Donerail Farm
Dressage and Sport Horses

Above, at 18 years old,
Lisa  gets a well-deserved  pat (actually, one of many!) at the end of what ended up
being a First Level Reserve Championship ride at the 2007 Arabian Sporthorse Regionals.

Sonnys Mona Lisa+/
1989 Half Arabian Pinto Mare
Sonnys Sizzler X Bint Hallyma

2007 Show Results
United Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year Awards
Region 9, Half Arabian Division
-Reserve Champion, First Level Amateur
Reserve Champion, Second Level and Above Amateur

Region 9 Arabian Sporthorse Championship
- Reserve Champion, First Level Amateur with a 67%

December 20, 2007
I found out this week that Lisa won two Res. Championships in the USEF Horse of the Year Awards. So my old gal goes out in style. I am so proud of her. I really miss her and I am going to go see her this weekend. With cookies, carrots and peppermints, of course!

December 17, 2007
Lisa Retires!  
After much soul-searching, I decided to retire Lisa from dressage.  She has been a show horse for most of her life. Except for injury and time off to have two foals, she's been showing since she was three years old. Not only that, she's been showing in a discipline that is not best suited for her conformation. She has had to work really hard to be competitive in dressage - and she's done it willingly and cheerfully for more than 15 years. I realized that for her to move to third level was going to require herculean effort on her part and it really was not fair to ask that of her. Add to that that her daughter, Fling, has so much more talent for dressage that it became very frustrating for me to try and ride and train Lisa because she's so much tougher than Fling. I did not want riding her to become an unhappy affair for either of us - she has come through for me so many times over the years and obediently and patiently put up with me while I struggled to learn dressage. She has won more championships than an $800 horse ever should. And she did it mostly on heart. She has earned an easy and carefree retirement. A friend of mine needs a companion for her TB, and a patient and safe horse for her daughter who had a bad riding accident a few years ago.  They don't live far and I've know them for 20 years, so Lisa is 'on lease' to them. Lisa will be doted on and brushed and fed cookies and thoroughly spoiled.  I will miss her and I am sure at some point she will come back home.

July 26, 2007

I am back from the Region 9 Arabian/Half Arabian Sporthorse Championships that were held in Waco, TX July 12-15. I have some great photos and I will post them when I get them from the photographer.

 I had entered two horses in the show: Faxxsimile, my two year old Oldenburg cross who is registered Half Arabian, and my 18-year-old half Arabian pinto mare, Sonnys Mona Lisa +/. Lisa showed in one Second Level dressage class and two First Level dressage class.  

It rained almost every single day for two weeks before the show. I have a very good outdoor arena, but it has to have at least a day to dry out to be rideable.  I was only able to ride Lisa a few times during those two weeks, and only  in tiny areas I found in my pasture that were dry enough to do walk and some trot in about a 15 meter circle. I also had not ridden through either of the tests all the way through. I was planning to do that the week before the show. 

 Faxx would show on Thursday, we had a day off on Friday and Lisa would show in her Second Level class on Saturday and two First Level classes on Sunday. Not an ideal situation for either horse, in that Faxx would have to stand in a stall for five days and Lisa would have to stand in a stall for three days before she even showed.

My Second level ride on Saturday  was not a good ride – those two weeks off really hurt us. At 18, she really needs to be ridden 4x a week to keep everything ‘working’ right. I just could not get the kind of self-carriage you really need to do a good second level test, plus missed a canter/walk/canter transition and it just wasn't our best work. I got a 57 which was not a horrible score, but not nearly enough to be competitive and ended up tied for 5th, but lost the tie breaker. Bummer.

So, Sunday I was exhausted and had two classes. The first class was First Level AOTR with 16 entries and very, very competitive horses. This is the MOST competitive regionals I've ever attended. You had to score in the high 60s or low 70s at training level, to even hope to win, and sometimes even get Top 5. We had an "eh" ride and got a 62.7. We were SIXTH. Again. ARGGGG. I thought about scratching our last class, even there were only 10 in the class, because they were all SUPER horses - that had scored 65%+ in the earlier class. Brooke said "we're here, you're riding."  Brooke got on Lisa for about 15 minutes to try and get her carrying herself  better so I could let her neck out and get more swing in her back. That was what the judge kept hammering me for. She had SUPER self carriage two weeks earlier, but two weeks of no riding had really taken its toll. In our earlier first level test, Bill had written in the comments "Huge gaits, huge heart. YOU need to let her neck out so she can unlock her back and swing more."  Yes, Bill I knew that, but at this point you can either have her OFF her forehand with a shorter neck, or ON her forehand with a longer neck! LOL!  

Brooke the miracle worker got on her and very calmly and methodically, in about fifteen minutes, got her in better self carriage. I would give my right arm for that kind of talent. I got on and she was a different horse - it was my lovely horse I'd been riding for two weeks up until the show. Brooke said "Now every time you get right in front of Bill, you GIVE THAT LEFT REIN!!!!" LOL! A little showmanship does not hurt!

I was tired and I think First 4 is a lot longer than Second 4.. But Lisa was a LOT easier to ride than she was earlier in the day because she was carrying herself so much better. So I went in there and really rode my horse, rode the test, and remembered to give the reins every chance I could. When I halted at X  I threw my arms around Lisa's neck and hugged her right then and there. I knew I had at least finally done the best I could do that day and so had my horse, and now let the chips fall where they may.

I walked her out, took her back to the stall and untacked her and then went to change clothes. I had to pass the score sheets on my way to the restroom to change - my score was not posted yet, but all the rides before mine were and there was a 69% and four 65%s already. I said to myself "I'm toast - no Top 5 for me" and just went to the restroom to change.  As I passed by the score sheets after changing, someone came out of the show office with more test scores to post. Mine was the next one. I held my breath - I had a 67.3%!!!! Now there were only two more scores yet to post...I started counting...I had the second highest score!!! And let's see....math isn't my strongest suit....I'm second....only two more to, that's four...OH MY GOD, I've at least got a Top 5!!!   I went back to the stall...I couldn't bear to wait there for the last two scores....finally I went back again and there was a crowd of people in front of the score sheets - including Brooke...she turned around and said "You got Reserve Champion!!!"  I cried!!!  And hugged her - and then went to hug Lisa again and stuff her with carrots and peppermints.

I got my test back and Bill's comment was "Good job on releasing the reins. She is still holding the left rein and tilting her head a bit, but this time she gets the blame for it, not you." LOL! I think he's a great judge!!!  Out of all the rides, to remember my horse from test to test is pretty impressive. I had much higher scores for gaits/rider/impulsion on this test plus generally higher scores on most of the movements. I was really chuffed because she got 7s on her canter and trot lengthenings! Those used to be her worst movements - doing the second level work has made those better!

I bought Lisa in 1990 for $800 when she was a yearling. She’s given me so many wonderful memories, two lovely daughters (both by the Oldenburg stallion, Frohwind, who is also Faxx’s sire) and always comes through for me when it really counts. I have owned her for so long it is hard to remember a time when she was not part of my family. She’s 18 and  I  treasure every day and every ride we have together. She's actually working better than ever now, and our next challenge will be learning flying changes!

July 2, 2007
Lisa had Faeryn two years ago and she was weaned in December of 2005. I can honestly say it's taken me since then- a good 18 months -to really get Lisa back to where she was prior to foaling.  Not only did she have to regain all those muscles, she was also older. At her age (18 now) it takes a lot longer to build that muscle, flexibility, etc.  Just like humans. It has definitely been worth it, though. The work she is doing now is on a whole different 'level' than what she has ever done before - even when she was young.  I told Brooke the other day, I wish I had ten more years with this horse. It is so true what the really experienced trainers say - few riders really outgrow their horses - they just are not knowledgeable enough to get the most out of the horse they have. That has certainly been true in Lisa's case. I really thought I needed a 'fancier' horse. I didn't. I just needed more correct training, more knowledge, more fitness for myself and the horse, etc. etc.  Now, that does not mean that my little $800 half Arab mare is suddenly an Olympic contender. Not by a long shot. LOL! But she is certainly talented enough to take me to third level. I told Brooke the two two-year-olds can sit on the back burner if they have to - I am going to ride Lisa regularly for as long as she stays sound and happy. She is so "through" and has such super self carriage now it is absolutely incredible. A lot has to do with the fact that I've been going to the gym and lifting weights regularly and my 'core' is much stronger than ever. I can give her a lot of 'help' with that now. In fact, riding Lisa made me realize that Miss Fling needs to have MORE self carriage than she does! That is the good thing about having two horses to ride! Anyway, it's been a real breakthrough for Lisa and I am just so grateful for this horse who has shared my life for 17 years. I can barely remember NOT having her in my life. She's not a super affectionate horse and she does not have an "over the top" personality like her 'children,' Fling and Faeryn - but she has quietly done her job and come through for me time and time again over the years. Her show record speaks for itself.  She is also the horse that anyone can ride, and she's never a moment's trouble for anyone. Oh, and (this is probably really going to jinx me) - I've been riding her more than 15 years and have fallen off her!  Truly a once-in-a-lifetime horse.

In a few weeks we'll be going to the Region 9 Arabian Sporthorse Championships in Waco, TX.  Lisa will show at First and Second Level dressage in the amateur division. Last year there were only about four entries in First and Second level. This year there are 15 in First Level Amateur and 8 in Second Level Amateur! An amazing increase! There are some really good horses, too.  The last time Lisa and I competed at Arab Regionals was 2002 and there were 8 in our First Level classes. She was Champion in one and Reserve in another.  I have no idea how she will do - I have not shown her at all since qualifying her for the show last November. We've stayed home and trained, trained, trained. So I have NO idea what kind of scores she'd be getting . We'll just go and do our  best. That's all we can do.  I know I can count on Lisa to do her part. It will be a lot of fun, regardless since several of my friends are going, too.

May 12, 2007
The regular work is finally paying off! I've had super rides on her the last week. One thing that's helped is I have started back at the gym. ;)  Lisa can be very strong - my abs have to be strong enough to 'hold' her back on her haunches. She'd really rather NOT have to carry herself if she can get _me_ to do it for her. ;)  I also have a hard time really "making" her work hard. I tend to want to go easy on her because she's 18. I finally decided , "Hey, I'm 50 and doing this - that's probably about how old she is in horse years!" Also, with Fling, I can do polite little half halts and that gets the job done. Lisa was simply either blowing through my polite little half  halts or just ignoring them,  so I finally decided that I had to really turn up the volume - do really big "oh yes, you _DO_ have to rock back on your haunches" half halts - and then soften - and the results were much better if I just did soft 'nag, nag, nagging."  Also, I discovered that if I really used my legs actively for a few strides, that encouraged her to lift her abs and her back and really go up into the bridle. What a difference! After a week of this 'boot camp' she is SO much easier to ride now. She's really round, her back is really up and she's FUN to ride! If this keeps up I'll have to really reconsider retiring her next year when the two year olds start under saddle. Maybe she COULD do third level! ;)  The canter I had today sure felt like an upper level canter!

April 8, 2007
Lisa is 18 years old today! She got carrots with breakfast and dinner, some treats at noon, and of course, had the day off - made easier by the fact that it rained almost all day yesterday and the arena was unrideable today anyway. ;) And I have to tell a funny story on myself. Today was Easter as well, and I was somewhat surprised that my husband brought home flowers yesterday, and a card, and told me he "knew it wasn't until tomorrow, so don't open the card until then." I am thinking, "Wow, he's never got me flowers and a card for EASTER before."  So when I went to Wal-mart yesterday, I got him an Easter card. It was not until after breakfast - and after I had made a big show of fawning over Lisa because it was her BIRTHDAY that it ocurred to me that, um, this is also our ninth wedding anniversary.  Mike and I got a good laugh out of that when I confessed. I guess I am a true horseperson - forget my wedding anniversary, but not my horse's birthday. ;)  

As for riding, Lisa's been in good, steady work the past few weeks. She needs the most work on her flexibility - she was never a super flexible horse, and now that she's older it's even more of an issue. She is on monthly glucosamine shots, and I also give her hylauric acid orally every day. I can tell these things have helped, but regular, methodical riding helps the most. When I miss more than two or three days due to weather, I can tell. The Arabian Sporthorse Regional Championships are in July and she will show First and Second level. There are two First level championships we can enter and one Second level championship. She is also qualified for Show Hack, but I am not sure I will enter it, choosing to 'save her energy' for the classes that are more important to me. Faxx will also go and show in Open and Amateur to Handle Sporthorse In Hand.

March, 2007

Lisa is working well, but still needs a bit of polish and better fitness before she's ready to show again. She was off most of the time since our last show in November due to the holidays, rain and mud. I rode her in a clinic a few weeks ago and got some good tools for helping to supple her and get her back unlocked. She's a naturally stiffer horse, and she had a lot of not-so-great riding in her younger years. I didn't know nearly as much when I first started riding her almost 15 years ago as I do now!   I felt crummy so Brooke rode her last night in my usual lesson time. It's always a treat to watch a good rider take your pony for a spin. Lisa looked pretty darn good for nearly 18 years old!

January 22, 2007
Today I found out that Lisa won two awards in the Region 9 Arabian Horse Association Amateur/Junior High Point program. She was Champion at First Level and Reserve Champion at Second Level!  That was the only bright spot in very bleak month. The weather has been totally miserable since Christmas, it seems.  Even my usually very good arena issupersaturated. I knew when it was lovely and dry last winter we'd pay for it eventually.  We only have about six months to get in top form for the Arabian Sport Horse Regional Championships in July.  She needs to go to some schooling shows and do Second Level Test 4 a few times as a warm-up. We've never ridden that test in competition and that's the one they'll be using at the Championship Show.

January 7, 2007
Lisa did her annual Christmas stint of giving pony rides to my cousin's kids. She is the perfect for the job. She is, after all, the Equine Saint TM.   I think at one point, Lisa had a kid hugging each leg. Now it's down to business. When I got the premium book for the January ARABS Show, I discovered they were offering Hunter Hack, which is also offered at Regionals. Lisa is a super jumper. It has been probably 8 years since I jumped her, but a local  hunter trainer was very impressed when I took a lesson with her. Hunter Hack is a group class, and then you individually jump two small jumps. I was going to show her in it, but the constant rain the last month has greatly curtailed my impromtu jumping lessons, so Brooke, who used to event, is going to show her. I am going to have fun playing groom! This will be only the second time I've had someone show a horse for me - and the last time was 1990!

Lisa delivered a healthy filly on June 26, 2005 around 7 p.m.  Her name is Faeryn and she is a full sister to Flying Colorz (Fling),  Lisa's 2000 foal by Frohwind . She doesn't have spots, but I got my second choice - bay with four white socks!  Click  here  to see pics of a very pregnant Lisa just days before she foaled.  
To read Lisa's complete training diary, click here 

I purchased Lisa in 1990 for $800 when she was a yearling. How I ended up with her (and kept her long enough to realize her talents) reads like a made-for-TV movie.

Click here to read how Lisa came into my life - and stayed.

Lisa's victory lap after winning Reserve Champion, Dressage 
Training Level at the IAHA Region 9 Championships in 1998.

2006 Show Results

Pinto World Championships
  Champion, Training Level Test 1 Amateur
  Reserve Champion, Training Level Test 2 Open
  Top Ten, Training Level Test 4 Open

Regional 9 Arabian Horse Association Amateur High Point Awards
Champion,  First Level Dressage
Reserve Champion, Second Level Dressage

Arabian Horse Association, Open Incentive Program Competition
Champion, Local Dressage Category

Pinto Horse Association
Register of Merit Amateur Dressage
Reserve Champion

Register of Merit Open Dressage
Top Ten

2002 Competiton Highlights

  • Champion First Level AOTR at Region 9 International Arabian Horse Association Championships
  • Reserve Champion First Level ATR at Region 9 International Arabian Horse Association Championships
  • Debuted at Second Level with a 70% and a 69%, winning Second Level Championship
  • Earned Legion of Supreme Honor designation ( +/ ) from AHA
  • Houston Dressage Society Year-End Champion Second Level Amateur/Schooling Show Division with 64% average
  • Region 9 IAHA Amateur Awards, Year End Champion, Dressage, Second Level and Above
  • U.S.A. Equestrian Horse of the Year Competition, Region 9 Half Arabian Dressage Horse, 4th place
Sonnys Mona Lisa+/ wins at Region 9 Championships! (6/11/02)
Lisa competed at the Region 9 Arabian/Half Arabian Dressage Championships, held in Ft. Worth June 9-10. She entered First Level Amateur Owner to Ride and First Level Amateur to Ride. She earned a Reserve Championship in First Level ATR and was CHAMPION First Level AOTR! Her finals scores were both 65%+.

Sonnys Mona Lisa+/ earns her Legion of Supreme Honor from IAHA (6/1/02)
Lisa has now earned her Legion of Supreme Honor from the International Arabian Horse Association. Her name will be changed to include the +/ behind it, signifying this accomplishment. Lisa earned the majority of her points from open, all-breed dressage competition. The award requires 120 points to be earned in recognized competition - the higher the score, the more points awarded.

Lisa makes her Second Level debut! (5/18/02)
After three frustrating years where she was "on injured reserve" off and on due to a tendon injury, having a baby (the equine variety) and two mystery lamenesses, we finally made our Second Level debut on May 18 at Canaan Ranch in Fulshear, Texas. Just prior to our ride time, she tripped in the warmup and ripped off a shoe!  Lisa was not hurt, so we decided the "show must go on." She scored 70.7% on 2/1 and 69.4% on 2/2 and won the Second Level Championship AND Reserve Championship (since she had the two highest scores in the division.)

2001 Competition Highlights

  • Finished requirements for Legion of Honor from the International Arabian Horse Association
  • With minimal showing, earned United States Dressage Federation All Breed Awards:
  • -Pinto Horse Association, 2nd place Amateur, First Level
See Lisa's daughter,  Flying Colorz, a pinto Oldenburg cross born in 2000.

1998 Competition Highlights

Region IX Arabian Dressage Championships
Top Five Training Level ATR
Reserve Champion Training Level ATR

Region 9 Southwest Dressage Championships
Training Level, Adult Amateur, 10th place 
(out of 50 entries)

American Warmblood Society Inspections
Silver Medal,  out of 15 candidates, with a score of 77% . The only horse that beat her was a stallion
who ended up being the highest scoring horse in the nation that year.

Scores to 70% at Training Level.
Scores to 67% at First Level.

1997 Highlights

Houston Dressage Society
Champion,  Training Level Adult Amateur, Schooling Show Division
Reserve Champion,  Training Level Adult Amateur Recognized Show Divisio

USDF All Breed Awards
1st at Training Level, Pinto Horse Association

Qualified for American Bankers Insurance Group Championships

Champion at several Recognized and Schooling Shows.

Scores to 70%

1994 Highlights

USDF All Breed Awards:
1st place, Training Level
Pinto Horse Association

2nd place, Training Level
International Arabian Horse Assn.

2nd place, Training Level
Arabian Sport Horse Assn.

12th in the nation (among all breeds)
USDF Training Level, Adult Amateur


1993  Highlights
Arabian Sport Horse Association, Inc 
National Champion, Training Level Dressage
Senrab Cup, for excellence in all-breed competition
National Top Ten, Hunter Pleasure (6th)

Pinto Horse Association
Earned Register of Merit in Dressage

Year-End High Point, Training Level Mudde Creek Farms Series
Year-End High Point, Training Level Centerline Training Series

Houston Dressage Society
Champion, Training Level Amateur, Schooling Show Division

United States Dressage Federation
All-Breed Awards
3rd place at Training Level, Arabian Sport Horse Association
3rd place at Training Level, Pinto Horse Association



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