So the entries have been mailed in and I’ve tried on the old white breeches to make sure they still fit.

It’s been several years since the last time I showed in dressage, but in two weeks, I’m going to try it again.

I grew up riding the hunter/jumper circuits, but had shown in what I guess some would still consider “dressage” in schooling three-day events during that time. I tripped into dressage in college when the IEA Hunt Seat team’s roster was already full and the IDA team was still having try outs. But I didn’t fall in love with dressage until after I graduated, when I was too poor to afford a horse of my own and was desperate to do just about anything to be around horses. I ended up working with a trainer who would become a great friend who let me ride her upper level dressage horse.

Fast forward to now, and after a couple of years of showing my 18-year-old Hanoverian mare as a hunter, we’ve started dabbling in dressage. It’s been a nice change of pace — Belinda is already well-schooled in the discipline (it’s what she did mostly before becoming my horse) and I promised her a break from jumping after a successful show season last year.

So I’ve printed out the tests and started to memorize them. I’ve taken some lessons. I’ve even bought a new dressage saddle. I’m committed to this, even if I’m scared out of my wits about it.

In an effort to keep a cool head, I’m trying to keep my expectations low for this first show. If I hit any of these bottom-of-the-barrel goals, I’ll be thrilled.

Keep all the white stuff clean. The breeches. The gloves. The stock tie. The saddle pad. Holy moly, who thought it was a good idea to use so much white fabric in a sport involving manure, dust, dirt and the outer elements?

Don’t cluck (or curse) in the ring. I might be able to get away with muttering bad words under my breathe in the jumper ring, but definitely not here. It’s like golf. Must. Remember. To. Be. Quiet.

Remember to wear white underwear. (or better yet, nude SPANX). This was my first rookie mistake in college – showing up to our first IDA show with my bright green underwear showing through my breeches.

Breathe. This one is universal. I may be a little nervous at the hunter shows, but I’m in my element over there. Here, I don’t know anybody. I don’t really know anything. And it’s just gonna be weird.

Don’t make a scene. So say disaster strikes and I forget where I’m going in my test, or my horse has a panic attack in the warm up. The goal is really just to not end up in the dirt.

So maybe, just maybe, if I make it through this first show there may be more our future.
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