Monday, September 3, 2012


UNH Dressage 2012 - Photo used with permission
For the dressage enthusiast, this title says it all...  there was brilliance in movement, a suppleness that is liquid gold, a test with Rolex accuracy and the beauty of elegance and power.  It is a score that most dream about and few achieve.     And, you ask?  Did you achieve such a score?  Was there something about your day at Town Hill Horse Trials that radiated brilliance, beauty, elegance, and power?

Why yes we did have all of that but not necessarily exactly where you would expect to see it.  Yet, if I recall, the bar was set at low... COMPLETE!  Eventing Rule # 1 - Leave together and come back together!   No matter what, I was to cross that finish line...  And, I did!  I DID!

Our Dressage was nice - certainly not 85.77 quality but a 32 - one of our best!  Sugar was still my perky lil' pinto pony in the warm up with a few airs-above-the-ground as the Training Level XC course lay before her and excited her lil' engine.  She was obedient, supple but overall "needed more energy".  Personally, I have seen "more energy" and was happy with obedient and well, present.

For the next hour, I pondered thoroughly all the whys I put myself through this agony as I waited for the jumping phases.  I would share a few but really couldn't come up one reason.  So I flipped/flopped between quitting all together to how I could cleverly phrase withdrawing again without feeling humiliated.  Thank god, my Bestest Evening Buddy was taming the wild youngun' out on the Novice track or she might have had to put me out of my misery.

Wheatogue Stables - an Equi-Spa of immense proportions
There is nothing worse than that long walk to Stadium Jumping... alone, filled with nerves, the pressure to be perfect and the unrelenting fear of failure and embarrassment.  I so wanted a coach, a groom or any familiar face to remind me that this is fun and that I have the ability to do it!

A wise woman once told me that there is goodness and surprise everywhere if you look for it.  Angels and gifts come in all kinds of places.  These two, for me, were stabled with us in the most luxurious barn the night before and parked right next to the warm up ring.  Last night it was, "Is that Sugar?"   "Yes", I said.  "I read your Blog" was her reply.  Today, it was "Have fun!  You'll do fine!  Remember, you were ready for the move-up to Training!  This is easy for you both!"  

{{{{Special note to you both...  THANKS!  I needed that more than you can know!}}}} 

Sugar, in the jumping phases, seemed to be a bit shocked at finding herself in a maze of colorful poles, flowers and boxes as I guided her back to trailer parking.  It was as if it were her first time out.  We had a rail in SJ over a course of encouragement with a tad of "I think you can" struggle.  I believe we were fifth at this point.

Back of the Water Complex
First Course Walk needed a map
Town Hill's Cross Country course is a combination of busy-ness and long gallops.  The jumps are beautiful with some but not garish decoration.  The footing was perfect and the day gorgeous.  Sugar was filled with OTTB excitement.

I chose to embody the inner Calder...  an intensity in achieving the goal, the quietness of body, sheer grit and determination... reins in one hand and a dangling but prepared stick in the other... no anger just guts.  I would complete.

XC was not Sugar's best... She appeared "surprised" that anyone would think to put small houses, hay bales and other such obstacles in a well mowed path through hay fields... And at each such obstacle I had to firmly ask her to greet them with a happy little jumping effort.... What joy!

Now, when you have 14 obstacles to clear and two of them were... um...  not immediately jumped...  the percentage of completion is actually a GREAT dressage score - 85.77%.  You see, at two jumps... the dreaded hay bales and the second house jump which was similar to the first house jump, the same to the third house jump and surprisingly similar to the house jump we warmed up over 3 times in the warm up ring, I was a bit slow on my encouragement.

Despite two ginormous spooks, I never stopped riding.  We crossed over the finish line immediately after a spook at the last Training fence.  I completed and could not have been happier.  Not our best performance by far but the best in over a year.  We did finish above two horses named Elimination, one named Retired and another cutely called Withdraw.   

So the bar is raised again. Next event, I want to complete and make it back to the trailers without falling off.  {{{SIGH}}}

Would prefer that my butt be in the
saddle as you watch the white buttocks
galloping away
Here's a Public Service Announcement...

Always wear your helmet and no matter how cool you look riding your pinto pony on the buckle... A big spook, dropped hips and a scoot will put all that coolness to bed as you find yourself toppling over her "how-do-you-get-her-white" buttocks landing HARD on your left hip and hitting your well helmeted head on the ground!

Sugar looked brilliant as I watched her ample white bottom gallop away.  Her capturers could not stop telling me how beautiful she looked as she galloped towards them mane and tail flying in the wind as my reins and stirrups flapped freely beside her - the brown enhancing the "how-do-you-get-her-so-white" body...

Like I said... an 85.77 is guaranteed to give you brilliance, beauty, elegance and power.  Next time I will be on her...  just sayin'!

Still happy and grateful!


Anonymous said...

Hello! I am so sorry I didn't know you were there ALONE. Yikes. I board at THF and was there. IN fact, I saw your stadium and it was fantastic. Although, I didn't actually know it was you till the last fence. All the sudden it dawned on me. That is Sugar, (whom I only know from your blog). I felt like I had discovered a celebrity and told several people around me, "that is Suzanne and Sugar
Well done! Glad to see you in this neck of the woods. Heidi

Suzanne said...

Heidi, thanks! It didn't feel great! I love Town Hill! It should be a must for alot of people... You're lucky to be there!

Kelly said...

Sugar looks so lovely, as usual! I enjoy your writing style - always makes me smile. Well done at the show!

Amy said...

Great job! Getting out there and doing it. I show alone most of the time too so I understand the wanting someone with which to celebrate or commiserate. But I have found at events there are always those people who may not know you but say the right thing at the right time.

I am glad you are ok after your fall.

SprinklerBandit said...

You did it!! I actually never thought to set a goal of staying on between phases... that is a bit ambitious. ;)

Hopefully, you can mentally catalog this as a good experience and start building some confidence for next time. Well done.

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

You did it, and I loved reading about it! Sugar really is stunning, I would be proud to lead her around any show grounds!!

Suzanne said...

Melissa... one day she might be one of your kids happily grazing in the fields of your blog (which I LOVE).

Sprinklerbandit - you make me guffaw... thanks!

And Amy and Kelly ... thanks!

Dragon said...

Congrats on the achievement! Those names are funny!!

mbyrum said...

Suzanne, I'm pretty new to your blog but I can relate in so many ways. At 30 (something) I'm just starting in eventing and on top of that bringing along my OTTB with me for the adventure. I don't know who has been learning more, me from him or him from me. I have found myself flip flopping a zillion times over the past few weeks about going to our first combined test. It's just a local schooling event but your blog has really given me a boost and I think we are ready for the plunge. I'm thinking the best thing we can do for our first time out is to go in w/o expectations and just learn as much as we can from the experience. Thanks for writing ur blog, I've found myself laughing out loud a few times while reading them (always quite fun in my VERY quiet cubicle farm of an office). Congratulations on Sugar and your latest accomplishment and I can't wait to read more about ur adventures.