November was a whirlwind, with not one but two horse shows, including their first recognized show. Let me explain: the girls do a kind of riding called Eventing (or 3-day eventing). It’s an English discipline, really more like a triathlon for horses. In the short format there are three events that make up the competition; they are dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country jumping. If you mess up enough in one event, you get eliminated from the entire competition, so one of our goals is always to finish!

The “recognized” show just means that the show is sanctioned by the United States Eventing Association, and the riders can accumulate points on the way to awards and eligibility for championships. Until last month we had only been to “schooling” shows, which are intended as practice for the recognized shows, a place to make mistakes or try moving up a level with the stakes a little lower. You still get ribbons, but they are smaller, and you also don’t get points or eligibility for championships.

Okay, enough education. Now to the shows. The first was at Bouckeart Farm in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. It’s a gorgeous place to show, but on this day we thought we were going to freeze! November in Georgia can be 30 degrees or 80–so I guess that we should be happy that our cold day was only windy and not wet.

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Paige approaching the last jump on cross-country.
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Blue ribbon girl!
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Blue ribbon pony!

Paige has been working so hard on her dressage, and it was really gratifying that she came out of that part of the competition tied for first! She loves to jump and then turned in a beautiful stadium jumping round, no time faults or jumping penalties. Finally she went out and looked like a pro on cross-country. I was so proud. She took first by one second over the second place rider.

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I love shots like this. Darcy and Sandra are planning her stadium jumping round.
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Darcy and Syd on cross-country.

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Darcy had a good dressage round but was in the middle of the pack coming out of her dressage (they compete in different divisions). She also turned in a clean jumping round and then a really lovely cross-country course. Her solid jumping brought her up to third place in her division, quite respectable.

Two weeks later we packed up and headed to Augusta for the Pine Top Horse Trials. These took place over two days instead of one, so the pace was more relaxed. The courses themselves, though, were definitely harder! Since this was both girls’ first recognized show, our goal was merely to finish. We saw plenty of riders get eliminated, so this isn’t as low of a bar as it sounds.

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Paige at dressage.
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Bailey taking a stadium jump rather awkwardly!
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Away they go! Paige and Bailey over the first jump on cross-country.
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Darcy and Syd at dressage. Their judge said they were “workmanlike.” That cracked us up because it is so true!
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Darcy and Syd over the last stadium jump. They had a couple of penalties but finished this round.
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Syd bringing Darcy over the last cross-country jump. He had one refusal but finished in good shape otherwise. It just cost her points, but didn’t affect her finishing.

It’s always awesome when we finish, even better when we finish in the ribbons. Both girls got a ribbon and are ready to look for the next show. Unfortunately it’s the end of the season and we are looking to get back to it in February or possibly March. Time for a little rest and fun.

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It’s always good to win a ribbon to bring home!