Winning The Mental Battle - Burgundy Hollow HT

The WonderPony Himself! 
Dino and I finished dead last in our Beginner Novice division at Burgundy Hollow this weekend, but I feel like a complete and total WINNER! This horse trial ended up being exactly what I needed to get my mental game back on track, and I couldn't be happier with the way I handled things. 

I had heard wonderful things about Burgundy Hollow from a lot of people, including Carly, and decided a while ago that it would be the perfect venue for Dino and I to recover from our last devastating outing. I had a lot of psychological wounds to heal, and a low-pressure, casual schooling show atmosphere seemed like the best way to do that. 

This horse trial would also mark my longest solo trailer-hauling expedition to date, and first horse show totally alone. My darling husband opted not to accompany me since he had a lot of things to get done at home, and I didn't have any friends who were able to spend the whole day with me at a horse show.  While this might be a nerve-wracking situation for a lot of people, I actually REALLY liked hauling and showing by myself. While I did meet my XC schooling buddy there since she was showing, too, and my dear friend Paula stopped by to watch our jumping phases, I was pretty much on my own the whole day. And it was nice. I was able to just be at peace, not have to feel rushed because I was waiting on other people, or rude because I didn't feel like talking, and do things at my own pace. 

Thanks to a beer and some generic sleep-aid pills (better living through chemistry!), I had a great night's sleep and felt rested instead of haggard and stressed on the morning of the show. I had planned EXACTLY enough time for getting ready, I didn't have to rush one bit, and pulled out of the barn driveway the exact minute that I had planned on leaving. High five, self! The day was starting out very relaxed, and I felt in control of the situation from the very start. 

I found my zen while putting in these sexy braids
The first thing that struck me as I pulled onto the show grounds was that no one had told me about the HILLS. Driving up the steep path to the parking area - which was on the top/side of a giant hill - I marveled at how my trailer was not flipping over, sending Dino and I to our doom at the bottom of a mountain. The XC course was hill. After hill. After hill. And then some more hills! There were literally two level stretches of ground on the entire course. I thanked God that Dino and I work on hills on a daily basis!

Showing alone is made much easier by a pony that you can park by himself pretty much anywhere with a full hay net and trust that he will eat, take a nap, and not get stressed out or scream his fool head off. I walked the courses, got the lay of the land, and hung out a little while before it was time to get ready for dressage. 

Dino warmed up very well, despite almost getting clobbered by a runaway pony. He was over his back, focused, and we had some spot-on canter departs and trot-halt transitions. I was really feeling optimistic about this test! Unfortunately, he found the area in and around the dressage court rather distracting and scary, and spent the majority of the test spooking at the letters (COME ON, GUY), looking at the XC course, making googly eyes at the judge's booth, and generally not listening. It was a very "meh" test with a braced, distracted pony, but still earned us a respectable score of 37. Our first canter depart really stunk and he totally faked me out in the free walk instead of giving me the glorious swingy stretch we had in warm up. Ah, well! 

Despite the not-so-brilliant test, I felt fine. Absolutely fine. I wasn't beating myself up for not riding better, I wasn't despairing over any botched movements, I wasn't envisioning a score of 50... I knew that I rode my spooky pony the best I could in the circumstance I found us in, and that was just fine. 

After about an hour's break during which I walked XC one more time and probably risked having no leg strength left to actually ride, we got ready for stadium! 

Warm up for stadium was, of course, ON A GIANT HILL. Dino was in the jumping groove - he definitely understands the order of the day at horse trials! I remembered to be Attackative and ride at the jumps like I was trying to kill them. On what was going to be my final warm-up jump, Dino was a little backed off to the oxer and chipped in, and instead of ending like that - which is what weenie me would do - I made him do it again in a more attackative fashion, and THEN we were ready to go in and jump! 

The course walked just fine, there was only one broken line that was causing me any concern, and height-wise everything looked soft. I had the pleasure of watching the rider before me put in a lovely round, and marched into the ring full of confidence! Dino immediately picked up his Kickass Show Jumping Canter, and I guided him around the short side to Fence 1, which was the black-and yellow jump you see behind us in the photo above. 

Remembering our last HT, no doubt, Dino wiggled. He wiggled HARDCORE. He was NOT STRAIGHT. 

Do you know what I did next?

I did not panic. I did not freeze. I put my leg on, I kicked, I said "YOU ARE JUMPING THAT JUMP, SIR!"

And Dino said "YES M'AM!"

#bossmareup, y'all. 

Fence 2 was equally as wiggly, but I was riding in Attack Mode and stops were not an option! By Fence 3 Dino was in the groove, and while I almost overshot the turn to Fence 4 (shown above), We ended up super straight and jumped it in fine style. The turns in the tiny ring came up FAST, and things got a little hairy now and then, but to make a long story short, we jumped CLEAN!

And took a flyer to the last fence!
And I FELT AWESOME ABOUT IT. I never lost confidence during the entire course, and was able to sit up, ride, and support my pony when he was uncertain. I mastered the "Land & Gallop" that we've been working on, never pulled back, and never waffled about a distance. 

If that isn't an incredible WIN, I don't know what is! Being able to walk into stadium feeling cool, calm, and collected, and able to stay present and deal with little hiccups made this HT a huge success. 

You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the XC recap... and I've got video! 


  1. Love, love, love this!! So glad you were able to get your eventing mojo back! I should have warned you about the hills (and that there's no way you're getting up to the top of the driveway without 4wd in the rain, whoops!), but Bucks is the only flat place I ever showed at down there. I can't wait to read about xc!

  2. yay i'm so happy for you two!!!! so much work and effort went into making this a positive experience for you both, and that work is totally paying off!!!

  3. Yay! Congrats on a super positive outing :)

  4. Regardless of placing, it sounds like y'all had FUN! Which is of course the goal right? Even if satin is nice, fun is way better.

  5. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! So proud of you!! Congrats :)

  6. Woohoo! Glad it was such a great experience, even if the placing doesn't reflect it so much. Looking forward to hearing how cross country went! Yay videos!

  7. Congrats!! Confidence building outings are solid gold and I'm so glad you had one!

  8. Sounds like the driveway to Loch Moy. I figure if you make it up that drive, you're gonna do fine at the show. ;)

  9. Ahhhh Cliffhanger!

    Awesome job on the first 2/3 of your day! I hope you're super proud of your confidence out there! That's like 90% of the riding battle. Can't wait to read the rest!


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