Coconino Horse Trials – Part VI

Coconino Summer II H.T. (Week 2) – Levi’s Prep and Dressage

Coconino offered practice rounds on Wednesday and I signed up for another stadium practice. I wanted to spend as much time as possible jumping in that arena with hopes of not getting eliminated or last place again. We had practiced riding in the ring on Monday and Levi was still very convinced that demons might leap out of the surrounding and murder him at any moment. He got better over the course of the schooling, but I didn’t feel comfortable jumping as I wasn’t sure if it was open for jumping and I didn’t want to get eliminated before the show even started for a technicality.

warm up

He warmed up in his usual manner: over-jumping everything. He had a bit more energy than I thought necessary, but he was being mostly good. Then it was time to go in.

Levi was way too fixated on demons to be bothered with jumping and he was not happy that I kept insisting he jump things instead of allowing him to flee in terror.

this is fun

Around again and this time over it:

jump 1

We came around to number two and he tried to refuse that too. But it was tiny so I just made him crawl his ass over it.


We finally jumped #3 and #4 like a normal horse. Well, like a normal Levi. He’s not a normal horse.

Jump #5

Jumps #7 and #8 were along the scariest side of the arena. Levi really didn’t think we should go down that side of the arena, but we were moving at this point and I got him down the line.

Stupidly close to the jump, but over it.

And then we were done. I was pretty pissed at him. I get it, the arena is terrifying. But we’ve now been in here multiple times. You need to get over it. Sadly, they were full for schooling rounds so I couldn’t do another one. Oh well, I figured we’d do what we could do on the day. No reason to worry about it. We had dressage to get through first.


Dressage was something else. I’ve never had to show in the rain. Levi does not like puddles. When I first got him, he’d throw total fits about having to cross water. During the winter, I spent some period of almost every ride getting off and hand-walking him through puddles as he tried to flee or leap them in attempts to not get his precious feet wet. We worked on that a lot, but he still didn’t like puddles. I could sort of force him though them, but I didn’t think stopping, leaping, and then high-stepping through every puddle was going to go over well in the dressage arena.

The footing was gross. Everything was mud and good portion of that mud was under water. Not little puddles, but big lakes of water covering entire chunks of the arena. Warm up was on the track and I was doing my test in the same arena my husband had done. I could see that the arena was about 1/3 under water and there would be no way to avoid the water. So I set to work. Levi didn’t want to go into the first puddle, but I made him. And then he just sort gave up fighting about it. I rode all over the track seeking out the biggest puddles and making him go in them. Every new puddle caused a moment’s hesitation, but he didn’t stop. Then I started making him do difficult things, like canter transitions in the puddles.

not sure which of us is more miserable

I don’t know if the puddles just kept us occupied or if being soaking wet is somehow Levi’s secret preference, but he was being so damned good. I don’t know where this horse came from, but I would like him to show up again some time.

I had originally planned to just ride my test in my rain coat, since it’s allowed in the rules, but it turns out my rain coat is only mostly waterproof.

I decided that, if I was mostly wet anyway, I might as well go for broke and wear my coat. Why not fully commit to this nonsense. As soon as I was allowed in to trot around the outside of the court, I went straight for the puddles. As I did this, the rain decided it’d be fun to come down even harder. Because why not.

Is this dressage or horseboating?

1. A-X-M Enter working trot at M Track left
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 6.5

It almost looks like we know what we’re doing

2. E Circle left 20 meters
Judge’s Comments: “nice stretch to contact”
Score: 7.0

Stretching to the contact?! Where did this horse come from?

3. Between K and A Working canter left lead
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 7.0

There’s an angry face there, but this is one of the quietest canter departs we’ve ever done.

4. A Circle left 20 meters working canter
Judge’s Comments: “could have more bend”
Score: 6.5

I don’t know why there are no pictures of the left lead canter outside of the depart

5. Between F and B Working trot
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 7.0

Seriously, who is this horse?

6. Between M and C Medium walk
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 7.5

You can see how hard the rain is coming down as it splashes off the puddles!

7. H-X-F Free walk
Judge’s Comments: “could swing more over back”
Score: 7.5

I know he needs to move more over his back, but I’ll take a 7.5

8. Between F & A Develop medium walk
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 7.0

9. K Working trot at E Circle right 20 meters working trot
Judge’s Comments: “circle a little shallow”
Score: 6.5

10. Between H and C Working canter right lead
Judge’s Comments: I can’t tell what this comment says. Either “poked nose” or “pulled more” or something else entirely
Score: 6.0

ermahgerd, right lead canter!

11. C Circle right 20 meters working canter
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 6.5


12. Between M and B Working trot
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 8.0

I have no picture of this, but OMG an 8.0!

13. K-X-G Onto centerline
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 7.5

I’d like to point out that at this point – because my test is ending – the rain is going down to a drizzle instead of a downpour

14. G Halt through walk, salute
Judge’s Comments: (no comment)
Score: 8.0

Not sure this deserved an 8, but I guess it looked square from C

Collective Marks
Gaits: 7.0
Impulsion: 7.0
Submission: 6.5
Rider: 7.0

Final Score: 30.0
Final Comments: “Steady fluent(?) test – shows good understanding of stretch to contact and geometry.”

I finished the test knowing it was one of the best we’ve ever done. He got lots of pats and praise. My husband and I were both commenting on just how good he was and how I should just ride all his tests in the pouring rain. While I was super happy with him, I’m generally incapable of thinking of myself as having done well. This was also the same judge from my husband’s ride – the one who had given him the lower (worse) score. However, I’d watched one poor horse have a fit about the puddles and go backwards for part of his test and another just decided he was done with this mud crap and jumped out of the arena. I figured other horses might have some water issues too and we’d get a middle of the pack sort of score. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the scores online and we were in first place!

good boy!

I was so happy with him, the score and the placing were just bonuses. He really surprised me with how obedient and willing he was despite (possible because of) the rain. I would not have been surprised to have been the person getting jumped out of the arena due to puddles. Putting in such a steady, clean test was enjoyable. Coming in first was pretty awesome too.

It was at this point we decided to get a hotel. I was wet all the way through – and I do mean all the way through. My gloves were so wet I was able to drain water out of them just by squeezing my hands shut.

I was muddier than I normally am coming off of XC. I actually just went and hosed my boots down to get some of the mud off. There wasn’t any way I could get them more wet.

I then proceeded to clean my poor boots and we took everything back to the hotel to dry. Camping is great, but there’s nothing like a hot shower and a hair dryer for your helmet after a day like that.

33 thoughts on “Coconino Horse Trials – Part VI

  1. brirosedesign

    Yay!!! What an awesome test! Promise used to show SO much better in the rain, too, lol. She’d just hunker down in her frame and stay there the entire day, no fussing, no broncing…just a normal, calm hunter!

  2. martidoll123

    ugh rain and mud = miserable but who knew Levi was such a mudder. He looks FANTASTIC in most of those photos. Congrats. But i bet you were so cold and miserable after. I feel bad for you as I know how that feels. Glad you got a hotel!!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Given that he refuses water obstacles the first time every time, I would also not have guessed he’d be a mudder.

  3. Emily

    Awesome test. May hates the rain. She just shakes her head constantly, so I am super impressed by Levi for just hunkering down and doing the thing!

    1. Olivia Post author

      The head shaking was my other concern. He’s so stupidly ear shy I was worried he’d spend the whole test flipping his head around because water was touching his ears. Instead he just pinned his ears the entire time, but was otherwise good.

  4. Carly

    He looks fantastic! A move to the east coast should do him good if he loves dressage in the rain lol. OMG your poor clothes tho. That glove gif is equally horrifying and hysterical.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I was noticing the glove issue while I was riding and made my husband grab his phone when I got off. I was stupidly wet.

  5. the_everything_pony

    GREAT dressage test! Congrats! Yeah maybe ALL tests need to be done in the rain haha. Who knows maybe Levi just needed a few weeks of “Levi boot camp – where it doesn’t matter how much you don’t wanna you’re just gonna” LOL. So pleased that you went into FIRST! Woot! And go easy on yourself – the both of you look really good in those photos. And OMG I’d be sooooo happy about that hot shower too haha!

    1. Olivia Post author

      The past year of his life has been you’re just gonna have to do it. No idea why that day it was finally accepted.

  6. KateRose

    Well done on your wicked dressage test in the rain! I know it’s probably annoying af to ride a test in the rain but it does make for some cool photos 😛 Glad Levi was a good boy 🙂

  7. Stacie Seidman

    Woohoo!!!! In first place! I guess the trick to a well behaved Levi is to make life as miserable as possible? Hey whatever works… Seriously though, you two look fantastic.
    Also, good call on the hotel. Probably worth every penny that night!

  8. sarahczspots

    Yay for that test! I think Levi must be one of those horses that has to be distracted from being naughty, like maybe the duct tape on the nose trick would work on him. Whatever was in that magic rain, you better squeeze it out of your clothes and bottle it to pour on him next time! He’s got the skills to be such a nice horse, he just needs to let himself be that horse. 🙂

    1. Olivia Post author

      His talent has never been the issue. It’s just getting him to want to be that horse. I don’t think we’ve solved it, but at least I have another notch in the worth keeping him column.

  9. Holly

    He looks fantastic! Perhaps someone can just hose you both down before all tests, hah. And major good call on the hotel – there’s no better feeling than finally being warm and dry on a day like that!

    1. Olivia Post author

      He was good, but I don’t really think I’m willing to commit to a wetness = excellence in the show ring lifestyle.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Me too. I thought it was all dry and deserty. But apparently there’s this thing called monsoon season. I can appreciate it from a climate perspective, but it would have been nice if the rain had waited a week.

  10. Nathalie

    Love the butt wrinkles on fence #8 … and of course I am so inspired by the amazing muddy dressage! Way to go!

    1. Olivia Post author

      He’s very good at butt wrinkles. Especially when he gets in that close and really has to use those muscles.

  11. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    You and Levi look amazing here! Is there a way you can threaten him with rain in the future to get this behavior? Rain might be possible if you move to the east coast… regardless congrats!!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Ha! I dunno about romance. I still contemplated murdering him every day when he refused to let me put his bridle on without taking it apart and re-assembling it on his head because he decided touching his ears wasn’t okay anymore.

  12. Kaity C

    I’ve really loved checking in every day to follow along on these posts! Well done to both of you on that dressage test, that’s so great!

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