classes because I would 100000000% rather do what is right for my horse in a dressage training manner than ride her incorrectly just to get a canter lead. 😒



So, for our last class, the open pleasure championship, I said the hell with it and twisted her into a pretzel on the long side to get her bent without doing a circle.  The transitions were not smooth but we nailed the leads and won the championship hahaha.  Whatever, judge.  Funnily enough, our ribbons had improved all day long.  The sun finally came back out and it was time to untack, load up, and drive home.  It was also after 6pm, so I knew that my plan to get out of there before 5 was shot to hell haha.  

Ellie was a star at her first away show.  She handled being stabled in a strange place perfectly, and I had to laugh that she whinnied loudly to me every time I returned to the barn.  She had her moments of being tense and looky, but nothing was terrible and she was honestly nervous, so I am not upset about it in the slightest.  I thought the judge was a bit weird in her displeasure with my prep circles for the canter, but I know that is what Ellie needs right now and someday she will be more trained and able to pick up the canter on the straightaway with no fuss.

We ended up leaving close to 8pm and home by 11.  I did ok until about the last thirty minutes where I really regretted being on the road so late and not sleeping instead haha, but I pushed through my exhaustion.  Ellie was happy to be home and Dreamy was definitely happy to have her back home.  


I am glad I chose this show to be our first overnight!  It was a fun show, I met a lot of nice folks, saw a lot of nice Morgans, and I am sure someday I will go back again!







Our results!
Friday, July 5
1st Beg Novice Test A
2nd Training 1
6th Training 2
dressage ribbons!
 Saturday, July 6
7th Morgan Sport Horse In Hand, 5 and over
6th Morgan Mares In Hand, 5 and over
5th Morgan Hunt Seat Pleasure, Adult
3rd Open Sport Horse Hack on the Flat
3rd Morgan Jack Benny Pleasure, All Seats
3rd Open Sport Horse Suitability
2nd Open Hunt Seat Equitation, Adult
2nd (Reserve Champion) Equitation Championship Open, Adult
2nd (Reserve Champion) Morgan Pleasure Championship, All seats/ages
1st Pleasure Championship Open, Adult
all the swag


photo by Olivia

Comments

  1. Sounds like a fun show! Nice swag haul too! I really love your green coat on Ellie - it looks really sharp. As I was reading about the judge not liking your circles, I was thinking that most western judges wouldn't like that either. I have a friend who is a judge and she would totally ding people for doing stuff like that! lol Horse showing, amiright?

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    1. Thank you! I love the green coat too! I understand why I was dinged, but it just seems so silly! LOL That's what I get for being a dressage rider trying to be a hunter hahaha. ;-)

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  2. Just reading this sounds exhausting, but yay for all those ribbons so I guess it was worth it. I'm so glad I was able to come out and see you and help out. Next year, you and Ellie could stay with us and then she'd be within walking distance for night checks. We're only about 20 minutes away from the fairgrounds. Congrats again!

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    1. LOL it was tiring but so fun. Thank you again for everything. And I would love staying with you guys!!! Not sure I am going to do that show every year though. :-)

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  3. What a great weekend of showing. I love how Ellie settled in and got better as the day wore on. She has the stamina for long show days it seems. Awesome you got to meet Olivia too!

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    1. Yes! She definitely grew up during this trip. I swear when you take a horse overnight they grow up haha. She could have shown all week and not gotten tired; me on the other hand, not so much!

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  4. Nicely done! I love how you're smiling in every single picture! What a great outing for both of you!

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  5. I think it's ridiculous that your decision in one class with the judge had her penalizing you in all the classes afterward (unless I misunderstood her comment) That's -ridiculous-.

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    1. Haha yup that's horse showing for you sometimes. It was my choice to include the small circle to set Ellie up properly to get her leads, just like it was her choice to ding me. Ah well. ;-)

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  6. That sounds like a long and tiring weekend, especially with the heat, but Ellie always looks like such a fun and fancy ride. I had to roll my eyes at the horse with the broken tail pinning so well. No accounting for taste at all. LOVE all the ribbons and photos, and it's extra cool you and Olivia got to meet up! I hope to get to meet both of you one of these days :) And I love how Denny was just casually there ;)

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    1. It was so fun and so cool to meet Olivia! You definitely have to keep us posted on your New England travels! I just love Denny and how down-to-earth he truly is!

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  7. You guys look so fantastic! What an awesome opportunity to show at such a cool old show--that ring looks partly amazing to ride in and partly terrifying.

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    1. Thank you! It was such a fun time. And yes, that is an accurate take on that ring haha. It got slippery in the rain, which was kinda not fun.

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  8. WOW! What a show! And what a little super mare you've developed. Congratulations on such an incredible outing. And good on you for doing right by your horse - shame on that judge for not getting that lol.

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    1. Thank you! She is such a cool little horse! And yeah, I totally understand the judge's point but I was more concerned with setting the horse up for success. It's all good!

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  9. Congratulations! That’s a great show for both of you.

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