The Horse Trial That Almost Was

My Alma Mater has a jump at BCHP now! 
The one series of horse trials that I've made it a point to attend consistently this season are the Bucks County Horse Park's Friday Evening Eventing shows. These HT's are close by, super laid back, inexpensive, fun, and also have their own year-end awards. They're a great way for me to learn how to be competitive vs. just hoping for my pony to canter when I ask him to in dressage and jump all the jumps. Plus, all of the shows fit into my schedule, so for the first time EVER I'm actually able to shoot for a year-end award, which has me pretty excited!

I arrived at the horse park on Friday not quite knowing what to expect from the weather. The forecast was calling for chances of thunderstorms, but when I got there the skies were blue and it was getting HOT. 


Add in just ONE small, insanely crowded warm-up ring for both jumping and dressage, and Dino was one seriously cranky pony. After a few minutes of trying to ride his very angry self in the arena I gave up and finished my warm-up in the grassy area next to the dressage ring. Dino was suddenly MUCH more relaxed and happy to do his job, but it was HOT, I had already gotten up super early that day and driven 3+ hours round trip to show a farm, and my mental state was leaning more towards "So Hot So Tired I Don't Wanna" than "Game Face On." I got Dino moving well over his whole back and lifting his withers, and then gave him a long break before our test. We were both already drenched with sweat, and I wanted to conserve what little energy he had. 

sorry/notsorry I only have blurry screen caps from stadium
Unfortunately, my lackluster attitude carried over to the dressage court and we had a very mediocre test. Dino was sucked behind the leg & the bridle throughout most of it, and I had to kick him into the canter in both directions. Our circles weren't very accurate, and the whole test was just BLAH. We received a 32.6, which a year ago would have thrilled me, but that day I found it very disappointing. I knew that we were capable of vastly better work, and I was annoyed with myself that I hadn't tried harder to get it.

Because it was so hot and Dino felt so sticky, I opted not to switch to the slow twist for the jumping phases and instead kept my pony in our standard French Link. I didn't want to give him any more excuses for not going forward! 

The warm up ring for stadium was once again a three-ring circus, but this time I had no choice except to dodge the fifty thousand other riders crammed into the tiny ring and try and get the "Go Forward" and "Jump" buttons installed. Dino, bless his soul, put on an angry pony face the entire time, but he did jump every single fence without question. He felt a little long and weak, and I knew I'd have to ride strongly to the first fence of the stadium course to get my point across. I mentally accepted that I might have to awkwardly trot him over the first jump if necessary. 

Color me surprised when Dino stepped into the stadium ring and was all business! In the video, you can see him with his Angry Face on until we get a few strides away from Fence 1, and then his ears come up and homeboy is rockin' and rollin'! The round was much more about managing his canter than pushing him forward, which caught me off guard a little and led to a few chippy distances, but overall I was super pleased with the course. Dino was forward and happy, gave me a snappy little lead change between 3 and 4, and just trucked around and jumped the jumps. I was happy to finish with a clear round! 

Despite the thunder now rumbling softly in the distance and the rain starting to drizzle down, I felt good about cross country. I had planned to take both "Graduate" options on course - the ditch and the small water crossing. It would be a good test for Fair Hill the week after, which has both elements on its Intro course. It had been a long time since Dino and I had encountered either of those obstacles on course vs. schooling them individually, and BCHP was a great place to test out how we'd handle it. 

To my disappointment, as I neared the start box a huge bolt of lightning cracked across the sky, and the show announcer told everyone to dismount and load their horses on their trailers for a 20 minute hold to let the storm blow over. Annoyed, but still committed to finishing my last phase, I marched Dino back to the trailer and sat out the next several minutes of driving rain, lightning, and thunder. But as with all summer storms, it seemed to be over and done with quickly. 

Once the storm began to dissipate and it was announced that the competition would resume, I got back on and trotted back towards the start box. I got to the EXACT SAME SPOT I had gotten to last time, determined to run the course no matter what, and another bolt of lightning flashed across the dark clouds, followed by a loud clap of thunder. Another announcement was made that the rest of the show was cancelled for the day, and all competitors were to dismount, load up, and go home. 

I was so, so disappointed! While management is giving everyone who didn't get to complete a credit towards the next horse trial, I was still really bummed out that I wasn't able to finish. The division couldn't even be scored and placed as a combined test, since not even everyone got to ride the stadium course, but a few riders got to finish the entire HT. So, no cross country, no ribbon, and no points towards YEA's. 


Here's hoping Fair Hill will yield a full completion, and a RIBBON! 


  1. ugh i'm so disappointed for you too!!! blast that weather!!!! >:(

    still tho, that stadium round was AWESOME, i love the forward base and bold distances! Dino looks like he's loving every minute too!!

  2. Oh nuts I thought stadium had wrapped up and you still got satin. Wah.

  3. That's so frustrating :( but at least you had a good stadium round, and some credit towards the next event!

  4. hey at least they offered a credit. Most events dont do that much. Rain/ weather so sorry don't come/go home :( Looks like it was a great evening even with the heat. And I would KILL for a 32 percent :) LOL just saying....

    I saw your instagram post on his lead change and he was very snappy that day! WOW :) see you soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Ugh, weather can really spoil your fun! I'm glad your stadium round went so well though! At least you got a nice school out of it!

  6. big storms like that are scary and it sucks you weren't able to finish! Nice of them to give you a credit though and everyone was safe!

  7. Aww, too bad about the weather! Love the jump course, nicely done, and a 32 is awesome for an 'off' day! The angry face until he figures out you're jumping stuff is eerily similar to B's and made me lol

  8. Such a bummer! Too bad you weren't even able to get some satin to show for your effort!


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