Waimate's Lynley Stockdale and mount Komplete Kaos rode a personal best, winning at the Bates National Dressage Championships during the weekend.
The impressive duo scored 67.1 per cent, which was the boost Stockdale needed before a six-week trip competing in the North Island.
"It's nice to knowing where we are and if we are on track," Stockdale said.
"There is a lot more competition in the North Island."
Stockdale and her horse, known as Ammo, have been reaching new heights together in the past 18 months.
"He is still improving and I am learning so much," she told the Oamaru Mail.
"We are getting to know each other very well and I can go out there and trust him."
Stockdale bought the 16-year-old horse three years ago and their partnership is flourishing.
Last weekend was the first time the pair had competed at the national championship and Stockdale said the two were buzzing.
"When I was riding to the music I was smiling to myself. It felt awesome," she said.
Ammo is worked six days a week with regular instructor Andrea Raves, who will also be travelling to the North Island.
The pair will compete in Taranaki, at the North Island Champs before heading to Horse of the Year. This will be Ammo's first time at the event as he had a cold last year.
If the duo perform well overseas, Stockdale is contemplating a trip to compete in the Sydney CDI.
"I would love to compete him over there but it's a scary thought putting him on a plane," she said.
Stockdale enjoyed the competition during the weekend as she is regularly the only one competing so finds it hard to evaluate how they are going.
"It is easy to ride safely when you are riding by yourself, but this weekend was great and it really made me push ourselves that much harder when we had competition," she said.
Reserve was Sally Field-Dodgson riding Amberleigh Elite.