Rated Show Videos and Score Sheets – Part 3

I finally had a chance to upload the videos from the rated show. Unfortunately, I look like an ant in the videos. My husband did the best he could, but there wasn’t a good way to get closer to the action.

Rated Show Part 1
Rated Show Part 2



Second Level Test 2: http://youtu.be/YaRhY4jngd0

Second Level Test 3: Not recorded.


Second Level Test 2 Sat Results

Second Level Test 2 Saturday Results


Second Level Test 3 Sat Results

Second Level Test 3 Saturday Results




Second Level Test 2: http://youtu.be/6F1U6-bo9oc

Second Level Test 3: http://youtu.be/gOpvUJlyQQk


Second Level Test 2 Sun Results

Second Level Test 2 Sunday Results

Second Level Test 2 Sunday Score Sheet

Second Level Test 3 Sun Results

Second Level Test 3 Sunday Results


Second level Test 3 Sunday Score Sheet

I Arrived? Where was I?

The email I got from an acquaintance (in reference to my rated show) stated “You have arrived!”

I’m sitting at home in my P.J.’s reading emails and stuffing my mouth full of popcorn. Apparently I have arrived here. I wonder if the email writer realizes I have food stuck to my shirt.

I dislike the concept of ‘now you’re someone’, or the idea I’ve made some monumental leap. It wasn’t a leap, I wasn’t at one spot one second and winning a ribbon the next. All success is, is the systematic repetition of really little steps over a long period of time.

The one foot over the over approach.

Anyway, I’m going to spend my weekend trying to set up a correctly bent half-pass at a walk coming out of the corner. I might get two steps out of 80 tries this time. Maybe by next year I’ll get another email about my arrival at Third.

I can hope. 🙂

Blog Hoppin’ – Why’d you buy your horse

I found this from The Owls Approve blog. The original blog hop came from Viva Carlos’ Magical Blog Hop.  Both are good blogs. You should check them out.

image“What made you interested in your current horse that led you to buying them in the first place?”

I met Ava through a trainer I was using. She casually mentioned that she had a horse that she needed to sell and no one was interested enough to buy her at the $3,500 she had her listed for. The trainer described her as a 15.2h, 7 year old, Friesian/Paint cross. I wasn’t a fan of Friesians at the time. They seemed pretentious. And I wasn’t sold on the Paint part either, having never seen one that was built well enough to excel at dressage. But no one else was riding Ava so I said I’d like to take a lesson on her.

Back when I met Ava I was really scared of horses. I’d already been tossed off several times, kicked at, bitten several times, and run over more times than I could count. It really damaged my confidence and made me extremely fearful of horses.

The first time I saw Ava I saw a fluffy horse that looked pretty but had a bit of a straight shoulder, was downhill built, and had hind legs that were too straight. Top it off with the blue eyes that made her look perpetually startled and to say my interest was cool would be an understatement.Ava2011

I couldn’t afford the horse anyway, so whatever. I decided I’d ride her til someone else bought her.

The trainer brings the horse in and starts brushing her down. Every time I get near the back end the horse cocks her leg, pins her ears, and swishes her tail a bit. So I stay near the front. I start walking around her front to get to the other side and suddenly all I see is Ava lunging at me with teeth bared. I’m terrified, I’m frozen in place, and those teeth are coming straight for my face. And then just as quickly as it started, it stopped. I moved back quickly and starred at Ava. She starred at me. Trainer made noises about this never happening before. I’m thinking “Great, the horse hates me”.

I still want the lesson so we finish tacking and the trainer lunges her before I get on. The horse seems a little out of control on the lunge.  I’m seriously second guessing riding the horse at this point. I wasn’t a very good rider, my balance was bad, and I was terrified of horses. But I’m stubborn, so I climb on anyway.

I ask Ava to walk off. It felt like sitting on a billowy cloud of fluffiness. The long mane bouncing against her neck, cute little ears poking out from the fluffy forelock, her rhythmic sway beneath me.

My trainer tells me not to put my calf on her, and explains the horse doesn’t like it. I can’t NOT ride with calf, and kept putting it on. Every time I do the horse kicks out at it. Sometimes violently. Sometimes it scares me badly, but she never gets violent enough to off-balance me or make me feel like she wants me off.

We end the lesson and I vow never to buy this horse. But I’m intrigued, and I can’t stop thinking about this little mare with so many issues.

I ride her again later that month and this time another boarder touched her side while walking past. The mare kicked out so quickly at the lady that we were all shocked and stunned. The lady wasn’t hit, but we were shaken.

I ride the horse a few more times and each time is better. It seems like there’s a smart brain in there and she honestly wanted to do what was asked, she just didn’t have much balance or coordination to do what I asked.

I get home and tell the hubby I want to buy this horse. He reminds me the horse tried to rip my face off. I know, but I liked her!

I talked to the trainer about buying Ava and she agreed to do a payment plan. I would take over board and maintenance of the horse, make payments, and after 6 months I would finally own the grumpy little mare. 🙂


This was within the first few rides. Please excuse the outfit and terrible riding form.

The day I made the final payment was the happiest day ever! After 6 months of consistent work she was really starting to gain confidence and strength. You could just start to see the glimmer of the horse she’d become.

It’s been 3 years now, and I utterly adore this mare. She’s always willing to give me her all when I ask, she never quits, and she’s game to try anything at least once. She teaches me to be lighter and softer with my aids, and that I can get so much more from her by whispering instead of shouting (which we all know, but she forces me to put it into practice).  She’s taught me tons about what it really takes to help a horse stay balanced. And she’s taught me that even a horse with so-so conformation can excel at dressage if your consistent, patient, and willing to find new ways to approach things.

** Side Note: The first thing I did when I agreed to buy Ava was have the vet out to check her over for a reason she was so reactive to having her flanks touched. The first vet found nothing, so I got a vet that specialized in reproductive health. He also found nothing wrong.

If you’d like to participate in this blog hop, add your blog url below and post your story about how you met your horse. 🙂

Rated Show Update – Part 2

Our second class on Saturday was Second Level Test 3. Ava was less nervous, but still tense when we trotted around to the judges stand.

All I can remember from this test is I felt like it went okay, but I messed up here and there. I could tell Ava was a bit tired. She tried her heart out though.  In the end we scored a 64.048%. Not bad for only our second attempt at that test.

Sunday it rained in the morning but the footing was good by afternoon. Our first test was Test 3, which threw me off a little. For some reason I was extremely nervous on Sunday and ended up starting our warm up 30 minutes early. Bad call on my part. By the time we got to the test poor Ava was pooped. I was a dissapointed in myself for not timing the warm up better and for letting Ava get off balance a few times during the test.

Our last ride of the day was Second Level Test 2. This time we made it to the warm up with about 7 minutes to spare. We did a quick check of responsiveness, and in we went. I was so tired. I felt like I was just hanging on while Ava carried me through the test. Ava did a great job carrying me though. She was a bit heavy and on her forehand a bit, but overall it was smooth.

Final Scores
Second Level Test 2 – 67.105% First place
Second Level Test 3 – 64.048% First Place

Second Level Test 2 – 64.737% First Place
Second Level Test 3 – 66.786% First Place

We also won the USDF/Dover Saddlery Medal for the 66.786% on our last ride!The USDF/Dover Saddlery Medal is presented to the highest scoring Second Level adult amateur of the show. You also get a $20 gift certificate when you win the Dover Medal.

In addition, Ava and I also won the Second Level Adult Amateur Championship.


Overall, a very successful and awesome show. I still can’t believe we did so well. I went in to the show not expecting to place at all. My only goal was to score oveer 60 at my first rated show as an adult.





Also, you know it’s been over 20 years since I’ve gone to a rated show. I expected the people to be less friendly than they were. Everyone I met at the show was amazing, friendly, willing to give a hand or whatever you might need. It was the friendliest show I’ve ever gone to. The staff was amazing too. I had so much fun, and even the big name trainers were friendly. It was awesome!

Oh, unrelated to dressage. I get to work on Monday morning feeling all good about my awesome weekend and I promptly get yelled at by three different people. Luckily my job keeps me humble. Very humble. I wish it would do a bit less of a good job in teaching me humility.

Rated Show Update – Part 1

Friday we got to the show grounds with minimal issues. I haven’t been here in over 20 years and this place has changed drastically. It took us a while to figure out where our stall was and how to get to it. But we got Ava unloaded and settled in just fine.

We’re camping on the show grounds. Apparently showing up on Friday means you have slim pickings on spots. But we wedged our way into one. We brought our yellow Lab, Dax, with us and he happilly greeted all our new neighbors.

Once we’d unpacked and gotten organized I had a lesson with Roz in the evening. Ava was fine until we got to the warm up ring and saw the flags and banners flapping. She was tense, excited, but not out of control. And she let me take control and help her relax (thank goodness).

Friday night I could barely sleep. I tossed and turned and finally gave up trying at 4:30am. My first ride was at 8:40am. I was so nervous, excited, and apprehensive that I couldn’t sit still.

I was so lucky to have Roz here to coach me through a warm up on Saturday. We focused on getting Ava listening to half halts, and then on adjustability forward and back.  When it was our turn to go I felt like Ava was ready.

As soon as I entered the show arena I felt Ava tense. We made our lap past the judges booth and then the bell was rung.

We entered at A and Ava was entirely between my aids. We trotted down that center line like we owned it! Our halt was spot on and our trot off was prompt, soft, and drama free.  We made the first turn and directly into medium trot. I asked, Ava promptly fell on her forehand. I half halted hard and asked again. We got a little more length, but it wasn’t good. Our travers were good for Ava, our cirlces were spot on, our canter was to die for (best canter I’ve ever had on her). And then our last movement was the dreaded medium trot again. Ugh. I get her shoved into the corner hard, and ask for as much collection as she can pull off, and then I ask for the medium.

And then she gave it. Like it was no big deal. It felt amazing. It was the first time I’ve ever been able to sit the medium trot with any modicum of self-respect. I was so thrilled with it that I really wanted to quit right there and reward her. Screw the test! That was a real medium trot, and the first one we’ve EVER gotten. 

All we had left was to go down the centerline. Again, Ava was right there with me. Solidly straight and forward down that center line. We halted, saluted, and I walked Ava out of the arena.

Within 5 minutes we had our score. We got a 67.105%. My highest score ever, and we won first place out of four riders. I got to pick out my choice of glassware (I chose a coffee mug), and we got a nice blue ribbon to hang on the stall.

I couldn’t believe we won!



We then began the 7 hour wait for the next class. Yuck. 😉

The show grounds.


Everyone’s horse was acting up.


Our temprary barn.


The warm up rings were chaotic. I haven’t ridden with that many people in one ring in forever. It’s definitely an acquired skill.


Everyone stops us and asks what breed Ava is, and comments on her blue eye’s. She has a fan club here.