BJ, my qh is honest 14'3 long sausage on 4 short legs. I was told by several trainers we are not going to make it to the shows because of her confo and my abilities as a rider.
We went through Intro level last Summer to the Training level in Fall. She gets compliments (and ribbons) on almost every show we go to despite her (clearly non-dressagy) confo. May not sound like a lot, but she made a very long way from what she was to what she is, and I'm very proud of her (and very thankful to my trainer who helped both of us to get where we are).
As long as your horse has a heart for something she'll try her best to please you (well, most of the time
). And in the end it's not about the ribbons (at least for me), but to get your horse to move better, be more responsive, etc.
BTW, I DO know the limitations of my horse, and don't hold my breath we go any high in levels, but still we were told we can't even make a decent Intro.