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National Dressage Pony Cup Trip Recap - Long

I'm so excited to be able to attend the NDPC again this year. I was here in 2014 as you may remember but that was with a friend (previous roommate) who was familiar with KY and is a huge race enthusiast. That trip was all about visiting and spending time in KY including going to a race, the Keenland auction etc. This year for me was all about the pony cup so I planned two days in Lexington (Friday and Saturday) with the goal of spending the full day both days at the KY Horse Park. I was so excited to fly out!

I luckily was able to get packing completed on Wednesday (despite my puppy not being very happy with me and hoping to invite himself with) which was good because I had to leave for the airport directly after work on Thursday.

He's pretty good at breaking my heart when he wants something he can't have like going along in my suitcase. Maybe next year :)
I made it to the airport plenty early thanks to my amazing roommate who got off work early to drive me in. I got some dinner at the airport and then was on my way, or at least I thought.

First my flight was delayed because of some small repair that needed to get done. Then they got us all on the plane and promptly told us that there was a ground stop in Chicago so it was going to be half an hour. That turned into an hour and a half. I knew that flights out of Chicago were going to be delayed as well but since I only had an hour to transfer to my next flight I wasn't sure if I was going to make it and was really hoping that I wouldn't need to spend the night at the airport.

Despite being stressful it was a beautiful flight to Chicago
I was actually able to make my transfer which was actually running quite late as well. It was a cute little baby plane with two seats on one side but only one along the other side. Smallest plane I've ever been in.
Chicago to Lexington in a baby plane
Unfortunately that meant that instead of getting to Lexington around 8:30pm I didn't get there until 12:30am. It also meant that the rental car I had booked through Hertz wasn't available since they must have closed at 9:00. I ended up getting a "second" rental car from Enterprise who was open which sucked but oh well, what can you do. It also meant that I got to my AirBnB pretty late and was lucky that the guy who owns the place is sort of a night owl and was able to answer my questions about how to find it, since it didn't show up on my GPS, and how to get in. It's a studio apartment which is really cool and in a beautiful historic building right near downtown.

One of my favorite ponies

I was eventually able to find it and get in. I pretty much collapsed right into bed around 1:20am and was happy to sleep in the next morning.

I did eventually get myself out of bed and decided to run a few errands before heading to the show. I had chosen this AirBnB because it had a mini kitchenette and I was hoping to save some money by buying groceries and preparing most of my own food. I found a Trader Joes and bought some groceries. After getting back, putting them away, and grabbing everything I'd need for the day I headed out and got the show right around 10:30am.

Seriously the cutest flying changes ever!

It was actually really nice and overcast, in fact I found out later that there had been rain delay's early on, and was nice to be there without the heat and the sun. I walked around to the various rings and watched for awhile and then went to find some food at the restaurant at the KY Horse Park. I found some french fries that were vegan enough ;) and found a table. At some point I looked outside and realized that it was pouring. Apparently I have really great timing!

This guy is the first dressage rider that I've ever seen with a full beard!

After I finished my lunch I stopped by the giftshop and got a really awesome plastic rain poncho and then headed back out to watch ponies again! Amazingly enough with how hard it had been pouring while I was eating, the rain stopped completely right after I headed back out to watch. Maybe the universe felt like I'd already put up with enough on this trip?

Adorable Buckskin in the warmup ring

At any rate I watched some more amazing and talented ponies and their owners. I really enjoyed watching the upper level riders and ponies but what was really fun was watching the people that are closer to my level. It was amazing to watch the 1st and 2nd level ponies and see that while the ponies that were winning were amazing and nearly perfect, there were plenty of people that were doing quiet well that have many of the same bobbles that we would have at this point. Not at 2nd level of course, I can't even imagine showing at that level yet but 1st level for sure. It was really good motivation to keep at it!

It was also fun (and sometimes funny) to hear Axel Steiner's commentary. He had a few sarcastic sounding comments but mostly was very complimentary of the ponies and their riders. If you're interested you'll be able to find the archived live stream on USEF Network this year!

Then I went shopping...

My "I probably shouldn't have bought this" face. Adorable AirBnB in the background
I did actually have a small budget for shopping and only went slightly over what I had planned. My souvenirs seem to always be riding clothes. There is the Asmar jacket that I got in OH when I was in Cleveland for my sister's college graduation, and the Kastel Denmark sun shirt that I got last time I was in KY. The purchases for this trip were a jacket from Horze and a pair of my favorite breeches from Horze that are sold out on the website. 

I've planned to get another "shell" jacket since I wear these all the time and lost my FAVORITE mountain horse jacket at some point last winter. I nearly cried over that one. I've been just wearing my Asmar jacket but it's nice to have two so that I can wash them more often. Plus it's MN, there are seriously 4-5 months of the year or more when a good light jacket makes sense. I LOVE Horze stuff as I've mentioned before but their sizing is weird. The only shirts I've ever got from them have either been too big or too small so I just don't get their tops anymore without trying them on first. In fact, this jacket was an XXS which I certainly am not but it fits great and is so adorable. The breeches are the same as the burgundy ones that I have and adore but are in a light grey with a navy blue seat.

I REALLY wanted these when they came out for my "schooling show" breeches but I hesitated and they sold out online and aren't sold anywhere locally. I saw them on a mannequin at a vendor tent on Friday and asked if what size they were. I was really sad when the shop owner said that they were a 22 which would never fit me. I let her know that I would need a 26 and she went to check to see if they had a pair in the back. She came back out with a pair but it was a 24. Since I've been losing weight and my 26s are slowly getting a little looser I decided to just try them on and although they're just slightly snug they do fit!! I thought about it a bit but did go for it and I'm so exited about finally having them!

The Fell mare from H's barn
I also met up with the owner and rider of the ponies that are here from H's barn in MN! The owner has two adorable Fell ponies and I've met her trainer who rode at the NDPC. I've actually watched her ride the gelding at the recent Janet Foy clinic at H's barn that I went to. The rider and owner were really nice and we talked ponies for awhile while we hung out in the stable isle. I found out that both ponies were showing the next day, the mare that I'd seen on Friday was showing really early but the gelding, who is showing Prix St. George, was showing around 11:30 which was very doable so I let them know that I'd be there to see him go the next day.

I got back to the AirBnB around dinner and after making some food I went on a couple of errands to get some more drinking water and other odds and ends. The rest of the evening I caught up on blogs and watched Youtube.

These two were so adorable! She rode upper level and the pony couldn't have been over 13.2 hands.
I got up fairly early this morning and after making some coffee and getting breakfast I headed back out to the horse park. I wanted to be there early and leave right around noon so that I could make myself lunch and get out of the heat and sun before it got really hot.

Lauren Chumley riding Grand Prix on Avatar's Jazzman
I saw a bunch more talented ponies and got to see Lauren Chumley ride grand prix as well as some other extremely talented upper level ponies. I also watched some more lower level tests and got to pet more amazing ponies. I knew that the Fell I was there to watch wasn't going to be out very long before his test since he has a lower energy level and they didn't want to wear him out before his class. Right around 11:20 I found him and made my way back over to his owner. She was so nice and so excited to have a fan there to watch her pony :)

The Fell gelding from H's barn with his group of admirers after a great Prix St. George test!
He did an AMAZING job especially for a pony that's just not built for upper levels. It was so inspiring and amazing to watch him put in a great and clean test. I believe he scored in the 50s which is amazing for a little guy that was brought up through the levels by lots of hard work. It was especially amazing to see his rider/trainer pumping her arms in the air and giving him lots of hugs after the test and hearing how rewarding it was after all her hard work with him. She's an amazing rider that has her gold medal and has ridden many warmbloods and yet said that this was way more rewarding then those other tests that she's completed because of all the work she's put in with him to get him here.

We all gushed over him for awhile, he'd gathered a little crowd of admirers, and then when they headed back to bathe him and get the mare ready for a breed class I left and headed back to my AirBnB. It would have been fun to stay a bit longer but I'd seen so much pony dressage and it was getting really hot and sunny and I was ready to be in the air conditioning again.

The front of my AirBnB

Downtown Lexington

I LOVE all the amazing historical, brick houses
I did a bit more exploring and now I'm planning to spend the rest of the evening hanging out here and then I'm going to head to bed early since I have to leave around 4:00am for the airport to head home. I'm so happy to have been able to be here again and it just makes me even more excited to get here with Katai some day!


  1. It sounds like a great trip. One day I'd love to do either Rolex or Dressage at Devon...

    1. It was SO MUCH FUN!! My goal is to go to Rolex next year :)

  2. What an amazing adventure! I so wish KY wasn't so far, I'd have that show on my bucket list for sure. Thanks for the recap! Love the breeches too!

    1. It was really fun! I hope that one day I can show there but just going and watching all those ponies was so good for my motivation.


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