It was a whole 6 years ago that I decided to make the switch from full-time dressage princess to jumper land. After juggling the whole mainly dressage and taking jumping lessons on the side, making the plunge to the ‘dark side’ was inevitable once I realized it was more my speed than dressage was. But, never say never friends, because over Memorial Day weekend, Phim & I debuted our dance moves for the very first time.
I didn’t originally purchase Phim to be my dressage mount. Even though he ran the big tracks in the eventing world with his previous owner, he decided this past winter that jumping was no longer what he wanted to do. After a long talk with my jump trainer, the options were either find him a non-jumping career or retirement. Knowing him, he was not at all ready for the retirement in mind or body, so I made some phone calls to close friends in the dressage world and got him a stall with an awesome trainer willing to get him going in dressage boot-camp. At the end of season I went down to Wellington to see where he was at in his development and talk through my goals with his trainer to see if they were attainable. Our rides were super, he felt and looked amazing, and we were confident it was time to bring the Phimster home to Kentucky. He arrived safe and sound in Lexington and we went right to work prepping for our first horse show!
We worked every day leading up to the show, no matter the weather (even if I despise riding in the rain). Honestly, our rides were not great majority of the time. We fought, I cried, he told me when I rode like a sack of potatoes, I corrected him when he tried to cut corners, etc etc. It was disheartening after having such great rides in Florida, to have him act a fool once he came home. But we pushed through, had our token pre-show meltdown ride at home, and got on the trailer anyways.
“Simply ride letter to letter,” advice Phim’s trainer gave me during our last ride in Florida that was our motto for the entire weekend. I wasn’t worried about scores, just that we got through all the movements to the best of our ability; And that is what we did! Came home with two 60% tests and one sub-50% for a test that included what I characterize as a big-horse-meltdown. While the scores aren’t the highest and we placed last every day (still got some pretty pink ribbons though!), I was still proud of us for doing the thing to the best of our ability. Every judge made comment on the fact that we were a lovely pair, he got an 8 on his gaits from each one, and we walked away with lot of homework. Don’t get me wrong, it would have been great to go in and win our classes and get high percentages, but I am more grateful for the judges giving me fair scores and helpful comments so that I have things to work on and improve at home for our next show in July.
I’m excited for what’s coming in the future for Phim and I as dressage queens. It was scary to jump back in after being gone for so long, especially because it wasn’t either of our strong suits. Still, we are going to try our best and continue riding letter-to-letter. If you’d like to keep up with more timely updates or see videos, you can follow along on my Instagram @trottingonblog !