Forever.

They say smells can bring back a lot of memories.

Have you ever smelled something familiar and about 100 memories came flooding back to you? I have, but let me back up some…

Back in high school, I got my first horse, Nike. I wish I could say she was the best thing that ever happened to me. That she’s all I had ever dreamed of owning since I was a little girl. But the reality was that she was barely broke, she was mean, and she’d buck anything breathing off of her. Just because she was technically my first horse didn’t make her my favorite.

But then came Sunny. He was 17 at the time, had been someone’s rodeo horse for many successful years, and wasn’t much for cuddles. All he knew was his job. And to work hard.

He brought his last owner to rodeos around the world, winning countless accolades during his career. But there came a day where no matter how badly he loved his job, his body wasn’t able for it anymore. So his owner found him a new home with us, to a place where he could retire in a pasture and be ridden on trails every once in a while. A pampering he deserved.

I was so lucky to be a part of his life, because that horse changed my world.

When I was in high school, my family went through Katrina and a nasty divorce all at once. I didn’t speak to my dad for over a year and my anger towards him was something I thought we would never recover from. I was so much like him and I didn’t know how to live without my favorite person around, but after what he did to my family, I never wanted to see him again.

As time went on, my mom pushed me to talk to him. As I slowly let my dad back into my world, a big part of our re-connection was heading to see the horses every weekend. I thought we were finally recovering what we had lost when I saw some pictures on my dad’s phone I shouldn’t have. They are forever engraved in my brain, even to this day.

Luckily, I was near Sunny, my hard working but emotionally distant horse. I climbed on top of him bareback and bridleless, and cried. I cried so hard that night, I didn’t think so many tears were possible. At some point, I fell asleep from the emotional exhaustion.

I’m not sure how long I was asleep for, but I woke up buried in Sunny’s neck, while he sat there perfectly still and holding me up. To this day, I still remember his smell and how it comforted me.

As Sunny grew older, I had to accept that he wouldn’t last forever. So when I was moving to Florida after college and Sunny was feeling his age, my only instructions to my dad was that when the time came, Sunny would let us know. He was a stoic horse, but the second he laid down and didn’t want to get up, it was time.

During my years of being Sunny’s owner, I was always within an hour’s drive from him.

Within two weeks of me moving away from him, I got the call.

He’s not getting up.”

“It’s ok dad, that’s the sign. I told him to do that for us.”

But it wasn’t ok.

What was I going to do when times got tough and I just needed to sit on him to make me feel better? What would happen if my dad betrayed me again? What would be my escape from all the hard things I’m bound to experience in life? And what am I supposed to do with the pain I’m feeling right now?

As always, Sunny (and God) already had a plan in place for me to deal with my pain, both present and future.

While I was in Florida, I fell in love with an OTTB named Donovan’s Reef. I didn’t want another horse to tell you the truth, but there was something about him that I couldn’t explain. Something drew me to him. Maybe it was the familiarity he came with, seeing as he hated cuddles too.

A few months later, when my days as a working student were over, Reef came back to Louisiana with me. In the years of owning him he’s taken me farther than I ever thought imaginable, including winning many blue ribbons, teaching me valuable lessons, and competing in the 2017 AECs.

But the other night after a great ride, I was hugging Reef goodbye knowing full well he hates that, and I caught a whiff of something familiar. A smell that brought me comfort, peace, and so much happiness. I swear, as I closed my eyes, I thought I was hugging Sunny again.

And that’s when I realized something.

Sunny didn’t leave without doing his final job: making sure I was taken care of when he was gone. He sent me Reef so that I had someone to run to when things got tough. And even from horsey heaven, I know Sunny is watching out for me.

Forever.

Let Us Pay For Your Passion

I know what it’s like to love this sport so much it hurts. It hurts that you want to show off all of the hard work you’ve put in to it, to enjoy the weekend with your friends, and to soak in the horse show life. But you know you can’t afford to pay for stabling, training, hauling, or even entry fees, so in the meantime, you’ll happily be the groom for all those who can.

But that’s all about to change.

If you’ve never horse shown, if you’ve busted your butt for this passion, and you’re ready to get out in that ring, then apply for the first ever BDS Show Scholarship.

You choose the show, we pay the fees. It’s that simple.

To qualify:

  • you must be 12 years or older
  • this must be your first ever live horse show
  • you must be able to perform an introductory dressage test (walk/trot)
  • you must have a horse available to ride that you are familiar with
  • you must provide the tack/equipment for the show
  • you must find a means of hauling to and from the show
  • you must be an eventer or dressage rider

Entries close March 31st, 2019.

We can pay for rental of a horse, hauling fees, training, entry fees, etc. We just need you to find the means for them.

To apply, please send us your story on why you think you should get the BDS Show Scholarship to info@betterdressagescores.com

Everyone should have the opportunity to show no matter their income, location, or social status in the equestrian community. That’s what we stand for. 

Why This Mom Loves Online Horse Shows

Ashleigh is a mom in her thirties, a loving wife, a full time worker, and a passionate equestrian. Unfortunately for her showing career, she is also a resident in a very rural part of Ontario Canada where most dressage shows are 1-2 hours away.

Her horse-crazed journey started about 25 years ago when she was a little girl. She’s always loved horses and animals in general, but when her best friend started taking riding lessons, it was time for the begging to start. She bothered her parents for months on end until they finally caved and let her take lessons for the summer.

Flash forward to now, and the love of the sport still hasn’t passed. She now owns an 11 year old registered Paint Quarter Horse named Tribute To Cowboys, aka “Miles.”

Miles is her western dressage horse, but he has also been exposed to numerous Western disciplines including gaming, cattle work, Western pleasure and extreme cowboy.  And of course, they also love to trail ride as much as they can while the weather is good.

“I think he picked me. He’s was a very green 4 year old when I bought him, I had no idea what I was going to do with him, but I had to have him. He’s a gentle giant at 16hh but very opinionated. He has his feisty days but has found his forte in Dressage and seems to love it as much as I do,” she said.

But, between the lack of local shows or a dressage coach, Ashleigh finds it tough to improve their partnership. That’s why online horse showing has become the perfect outlet for her and Miles. She finds that online horse shows are a great way to measure her and Miles’ progress as well as help them improve.

“I used to show a lot before I had my daughter and this keeps my hunger to show fed. I loved showing and the challenges it presents, so this is another way to keep myself motivated,” said Ashleigh. “Life keeps me busy, but I have a very supportive family that helps me get horse time each week.”

She hopes that one day her daughter will love riding just as much as she does. It seems like she’s already off to a good start!

12 Things Broke Equestrians Say

We’d have way more money if our hobby didn’t cost us an arm and a leg, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t penny pinch even within our sport! In honor of that, here’s 12 things broke equestrians say: 

  1. “This can be fixed with duct tape.”

Ahh, yes. The magical cure-all to life’s problems.
Busted boot? Duct tape it.
Cracked bucket? Duct tape it.
Needs a dash of color? Add pretty duct tape.
The options are endless. 

  1. “This still has some life in it.”

Admit it. You have a saddle pad you’ve owned for approximately 100 years. It’s old, it’s worn, but it still works and it’s an excellent back up when you haven’t gotten around to washing the others! Who cares about a few moth bites for a hack ride, right? 

Classic 

  1. “I can reuse this bottle for fly spray.”

I don’t know about you guys but I loveee to buy the concentrated form of fly spray and make it myself. It really is a money saver! Then, when I have an empty spray bottle (409, show sheen, Febreze, etc), it becomes my fly spray bottle! 

 

  1. “Once this breaks I’ll make it into a DIY project.”

I don’t care if you’re broke or a millionaire. This is cool: 

 

Side note, who wants a horseshoe framed picture for Christmas? All of my friends. Because they have no choice. Because I can’t afford anything else. 

  1. “I wonder if anyone is selling this onEbay.”

You never know. There might be someone out there selling their 17.5″ Chiberta Devoucoux, with custom forward flaps, and that happens to fit your horse as if it were custom. And maybe, just maybe, they’re selling it for under $0. With free shipping to good home… 

 

  1. “I wonder what this costs on 5 different sites.”

Riding Warehouse (my personal favorite). Dover Saddlery. SmartPak. Adam’s Horse Supply.
Fight to the death!! I will spend hours calculating who will cost me less (including shipping and handling of course).

 

  1. “Oh look, a homemade horse treat recipe!”

The internet is full of ’em. My personal favorite place to get all the ingredients to make them is at a place called “mom’s fridge.” They have the best deals.

“Thanks mom!” 

  1. Haystringcan fix this.”

Don’t have clips? Hang it with haystring.
Broken halter? Fix it with haystring.
It’s an equestrian double for duct tape. 

 

  1. “Do I know someone that sews?”

Keep your grandma on speed dial! Ripped show shirts, messed up saddle pads, torn breeches. Granny will literally save you hundreds of dollars. 

 

  1. “I wonder if I can make this myself.”

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t looked up “How to make a saddle pad, a halter, a stall treat, a tack trunk…the list goes on and on.” 

 

  1. “I wonder if the dollar store has this”

I’m constantly amazed at how much horse stuff the dollar store really has. Wanna see for yourself? Check out one of our other articles, “10 Horse Show Items for $10

 

  1. “MORE DUCT TAPE.”

No, there really isn’t such a thing as too much duct tape. 

 

 

How Coupons Can Help You Horse Show

If you’ve ever seen Extreme Couponing on TLC, you probably feel like couponing is an overwhelming task where you end up with products you don’t use and no place to store it all. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some helpful tips to start you on a coupon journey that will help you save money that you can use towards your horse!

  • Start Small 

If you think you’re going to coupon like the experts on TV in just one day, you’ll burn yourself out immediately and never want to coupon again. Start with just a few coupons you can find online or in your Sunday paper. You’ll get better as you go along. You might think to yourself “wow, I only saved 15 cents today, why even bother?” But within a few weeks, you’ll be saving a lot more than just 15 cents if you keep at it. Soon enough, you’ll discover where to get the best coupons and in which stores to use them. Besides, showing with Better Dressage Scores is only $19, so those cents can lead to a show!

  • Buy What You Need 

The extreme couponers on TV tend to buy 1000 razor blades in order to pay for the rest of their groceries because the coupon is worth more than the product itself, but they’re pros! Don’t buy products you don’t normally use because they’ll end up sitting on your shelf for so long that in the end, you spend more than you save. If you don’t like peas but they’re on sale, that doesn’t mean you’re going to magically eat peas and enjoy them. Make a list of what you need from the store, and then find the coupons for them. 

  • Send E-mails to the Companies You Like 

If you liked or disliked a particular product, send an e-mail to that company. Odds are they’ll send you coupons! Maruchan, the company that makes ramen noodles, sent me about 10 coupons for half off and free noodles! All because I said their cheap products are a life-saver for college students. Tyson sent me a few coupons for one of their new products because I e-mailed them saying I enjoyed how tender their chicken was. Sabra makes a variety of hummus, and when I bought a bad batch one time, I sent them an e-mail. I received two coupons for free hummus, which is an expensive product! All it takes is 10 minutes to write a few reviews on some company products and see what they send back.

  • Find a Store that Works for You 

I had two stores in particular that worked for me: Winn-Dixie and Albertsons. I picked Winn-Dixie because they give you points towards in-store coupons as well as 15 cents off of gas for every $50 you spend (and as horse people, we definitely drive a lot). They also have a lot of sales on produce and close–to-expiring goods. Albertsons is where I would buy my meat because just about every other week they would have a buy one get 3 free deal on steak and chicken! Find out what deals the stores near you have to offer and play around with these different options to see which ones you save the most with! 

  • Online Couponing 

Before you hit the “checkout” button on Riding Warehouse, SmartPak, or any other online horse shop, be sure to google “Riding Warehouse coupons” or “SmartPak promo codes,” etc. Most of the time there will be a promo code you can use for 10% off your purchase or even free shipping. Even better, most of the time they have an extra 10-20% off of clearance items in your cart! It takes just a few minutes to fish around for one, and this goes for any other online store where you may shop! A helpful tool you can download to your browser is “Honey.” It’s a promo code searcher that does all of this work for you!

Hopefully these couponing tips will help you out! The more you coupon, the more you’ll learn, the more you’ll save, the more you’ll show! Try showing with us here at Better Dressage Scores and you’ll save on hauling, stall fees, and high entry fees! Those coupon tricks will help you pay for your entry fee with us for sure 🙂

What is Better Dressage Scores?

Horse shows aren’t as easy to come by as we’d all like sometimes. Most of us have limited shows to attend and they’re usually spread far apart. It doesn’t exactly give your horse the best schooling when you only get to show once every three months. Even if we did have lots of showing opportunities, not all of us can afford to do it every weekend!

I’m a broke grad student living in Louisiana. I want to show all the time but can only show some of the time. And honestly, I save up every cent I have just to do it! Not only that, but when I don’t have a show coming up, I really don’t practice as intricately as I do when there is one coming up. I’ve always heard that “practice makes perfect,” but in reality, only “perfect practice makes perfect.” So when I putz around on my OTTB for a month but then push him back to work mode a few weeks before a show, I really can’t expect him to be some dressage king the day of the test. It just doesn’t work that way.

I realized that I can’t be the only one in this “no money, few shows, and poor practice” predicament, and I wanted to fix it. And that’s why betterdressagescores.com was created. I wanted to make an online horse show that everyone could afford. A show that would be held once a month so that there’s always a showing opportunity year round. A show that would motivate us to practice perfectly and compete against people around the United States.

Want to know how it works?

Each horse show is $19. That’s it. Those are all of your fees.

Then, all you have to do is film your test and send it in before entries close.

You’ll get your scores back from a real dressage judge, just like any other real life horse show.

You don’t need a real dressage arena, just some cones or markers for the judge to see in the video. No need to haul, no need to get fancy, no need to stress. Just ride your test, film it, and send it in!

This site is for the backyard riders, the weekly lessoners, and the top level pros! We judge starter through training level in eventing as well as training through second level in dressage.

We host a show at the end of every month starting September 30th (entries are due by the 23rd).

Just because we’re broke and living in horse horse show-less area doesn’t mean we should lose out on getting to compete every month. Check out the rest of our site and enter a show today!

10 Horse Show Items for $10

Horses, lessons, showing, tack, etc…all so costly! But it doesn’t always have to be that way, sometimes we just need to get creative. So head over to the Dollar Tree for these awesome finds:

#1: Bungee Cords: To keep our horses cooled off, we need fans, and to hang fans, we need bungee cords!

#2: Hair clips: When you’re braiding and your horse’s mane keeps getting in the way, clip it back with these!

#3 Hair Spray: You could use it on yourself if you’d like to, or you can spray your steed’s freshly braided mane before going in the ring.

#4 Hair gel: Yet another handy braiding tool to use, especially if you’re using rubber bands! Put small amounts on your horse’s mane before you start braiding that particular piece. It keeps the braid tidy and is more likely to stay put.

#5 Rubber bands: And speaking of braiding with rubber bands, here they are for just $1! They come in a variety of colors so you’re bound to find some to match your horse’s mane.

#6 Dry Erase Board: Rides times, warm up times, and ring numbers can be less stressful to remember if you write them down on this board and leave it by your stall. You’ll spend less time thinking about when you need to be ready and more time thinking about the awesome round you’re about to have!

#7 A Small Mirror: Make sure you have all those fly away hairs under control and look spiffy before you get on your horse! This is a small, stand up mirror you can easily prop up on your trunk before you head out.

#8 Baby Powder: This one is a perfect tool for those of you with white horses. Add some baby powder to their legs to make them look extra white and clean!

#9 Tool Organizer: Perfect for organizing your stud kit, braiding kit, or miscellaneous items you don’t want to lose!

#10 Emergency Phone Charger: Horse show days are long, and there isn’t always a nearby plug available. Be sure to keep this dollar item in your show trunk so you can have enough battery life to Facebook, Tweet, and Instagram how great your pony is!

Now, instead of spending at least $50-60 on these items, you only spend $10! For even more savings, look up Dollar Tree coupons online for any of these merchandises.

Happy horse showing!