I packed up the trailer and #Maredrama on Saturday and we headed to her first combined test! After the last few weeks of practice, I was feeling mentally prepared and the mare was feeling fit… We were ready!

With nearly zero trailer-loading drama (hmm, what is she conserving her energy for), we hit the road with two of our friends that were coming to school and compete that day. I was looking forward to seeing a bunch of friends that were also competing from other barns that I hadn’t seen all winter. With not having a consistent horse to compete the last couple years, Saturday was shaping up to be a super day for me!

When we pulled up to Portofino Equestrian Center in Clayton, NC our jaws hit the floor. This place was AMAZING. The beautiful twin obelisks at the entrance with merry flags waving us in made my friend hit the brakes and yell “TAKE A PICTURE OF THIS!” Can you tell we had been competing at the local level for a while? That was nothing compared to the barn. We got the grand tour from a friend who boards there and let me just say, I would gladly live in the hayloft with the top notch care this place clearly gives. Shout out to all the show officials, volunteers and other riders, I didn’t meet a mean or judgmental person all day!

After ogling a little more over the stone trimmed showers in the restrooms, we checked in and tacked up for a little cross-country schooling before we showed (all of our ride times were mid-afternoon). Our gracious friend decided that her green pony was not ready to face solid obstacles and hiked around the grounds with us as our official photographer and ground person. I trotted #Maredrama around to take in the scenery, she was feeling like a million bucks ready to take on everything we passed by. After warming up over a few smaller elements, I started testing her through a couple of combinations at the maiden and beginner novice levels… She LOVED it! She didn’t look twice at any question I pointed her at. After she got her feet wet in the water complex she was galloping through and up the bank and over the fence on the far side like she had been doing it her entire life. What an awesome schooling experience!

We had a nice break to eat lunch, relax, and try to get my beast white again. When I headed down to the dressage warm up, #Maredrama decided to throw in a little extra flair and bulge and half rear at the stone pile on the corner of the jump warm up. I waved off a couple of people that offered to help lead me to the ring explaining she just likes to be extra fancy (did I mention how awesome the people were). She started out warming up like a bat out of hell but settled nicely enough to where I was able to exit and watch a couple of tests before mine.

#Maredrama put in a solid test scoring right in the middle of the pack. It was a little speedy and tense (as per the judges remarks), but an excellent effort by the white dragon! The judge even wrote that there were MANY great moments in the test and that there was great potential for the two of us. Unlike the hunters where you can leave the ring after nailing the perfect round empty handed and bewildered as to why you didn’t place, I realize I missed having that immediate feedback that you get on your dressage test. Many things to work on in the sandbox but overall very happy with our results!

The show jumping ring was ahead of schedule so I quickly walked my course and headed up to the trailer for a quick tack change and trotted back down the hill to warm up. By this point, I could tell that my legs and the mare were starting to get fatigued so we did minimal warm up and trotted into the show jumping ring. Aside an unfortunate rail at fence two which was definitely rider error (I forgot where it was and my legs had gone to Jell-O so when I spotted the number 2 fence I just pointed her head and kicked and said a little prayer) I got my butt back in the saddle and finished our round feeling pretty great.

My friends finished their days with excellent rounds in both dressage and show jumping. I think we were all super happy with how the day panned out! #Maredrama came home with a beautiful yellow ribbon and a lot of excellent feedback on what we can work on for next time. This horse has a bright future ahead of her and I’m excited to (literally) be along for the ride!

Thank you to the staff and volunteers at Portofino Equestrian Center, we will definitely be back soon!