Written by Tiffany Bragdell, Bronze Medalist & USDF Certified Instructor.
I have to admit that I’m a sucker for chestnut mares- especially when they are ponies. There is something about the confident attitude that a mare possesses, and particularly pony mares, which makes Wicked Games (Wicked Courtjester x Hoppenhof’s Sylvia) so much fun to train. She is a (sometimes too) smart workaholic that never disappoints. I’ve had the pleasure of backing Wicked Games, sorry, no barn name, as a 3 year old and have been fortunate to further develop her training and compete her in dressage as well.
We took the usual route with a young horse schooling off the farm, over fences as well as on the flat, but this year, as a 6 year old we tested the waters and she had her first season competing in recognized dressage shows. She easily earned qualifying scores for regional championships at 1st and 2nd levels. I was really impressed and amazed with how quickly she adapted to the show environment and that each time out her relaxation and connection in the ring improved. Toward the end of the summer she felt like a seasoned competitor.
We felt pretty good about going to regionals and being able to put in a good test but at the same time this was the biggest show she’d been to with 19 horses in the 2nd level championship and 35 in the 1st level championship. There were also a few obstacles to overcome such as busier warm up rings which can be a tad intimidating when you’re only 14.1 H high and we had to wait until the final 2 days of the show to compete. Plus, I wasn’t sure how Wicked Games would handle 5 days without turnout when she’s use to a 7 acre field at home so, we took several walks throughout the day, had schooling sessions in the afternoon, and I even took her out for a short schooling session the morning of the 2nd level championship class as she didn’t show until 7 pm that night. Again, I was impressed with how well she adapted to the new environment and she felt better and better each day.
When it came time to show Wicked Games had her game face on. We would do the best we could and that’s all that mattered. The medium trot, which is a highlight, and the lateral work felt so good that at one point I almost forgot where we were in the test. She had really given me a good place to sit and a steady connection that the movements seemed to flow with ease. We did the best we could and I was ecstatic to hear the scores of 67.92% at 2nd level and 70.1% at first level. We proudly came in 6th at Second Level and 5th at First Level and had a blast participating in the awards presentation. I can’t say enough how much fun it is to ride a pony with such natural ability, trainability and confidence that can prove she can compete with the big boys.