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It's Good to Be Bad

by Sue McMurray, 2017 Bad Betty Versatility Champion

I have long admired Betty for her work ethic and willingness to try new disciplines with her horses at any given time. In her 80s, Betty remains as one of the “baddest” senior competitors around, as evidenced by her reserve championship in the 60 and over division at the 2015 Cowboy Dressage World Gathering. Betty is proof that riding is a lifetime sport, and that’s how I view it. That’s why I continue to take lessons, learn new skills, and take on new challenges well into my 50s—but I want to have fun doing it. It’s also why I compete in the Bad Betty Versatility Challenge. It’s really hard, but it’s really fun. The first year I competed in it, I just went for fun. I didn’t prepare very much, and I didn’t get high scores. A few friends commented that they were surprised I didn’t score better, as my horse usually does well in competition. However, the Bad Betty Versatility Challenge is not just a schooling show or a play day where everyone gets a ribbon. You have to earn it, and it’s not easy. Each division has its own level of difficulty, and it was evident to myself that I was unprepared for the level of difficulty I chose. Having a strong competitive streak, I decided to step it up for the 2017 challenge and train for it. I invested in lessons with MM Connections, focusing on liberty and cowboy dressage, which were my weakest elements. I practiced a lot at home. I went to the 2017 challenge ready to give it my best shot. I chose level 2 for liberty and cowboy dressage, and level three for trail. My choices were the right fit for my horse Jacob and me at the time. While I didn’t do everything perfectly, my preparation was solid enough to earn me the highest division scores in liberty and trail, the soft feel award, and the overall high score/Bad Betty Buckle. This year, I am again stepping it up to compete in level 3 in all divisions. I have repeated my investment in lessons with MM Connections and at home practice, participated in a Facebook liberty challenge, and completed the Bad Betty Versatility Challenge Clinic. I may not score as highly as I did last year because there are some areas where Jacob and I are still working to achieve a certain skill level, but that’s ok. I know that our partnership has improved, and that is the real prize.

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