Blogger Bridget Hay shares the highs and lows of recent fall shows as she and her horses progress in training.

Finally a break! After Dressage at Devon last month, and the Region 8 Championships the week before in Saugerties, New York, it's nice to have a little breather from showing until the U.S. Finals in Kentucky next month. We had some real highs and real lows at our last two shows, but overall, my horses and I are continuing to grow, learn and move forward in the right direction.

Faolan in the awards ceremony. (Photo by Susan J. Stickle)

Faolan in the awards ceremony. (Photo by Susan J. Stickle)

Amy Price's awesome seven-year-old mare, Fauna, had some super tests, as well as some tests with `young horse mistakes’ in Saugerties, but she capped off our weekend there by earning more than 75 percent in the I-1 championships, finishing as reserve champion. I bred Fauna, and was thrilled when Amy bought her last year.

Renaissance ("Rhi") competing at Saugerties. (Photo by Susan J. Stickle) 

Renaissance ("Rhi") competing at Saugerties. (Photo by Susan J. Stickle) 

Faolan only competed in one class in Saugerties, the I-2 Championship, which he won with over 69 percent. I also took my mare Renaissance, known to her friends as Rhi, up to Saugerties for her to get some experience. It was her first away show. She's in an incredibly well-bred mare, whom I got from her breeder as a very green six year old out of a field in Virginia, because it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

She is very attached to Fauna, though. Our rides consisted of her being quite distracted and tense, with many mistakes, but it's exactly what I expected from her first time there. There wasn't much I could do other than to just keep riding her with confidence, to give her some confidence, and laugh at her mistakes, like her tempis on the final centerline in the Fourth Level test. She's an over achiever!

I left Saugerties exhausted, but incredibly proud of all three of my horses.

We were literally home for only two days before we were on our way to my favorite show of the year, Dressage at Devon, with Faolan and Fauna.

This was Fauna's first ever CDI, where she did the Small Tour. Just as in Saugerties, we had some rides with young horse mistakes, and then she had a nice test in the I-1. Poor Faolan had one of his worst performances ever in the I-A, which proved to be an incredibly difficult test, and we had had no time to run through it because we were at Regionals the week before. The next day, we redeemed ourselves a bit, and Faolan and I had a much better ride in the also incredibly difficult I-B test.

The best part about Devon is that we get to compete at this wonderful and historic show while spending a lot of time with our friends. Most of my fellow dressage trainer friends show at Devon, and we have such a fun time watching and cheering each other on, hanging out in the barns, and of course shopping. It’s a big plus that the rings are so close together at Devon that it makes it much easier to watch each others' rides.

I had originally hoped to stable with my good friends Kim Herslow, Alice Tarjan and Rebecca Cowden in the CDI barn this year. As luck would have it, though, I had to move to different stalls because they put a horse a directly behind Faolan, who is a stallion. The stalls have slots between the wood, so I can't have him directly next to another horse.

So I had to move farther down the aisle away from my usual group of friends. You do what you need to do to make sure your horses are safe. It was okay, and we all still saw each other during the whole show. Since I wound up being stabled next to people that I didn't know, I actually made some new friends.

Who would have ever thought that in the CDI barn at Devon, I'd meet someone from an entirely different discipline? I don't know much about eventing, but my new neighbor at Devon, Laine Ashker, does a lot of it. She had to explain the star ratings to me and what they mean. She told me about the 4-stars she's done, including Kentucky and Burghley in England.

It blows my mind that she could jump those huge cross-country fences. It's a whole different world to me. It was fun learning about eventing, while teaching her about some of the things that the "DQ's" do. We really had a great time at Devon, and I'm so thankful for all the friendships that I have and the new ones I made at that show.

This year was definitely one of my favorites at Devon. My horses both successfully moved up to the next level, I had a blast hanging out with new and old friends, and we even had decent weather.

Next stop is the U.S. Finals in Kentucky. Fingers crossed that all of my friends qualify next week at their Regionals in Virginia so we can be together one more time this year.

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