FCHJA May 2016

If you follow me on social media, you know that I had a decent weekend at the May FCHJA show. Weirdly enough, it was actually the first time I’ve ever fallen off in the show ring. I’ve been showing on and off since I was 7 years old, so I’d say that’s a pretty good record.

Friday schooling was kind of a mess. Petunia and I were not getting along. My control freak tendencies were overpowering me and I wouldn’t let go of her mouth, which pissed her off because she didn’t want me to touch her mouth at all. It led to this gem:

You can practically see her squealing with delight as she left out a very necessary stride and took a flying leap that left me hanging on for dear life. When our argument wasn’t getting better, my trainer and I decided it was time for a time out. I let her chill in her stall while I drank a beer and went to watch some barn mates school. When I walked up to her stall and she gently nickered at me later, I gave her a peppermint and all was forgiven. I got back on her, and we both had a new attitude. We quietly jumped around and it felt fantastic. So glad we didn’t waste time with a senseless fight.

The next day, she got lunged (15 minutes of trotting and cantering is hard work!) and taken for a walk around the show grounds where we ran into Sarah from Adult Ammy Strong. I wasn’t showing until the end of the day, so there was a lot of waiting around. Midway through the afternoon, show management made the decision to move my classes from the smaller ring (think tiny boxes and gates) to the bigger hunter ring with more substantial jumps.

If you aren’t a rider, it doesn’t sound like this is a big deal. While the jump heights may have been the same, the larger boxes (while not taller) give the perception of a bigger jump – even though it really same height. This actually played into my favor though. Instead of just cantering over the fences, Petunia put forth more effort in her jumping because they looked more substantial to her as well.

My first class of the day was the 2’3″ Jr/Am Equitation on the flat. I don’t take equitation too seriously since I really suck as an equitation rider. My posture is TERRIBLE. I went in and had a nice flat. I was pleasantly surprised when I came in second. My barn mate Kaitlyn won the class, and we did a little fist bump to celebrate. Go Penny Lane!

After that, we were stuck waiting for a while. When management moved my classes to another ring, it created a conflict for my trainer as she had horses in 3 rings at the same time. Unfortunately, this stuff happens sometimes.


Since all the other riders had already jumped their courses by the time my trainer was able to make it back, we did the hunter flat next. I came in 6th, which was a little disappointing because I felt like it was the best flat class I’d ever had on Petunia and I was expecting middle-of-the-pack. You win some, you lose some. Sarah deservedly won the class on her new OTTB, The Wow Factor. Petunia has a massive crush on Wow. She’s such a boy crazy teenager.

Then I went in for my warm up round. I had a big spot to the first jump (which proved to be a trouble spot all day), and when we landed, a few strides later, P wanted to go right and I wanted to go left. Needless to say, I lost that argument and landed on the ground.


God, that jump was evil.

We made it through our next three rounds and each one got better (with less and less argument after that jump). I’m very proud of how I rode and the adjustments I made each round that led to improvement.


In our last class of the day, we ended up second! It might as well have been first with how good it felt. Overall, it was a solid show. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made.


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Devon Stiles


  1. Congrats on a great learning show AND bringing home plenty of satin! Funny, I think about 80% of my falls have been in the show ring. Or at a horse show at least. Go big or go home right?

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE that you are riding again, Devon! My inspiration! I’ve been out of the saddle for about a year. To say I miss it every day is an understatement. More posts about your equine exploits…okay if I live vicariously through you a lil’ bit?! Congrats on a great show, and bravo on a charming, funny, oh-so-true-if-you-ride post. Rock on, Girl!

    • Thank you so much, Donna! And of course you can live vicariously through me 🙂 If you ever find yourself in Jax, you should come meet Miss P!

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