From Endurance to Dressage
Isn't that a guy that every guy likes or finds handy? Is there such a thing as a Guy's Girl? If so, I am her, but I wish I weren't. I like being a girl. I love girl power, but the truth is that I don't like being a girl who's a "handy man." If you're a horse girl though, you need to have a working knowledge of how to use bailing twine, duct tape, wire cutters, and a tire gauge. Being proficient with a drill, hammer, and a screwdriver are also good.
At the show I did last month, I lost power in my trailer. That's not such a big deal with long daylight hours, but I sure do enjoy a shower each day. Even though I knew my batteries were fully charged, I checked the battery box to see what was wrong. I've had loose connections before, so I hoped that was all it was. Nope. As I jiggled the cables, sparks flew. Upon closer inspection, I could see broken wires leading to the battery terminal. I turned the batteries off and borrowed an extension cord from Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. He had graciously let me stable (and camp) at his barn.
With a show this coming weekend, I finally forced myself to stop by an auto parts store to buy new cables. It doesn't take much know-how to buy the right cable - any salesperson can direct you to the right aisle, but that wasn't what was so hard. I run two parallel batteries in my trailer. Connecting them doesn't take a high school diploma; once you see what goes where, it's pretty simple. The hard part was disconnecting the ground wire. That screw was TINY, and the bolt end was super thin, making it almost impossible to grab with the wrench.
My toolbox (which lives in my trailer) has pretty much everything I need ... except a socket set. With a socket wrench, the job would have been much quicker. Instead, I spent about twenty minutes tightening the bolt a fifth of a turn over and over. More than once the wrench lost its grip, and I would have to resize it to fit the bolt, but eventually, I got the job done.
Even though it looks like it should work, I think I actually need a screw with a wider bolt end to really hold the ground cable secure. Just to be on the safe side, I am bringing along my own extension cord. I am even considering ditching the batteries all together for this trip. If I can get power from an outlet, why bother with the batteries?
As long as I can shower, I don't care where the electricity comes from.
#1 Trailer Dent
First up is the dent I put in my trailer. I finally forced myself to go look at it last night. It's ugly, but it's not nearly as bad as I remember. Since I have a show this weekend, I wanted to make sure the tire wasn't flat and that I am not going to cut a tire as it travels down the road. Cutting a tire is NASCAR speak. It's what happens when one car makes contact with another car or the wall. The fender gets pushed in just enough to rub the tire. A good enough rub will cut the tire open. The last thing I need is a tire blow out as I travel over Interstate 5.
So, I took out a huge wrench and a little hammer. The pit crew of a NASCAR team would have been able to either pull the fender away from the tire by hand or hammer it out. Either I am not as strong as those guys are (duh!), or the aluminum of my trailer is sturdier than the body of their cars. Either way, I was able to put a big enough gap between my tire and the fender. I also refolded the funky tear. I have an appointment for Monday. Hopefully, the guys at Delaney's can get it looking a little better.
#2 Pampering Station
I wrote about my new "pampering station" yesterday. Who knew I needed something like that? After Monday's warm ride - it's in the high 90s again, I gave Izzy a quick shower, and then I shampooed his tail dock. Afterwards, I unclipped his lead rope and let him graze on the lawn as he dried. Having everything permanently at my fingertips has made it much easier to do the fancier things. As the weather gets even hotter, I'll appreciate not having to do so much running around to grab shampoos and whatever.
#3 Good Rides?
Whenever I think back to what riding Izzy used to be like, I wonder why I still feel so discouraged. Five years ago, every ride was pretty terrifying. His version of a spook was to leap into the air and then launch forward. It was all pretty dramatic. Back then, he couldn't just walk. He jigged, danced, bolted ... anything but walk. There was no rhythm, and he plowed through my aids like a bulldozer. He wouldn't bend, and every corner was a reason to spin and go the other direction. It was exhausting.
As I was riding the other day, I felt myself getting a bit dejected. Are we ever going to get there? I asked myself. I am not sure where there is, but I know it's not here. And then I reminded myself of how far we've come. Now, instead of all of the theatrics, a spook is just a spook - yes, he's spooking at the birds flying overhead, but at least he's staying on the the ground. Instead of diving into my hands, he sucks back a bit, reluctant to take the bit, but there are times when he will. And thankfully, those times are getting more frequent. When I rode on Monday afternoon, I was patient but insistent. I was rewarded with some show worthy simple changes. We're closer to there than we used to be.
#4 My New Boots Came
They're beautiful, but they don't fit. More on that later.
#5 Speedy's Going to a Show
I won't be riding him, but that makes it even more exciting. "T," one of Speedy's ladies and the one who has been riding him the longest, will be showing him in Tehachapi in two weeks. She came out for a lesson last night (no photos), so we could run through several tests. While we've worked on most everything from Training Level, we've never really strung multiple movements in a row. Intro B didn't go so well, but Intro C did, so we ran through Training Level test 1. After going through each test two or three times, both Speedy and T were getting tired.
I recommended doing Intro Test C for sure, but I told T she should decided whether she wanted to do the much easier Intro B test, or go for the longer canter in Training Level Test 1. She's ready for it. We had worked on the entry over the phone a few days before, so now she just needs to indicate which tests she's doing, write a check, and get it in the mail. I don't know how she feels, but I am really excited to see Speedy back in the spotlight. Retirement is over-rated.
So there you have it; five wildly unconnected things that somehow still all go together.
When I get an idea that I like, I am a dog with a bone. I keep reworking the idea until it turns out the way I've envisioned. My Equestrian Lounge was like that. I had wanted a comfortable place to hang out in the summer, so when the ranch owner thought it was a good idea, I ran with it. We now have a beautiful spot to sit and cool off in the summer. We've even had several lunches there, one with a pretty large group of ladies.
The "pampering station" is a new idea I had thanks to Cassandra Rabini, owner and trainer at First Gem Dressage. Cassandra recently shared some tips with me on how to get Izzy looking super polished. I wrote about that here. A week or so ago I gathered some things that I thought I would need in Izzy's pampering station. Things like hoof conditioner, shampoo, and so on. I tried two different storage containers - first, a not-so-safe wire basket, and then a flat-back bucket that wouldn't drain.
Before spending any money, I wanted to be sure that a pampering station was something I would actually use. To my surprise, now that it's set up, I am using it every day. We don't have a wash rack, but there are two grassy places I use to give my boys their showers. The one I use for show baths is in the sun close to the horses, but for every day showers, I use the one that is a bit more shaded. That is where I hung my pampering station materials. Each day this past week, I've either scrubbed and conditioned Izzy's hooves, given his tail and dock a shampoo, or washed out his mane. No matter which horse I hose off, I usually let them graze on the lawn after a shower, so the whole thing has become quite convenient.
Once I realized that a pampering station was something I've needed all along, I set out to find a more suitable container for hanging the stuff I wanted to leave out there. The first basket I hung didn't work (you can read why here), and I didn't like the idea of using a bucket because wet stuff wouldn't be able to drain and dry out. I took some time to browse through Amazon and a variety of online tack shops. I landed on a pretty inexpensive basket. It's slightly smaller than I was hoping for, but it's safe, and small things won't fall through. You can see it in the photo above.
I also ordered a few things that I want to keep stored outside - a small bottle of Mane 'n Tail Detangler, witch hazel, and a sweat scraper. My favorite sweat scraper had a gel handle which just last week finally burst. I have another one somewhere, but I can't find it, so I ordered two - one for the pampering station, and a second for my shampoo show bucket. They should be here in the next few days. I also tossed in all of my mini sample shampoo bottles. If I am going to shampoo Izzy's tail more regularly, I might as well use them up.
As I continue using the pampering station, I'll figure out what I truly need to use every day. The witch hazel, while a good thing to have on hand, might not get enough daily use to warrant the real estate it's currently occupying; it might get replaced with something that gets more frequent use, like fly spray. I so want to keep some fly spray out there, but when those bottles get hot, they tend to leak. I am thinking of buying a small squirt bottle and pouring some fly spray in it. That way, I can keep it half full so it might not leak as much. I've also since thrown in a hairbrush.
Once the jumbo bottle of Mane 'n Tail shampoo is empty, I'll replace it with a smaller bottle of Dove Moisturizing shampoo. As the mini bottles of shampoo get used up, I'll have a bit more room to add new or seasonal things. And of course, if I find that I need a lot more stuff out there, I can always buy a second basket. I am not sure how pampered Izzy feels, but I am loving the convenience of the pampering station.
Now I just need a sign to match the one we have hanging in our Equestrian Lounge. Wouldn't that be cute?
I've had two zippers blow out in the past two weeks. It's annoying. First, my show boots decided my calves needed some fresh air, or more likely, more space. A few days later, my schooling boots joined the zipper blow out party. I took both boots to a local custom boot maker, but I am not happy with how they turned out.
I wrote about the brass/gold zippers last week. On the schooling boots, I could care less, but on my show boots, I am not a fan. I am also frustrated by the zippers, particularly on my schooling boots. They are HARD to zip up and down. I would be inclined to blame my thickening calves, but these boots have a really nice stretchy panel, and they don't feel tight at all. If they were any looser they'd feel sloppy. Even though I really like my show boots, the zipper thing - both the color and the stiffness, really bugs me.
As soon as my show boot's zipper failed, I called Dressage Extensions and asked about their Petrie boots. I've never tried the Petries, but I know they're a nice boot, and their lower end boots are in my price range (sort of). They didn't have anything in stock at that moment that would fit, but they agreed to put my name on a list. To my surprise, I got a phone call on Saturday asking if I were still interested in new boots.
Now that, a personal phone call, is how you sell me something. I am not an impulse shopper, especially when it comes to purchases of three or more digits. I like to think about things for a while. I look at whether I need the thing. I look at my budget. I look at the thing again to see if I really like it. If the thing is more than a hundred dollars, and if I don't need the thing, I won't usually buy it. I drive every online tack shop crazy with the amount of items I leave discarded in my virtual carts.
If I like the thing, and If I need the thing, I usually need someone to sell it to me. I'll admit it, I like a soft sell. Nothing turns me off faster than a pushy sales guy. They start that, and I can't walk away fast enough. What gets me every time is a salesperson who can see that I am interested, but deliberately takes off the pressure. That's what Natalie did at Dressage Extensions.
I don't know if Natalie was bored or if it was simply her job to make call backs, but that she took the time to call me back and check to see whether I was still interested in the boots got me thinking that yes, yes I was still interested. She asked if she could look at their inventory to see what they might have in my size and price range and call me back later in the day. I told her that would be fine. That of course gave me time to go back and look at which boots they carried which piqued my interest all over again.
Not long after, Natalie left me a message saying that she did have something that she thought would fit me perfectly. If I was still interested, I could call back at my convenience. See, soft sell, nothing pushy. After I was done riding, I called Natalie back, She had a pair of Petrie Olympic Dressage Boots that she thought would be the perfect fit.
We chat for a minute about whether I could come in and try them on - I'll be in Moorpark this weekend for a show, but I decided it would be a lot easier if she shipped them to me. If they don't fit, I can always leave them with a friend who can drop by the store and return them for me, or I can ship them back for free. Natalie was just so accommodating that as we were chatting, I found myself pulling out my credit card. I now have a pair of Petrie boots on their way to my house.
If they fit - oh, please fit!, they'll be the most expensive boots I've ever bought. I hope I LOVE them!
Speedy loves to wear a fly mask. Left to his own devices, he'd wear it indefinitely. Izzy, on the other hand, thinks fly masks are stupid, and no one should ever be allowed to have one on their head. That means his own head as well as Speedy's. If Speedy's fly mask lasts 15 minutes after I am gone, I'd be shocked. For the past year or two - ever since Speedy moved next door to Izzy, I've bought a new fly mask for Speedy only to find it torn to pieces within a few days. This year, I gave up.
Bakersfield is notorious for having three days of spring before summer slams into us broadside. We started last week wearing sweaters, but by week's end, we were well into the 90s. Sudden heat like that is a boon to the flies who came out with both barrels. When I got to the barn on Tuesday, Speedy had yucky goop dripping from each swollen eye. He looked downright miserable. Of course he fought me over the soothing saline solution, so instead of that, he got his eyes rinsed with the hose. Sorry, not sorry.
After the one day with the hose, I have't needed to rinse so dramatically. By Wednesday the worst of the swelling and goop had disappeared so I slathered on Swat instead. What's interesting is that I rarely need to put any fly spray on Speedy. The flies just don't pester him. I do have to watch his belly though as the fiies will eat him bloody down there. A morning swipe of Swat on his belly usually keeps that under control.
Izzy needs to be doused with fly spray multiple times a day. When I show up at the barn, Izzy will have hundreds of flies buzzing around his face while Speedy will stand serenely, free of flies. Hopefully this week's reaction was a one-off and not his new normal. Just to be on the safe side, I'll do another spray with the hose - no matter how much he hates it, and apply more Swat.
Shoo fly, don't bother Speedy!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read