Show Recap Dressage at Devon Amateur Edition Day 1

Living only 30 min from the iconic Devon Show Grounds, I have been quite a few times every year to watch many of the shows that the venue holds. Of course every May I love watching the Jumping Grand Prix and Arena Eventing and every September I get to catch Dressage at Devon with all the upper level riders and breeders that travel in. This year I got the chance to actually ride in those very rings I had watched for so long. One of our local barns hosts an Amateur Dressage show every year, and it had been in the works for a couple of years now, but they finally got it to run at Devon. The entries for this show literally opened and closed in 8 hours. Very popular, and I was very excited to have signed up for both days of showing.

Devon Showgrounds is about an hour drive from my barn, so since I was showing for both days I ended up stabling Friday and Saturday night. I forgot how much work goes into packing for an away over-night show. I had lists upon lists of things to do before I pulled out of my barn Friday, thank goodness I took the day PTO or it would have never gotten done. The ground opened for stabling and schooling at 12. By the time I got the trailer packed, Montego bathed and loaded on the trailer it was about 2:30pm on one of the hottest days of the summer (Real Feel 99). He trailered beautifully, and I pulled into Devon at 3:30. Quickly unloaded him into his stall (one of the SMALLEST stalls I have ever seen) and checked in with the show registration. Got back to the barn, unloaded my trailer and truck into our grooming stall and set up both spaces for the weekend. We ended up being stalled in one of Devon’s more newly renovated barns which had a cross breeze that came in extremely helpful for the weekend.

After everything was unpacked, I got myself and Montego dressed to go school in the Dixon Oval and Wheeler Ring. Montego took it all in like an absolute champ. He strutted around those rings like he owned the place. He has had some anxiety in the past in crowded arenas with multiple horses, but seemed to have no issues this time around. We spent about 45 min schooling, catching up with some old friends in the warm-up rings, and walking around the show grounds before I got him all untacked hosed off and set-up for the night.

I was staying at a hotel super close to the show-grounds so I could do my own night check on him, but then also ended up paying the stable office to check on him 3 times during the night (10pm, 1am, and 4am). It definitely eased my mind a little bit knowing how small those stalls were that he would have eyes on him all throughout the night.

Saturday morning came bright and early for feeding and getting Montego ready for his rides. We had ride times of 10:30 and 11:00 for Training Level Tests 2 &3. The weather was actually surprisingly cooler after Fridays day from hell, so I was really happy that I was not going to over heat in my show coat. This was the first away shows that I did not have anyone in barn with me or a groom staying with me so most of the work and care of Montego was all me. I got Montego braided and cleaned-up right as my barn friends and parents started arriving to help me get ready for my rides.

I wanted to keep our warm-up short and sweet because Montego usually loses a lot of steam with too much schooling before his tests. Once he was quick off my aids I went in for our Tr2 Test in Dixon Oval and our Tr3 Test in the Wheeler Ring. I was extremely happy with both rides, but especially with our Tr2 test. I felt like he was really listening to what I was asking, and I felt like I rode my best dressage test to date. The judge clearly agreed because we won that class with a 70.12%. Our Tr3 class needed a little more suppling, but we finished 3rd with a 66.76%. Both were extremely big classes of 8, so I was really happy with both of our placings.

August and Anaplasmosis

A bit of a catch-up post here as August has seemed to completely fly by and my blogging goal of once a week has been stretched a little further than normal. I finally finished up my busy couple of weeks with our lessons and clinics and shifting my gears from Montego to Luna. Montego’s big Devon recap post will be later as I am waiting for some of the professional pictures to come back, but overall had such an amazing time and was really glad I had the opportunity to compete at Devon.

Luna has had off the past two weeks due to a bout of Anaplasmosis. She came in from the field one night and just was not into eating her hay or grain. Barn Owner took her temp and it was 103.8 so much higher than it should be. I had seen her earlier that day and she was her normal self, so immediately we both jumped to some Tick Borne Illness because where were located its the most common for a fever that quickly with no other symptoms. Of course this had to be on a Saturday Night, so the on-call vet came out, gave her a dose of IV banamine and a big dose of Oxytetracycline to start fighting the fever/anaplasmosis. For those who don’t know “Equine granulocytic anaplasmosis is a seasonal, tickborne bacterial disease of horses caused by an agent that can be transmitted to numerous other host species (via the tick), including people.”1 The symptoms usually present as a high fever and lethargy and come on pretty quickly. The vet mentioned that if her fever still was around tomorrow she probably would need another dose of the Oxytet to wipe of the infection.

The next morning still only ate about half her breakfast and was running a lower grade fever than the day before, but still a fever, so the vet came out again for another dose of Oxytet. Of course being the sensitive flower that she is, the Oxytet completely disrupted her stomach and she was still not super interested in any of her feed which is totally not her. She was still into her hay and grazing, but the amount of grain she normally gets was not sitting well with her tummy so she got about 1.5weeks of Probiotics to help soothe that.

All of this of course was during my two busiest weeks preparing Montego for his show, so Luna got a bit of vacation until I knew she was completely healed and feeling 100% like herself. I ended up using the Equiotic Paste as her probiotic because I knew she was getting the amount she needed in paste form since she had been off her feed. One thing I am learning about her is she really internalizes her problems, so while I do not think she is a typical ulcer prone horse, I want to definitely be cautious in prepping her during stressful situations with probiotics, UlcerGard, and stomach soothers in the future.

Now that we’re out of the woods with the Anaplasmosis, Luna is back in the rotation of work. Both will probably end up with a couple days off this week due to the ungodly amount of rain they are calling for, but I want to get them both back into a pretty regular routine now that the weather is feeling cooler and they’re both feeling good,

My goal is to get Luna off property again in September, we need to practice our trailer loading again though to make sure its a smooth experience. Our jumping trainer is moving to a property about 5 min from us in Mid September until she leaves for Florida in November so my goal is to maybe get Luna over there a couple of times to school and get some weekly lessons before she heads back down south.

thrilled to be back in work

References: 1. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/equine-granulocytic-anaplasmosis/equine-granulocytic-anaplasmosis

Who Turned up the Heat?

I am not a fan of extreme heat. I know the weather in Pennsylvania is pretty mild to the South, but I just do not understand how people ride in that weather all summer. My body does not do well in the heat at all, so on days its particularly hot if I cannot make it out to ride in the early mornings I usually do not ride. This week in PA has been brutally hot and humid so the horses have gotten a bit of a mini vacay. Lots of baths and hand grazing, but no actual saddle time.

105+ real feel

Luckily the heat is supposed to break this weekend and we will be back to our mid 80 days for the rest of August and start cooling down as we head into September. Which is just in time for some fun outings I have planned in the next couple of weeks. One of the local barns in our area does an Adult Amateur show every year with a recognized show the day after. The show always ends up being really fun and has a ton of great prizes so I have always wanted to get to attend. Last year they were supposed to run it at Devon, but with COVID it ended up getting cancelled, which I was super bummed about. However, this year it is on and Montego and I are signed up to compete in both days.

I am really excited to be able to trot down centerline in the iconic Dixon Oval. Definitely a bucket list item of mine. We are showing Training 2 and Training 3 both days which have pretty much been our tests lately. I am excited to see how Montego feels in a new environment with his injections. I expect us to do pretty well, but either way will be a fun experience to have together.

My dressage trainer is also coming up for our monthly lessons the weekend before Devon. Montego will likely be the victim horse I choose to take to both days to clean up some things before our show. I think Luna had a great outing there last month and has made some really nice progress, but its just too hard to take both and ride both at this time. I am hoping to get her to another local barn to school off property in a new ring for her outing this month. We are still working on her trailer loading. She now has accepted getting on my trailer with the divider pushed all the way open, but does not like it when its just a single stall. Other than that, she has been great in the ring. Super willing to get down to work and is really changing the overall way she moves. Much more balanced and overall body awareness.

Not that she was even eligible for RRP because she never made it to the track even for a workout (she is JC registered with a tattoo though), but she would definitely not be a horse that I could have easily flipped around and gotten ready for that event. Talk about growing into herself and really needing this time to mature physically and mentally. She will be 6 next March and I think thats when I will have enough ride ability on the flat that we can really start get to jumping like my original plan for her. Until then, I just adore her goofy personality and getting to know her even better.

5 years not much has changed

Finding that Left Lead

Everything has been pretty quiet recently and just chugging along as normal this July. I do not particularly love the heat this time of year, so I try to plan all my vacations and time away during this month. Montego has been feeling great after his hock and stifle injections. I think the stifles were the key we have been missing for finding a more comfortable canter. I am excited to see how the next month continues with our training before our big show at Devon at the end of August.

always puts up with my shenanigans

Both horses are getting ridden about 3-4 times a week which I do not think either are complaining about. It has been hot and like me both my horses are heavy sweaters and prefer cooler temps to the warmer months. After my dressage lesson in July, I have been riding Luna more in her dressage tack to try and get her to balance a bit better through her entire body. She has really been a horse that I have needed to take a lot more time with to help her figure out where to put her feet and move correctly. I have mentioned before just how much of a challenge I had this Winter and Spring keeping her Left front shoe on her foot through her shoeing cycle. I am not trying to jinx it but she’s been doing much better on that department lately. My farrier thinks a lot of it has to do with her strengthening her hind end and also growing a deeper foot which helps her shoe fit a little more closely. I think her Professional Choice Bell Boots are helping A LOT, but also think she is finally maturing into large gangly body.

we go hard in the matching department

Part of these growing pains are her new reluctance to pick up her left lead under-saddle. Luna is a big runner in the field. Being a baby she has lots of energy that she needs to zoomy out of her. You guessed it, in the field BEAUTIFUL left lead canter, no issues. Put her on a lunge line and she will pick up her left lead canter about 50% of the time from left. She likes to pick it up about 25% of the time going to the right too, so no explanation there. But under saddle, she will not give it to me. She will just counter canter around like its no issue. Probably makes sense she was a shitty race horse if she hate this lead SMH. After taking her to the dressage lesson, I felt she is definitely much stiffer going left than she is right. It is like riding a 2 by 4 that direction. Trainer B sent us home with a couple different suppling exercises to try to even out that left side to be more like the right.

when its hot we go bareback

After a couple of just walk trot rides, I finally attempted to ask for our left lead canter. She gave me the right lead two times before finally picking up the left lead. I praised her a TON and ended on that note. I think the suppling has made a big difference. She just bulges in her should and does not want to pick up that lead. I am having a saddle fitter out again to make sure all the saddles that I found actually fit my horses again, just because I am not convinced her jumping saddle fits her 100% which could also be making a difference.

my favorite personalized moody Luna sticker

As we get into August, I am not completely out of the humid muggy weather, but planning on continuing to get both horses ridden as much as I can with a couple of outings thrown in for the both of them in between. Really happy with where they both are and so grateful I get to have two amazing horses in my life.

July Dressage Lessons

Every month, my dressage Trainer B, travels up from his farm in VA to give lessons to a couple different riders and farms in our area. If my schedule allows, I always try to do the two lessons (one Saturday and one Sunday) when he is here. The amount he has been able to help me progress Montego is crazy in such a short amount of time. I always leave each lesson with usually a huge smile on my face and so much that I have learned.

While Montego is my main dressage horse, he is usually the lucky one to attend these weekend lessons. However, I had scheduled to have his hocks and stifles done the Friday before Trainer B was coming up. So this month Luna was the lucky lady of the lessons. Trainer B has years of experience training and breaking babies, so I have wanted to get Luna in front of him to see her progress. The last time he saw her, he did a lunge lesson at our farm in December, so its been a little while. The farm we take these lessons at is about 15min down the road at a beautiful facility with the most gorgeous indoor arena.

hooked up and ready for the morning

When I brought Luna home from the TB barn down the road, I commented on how easy she was to get on and off the trailer. With this in the back of my head, I assumed that she would have no issues trailering this weekend to a new property for a lesson…but boy was I wrong. Early Saturday morning, I got to the barn to get her boots on and trailer loaded for the lesson. Headed up to the trailer and she loaded right up, but before my friend could get the butt bar up she FLEW back out of the trailer. She proceeded to do that one more time before deciding she did NOT want to be going on a trailer ride today. It finally took 1 hour for us to get her loaded, trailer was completely deconstructed to be just one big box stall and we were heading to the lesson very very late. Trainer B was very understanding and we just worked on some ground work for the remaining 10 min of my lesson time to practice some trailer loading skills on the ground. Of course when it was time for her to load back up again, she did it no issues. She always likes to show off with NO problems in front of my Trainer.

Sunday morning, we started the trailer loading process much earlier with some tricks we learned from the day before. Still had some hesitancy getting on but what took an hour the day before took only about 15 minutes this time around (still with the trailer being deconstructed into a big box stall. Got to our lesson about 30 min before my ride time so it was perfect to let her walk around and cool off from the trailer ride before tacking her up and riding.

rainbow on the way to the barn

I will say I was very impressed for her first off property weekend how she was able to really relax and chill in a new place without any friends. No calling or excessive anxiousness. There were some vultures running across the roof of the indoor, which understandably might freak a 5yo baby out, but she was able to come back and have a sane brain. We just worked on her starting to accept contact in the bridle and getting her gaits a little bit more defined in the Walk and Trot. Trainer B was really impressed by the way she is put together and the amateur friendly brain she has for a 5 yo TB.

what mom makes you wear when you decide to through a tantrum on the trailer

Our homework is to continue having a more forward gait (ride with a whip at home) and getting her used to bending in her neck so she can bend through her whole body. I also added on the need to start trailer loading with her so there is no more flying backwards. I’m keeping my trailer at the barn for the next couple of weeks so I can hook it up and practice with her every day so she gets the idea that even if she loads she needs to stand and be patient until we say she can unload.

Overall, a very successful weekend. Montego will be back in the riding schedule today from his hocks and stifles and I am excited to see how he is feeling.

really not impressed

Show Recap: June Dressage Schooling Show

Montego and I finally made it to our first schooling dressage show of the season! A little later than I was hoping to because ideally I would love to show before the heat of the summer (me + heat = a disaster). Our plan was to enter in Training 2 and Training 3 to attempt at getting some qualifying scores for our GMO end of year championship show, and see where we are starting out this year. This was also the first time I was going to be trailering my own trailer and horse to the show rather than just riding passenger.

Our If the Bonnet Fits Mermaid Bonnet โค

I got to the barn about 3 hours before I was planning to pull out to make sure I had everything in order. We are lucky the show is only a 7 minute drive from our barn so super low key drive to get there, a perfect maiden voyage to test everything out. I planned on just bathing Montego, cleaning my tack, loading up the trailer, and doing some other things around the barn before leaving. Probably over estimated how much time I needed, but it was nice to not feel rushed.

Got a little obsessed with these professional photos!

Montego has been on solo-turnout for a while 1. due to him mounting Luna and 2. he has been acting as a buddy for the horse currently on stall rest due to colic surgery. For some reason, he decided he no longer could stand not seeing any friends and continued to SCREAM while getting his bath which he never does. Decided braiding was really overkill for such a low-key show so we skipped that, but I did give him a nice 1/2 dose of Perfect Prep to make sure he was a chiller by the time we arrived at the show.

that stretch…

We were one of the last two scheduled riders for the day, but the lady in between us ended up being a no show so we brought the show home. Our warm-up was mediocre, but I am not a big fan of a long warm-up anyway so I was ready to just see what we were gonna get in the ring. Montego was feeling a little tight and resistant to bending through his back so I figured we might get some tension points in our tests. He is really due to get his hocks done which I think will make his overall demeanor much happier in the sandbox.

always matching!

Our Test 2 test definitely did not feel like our best ride, but he was clean and concise in his transitions and we got some great feedback from the judge. I am heavy on my inside rein to bend instead of pushing him with my inside leg to outside rein (something I am working on constantly in lessons). We still managed to score a 70% so on par with our previous tests.

Test 3, I was a bit scattered brain after a long day so far, he was tired from no break in between and I was chasing him around more this test to get any sort of energy we had left. My geometry for this test was WAYYY off… problem of riding in a shorter and wider ring than regulation. But the judge still loved Montego and we scored a 68.27%. I am really happy with both tests and it gives us a good list to work on for our show season this year.

could not love this horse more and the photo shows it

These two solid scores definitely put us on a great track for the rest of the year, now for planning the rest of our season and getting Luna started in the dressage world too!

New Ride, Who Dis

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I officially have a new to me trailer. I had been casually trailer searching this past year especially now that I have two horse that I plan on bringing a bunch of places. Two boarders at my barn have trailers and have always been so nice to invite me and my horses to trail outings, lessons, and shows; but not owning your own trailer you are always subject to their schedule. Most trailers that I have seen posted on Facebook have been selling within a matter of hours. I saw this one posted immediately messaged the owner and then it was a bit of a waiting game. She had a few cosmetic fixes she wanted to do before selling it, but I was sure at that price I was definitely going to miss out on another trailer.

hello gorgeous!

Lucky for me I must have been the least annoying person pestering her about this trailer and she knew I was seriously interested so it did end up luckily being mine!! Something I had on my goals for a while was learning to drive and own a trailer, and I am really happy it all fell into place right before our little show season began.

Its already had its maiden voyage with Montego in tow. We attended a local schooling dressage show. First time showing Montego this year, first time ever driving my horse in a horse trailer, and first time ever driving MY horse trailer. I was a bit scattered brained by the time we got there, but everything went so smoothly I could not be happier.

blank canvas of a tackroom

There are a couple minor improvements I would love to make to the trailer to make it more comfortable for me and the horses, but I am really happy that I have this option now to take to more shows, lessons, and clinics when I want to. Now I need any and all recommendations of things you cannot live without in your trailer. The tack room isn’t huge, but not tiny either so I want to make sure I maximize my space and have all the essentials ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy horse on the maiden voyage!

Mid Year Check-in

It’s hard to believe that it is June already. The first half of this year has really seem to have just flown by. I am glad as we get into consistently nicer weather, I have had more time to ride both of my horses on a more regular schedule. Daylight savings also makes this so much easier because the sun does not set until about 8:30 now which is amazing for some cooler night time riding. Half way through the year I wanted to look back more specifically at the goals at set at the beginning of the year and definitely make some adjustments for the next 6 months.

2021 Goals for Reference

Goal 1: 3 Recognized Dressage Shows- Right now we have completed 0 Recognized shows but have enough on the calendar that I am not too worried about this goal. I have entered Montego into our first Schooling show in June. I plan on riding him in Training 2 and Training 3 tests. I am hoping this show will qualify us for our USDF Area Group Championship show, but it will be a good test to get out this year and see where we are compared to last year. The recognized shows on my radar are a couple local (5-10 min from our home barn) shows usually run on a Wednesday. I try to avoid July and Early August shows just because I HATE the heat, but we have some in late August, September, and October to look forward to. My big recognized show I plan on entering is the Dunmovin Dressage at Devon show end of August. There is an adult amateur only show before and then a recognized show the day after so thats the show I have been looking forward too since they announced it would be at Devon in 2019. I am dying to ride down the centerline in those arenas so very excited it will be happening this year.

Ready to be back in the ring with this boy!

Goal 2: Buy a Trailer- I will likely have a follow-up post on this soon, but I officially have my own trailer and I could not be more excited. I have always been super grateful for awesome barn friends who are always willing for me to tag along to events and shows, but having a trailer of my own will make this so much easier and less dependent on anyone else’s trailer. It’s a 2007 Cotner Trailer in great shape and was a steal of a price so I am very excited to have this for our future adventures.

Goal 3: Get Luna off Property- This goal has been a bit of a bust and was probably a stretch at the beginning of the year anyway. She has been all over our property but with winter weather and taking it slower with her training, I have not been able to get her or Montego off property as much as I would like. I think re-evaluating this goal, I would love to keep her LF shoe on long enough to actually go on adventures, but if I can get her to a clinic or off-site lesson maybe once this year I would be happy. I have no concerns that I think she will be great in a new place, but really want her going more consistently at home before I start trailering her to lessons instead of Montego.

Goal 4: Blog Once A Week- For the most part this goal has actually been kept up with. There might be a couple extra days here and there between posts, but overall my blogging and instagramming has been so much more consistent than last year where I pretty much stopped for months. I love that this blog has turned into a bit of a training journal of our progress so I am happy I have been able to stick with it and keep putting my thoughts on paper (or website).

TBT to the first picture of me and Luna

Very excited with the progress of our goals so far.

Pretty Pony Pedicures

In truly girly girl fashion, Luna is a prima donna when it comes her feet. Luckily she is well behaved for the farrier, but as I have mentioned many times before she is notorious for losing her left front shoe at the most inopportune times. She is a wild woman in the field and loves to zoomy around and usually as she is giving her best reining horse stop the LF shoe just bounces right off with her. My other horses in the past have not had any serious reoccurring lost shoes but Luna its about 2-3 weeks and like clockwork no shoe. My farrier is an absolute saint that still keeps coming out as quick as he can to put the shoe back on. SO thankful he has not dropped us as clients yet LOL.

Now its seems like we have tried everything for this horse to try and keep her shoes on her. After about 3 cycles of throwing shoes, my farrier recommended back shoes for her. I noticed a big difference in her movement, but unfortunately that did not help her throwing that front shoe. Luna lives in thick and I mean THICK bell boots 24/7. While we ride, while she’s turned out… these boots do not come off. I have tried all types, Davis, Rubber, Neoprene: none seem to be the one yet to keep that shoe on. Yesterday she just ripped the whole shoe and bell boot off in one piece together.

I have some go to products that I have definitely stocked up on because of Luna. That includes: rolls and rolls of vet wrap for wrapping, duct tape, diapers. This was my go to for wrapping with the first couple times she continuously lost shoes. I also should just buy stock in Magic Cushion because this horse almost always has this on her foot. While she does not always do horrible damage to her foot when she does pull the shoe, she does get pretty sensitive on hard ground and easily stone bruises which leaves me with a lame horse about a week after the shoe is put back on. The minute she loses that shoe Magic Cushion is stuffed up in there to try and relieve any pain or heat that she might have already caused herself

After like the 4th time of her pulling her shoe, I bit the bullet and invested in those Sparkly Cavallo boots so I did not have to keep wrapping her foot myself. Anyone could just slip the boot on her and she can wear that out in the field for a couple of days until my farrier is able to make it out. She has some pretty weirdly sized feet, so I ordered a size 4 and 5 to try.

She is double bell booted on her left side. I am still trying to figure out a better solution because the two I have on her right now are not my favorite. I think around 2 weeks I am planning on turning her out with the Cavallo Boot and shoe and see if we can keep that shoe on the entire cycle. I’d rather her destroy the boot than her foot.

Open to any and all helpful tips for those with horses that love to only wear some of their shoes ๐Ÿ™‚