For those who do not know me, my name is Debi.  I am a mom of 3 adult children and I have 3 beautiful granddaughters.
My equine partner is Miss Arabella who is a beautiful 11 year old TB mare.  Bells and I met in October 2010.  During the past two years we have gone through our share of ups and downs and it is the ups that keep me climbing back on.
We started this year at The Chicken Event where we placed 6th overall in Sr. Grasshopper.  This was such a huge accomplishment for me as I just began jumping last year.  Unfortunately, I came off Bells after successfully completing cross country course and landed very hard.  So in order to avoid falling off in the future, I have since focused mainly on dressage.
Our next show was the Utah Dressage Society’s Short Tour at Lynnleigh.  This was Bells’ and my first official dressage show together.  Kim was able to come coach us through the nerves.  I was so nervous that I arrived very early just so I could calmly walk Bells around the arena before our test time.
Our first test was intro test C.  Arabella was a rock star despite the tenseness in my entire body.  We placed 1st with a score of 66 and won a super ribbon and flower planter.  A few hours later we rode Training level test 1.  I felt much more relaxed during this test and worked on making some improvements such as breathing, keeping my elbows relaxed, hands soft, and allowing Bells to move forward.  This time we placed 2nd with a score of 60.471 winning yet another nifty ribbon!
I was shocked that we did so well because generally, I only ever see all the ways that I need to improve.  Even now I watch the videos and say things like ‘wow my hands were all over the place,’ or ‘gosh, my position is terrible.’  I’m easily embarrassed when I show people these videos.  But the truth is that either the judge is a liar, or I’m not a very good judge of my position. So since it is most likely my issue, I have to continue to ask myself, “How is my negative self-talk having an impact on my horse and me?” Needless to say, I am consciously working each day at changing negative thoughts into positive thoughts in order to directly affect my interaction with Arabella and everyone else at the barn.
I had so much fun at my first dressage show that I entered the Sweetwater Short Tour Dressage show.  Unfortunately, Kim was at an event and was unable to coach me, and I was the only Pea in attendance.  I was so nervous, I was shaking!  Again, I arrived very early to walk Arabella around and help calm MY nerves.  We ended up standing and waiting for over an hour, but finally it was our turn.  Bells spooked at some folks with an umbrella as we were trotting around the outside of the arena before entering and although I did not help her out by relaxing, I was happy that we finished the test without any major mishaps.  I was proud of both of us.
For our second ride, our warm up was about 15 minutes walk trot canter and then 15 minutes of forward walking, lateral work, outside leg, inside leg, bending, etc.  Arabella was so relaxed- she looked like she had rabies with all the foam coming from her mouth.  We went in the arena, relaxed, forward, and I was smiling.  I was so happy with this ride that honestly, I felt that even if the judge gave us last place I did not care because we were so relaxed and working together.  I immediately texted Kim and told her just that.
There were so many riders left after me and it was so late that I just cleaned her up and left for home.  I was absolutely shocked the next day to learn that we took 1st place with a score of 62.71.   Now I wish I had stuck around to pick up my super cool ribbon:^(
I’m now sharing Bells with Marie Perry, who is a mature, experienced rider with an extensive Eventing background.  She is so wonderful for both Arabella and me. I still get to enjoy riding and yet by half-leasing Bells to Marie, I do not feel the obligation to be at the barn every day.  This has freed up some time for me to enjoy my family.
As I look ahead to next year, I am going to focus on dressage and am planning to participate in all the Short Tour shows, some schooling shows, and maybe even a rated dressage show.  I hope that Marie is still with us to continue jumping with Bells and riding her in some eventing shows.
Thanks Kim for all your help and encouragement!