I have always been a bit of a backyard rider. I train at home, show from home, and operate on a tight (aka tiny) budget. About 8 years ago I had this awesome little OTTB named Tax Dance who really liked dressage. I competed him at schooling shows and did very well. I felt my scores would likely justify the purchase of my first pair of white breeches and an entry in the spring in an actual recognized dressage show. 

Sadly, my horse developed some soundness issues and the breeches remained in the plastic wrappers. After a couple of other horses, a multi-state move west and a few fits and starts I decided to take my new mare to a dressage schooling show.

So, I joined the local dressage GMO and off we went to show Introductory Level at a schooling show. At which we actually scored well enough that I decided MAYBE we could qualify for the for Indiana Dressage Society championships. The only way to qualify was to show both days at the RECOGNIZED Indiana Dressage Festival I & II.

Thankfully, introductory level is not a USDF recognized level, so we were able to show without paying a number of the fees that you do at Training Level and above. Of course, I also talked my friend Brandi into taking her horse Thor as well. Because, hey, if you are going to reach for something, it is awesome if your friend is beside you reaching as well.

Because I was going to recognized show, I knew I wanted to wear white breeches and I was so excited that mine actually FIT! It has always been a dream of mine to show at a recognized show for YEARS, and I set my goals at 60% or better on my tests.

We arrived Friday afternoon, unpacked and had a nice quiet school. Cinder was well behaved and settled into her stall nicely. Saturday morning came early… and so did the bugs. The gnats at this particular show are unbelievable and annoying! Brandi rode her first test at 7:42 am and I followed shortly thereafter.

She rode Intro A, B and C both days and had very good scores both days and improved not only from the last show but between Saturday and Sunday. I was so happy for her! I thought Cinder did well all day. I was happy that we got both canter leads (we have some work to do in canter) for the most part the inconsistent left bend at trot was not too hideously obvious. We can rock it at the walk though. We scored amazingly well all day and got all the blues and the high point for the day at Intro level. (Intro A 75.313%) I nearly cried, I was so happy to finally check this off my bucket list.

My Sunday Ride times were at 2 and 3:30 pm. UGH! By the time we rode it was hot and BUGGY and my poor mare was beyond ready to go home. I had a little performance anxiety because my scores from Saturday were so high and Cinder was a bit less settled, but we pulled out a decent test despite halting at X instead of G in Intro C. 

The movement scored an 8 with a -2 error. I am actually ok with that because I knew that we did a well-balanced turn with a nice forward trot, three walk steps into a nice halt. Cinder had been cranky about the halt transitions in warm up so I was so distracted by that and I completely forgot to keep going even thought I had recited the test about 5 times. I decided against scratching my last test, Intro B, and going home because I thought Cinder deserved a better ride. We went back and rode it and were both more relaxed and fluid. For our effort we earned two more blue ribbons and ended up high point ride at Introductory Level Sunday as well (Intro B 70.938%). It was such an amazing and exhausting weekend.

My mare’s full name is Three Cups Fire Truck. A very dear family friend of ours who passed away a few years ago from ovarian cancer had a favorite blonde joke and the punchline was “duh Big Red Truck” referring to a fire truck. At one point over the weekend I heard her voice saying “oh Hollyn,  I just love your mare!”.  I felt her around me over the weekend and it was so comforting. She would have been so happy for me.

Here are some lessons learned from the weekend:

Success is best when shared with friends! (Brandi & Bri)
My mare prefers not to be gone from home more than one night.
She does like a good long hand graze/exploratory walk or two or ten!
White breeches only last one show day.
Scrubs make great breech covers.
Check to make sure your belt fits just in case they waive jackets. (Sorry Jimmy and George)
I need to work on my hands.
Some women do actually look quite stunning in white breeches. I am not one of them.
Buy all the pictures.
Thank the volunteers A LOT!
Thank your friends who show up and cheer you on.
Bring all the treats and hand them out liberally (per Cinder).
Madeline’s braids rock and can stay in through four complete rolls.
Eron and Madeline are the best!