USEF Para Dressage National Championships

We came, we saw, we didn’t do a whole lot of conquering.

view of tryon internation equestrian center

All year my goal has been to qualify and compete at my first para dressage national championships. So, mission accomplished! Last month at Tryon, Zoey went great, so was feeling good heading into the show. Not sure if it was show nerves or what, but the week prior to the show, Zoey and I were just not in sync at all. But, we did tweak our freestyle music and seemed to get that squared away. So I tried not to fixate too much on our issues and give Zoey a confident ride.

Tryon horse!

Our first FEI show

Being that this show was actually FEI sanctioned, there was vet check Thursday and restricted access to the stabling. They even actually read Zoey’s microchip. The ridden rules are definitely more strict than driving, as they had restrictions on handwalking and which warm up rings we could use. Thursday we were allowed to school in the George Morris arena, where our classes were held. When we turned up for our ride, we saw a bunch of people we have not seen in awhile, so that was fun.

Zoey sailed through vet check on Thursday and we got our ride time for late Friday.

Team Test day

Friday we did our Team test in the late afternoon. It was quite warm and I was boiling. Warm up was ok. Zoey did not look at the judges booth like she sometimes does, but overall we were not as steady or consistent as we can be. So that was a bit of a bummer, as was our score, 61%.

Friday evening the para coaches had a video review, where they discussed some of the tests and what we could do better. It was informative and helpful criticism. They had nice things to say about blonde princess Zoey, the only pony competing here in the para classes.

Zoey and I with our ribbons

Saturday Individual Test

We went in the morning on Saturday, much nicer from a weather standpoint. Zoey showed her sassy side, while we were more forward, she spooked at the judges booths. I struggle with the Individual test movements anyway, so was happy to score a few points better than the previous day.


Megan Benge 9 17 17 from Meghan Benge on Vimeo.

The freestyle is my favorite. I picked Mary Poppins songs and designed my own freestyle. I think it really fits us. Aside from our atrocious first halt, I felt this was probably our best test of the show. But I was still disappointed because I know we can do so much better. :/

Dasher's retirement ceremony. Dasher and Kim have been competing together for 10+ years. We met Kim and family at Dressage at Lexington. Wishing Dasher a happy retirement!

Clinic days

We will be working on getting square halts!

We were lucky that we could stay Monday and Tuesday for a clinic with the coaches of the U.S. para dressage team. Monday we mostly worked on getting Zoey to stay in the contact and go forward. They had ideas for my rein loops and bit for my pony. Luckily we were able to find the bit to use the next day. That and other things I probably didn’t need from Farm House Tack. But, the bit is a big fat bit so kind of makes sense as it is close to Zoey’s driving bit that she has liked forever.

Tuesday we worked on that pesky serpentine that has been plaguing me. We finally got some good transitions. Also got some ideas to make our halts better.

We got lots to work on but also lots of encouragement to continue along and do the Florida shows. The first one is the very first weekend in January, so lots to think about.

About Meghan

I am a photographer/graphic designer in Aiken, SC. I am owned by a herd of ponies. My dogs/best friends are Poppy and Amigo.