Guess who is going to be riding at the show this weekend.
No, not him, but that would be cool. Nope, it's California's very own Hilda Gurney. I am not one to get star struck; I wouldn't recognize Tom Cruise if he knocked on my front door. I am just not that into famous people or fancy cars or expensive brand names.
I am, however, seriously into watching top riders do their thing. I hear it everywhere; watch good riders ride, and emulate what you like. I haven't found that particularly easy to do as I ride in a "non-dressagey" community, and I don't hit very many (if any
) BIG shows.
When I saw that Hilda Gurney will be somewhere that I'll be, I knew that this was my chance to watch someone who knows what she's doing. She's riding four times on Saturday, and I have each ride highlighted on my day sheet. She's riding Wintersnow
, and Gulliver
. What a great opportunity to watch a great rider.
This brings me to another show-related topic that I've been mulling over. Do the big riders, such as Hilda Gurney, feel that we peon Training Level Adult Ammies
are really just gumming up the works of their show day? I really hope not as I've never felt
as though I wasn't anything but welcome at the rated shows (20!) that I've done over the past three years.
I bring this up because it is a well-known problem in the endurance world. There are three main echelons of endurance riders: the FEI riders that most of us never meet or interact with (kind of like the Grand Prix crowd
); the 50 - 100 mile endurance riders (kind of like the Second - Fourth Level rider
); and the Limited Distance crowd (kind of like the Intro, Training, and First Level people
For many years, there has existed a persistent "looking down upon
" attitude toward the LD riders. The common idea was that anything less than 50 miles was not endurance
so anyone riding distances shorter than 50 miles shouldn't refer to themselves as Endurance Riders
. The AERC rule book even defines an endurance event as one that is at least 50 miles in length.
As you can image, many LD riders are offended by this interpretation of what makes an endurance rider an actual Endurance Rider. I never really cared what distance people rode as long as they followed common trail courtesy, treated their horses with respect, and followed the rules. But, I do understand the argument. I've run some 5Ks, but I've never considered myself a marathon runner.
I'm a long time member of the Mind Your Own Business
club. Who cares what everyone else is doing?
is generally my motto, but I do get irritated when people put on airs or claim to be something they're not. In the endurance/LD argument, I tended to keep my opinions to myself, but overall, I felt that if you're an FEI rider who has traveled the world, woot! woot!
for you. If you're like me, a Steady Edwina who finished near the back of the pack on a 50 mile course, git-R-done
. And finally, if you're an LD rider, ride your 25, kick back in the afternoon, and watch the 50 milers straggle in. Toast them with your cold beer, and smile.And what does this have to do with dressage, exactly?
Well, I am afraid that I am the LD rider of the dressage world. I feel
like a dressage rider, but am I? Do I have to ride "50 milers" (compete at Third Level) before I can make that claim?
I never profess to be more than I am, which is a low level rider on an ammie-trained horse. Even so, do those Fourth Level Riders simply tolerate
the Introductory and Training Level riders? I worry that when I get to Second Level (it might happen!), I'll look around and wonder what in the hell are those Intro/Training Level riders doing?
Please don't let it be so ...
I really wanted to do one of those super cute Christmas pics of Speedy wearing a festive hat with pine boughs woven through his mane ...
Didn't happen. For a variety of reasons. The first of which is that I don't own a festive hat nor do I have the time to gather pine boughs and weave them through his mane. Instead of that, I clipped a crinkled red ribbon to his mane and then spent the next fifteen minutes trying to convince him that there were NO COOKIES in my pockets so please STAY OVER THERE!
Here is the result. Click photos to enlarge.
Here's a screen shot of my farrier's text report. He almost always sends a text or a photo when he's finished for the day. This one struck me as funny. Ignore the spelling and grammar mistakes - I hate auto correct!
A bit of explanation: I left a gift for my farrier: a bottle of wine from 14 Hands Vineyards
- you have to check out this label, very cool! I also included a bottle of Purple Cowboy
wine from Paso Robles, another cool label. There were also several kinds of sweet treats and munchies in the bag. When I got to the barn the next day, I saw that he had left me
a treat bag, too. Aren't I supposed to be the one doing the "paying"? What a great guy.
During his work, the sprinklers came on which can be quite a loud, and obviously wet, experience. Being under a thousand pound flight animal with a red-hot shoe in hand can make it even more memorable. And yet, the world's greatest farrier jokes about it!
I love the last part, whatever you're doing is working
. No sweeter words can be uttered! I really have the most awesome farrier.
This video only works with Adobe Flash Player so it doesn't play on iphones or ipads ... sorry!
I know this video has made multiple rounds on Facebook, but for those who haven't seen it, it's really worth watching. And if your device's sound it muted, turn it up!
I went over to North Bay Farrier's Facebook page and found this: Welcome to the North Bay Farrier Service page. I am RT Goodrich AFA Certified Journeyman Farrier. I shoe mostly sport horses and I am well versed in all aspects of performance and therapeutic shoeing as well as barefoot trimming.
I love that he (assumption) is from Northern California, that's where I grew up, and even more so that he's located in a small town. Here is his contact info if you're interested: 707-235-2897, P.O.Box 750364, Petaluma, CA 94975.
This is a survey going around. I first saw it over on Sarah's site, Eventing in Color
. I really enjoyed reading her answers, and it was fun to think of what I would have said, so I said it!Splurge or Save: 1. saddle:
splurge - I ride in a Custom Revolution2. board:
splurge - I could go way cheaper, but I like not dealing with idiots3. halter:
save? - I don't really care for web halters. Speedy goes in a Zilco halter (synthetic) while Sydney is in a rope halter, but both of those styles are relatively cheap when compared to the fancy leather ones4. bit:
Splurge - I like Mikmar and Myler bits, although Speedy is currently working in a JP Korsteel5. bridle:
save - can't find a nice one that fits Speedy6. saddle pad:
middle of the road - fit is more important than brand or style7. trailer:
Splurge - three horse with living quarters definitely counts as a splurgeFirst Thing That Comes to Mind: 1. Haflinger:
nothing comes to mind ...2. Quarter Horse: (
offering a preemptive apology here ...) peanut roller3. Thoroughbred:
never had one until recently, still forming an opinion4. Warmblood:
would like to have one someday5. Welsh Cob:
nothing comes to mind ...This or That:1. English or Western:
English2. tall or short:
short, but well proportioned!3. trail ride or beach ride:
trail - I've done the beach but find it boring4. long mane or short mane:
long for my Arab, short for my TB5. hunters or jumpers:
neither?6. XC or barrel racing:
XC sounds like more fun7. outdoor arena or indoor arena:
I like fresh air - outdoor8. trot or canter:
canter!9. canter or gallop:
out on the trail - gallop, schooling in the arena - canter10. paddock boots, tall boots, or cowboy boots:
paddock boots11. horse shoes or barefoot:
shoes 12. saddle or bareback:
I can get a lot more done in a saddleAbout You: 1. How long have you been riding?
I am 41 years old and don't remember the first time on a horse, so 40 years?2. Do you own or lease a horse?
own 3. Breed? Age? Height? Name?
Arabian, 8, 15' 1, G Ima Starr FA "Speedy G" and New Zealand TB, 10, 16' 0, Pick a Card "Sydney"4. Do you have any other pets?
an 11 month old labrador named Tobias5. If your horse was a person, what kind of voice would he have (you can use a celebrity for an example)?
I don't know, but Speedy's would be that of a fast talking, con man while Sydney's would be low and slow6. Does your horse have a “color”? If so, what is it, and what do you have in that color?
I tend to go for black or blue, but I have every color of bucket, rake, gloves, etc.7. Does your horse do any tricks?
Speedy stands rock solid while a whip is cracked all around him and even helicoptered over his head8. Have you ever dressed your horse up for Halloween?
uh ... no, and wouldn't want to!Favorites: 1. Breed:
Dressage (two years ago it would have been endurance!)3. Coat color:
I like them with chrome even though I don't have one with chrome 4. Famous horse:
The Black Stallion 5. Horse race/competition:
I really enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby6. Brand of tack:
no favorite - I am really into functionality 7. Thing to do with your horse:
What was I just saying about how great Saturday was going to be and how satisfied I would feel at the end of the day? In all fairness to the day, I did get a lot done, and I did get both boys ridden. Unfortunately, I was forced to spend the better part of the afternoon and all evening lounging around on the sofa reading on my ipad and writing a blog post.
Forced you say? Now come on - how could that be? Let's just say that Speedy G threw his weight around, and it landed right on top of my little foot. This is a very rare occurrence in my barn; my ponies respect my space and rarely over-step their bounds. To be honest, I am not exactly sure what happened.
I was leading Speedy into the wash rack (yes, it was that warm yesterday) like I have done a thousand times. I made the turn as usual, but before I knew what was happening, 1,000 pounds of Speedy G slammed onto the top of my right foot. In his panic, he crowded into me before I finally managed to shove him over and off.
All I could do was gasp in pain as I clutched the crosstie to keep myself upright. I'll even admit that I started to cry. It took several minutes before I could even think about putting my foot back to the ground. Even while my foot was pounding, I paused to find the cause of the commotion in case more was to come.
The only thing I could see that was slightly amiss was that someone had left a mounting block on the cement pad of the wash rack. I think that as Speedy G made the turn, the unfamiliar object popped into his field of vision, which spooked him.
As I stood there crying and gingerly pulling my Mudruckers and sock off, Speedy stood quietly beside me with his lead rope lying in a heap at his feet. He quietly nuzzled my hair and cheek. I wasn't mad at him, but he wasn't taking any chances. I gave his face a reassuring pat and checked out my foot, which I was worried might be broken; it hurt that bad.
With my sock off, I could see a big gray area forming over the top of my foot. Since there was no blood and no bone sticking out, I decided to continue hosing Speedy off and see how my foot did. It didn't take long for me to realize that I needed to get home and get it iced. Some Tylenol probably wouldn't hurt either.
And that is how it came to be that I spent the rest of the day being forced to relax and take it easy.
It doesn't look too bad this morning - minimal purpling, but the top of my foot, and especially my toes, are still swollen.
Here's the video from Day 1; it's really short.
The biggest thing I got out of the two lessons was this: steady contact means no moments of emptiness
. When I ride Speedy, he isn't steady and neither am I. While I have felt moments of a steady connection, we just haven't been able to maintain it. Luke never bobbles; he's steady and maintains a constant rhythm. I was finally able to really feel a steady contact that didn't include those empty moments. I had a gigantic AHA moment.
I also got to see how important a stable core is and how lengthening my spine will achieve that. Since Luke isn't really going anywhere, Barbro was able to stand beside me at both the trot and canter with her hands on my lower back and belly. She helped stabilize me so that I could develop a sense of what a stabilized core felt like.
And then there were my elbows. While I have improved, there was still much work to be done. I now bend them, but up until this weekend, I haven't really allowed them to move. Barbro helped me with that, too. Again, by standing beside me at the trot and canter, she moved my elbows for me so that I could feel when Luke's "legs" were moving.
The final thing Barbro helped me address was the stiffness in my right wrist. I can't say that we fixed it, but she certainly brought it to my attention. The way to fix it is to move from the elbow and not the wrist. She had me think of steering and half halting with my elbow instead of my hand. This was a new idea for me. I didn't know you could steer with your elbow!
We left the Ventura area and headed for home right after lunch. My eye was on the dashboard clock the whole way home. If we could be home by 3:30, I would be able to ride Speedy G and test out some of what I had learned. Hubby knew I was on a schedule and once again humored me. He was great all weekend: dropping me off at the clinic while he drove around aimlessly killing time. For the second day he simply sat in the truck waiting for me to finish. It was no surprise to him that I wanted to ride my own horse even after two days of a clinic. He's a really great guy!
We made it home in time for me to ride Speedy G. And frankly, it was one of the best rides we've ever had. I was euphoric! And even better, I had a lesson the next day, but more on that later.
Riding Luke isn't cheap, but it's no more expensive than a lesson with a more well-known instructor. My 45-minute lesson was $90 ($180 for both days). You don't have to be in a clinic to ride, either. Barbro can schedule a lesson for just one rider. Luke is in her office at Spirit Equestrian, and he is always fit and ready to work; she simply plugs him in. Barbro can also travel with Luke to your barn for a minimum of 12 rides. For more information visit her website, Always a Good Ride
I can't wait to go and do it again!
So? How did the simulator go?
All I can so is wow, wow, wow! That was by far the best lesson money I have spent. If you live anywhere near Ventura, or you hear that Luke will be in your area, I strongly urge you to give him a try.
The Ventura County Chapter of CDS put on a really nice clinic. They had lunch both days, although I didn't stay on Sunday to eat, and all of the participants were super friendly. The clinic was held at Spirit Equestrian
which is quite the lovely facility. Check out their website.
I snapped a few photos of the grounds on Sunday, but my photos don't do the place justice.
One of MANY barns on the property
We thought these outside runs were interesting.
One of the dressage courts - there were 8 mirrors!
A very nice hot walker.
I was in the afternoon session. Barbro Ask-Upmark started with a brief lecture explaining how Luke came to be and how he works. Since I was first, I tossed my saddle up and cinched him up. He has such a live presence that it was weird to cinch him up so matter-of-factly without worrying about pinching him.
The first part of the ride was simply about assessing the rider's balance. Barbro set Luke to walk, trot, and canter for one minute. My job was to sit like I normally do and hold the reins. There was no need to steer or use my legs. At the end of the minute, Barbro printed out my results so that I could see what I needed to work on.
Here's a photo of one of the other riders during her lesson.
Barbro on the left with Julia aboard Luke
My core proved to be pretty stable, but Barbro helped me lengthen my spine. The simulator also showed that my left leg is weaker than my right; my left hand is stronger than my right; and my right wrist is blocking the flow of energy.
During the first day, Barbro helped me with my pelvis position, rock it back, and had me work on taking a firmer hold of the reins, a necessity for establishing a good, steady contact which is an area I've really needed to work on. The second day we focused on contact and maintaining the contact while steering. I discovered that I hold the left rein too long in the turn.
More tomorrow, including a video.
Last weekend, I glanced over at the neighbor's field while I was filling buckets and saw this.
Stepper, Charlotte, and Dancer
This is the friendliest little herd; they do this all the time. It put a smile on my face to see such a companionable group of friends.
As I snuck around the side to get a photo from the front, Stepper saw me and immediately hustled over to say hi. Stepper is a 30 year old morgan gelding who looks quite good for being a very senior citizen. Up until just recently, he'd been packing his owner around the neighborhood. But after a funny swelling in a front leg and a couple of wobbly steps, his owner started to feel that even short neighborhood hacks might be too much for the old fellow.
I was sorry to have interrupted their afternoon snooze, but they seemed happy for the distraction and eagerly followed me around the field.
I finally gave up trying to take any more photos as Stepper wanted to rub and snuggle all over me. He knows he's well-loved and feels that he deserves everyone's attention. I believe his owner has had him since he was around 3 years old. Now that's a lifetime together!
And we're off to Ventura to give Luke a try!
Click the image for more information about Luke.
And in old business, the trial is over. Thank goodness. See you all on Monday!