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Bunny Hop Dressage Show


By Nancy Brannon

The Mid-South Dressage Academy’s (MDA) first USDF rated show of the season, the Bunny Hop, was held on what was supposed to be a spring weekend: April 7-8, 2018. But the weather was more winter-like on Saturday, with rain and 35°F, sprinkled with some sleet. Thank goodness for a commodious indoor arena! Sunday morning started on a much better note with some sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.

The cozy lounge was a relaxing place to watch the rides in comfort, or folks could choose the viewing deck for photographing the rides. Elizabeth Clifton, owner/manager of MDA, always offers a delicious, nutritious lunch for her guests. Elizabeth says her shows have been dubbed “boutique shows” because of the limited number of rides, the intimate setting, and the encouraging atmosphere.

This show had two added attractions: Mary Cour Burrows’ equine art was on display in several places around MDA. Other places her works can be seen are: at L Ross Gallery on Sanderlin Avenue in Memphis, and coming soon to Perry Nicole Fine Art in Chickasaw Oaks, Memphis. Opening reception is June 5th.

And just before lunch, “We had a screech own demonstration,” Elizabeth said. One of her staff, Melissa Conn, is also a volunteer educator at the Mississippi Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Horse people got to see the small owl “up close and personal.” The eastern screech owl is a small owl, relatively common in wooded environments. They are strictly nocturnal, roosting during the day in tree cavities. Because of their small size and camouflage, they are more frequently heard than seen. They can be heard calling at night; their call is a tremolo with a descending whinny-like quality, like that of a miniature horse. They can also produce a monotone purring trill lasting 3-5 seconds.

Judging the show was Debbie Rodriguez, an ‘S’ judge, ‘r’eventing judge, as well as a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medalist. She is from Williamsburg, Virginia and, in addition to riding, teaching, and judging, she has developed a core fitness program for equestrians called “Success In the Saddle.” Find more about her at:

Elizabeth has installed two new competition barns on the property. They hold forty 12x12 stalls with mats for the horses coming to competitions at MDA.

High Point Rides on Saturday were:

Amateur Adult:  Sarah Baggette, of Nolensville, TN, on Fliegan, a 5-year-old Oldenburg mare, scoring 73.148% in First Level Test 1
Open: MDA’s own Jamie Lawrence on Silas, her 5-year-old gelding, scoring 73.077% in Training Level Test 2
Jr/Young Rider:  Katie Haynes, of Golden, MS, on Colin, an Irish Sport horse who was donated to MDA by Halle Dillon, in her very first recognized show, scoring 71.471% First Level Test 3
Jr/Young Rider FEI:  Helen Claire McNulty, on Checkmate, a 15-year-old KWPN Gelding, scoring  68.824% in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test
Elizabeth Clifton was also very proud of her working student, Emily Mercier from Maryland. This was her very first recognized show, as well, riding MDA’s 20-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Axel, donated to MDA by Colleen Rull. “Emily had fantastic scores,” Elizabeth commented.
On Saturday: Training Level Test 3: 69.318%; First Level Test 2: 66.875%
On Sunday: Training Level Test 3: 70.227%; First Level Test 2: 70.156%

All in all, despite the weather, the show was a successful one. There was room for a few more rides, but both days, the schedule was mostly filled. The next USDF Show at MDA is Memphis in Springtime, May 5-6, 2018. Maybe it will be spring time by then!

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