Fall Fun at Fair Hill: Show Recap Part 1

Photo by Megan of Go Big or Go Home
I've said it before and I'll say it again: one of the very best, most unexpected parts of starting this blog has been the wonderful community of like-minded equestrians that I've connected with over the years. Many of us live in the Mid-Atlantic area, and we all got the chance to meet up once more at this past weekend's schooling horse trial at Fair Hill! As always, it was WONDERFUL to see Emma, Michele, and Megan and give them all a big squishy hug in person!

Dino and I started the day with a luxuriously late 7am wakeup call. Our dressage test wasn't until nearly 2pm, which allowed me to leisurely get ready that morning with plenty of time to get to Fair Hill well before our test. It was fabulous, and no one got hit in the eye by a rogue pony skull.

A good beginning on all accounts.

What a handsome steed!
We arrived as Emma was thinking about getting ready for her dressage test, and I strolled up to the secretary and checked in before moseying back down to walk with Emma and Charlie to warm-up. Dino chilled out in the trailer like the absolute professional show pony he is. We videoed their LOVELY test, and then I checked on Dino and hopped in the truck with Michele to walk our jumping courses!

I want to apologize to Michele at this point for running through both stadium and XC like a total speed demon as she tried to keep up on her bad foot that had just been injected. I was getting twitchy about having enough time to warm up for dressage and rudely left my friend behind! Sorry, girl!

Once we got back to the trailers I suited up myself and Dino for the sandbox, and headed into the warm up arena. Our course walk had left me with only about 15 minutes to warm up for our test, and I was feeling the pressure. Dino, bless him, went right to work for me and we banged out some transitions and circles in all three gaits, as well as a few baby leg yields to get him thinking about stepping into my outside rein. However, the shortened warm up didn't give me enough time to get him relaxed and truly working through, but I had to work with what he was giving me and we headed down centerline feeling a touch unprepared.

What I wanted our dressage trot to look like. Photo by Megan.
There is zero dressage media since our group's ride times were all cattywampus that day, but I was honestly pretty happy with the test for what it was. Dino was much more tense and not as lovely as he was in our lesson earlier in the week, but he was forward and very obedient. I would have liked to have achieved the softness in his topline that we had in our lesson, but all in all it was a pretty solid test for us.

The judge apparently did not agree and scored us a 38, slamming several movements with 5's. Ouch! It definitely didn't feel like a high-30's test, and I was admittedly disappointed in the score, but most riders in my division walked away with scores in the high 30's and low 40's, so I chalked it up to a grouchy judge. I was still sitting in 5th after the dressage, which wasn't as competitive as we have been lately, but still in the upper half of the division.

Before I knew it, it was time to make the trek through the woods for our jumping phases. I was feeling a little nervous about it after our un-inspiring performance at Burgundy Hollow in July, but felt both courses were well within our combined capabilities. I was determined to keep Dino packaged up and balanced in stadium and not let him drag me around!

"None of your nonsense today, pony." "I make no promises." Photo by Megan
He warmed up very well, feeling forward yet rideable and allowing me to place him at whatever distance I wanted. I felt pretty darn good about putting in a clear stadium round!

However, Dino had other ideas.

We came around to the first fence, a small oxer, and I was focusing VERY hard on using my half halts to create a better balance in the canter and start the course off on the right foot. Dino felt forward and committed to his job, and so naturally I just sat there and didn't keep my leg on.

Dino stopped. That little punk. No matter how 'forward' he feels, I still can't trust that pony!

Dat release tho'. Photo by Megan.
After a quick spank and a re-approach, we popped over Fence 1, and the rest of the course went fine! I made sure to ride decisively and and indicate CLEARLY that I wanted Dino to actually leave the ground and jump the jumps, and he was super. Our simple changes were nice and tidy, and he made quick work of the rest of the course, adding just 4 faults to our score. I was disappointed in the stop, but confident that we could still manage to stay in the ribbons with a clear XC run!

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion!


  1. I vote Megan official East Coast photog. Those are great pictures!

  2. woooooo soo good to see you and Dino and i'm so happy i got to watch your jumping phases!!!!! little punk moment at jump 1 aside, you guys looked fantastic!! sorry to miss dressage tho, next time! also yea i think there were a lot of tough judges out there that day across all 4 rings, not a lot of low scorers! anyway can't wait to read the rest!!

  3. yeah judges in dressage were TOUGH not that my pony didn't deserve some bad marks for his bad mood but there is no reason for Dino to be marked so harshly. I love showing with you guys!! Dino is such a power pony! LOVE Him and if he disappears one day you will know where he is. I think he looks great in those photos (Yes Megan must come to all the shows and take photos if we could get Austen too just think of the possibilities) HA!

    1. i have a couple of you! theyre post xc tho when remus promptly stopped as soon as he realized he was out of jumps hahaha

  4. Dino keeping you on your toes! I hate that feeling of rushing to your dressage warm up yet I do it every single event lollll

  5. "No matter how forward he feels, I still can't trust that pony." OMG, story of my LIFE! You guys looked great though:) Jealous you get to hang with Michele, Emma and Megan, and that you guys have sooo many showing opportunities. I'm in the wrong state!

  6. Boy, that Dino doesn't let you slack off for a second! Awesome job regrouping and getting it done though! So jealous that you're all so close to each other!

  7. That sneaky pony! Good recovery though, which is the real victory!

  8. Great recovery!! Love the pictures :)


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