Coconino N3D – Dressage Day

Hope y’all got your fill of good riding in the week 1 recaps, because it’s about to get reeeal Amateur Hour up in here! After his weekend running Training with Trainer, I got on Henry on Tuesday to ride through our dressage test… and unfortunately he was just totally wired for sound. After lots of saddle time and some tack changes (added a flash, switched to Trainer’s saddle) it was better, but we still never got to ride through the test. Horse is really damn fit and full of himself these days.

who, me?

It’s impossible to deny how much better Henry and I both feel in Trainer’s saddle. I’ve known this for a while, and getting a saddle like hers has been on my to-do list, but riding in it again was a real wake-up call. Priority has changed, Loreak needs to come off the “someday” list and move right up into ASAP. Henry feels freer through his back in those D3D panels, and I feel so much more stable and balanced that it’s borderline ridiculous. Unfortunately to buy a new one I’d have to sell the current one plus save up another $500-900, not to mention they’re a little bit hard to find, so I just don’t see it happening before winter unless someone wants to loan me $2k.


Originally we thought I’d be able to use Trainer’s saddle for my test, but the night before dressage I realized that her N horse went at exactly the same time I did. Huge bummer. When I got on to warm up for dressage I could really feel the difference, and was definitely struggling a bit in my saddle after riding in her magical unicorn saddle for two days. It’s frustrating to feel like you’ve come all that way and spent all that money and still don’t have the right equipment.


Henry also felt a bit… electric. By that point he’d been cooped up for over a week and had already run XC once. When you have a fit, enthusiastic thoroughbred, you know how fun that is. He was obedient, but jesus he was LIT. It was a very careful warm up, to say the least. Every tiny little move I made got a big response, and it was like his legs were stuck in fast forward. The only time he seemed to take a breath was in the canter.


I thought I’d learned my test pretty well, but by the time I got in the ring I was trying so hard to keep my very tense horse from losing his shit that I completely blew past the first canter and had an error. Seriously. I still can’t believe I did that. Probably would have helped if I’d gotten to ride through the test at some point beforehand. Live and learn.

After the error I got a bit frazzled and Henry got more and more tense. The whole test felt pretty heinous and embarrassing, not gonna lie. Luckily it didn’t look quite as bad as it felt. I was expecting something like a 40-42 (with the error) but we got a 38. Damn that effing error.

Looking less feral

I was pretty livid with myself when I came out of the ring. An error is just such a dumb mistake, things like that make me nuts. Trainer said I was way too hard on myself, and I knew she was right, but I needed time to process it. And finally I realized that the fact is: I’m just a very average amateur rider, and as such, I’m gonna make mistakes. Lots of them. All the time. Sometimes I’ll get away with them (ahem Holly Hill stadium), sometimes I won’t. That’s just the way it goes. I’m also really competitive, so it’s hard for me to reconcile my expectations vs my reality. But I figured – I was still happy with my horse’s effort (he always tries) and happy that we were even there and able to do the 3Day in the first place. A kinda crappy dressage ride at a 3Day in Flagstaff, AZ on a beautiful Thursday morning just doesn’t even begin to register on the scale of what constitutes a bad day. Time to own the mistake, learn the lesson, quit being a baby about it, and move on.

What’s done was done, and really it could have been a lot worse. Either way, now we were done with dressage and could finally get on to the fun part!

27 thoughts on “Coconino N3D – Dressage Day

  1. the beginning of that i was like “what is she on about he looks sweet” but he definitely got a little anxious and scrambly.

    i think your assessment is spot on. and don’t forget this is about having fun 😀

    what size saddle are you looking for? I’ll keep my eyes peeled.


    1. 18 would be ideal but I can make anything from 17.5 to 18.5 work! I just don’t have much to spend, they’re pretty much impossible to find in my budget outside of France. :/


  2. He WAS wired. He looks like he is on fast forward when he trots in LOL cracking me up. Hey you are getting older so errors WILL happen HA! He looks great though!


  3. I like that attitude- a bad horse show day is still lightyears better than pretty much any other day 🙂 And to my wildly untrained dressage eye I think you guys look great! I don’t know the pattern anyway, and I love a fiery horse, so I think this looked like buckets of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, mistakes happen….it’s horses. And we’re adult ammys, so mistakes probably happen more often. Just shake it off and try to move forward…it’s dressage after all, and we know how you AND Henny feel about dressage. At least you guys look quite sharp in the sandbox 😉


  5. Honestly, I have no idea how you guys remember these dressage tests. The older I get, the luckier I am to remember my jumping course! I think you both look fantastic. We all make mistakes. It’s just a huge bummer when we do it in public. If it helps, I crashed my junior hunter at Devon many moons ago! Way more embarrassing, I promise!


  6. Mine aren’t TBs, but I know that kind of fitness in a horse all too well! You described it perfectly. LOVE your mindset though. I’ve also got a tendency to be really hard on myself and have to remember that even if things aren’t perfect, I’m fulfilling so many childhood dreams by just BEING somewhere with my horse, and that’s pretty fuckin’ awesome.

    Really, really enjoying all of these recaps. Can’t wait for the next installment. GO HENNY.


  7. If it makes you feel better I forgot where I was going during a hunter class before. 😛 You have a way better excuse since you have 3 different events stuffed in your head at once! I still think that you guys still look great and put in a lot of effort.


    1. It’s so bad… that saddle just feels like it was molded for me. Everything naturally falls exactly where it’s supposed to. Night and day difference, and the Childeric really is a decent fit!


  8. so i thought i was oh so very clever in preparing for what i considered my first real novice last year (the actual first had been a somewhat soft course) and scheduled a dressage, stadium, and xc lesson all in the week or so ahead of the show. except, um, i scheduled them in that exact order and the horse that came to our event had just schooled some baller ass xc and it…. showed in our dressage test.

    long story short, i can probably guess at how riding your test felt. seems like you managed to keep a lid on it tho!! can’t wait to read about the jumping!!


  9. I am with you on the error thing. I HATE giving away points. Dressage is hard enough without shooting yourself in the foot. At one show where I was really grousing about losing those two points for going off course (I show First Level at USDF rated, not eventing), a friend, who rides at a MUCH higher level, just laughed and said it’s no big deal. She had gone off course as well. When we compared out tests, I could see why she felt that way. The higher level test you ride, the less of an impact on your score an error makes. For example, Training Level Test 3 is worth only 220 points. Fourth level Test 3 is worth 450 points. A 2 point error at 4th level is .4% off off your final score, while the same error at Training Level will cost you .9% – almost a full percentage point! That inequality has always bugged me.

    In any case, it sounds like you and your whole team, including B and H, had a fantastic trip. I am looking forward to reading more!


  10. Well, what I saw was a beautiful bay, shining in the sunlight, motoring around with impulsion and a steady head, nice soft transitions, a tactful rider, and that M to F trot was so straight – not a waver in a carload!

    I used to do a lot of scribing, for a judge originally from Hungary, and I still have his typical remarks, complete with mittel-European accent, in my head. He would describe gaits as “too meency, too meency”, and a lack of straightness as “hind does not follow in trrrack of forrrre”, and rider problems as “rrrriderrr disturrrbs with hend”. But he wouldn’t have been able to say any of those things about your ride. Error, schmerror – you guys looked good out there – “verrrry corrrect”!


  11. Well, you have forward figured out! I thought you rode very tactfully. Errors will happen, and then we move on to the next thing. We are all a little jealous of your opportunity, though, I think.


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