Sunday, May 11, 2014

Heart of the Valley - Part 1

Such a fun weekend! Thoroughly exhausted by it all, but I think that our first recognized show was a success!


I had 6 hours to get everything done, from finishing loading the trailer, cleaning stalls, loading all my stuff in the truck, bathing Misty, etc. I got to the barn and hooked up the trailer and pulled it forward to finish loading it and... there was a flat tire. And my spare tire is still flat. Gah! Not helpful. I sent a frantic text to my friend that boards at the same barn and she said to just take her trailer. We have the same trailer in fact. Perfect! Only non-perfect thing is that my freshly cleaned and organized trailer would not be going with me and instead I would be taking my friend's very unorganized, full-of-basically-everything trailer. There just simply wasn't time (or space for that matter!) to take all of her stuff out and put it elsewhere. It was overwhelming the amount of things she has been able to cram in that trailer.

Anyhow, everything else went perfectly smoothly and I was able to get everything done in the amount of time I had before leaving the barn and picking up a friend who was going to groom for me on the way to Devonwood!

We arrived without a hitch and easily checked in and got Misty unloaded and settled in. She acted like a normal horse this time around in her stall, versus the last show were she was ping-ponging off the walls like she'd never been confined before. I opted not to ride her because the arenas were so muddy and she was SO CLEAN. Plus it was alternately sprinkling and pouring down rain. Awful excuse, I know, but I just couldn't do it. I had already spent at least an hour scrubbing those white legs to get the stains off. Instead we strolled around the grounds then she got dinner and I left. Devonwood is incredibly gorgeous and I was so excited to ride!


Morning came wayyy too early. My first ride was at 8am so I woke up at 5:30am to make the half hour drive from my friends' house to the show. Misty was still nice and clean for the most part, so a quick rinse and then we tacked up and warmed up. My first test was Training 1 and I was the only rider in that class since the other one scratched. I was kind of bummed to have no competition even though we'd get an automatic first place.

Getting all ready!

We warmed up and I kind of regretted not lunging beforehand. Misty decided that she was going to be a bronc horse. There was all sorts of leaping and jumping around the warm-up ring. Geez. She normally doesn't buck under saddle (unless you use a whip) but she was certainly feeling good! Finally she settled down and we were able to do an actual warm-up. I was just glad that I didn't fall off (Misty's "bucks" are pretty easy to sit) but someone else did end up getting bucked off and then their horse ran around the warm-up arena like a racehorse for 5 minutes until she decided she was done. Misty stood like a rock the whole time watching the mare run around in circles, bucking and doing sliding stops. Nice to have a chill horse sometimes!

Our first ride was in the sand arena which was nice and flooded in several areas. Misty doesn't mind water, but she didn't particularly enjoy trotting through it. It was kind of cute how high she picked up her feet when trotting through the water. It was not a great test. Misty hadn't quite settled into contact yet, especially in her bad direction to the right, and she threw in a buck during one canter transition and dropped to the trot in another area. But overall, not too bad for the first test of the day, which is always a warm-up test for me anyways.

Splish-splashing around

Surprisingly we got a 63.75% which I thought was fairly generous. I did have a momentary heart attack when I saw the score online to be 27%. Uhhh, how did I manage to get 2's and 3's across the board?! Luckily, it was a (major) typo and when I picked up my test I asked about it and they fixed it online so it wouldn't be send to USDF that way. Whew.

Mostly 6.5's with a few 7's and 6's. She halted suuuper crookedly both times which was a little frustrating after all our work. Comments mostly consisted of noting when she was tense or unsteady. Free walk wasn't very good (she still didn't understand the concept). I got a 7 on rider position which made me super happy since I struggle so much with sitting up straight and not rolling my shoulders. Overall comment: "Attractive, capable horse who needs a more supple back and topline and reach out to contact, especially outside rein. Watch use of spurs in canter transition so she stays more relaxed."

I know that contact is going to be a forever battle that I'm not sure will every be won, just because of the way she was started under saddle, though she's certainly improved in leaps and bounds from where I got her. But, suppling the back is certainly something that we can work on and improve now.

Gorgeous facilities

Second test was shortly after so I stayed on and worked on getting her a little softer in the bridle and straighter on our halts, with no explosiveness in our canter transitions before heading to the terrace arena for Training 2.

The terrace arena just had brand new footing installed and it was DEEP. I was warned about it previously but didn't think it would have too much of an effect until I actually rode in it. Geez. Now if it was Jetta, she would have been perfectly happy. She actually likes deeper footing and works well in it. Misty on the other hand is still not quite where I want her fitness-wise and she definitely got tired out in it.

I thought this was a much better test, despite having to really push her through the second half. She had a nice stretchy walk and trot, transitions were mostly good (one late canter transition), straight halts and she was steadier in the bridle this time around. She did try to canter several times during the trot work because she was tired (easier to canter than to trot). We ended up with a 62.14% which wasn't as high as I had hoped, but I was still quite pleased with Misty. Mostly 6's with a few 7's for all of our canter and trot transitions and the last halt. A couple 5.5's for the stretchy trot and a trot circle. This judge was a stickler for perfect circles which was the reason for the 5.5's. Overall comment: "Energetic ride. Be careful not to ride past his balance. Horse is still developing in connection. Pair is learning here. He needs confidence to consistently reach to bit from a supple hand." Hmm. Well, I guess you can't always have the most helpful comments.

At least we didn't place last, but I thought that we had gotten sixth place, but unfortunately the final results put us in 7th, just out of a ribbon :(

Misty got untacked, stuffed with carrots and given lunch hay before we went to watch the rest of the dressage team members. Two girls riding first/second level and one riding fourth level. JM, who was riding fourth, also had a musical freestyle. So much fun to watch, she did awesome. I think it would be so much fun to someday do a freestyle.

Overall, a really good first day to the show!

Since videos are taking forever to upload, I will put them up tomorrow and in the meantime you just get cell phone pictures and pictures I took of other people! Hopefully higher quality pictures of Misty and I will be following shortly.

That medium trot... One of the dressage team girls' sister

AH and Tova

JB and Bob


  1. Wow those facilities are gorgeous!

  2. Misty is soooo cute as a dressage pony!

  3. I'm with L, those are beautiful grounds! And she looks adorable picking up her toes!

  4. Beautiful place. Sounds like she was a good girl on day one, despite being a little disappointed about your second score.