August 22, 2019


1. Judges can surprise you.

I need to photoshop a circus ball under his three feet on the ground here 😂
I don't think I actually would have scratched, but I thought about it.  And I'm choosing to ignore the fact that the judge may have listened to the complaints registered by other riders to the TD after Saturday's ride, because that's not helping anything if she did listen, and if she didn't, I totally kicked ass.  But it's a good reminder that even a judge you think you know can surprise you when you get the score sheet.

2. Lean into your imposter syndrome

I am riding passably at rated Second.  The me of two years ago is in awe of that.  The me of today still feels no more competent than I did the day I first took a lesson with my trainer.  I have to keep in perspective that this is a sport where we ASK to be criticized, and we're never going to stop getting criticisms, being worried about moving up, all of that.  So I choose to lean into the imposter syndrome and not let it get me down, because every single level is going to feel this way.  Riding Second IS cool, take that, brain.

3. Talk to people at horse shows!

I made a new friend this weekend in the most kindergarten way possible.  I was unloading Connor and she said "Hey, I like your pony" and I said "I like your pony too!" and we ended up talking off and on the rest of the weekend and by text after she left.  We're both adults riding ponies who work in similar industries and she works for one of my customers, so we had a lot to talk about.  We're going to try to show together again in the future despite the fact that she lives four hours away.

4. Two tests in one day is still not possible right now BUT probably would be with some canter conditioning

Literally dying

Once we hit 1-3, our days of doing two tests in a day were done.  So I could probably fix this one.  As it is, we both come out of the ring just exhausted, and that exhausted feeling starts when we hit the canter work in the test.  Winter priority maybe?

5. Showing on consecutive days is worth the price of rated shows.

Not set back against him in my body here, HOORAY GO TEAM

I haven't shown rated in two years, and I didn't realize how much I missed showing on back to back days.  Being able to take the judge's feedback and the visual feedback from the photos and implement it the very next day was so much more helpful than showing once and leaving.  For example, I noticed in the photos (thank you Karen!) from Day 1 that I was set back against him in my position, and I was able to fix that in Day 2 and it made a huge difference.

August 20, 2019

Connor = Basic

Connor's favorite part of horse shows is downtime, when I put a lawn chair in front of his stall, drape a lead rope across it like a stall guard, and sit in front of him.

I will never buy him an actual stall guard, because he's too mischevious to ever get actual stall guard privileges.  Either there's a person with him or that door is closed, there is no in between!

He loves people - watching people, messing with people, being messed with by people - so he is in absolute heaven when we do this.  He'll stand there as long as you let him and won't go back in his stall until you finally make him.

He switches back and forth between nosing my lap, getting ear scritches, swiveling around to watch the hustle and bustle of the shedrow, trying to eat my snacks, and just cuddling. 

I even fell asleep in the chair last weekend, and when I woke up, he was dozing above me.

But usually he's more active than that - like in this video, when he tries REALLY hard to get some of my White Claw 😂  You may have to click through if you're reading this in RSS, but trust me, it's worth it.

So basic, stealin' Claws.

August 19, 2019

Rated Second Debut

Our first two rated Second Level shows are in the books!  Don't let the blue ribbons fool you, they're basically participation ribbons because I was the only pro ("pro") showing 2-1 this weekend.

Thank you Karen for all the pictures in this post!

The important thing is that I came away with one Bronze Medal score, and came tantalizingly close to getting two.  And I think even more importantly, I no longer have that "are we or aren't we a Second Level pair" haze hanging over my head. 

Saturday we scored a 59.73%, 0.27% short of a Bronze score.  This was one of those judges that gave straight 6's as a baseline score unless you impressed her for better or for worse.  Besides all the 6's and a couple of 5.5's, we got one 7 for this halt:

and most annoyingly, a FIVE for submission. 

Okay, maybe there was some bit evasion going on

Saturday's test was just average in every way, nothing bad happened but I didn't really have a lot of horse either, and I was okay with the score.  It would have been nice to find another point and get the 60%, but at least we didn't embarrass ourselves.

I went into Sunday knowing I was riding for the other judge, who on Saturday had scored everyone so low across the board, people who weren't there were texting people who were there to ask WTF was going on after seeing the online results.  Mid-50's won classes, accomplished riders had scores in the 40's, and most worrying, some of the judge's comments were downright mean.

I had a split-second thought of scratching - if I'd scored a 59% for the easy judge, what was the hard judge going to do to me?  But I decided if all I got for this entry fee was the chance to ride 2-1 two days in a row and try to put in a better ride, I'd do it, scores be damned.

His favorite part, standing still
It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot better.  I was able to focus a lot more on myself and be a more active pilot.  He did break twice in the canter, both times my fault.  I was trying to half halt him and was just too aggressive, but hey, at least I was actually riding!

Progress. Also those braids are 30 hours old in this picture!

Given the bobbles and the tough judge, the idea that that test could be a 60, even though it was better than my previous attempt, didn't cross my mind.  I was just hoping for mid 50's.  So I was genuinely gobsmacked when I saw the results:

62.432!   If they'd combined the divisions, we would have been third out of five.  I took this picture because even after staring at the paper for a few minutes, I still didn't believe it.

So that's the story of how I got my first Second Level Bronze score.  In a jump saddle, because I mean why not?

August 12, 2019

Rated Second, Here We Come

With my fingers crossed that Connor's scratches will heal quickly, I went ahead and entered the rated show this coming weekend. 

Work your magic, diaper aisle
It'll be our first time showing rated Second, and I entered for 2-1 both days.  Now that we've scored mid-60's at a schooling show, I feel confident throwing the, y'know, $400 toward a rated show.  And I'm tired of being a baby about getting out there and Doing the Thing.  What am I protecting by being a weasel about showing?  It's not like I'm trying to sell him or teach students. 

The absolute best boy

Our 2-1 effort at the schooling show in July was a confidence builder.  I hadn't ridden in a week before then and the photos Connor's breeder took (so thankful for those and so happy she came!) proved my reins were waaaaay too long, so I definitely left points on the table.  Even still, we scored a 64%.

What is actually going on here, I'm not sure
One thing I did for the first time this show (besides wearing a colored shirt for the first time, yay, go me!) is wear a watch.  Specifically a plain old running watch.  It doesn't seem to be against the rules (but someone correct me if it is) and it really helped me manage my time effectively in the warmup.

So, all things considered and with a heaping dose of crossed fingers that the scratches have subsided by then, it feels like it's time to tackle rated.  My plan for the rest of the year is to have a good, easy, confidence-building outing at the rated show, then try to do both 2-1 and...2-2?  2-3?  at the September IDS show.  We haven't done two tests in a show in a very long time, and I at least want to TRY it and see what happens.

August 5, 2019


The day before I left town for 8 days for a work trip + wedding, I noticed that Connor had abrasions symmetrically placed on either side of his front left pastern.  I dabbed some ointment on it and chalked it up to him putting his foot through something.


What I came home to
I came home to a raging case of scratches.  He's had pastern dermatitis before, but always on the hinds, always in winter, and it never progressed to the point of open wounds.

This time, it was primarily on the left fore, with just a touch of it on the left hind.

Thankfully I only traveled one overnight this week, so I've been able to return to helicopter mom status.  I did once a day Betadine scrubs for a few days, with antibiotic ointment on the open wounds and Desitin around it after drying thoroughly.  Then I stopped the scrubs and tried a barnmate's silver spray she recommended (verdict: got worse after using it.  Not sure if related or not though). 

The pastern has been a bit swollen this whole time, but when I came out Saturday, the swelling had started creeping up the leg.  Thankfully, after wrapping it, it was cool and tight on Sunday.  Hopefully we're past the worst of it, but one way or another, I will be calling the vet to be on the safe side.

The good news is, he hasn't been lame at all, but even still this can't feel good.

Also, now I get to figure out how to blend this sweet looking "tan line" into the rest of his leg.  I'm not sure I realized how hairy these Cobs stay all summer before now!

Scratches!  Blah.  Hit me with your best home remedies in the comments.