Monday, October 12, 2015

2015 BLM Championships - First Level

So, apparently Region 1 (the region in which we dressage) is special, and has kind of an extra Regional Championships, known as the Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial ("BLM") Championships.  All I knew going into this is that it was at the NJ Horse Park, I needed qualifying scores from Test 2, and I could ship in for the day to compete.

So, once I had my qualifying score, I went online and figured out how to send in my application, and then read the prize list three times to figure out what class I needed to sign up for, then panicked when I saw everyone in my championship class was signed up for other classes, then realized that was because most of these people were shipping in from out of state and were making a whole weekend of it.

Apparently when our haynet runs out we pass the time
by taking our halter off.
Before Saturday I knew there were 42 entries in my class, and that they were combining Open (professionals), Adult Amateurs, and Young Riders (ages 16-21).  I promptly put the thought out of my head that I was competing against trainers, and told myself that with all those entries, even a goal of getting in the ribbons was lofty.  So I figured the goal was to go in and ride a good test.  And try to have fun.

"I was just scratching an itch and it fell off.
I'm just as shocked as you to be honest."
So the day was completely beautiful - sunny, cool, and bright.  I got to the barn early, cleaned my tack, hitched and packed the trailer, and braided Tucker.  I opted not to bathe him because it was a little chilly in the morning, he's getting fuzzy, and I didn't want him all wet and tight and cold for the drive down.  So I ran a damp hot towel over him, cleaned up his white socks with alcohol, and trimmed his whiskers.  I recommend the damp towel trick, worked like a charm.

I headed out solo, patting myself on the back for being the kind of badass DQ that braids her own horse, trucks in by herself, and doesn't need a groom.  Except, as I've mentioned, my friends are amazing, so when I was walking to the office to get my number, one of my best friends Michelle was walking toward me.  She is simply the best.

Tucker and I got ready with Michelle's help. He was looking extra adorable, and I wore the new Goode Rider coat I got for a steal at Riding Warehouse so I was looking pretty spiffy too, if I do say so myself.  Goal of having fun was already going well.  

He warmed up great, pretty quiet and relaxed at first but I was able to get him going forward by the time we were ready to go in.  Our classes were in the indoor, which Tucker hadn't been told (he was quite taken off guard), but I reminded him that we've shown in that indoor before, so once we got in there and cantered around and his eyes adjusted to the change in light, he was fine.

So fancy.
The test went very well. I'll do another post tomorrow with details, but overall I was very happy with it. He listened, he responded, and I kept thinking and riding the whole time.  For us and where we are at right now, it was a solid effort.  Goal of putting in a good test achieved. I didn't think it was a 70, but I also knew there weren't any major mistakes, so there was a voice in my head saying... maybe?

I love this photo.
Then I looked and saw the highest score in the class was just over a 69, and figured we might not be too far off that.  Well, with the combined score from two judges, we had a 65.86.  The scores were so close, however, that put us in 11th.  Not going to lie, although the words coming out of my mouth were "that's still great," my heart sank a little at the realization that this put me just out of the ribbons.  I told myself there's no difference between 10th and 11th place, but there is no denying that there is a big difference between getting to be part of a victory gallop and going home with a big ass ribbon, and going home empty handed.

We had some lunch, window shopped, and I figured I'd swing by the office to get my test.  Which is where Rose, the best show secretary on the face of planet earth, told me not to go home, because if someone didn't want to ride for their ribbon, I would be moved up to 10th. (Dressage Rules are crazy.)  Kill an hour at a show for a chance to do a lap of fame?  You're damn right I will.

We finished lunch and then looked again at the show office window.  I had to double check at least eight times, but my name had indeed been moved to 10th.  Was there a grown woman jumping up and down in tall boots at that moment?  There may have been.  I'm telling you, the Universe was like, "Nope, Marissa needs this one.  Let's just let her have that big ribbon today."  I did another happy dance in my seat when they re-announced the placings and I heard Tucker's name over the loud speaker.

When we headed down to the awards, I was literally surrounded with the fanciest group of dressage horses I've ever been that close to.  They were like giant life-sized Breyer models.  Some of the horses in my class posed for their award photo with the owners standing beside them.  These horses have owners, you guys.

That's us on the far left!
Now, I'm not knocking anyone who has a fancy pants imported animal and keeps said animal in full training, because there is certainly a lot to be proud of when you have earned the kind of financial stability it would take to make that whole situation happen, but I'm not going to lie...  I was pretty proud to be down there sitting on my home bred who I've raised from a baby and pretty much trained myself.  I'm going to just go ahead and toot my own horn on that one.  It was a damn good feeling.  I told that horse I loved him about twenty times.  I had a big old lump in my throat.

I let him put his head in the air for this photo like the proud giraffe that he is.
Tucker loves victory gallops.  Other horses were prancing and stomping and chewing their bits, and then there's my guy, standing on a long rein and taking it all in.  One of the other horses reared when we started the canter and I swear Tucker looked at her like, "oh no it's okay don't be scared this is gonna be fun!"  (I may be imagining this, don't care though.)  

Still poses like a hunter.
I just love this horse.  He makes me so happy.  He is not just talented, but also just such a good boy. He tries so hard, and he's always so well behaved (I mean as long as there are no imaginary mountain lions lurking in the distance).  It just melts my heart and makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth to be the one that gets to ride him and take care of him and call him mine.

At the end of the day I went back in to the show office to thank Rose for telling me to stay, and she said "You're Quigley right?  Tenth place!!"  And held up her hand for a high five.  I beamed.

Life has been really hard lately, I totally needed this.


  1. That's awesome!!! So glad to hear you had a great ride and went home with a big ass ribbon.

  2. Aww, congrads on a great ride and a big ol' honkin' ribbon!

  3. Congrats! Such a huge ribbon. Who doesn't show up for a victory lap? I want to do a victory lap; I've never done one. Good job at the show and good job doing it with your own self and not a bucket of money.

  4. Congrats!!!!! And yay for a big ass ribbon!

  5. Whoooooo hoooooo! Proud of you and your fancy pants dressage horse!

  6. Ahww that's so incredibly wonderful!

  7. Aw, so great!!! That's a crazy dressage rule but I'm glad it existed because you deserved a big, pretty ribbon :)

  8. Yay for big ribbons and victory gallops and very good horses and for the universe finally cutting you some slack!!

  9. Um wow. New life goal: Victory gallop.

  10. I cried during your victory gallop because I was so happy for you and Tucker! I was thrilled to be able to be there and be a part of it. You amaze me for about a million reasons (I want to be as funny as you dammit!) but one of them is the fact that you and Tucker know each other so well. He was a total pro at the show and you completely deserved that ribbon! You guys were rockstars! If only you could see the test you know know I was telling the truth! :P


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love reading them! If you have a question, I will make sure to get back to you.