Northwest Pony Club Dressage Rally, 2013

I belong to a Horsemasters Group – which is Pony Club, except for grown ups, and we fielded a team to the Northwest Pony Club Dressage Rally. I was really excited for it, Kip and I were doing great, and had recently has a breakthrough in the concept of Contact.

I had planned on going to the Donida Schooling show and riding both of my tests there, then having a Jen lesson (magic things always happen with Jen, she really brings out the Best Rider in you). But the day before the Schooling show, a Friday, Kip was lame. It seems to be in his left fore.  No heat in the hoof, not much reaction to the hoof tester. I gave him a couple of days off, and then rode on Wednesday. He was fine for most of the lesson, then at the end, he was off again.  A couple of more days rest.  I had the vet out, and nary a limp.  We trotted him pretty hard over many different surfaces – the sand arena, the indoor, down the drive way, in the field — nothing. Two days later, lame.  You get the idea. He was sound for three days before the rally. I was really hopeful that it was all over.  Nope. Rode on Friday morning – and he’s head-bobbing lame. I had a meltdown.

A few days prior to this, I had been expressing my worry to a barnmate about Kip’s mystery lameness, and  me letting our Horsemasters Team down. Now this woman  owns a lovely (LOVELY) gelding, Gus.  She said I could take him if Kip were still lame.  When I realized she was not joking, I took her up on the offer. Kip had been sound leading up to the Rally, but to be on the safe side, I had a couple of rides on Gus. And by a couple, I mean two.  I should take a moment here to talk about Gus. He is a huge Thoroughbred gelding – probably at least 17.2  hands. That is in real-life hands, not  Craigslist horse-ad hands.  Golden bay, with two hind socks, and a star and snip.  Oh, and did I mention his owner got her Pony Club A rating on him?  He’s an upper level horse.

I had a lesson on Wednesday on Gus, and he was A Completely Different Ride. I could barely make him go. He had buttons I didn’t know existed, and I kept accidentally telling him to do all kinds of stuff. By the end of the lesson, he was frustrated, and I was utterly crestfallen. I must be a terrible rider! Poor Kip, for having to put up with me!  I rode Kip after my lesson, and he was sound. Of course. Thursday, rode Gus again – he was even more confused and irritated with me. Great. Rode Kip again, and he was sound! Maybe I can take Kip after all!  Friday AM: Kip is lame.

So, we scurried around, and got Gus ready to go.  His feed alone was really complicated. Kip gets two flakes of grass hay and a pound of LMF pellets and we’re done; Gus has many supplements, beet pulp, rice bran, hay pellets, etc, etc.  We threw everything in the trailer, and were off.  We set up our tack stall and our feed stall, and had Jog Outs on Friday night. It was exhausting. I got home at 9:00pm, took a shower and had a good cry.

Saturday morning- my Inspection was at 10:52. The judge LOVED Gus. Could not find anything wrong with him or his turnout. Me, however, I forgot to take out my nose ring, so I was deducted two points. Loop jewelry is dangerous around horses, it can get caught and pulled out.  I pried the thing out and we went on with it. We got some “Exceeds Standards” so that balanced out my nose ring thing.  I warmed Gus up and I was concentrating like mad to ride the best I could, and he, by now, knew to ignore half of the wiggling around up there I was doing, so we were getting along much better. Rode Training Test 1, and did pretty good – 66.042%.

Second Ride – Training test 2: This one felt really good, and our score reflected that; 69.286%.

Horse management: Striking fear into the hearts of millions.

Then was Turnbacks which was terrifying in it’s own right, but multiplied by the fact that we did not know what we were being judged on. I cleaned all the sweat marks off of Gus, picked his feet, filled his water, washed the bit, cleaned the girth, brushed all the hair off of the saddle pad, took half a second and had some water myself, and the Horse Management judges arrived. (!!!!) Things were going great, and then she said “And have you cleaned your boots?” Uh, no. No I had not. Demerit.

The rest of the day was pretty low-key for me, helping my teammates and watching them ride.  Finally at 3:00 we are told to go to the indoor arena for the Awards Ceremony. The table is stacked with ribbons. This is gonna take a while.  It took more than an hour, and we were freezing, but we did get quite a bit of new Satin for our collection: Third in Horse Management (we were ROBBED, but that would make this story even longer), First in our Division (yay, us!) and I got Training Level Highpoint. I know, I was a shocked as you.

Third in Horse Management, First in our Division, and Training High Point.

The whole thing was an emotional roller coaster, and so exhausting. But also super fun and I learned more in three days than I have in the last three months. I want to do it again. Show Jumping Rally, Here I come.

Now to figure out what is going on with Kip.


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