A Record-Breaking Day: BCHP Schooling HT

Nailing this dressage thing
I had a lot of firsts at this horse trial.

I earned my first dressage score of 35 or under. We sailed to second place with a personal best score of 33 after dressage, with a solid test that included three - count 'em, three - 8's. It was the first time I braided for dressage, and the first time I took home one of the horse park's Dressage Award ribbons for my score. The day started out pretty wonderfully.

It was also the first time I had refusals in stadium.

The first time I did not complete a stadium course.

And the first time I only jumped one fence of the cross-country course.

I'm not feeling too great about myself as a rider right now.

After walking the stadium course, I was actually feeling pretty good about it. The turns I thought would be tricky really had a lot more room than it appeared from the in-gate, the fences didn't look big, and I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing.

Until I watched the Novice riders go around the same track, and saw stop after stop after fall after stop. No fewer than three riders fell off, and there were so many refusals I couldn't even count them. I think there were maybe two clear rounds, tops.

My confidence started waning.

But Dino warmed up well, and a friend who rode the BN course right before me had a great, positive clear round. I went in feeling ok about it, until Dino spooked at some flower boxes on the side of the ring on our way to Fence 1, which apparently was also Very Scary, and he slammed on the brakes in front of the very first jump. I turned him around, got him over, and then jumped fences 2-4 without a hitch. Coming around the corner to Fence 5 I didn't see a distance, and instead of putting my leg on, I waffled about it and made my pony stop again. I circled, and on our second approach to Fence 5 I was so anxious and scared that I practically pulled him up in front of the jump. With three refusals, we were done. I left the ring.

Somehow, I actually look like I know what I'm doing... attempt #2 over Fence 1
The judge said that I could have a go at cross country, but after one stop we had to pull up and leave. Fair enough. I wasn't sure if I wanted to make the attempt, but eventually decided that I had better at least try, so I did. Dino warmed up like a superstar, of course, but the guy manning the start box started counting me down from 30 seconds without warning before I had even gotten a chance to jump the oxer, so I had to just sort of canter through the start box and get going.

Feeling rushed AND nervous AND kind of terrified is not a good combination.

Dino came out of the start box like a rocket, I pointed him to the log that was Fence 1, and he asked if we were jumping. I told him I didn't know, and pretty much turned him away from it. Twice. On the third try I jumped the log, and then turned around and left the course.

Again, don't be fooled by the appearance of competence here.
I feel like the worst jumping rider in the world. I feel frustrated that anxieties I thought I had conquered are back again, and that I can't seem to get over making a mistake and move on. It's upsetting to work so hard at something, and come out and suck this bad at a competition.

I just want to be legitimately good at this.

Maybe it's time to take up knitting instead.

My pony hides his head in embarrassment. 


  1. First, CONGRATS on a kick ass dressage score! That's so awesome, and Dino looks quite fancy pants in his braids :) Also, another congrats on getting a dressage award at this show! That's definitely something to be proud of!

    I know that you're feeling a bit down about yourself as far as jumping goes, but try to remember the general bad assery that you had doing 3 FOOT FREAKING 6 the other night. Sometimes, you go to a show and you feel like you're ready to go a Grand Prix, and other times you have days like you had yesterday. It happens, this is horses. You know that Dino loves to jump and you certainly know how to jump and get around a stadium and XC course successfully; I've seen you do it in person. I'm bummed for you that some of your jumping anxieties seem to be rearing their ugly heads right now, but try not to dwell on it (I know, I know, easier said than done). You're certainly entitled to wallow for a bit after yesterday, but keep in mind that you're a fantastic, effective rider on a kick ass Euro Pony that trusts you and loves his job. One bad show doesn't mean that you should take up knitting instead...you have too many awesome saddle pads to let go to waste ;)

  2. first of all - congratulations on that dressage score!! you've been working so hard to find a recipe that works for getting Dino forward and happy in the sandbox and it all paid off - you should be really proud of that score and ribbon! as for the rest, i'm so sorry it was a rough and disappointing day. you guys have loads of talent tho and will undoubtedly figure out a way to get all the pieces clicking together despite the pressures of competition.

  3. I gotta tell you, I'm always blown away by how comfortable you feel at Bucks. I think it's by far the hardest show venue to ride at I've ever been to. Nailing that kind of dressage score with how much chaos goes on around the rings is awesome!!

    As for the jumping, I'm of the mindset that if you make it out alive from one of their stadium courses, you've pretty much won the entire show no matter what the results say. No big deal you got in your head this time. You guys will get back in the groove for the next show. You know you're capable, and you know your pony is capable. And if you're still feeling a little anxious, go ahead and drop back down a level, or go to a different venue where everything isn't going to be maxed out like Bucks is just to get some confidence back.

  4. It happens to everyone, even the best. I know it's much easier said than done, but take a couple days to be upset about it and then let it go, put it in the past, and move forward. What's done is done, so all you can do now is learn and grow from it. Disastrous shows are just learning opportunities in disguise. ;)

  5. EVERYONE has told me that Bucks has a certain atmosphere to it that is electric for horses.

    Everyone gets in their head from time to time and I dunno, you guys have struggled with the whole sandbox thing for awhile, so I feel like this was a big WIN in that department! You know you can jumps the jumps... maybe you guys need to head out to a little jumper show to hop around some stadium courses and get your confidence back? That's the only real bummer with eventing, you can't just enter the next class and sort it out!

    ps. I always braid for events now (after seeing photos of Riley braided at a show) I was like WHOA -- plus it takes like 15 minutes to put in 11 braids:) Dino looks so svelte!

  6. Congrats on that dressage score! Wow! Try not to be so hard on yourself for the rest, you can't be perfect all the time! ;)

  7. Knitting is cool. Maybe if you take up knitting before your stadium rounds, instead of watching for mistakes, it can save you.

    Otherwise, I think Dino is going to be pretty bored with knitting. ;)


    1. What if Allison knits Dino PJ's!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. That's a great dressage score! Try not to dwell on your stadium and XC- everyone has a rough day!

  9. Aw, it's okay. We ALL have those off days, and you shouldn't beat yourself up over it. Try to take a deep breath and focus on the positives.

  10. Girl, I know exactly where you're coming from right now. It is so hard when something you THOUGHT you had in the bag turns out, instead, to be filled with treachery and deceit.

    I agree with everyone above -- remember what you have to be proud of from this show, though it may be hard with the end result being so non-optimal. And then take what you can from stadium and learn from it. Honestly, it sounds like you've already figured out a LOT of the things you needed to do differently already! (Which puts you in a way better position than I, because I rode around for three more weeks all "WHY IS THIS NOT WORKING")

    I KNOW you can do this and totally believe in you. I'm on your team. Team EuroPony!

  11. Those photos are amazing. Your pony is amazing. And you are amazing. Remember that. You have done incredible things. And you will do even more, so hold that head up and go kick some more ass. I know you can.

  12. I have had that show before. Random refusals, confidence decreasing and indecision leading to bad jumping and the dreaded E. Some horses will do it anyway, but many wont. Hugs to you and of course congrats on an AMAZING dressage! You and Dino got this, you just had an off day. You're an amazing rider.

  13. It wasn't your day but you guys will work at it and improve. It stinks and I've totally been there... But keep your chin up. Houston and I had some pretty dismal events so if you ever want to chat let me know :)


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