From Endurance to Dressage
At my house, horse stuff is mostly limited to my office. I have managed to place a few equestrian themed objects around the rest of the house, particularly in my reading room, but for the most part, I honor my husband's request that the bulk of it stays in my office.
When I started working from home last August, I realized my office needed a redo. I had never actually had adult furniture in my office before, so the "makeover" was due. Besides getting a new desk, chair, and credenza, I rearranged all of the artwork on my walls. My favorite piece was a large canvas taken of Speedy from our last show together.
I've since ordered quite a few canvases from photos my husband or I have taken. I like Easy Canvas Prints; they're cheap, the quality has always been excellent, and delivery is pretty quick. The large 24" by 36" canvases, like the one I just bought, cost right around $48.
I absolutely love these canvases. As soon as I walk into my office, they're the first thing I see. When I sit at my desk and think, I gaze at them as though they're windows looking towards what I'd rather be doing.
It has taken me a long time to get images of Izzy worth framing, now I am running out of wall space.
Over this show season, I've "needed" to buy Izzy quite a few things. I thought I'd give a quick update on how well some of those things have worked out.
#1 LeMieux Half Pad - In April, I bought the Lemieux X-Grip Half pad. It wasn't my first choice, but it has turned out to be a great pick. I've been using this pad daily since April, and it still looks brand new.
I still haven't needed to wash it, but I do wipe down the grippy top layer with a damp cloth every once in a while. My saddle never slipped before so the grip system wasn't a big deal, but if you need something to keep your saddle from slipping, this pad will do it. When I first bought it, I was frustrated by the stickiness. Once your saddle is on that pad, you can't slide the saddle around to adjust its position. I've since learned to put my saddle squarely on top of the half pad, and then to make adjustments, I lift the front of the half pad and my saddle's pommel and move them around until the saddle is sitting where I want it.
Once the half pad is in place, it fits nicely under my dressage saddle, and of course, it works particularly well with the LeMieux saddle pads. I also use it with other pads without any issue. Overall, I have no complaints about this pad and would highly recommend it.
#2 Two Horse Tack Halter - This is one thing I am definitely tired of buying. Izzy has gone through a number of halters this year, but so far, the beta halter from Two Horse Tack is doing its job.
The thing I most love about it, besides it not being broken, is how easy it is to clean. Since it is beta, a synthetic material, I just hose it off or dunk it in a bucket; it still looks brand new. I custom-ordered this halter to include a crown piece that buckles on both sides, clips at the jaw, and a buckle at the chin. I would definitely order those customizations again. This halter comes with roller buckles on the crown piece, and I LOVE that feature. It makes the halter so much easier to buckle on and off.
If I order another one of the Two Horse Halters, I will probably go for a more vibrant color with the color cushion padding. Izzy is not getting any rubs; I just like the look of the two-tone halters. This has been a great halter, and I would definitely order from Two Horse Tack again.
#3 ThinLine Girth - I haven't had the ThinLine girth for very long, but I love it more each time I use it. Besides its functionality - which is flawless, it is super easy to clean. As soon as I pull it off my saddle, I dunk it in a bucket, shake off the excess water, and put it away.
The next day, the girth is clean and dry and ready to use. In fact, if I just wiped it down with a towel it would be ready to use immediately. Since the material isn't really porous, it doesn't get wet or soggy like my fleece and memory foam girths do. Again, I would highly recommend this girth if you're looking for something that is easy to clean.
I'm loving all three purchases, but is it weird that "easy to clean" is such a priority?
I bought a Pivo Pod in September of 2020, and it has far exceeded my expectations. I know some riders use it every time they ride, but that's too much work for me. Setting it up is fairly simple, but watching an hour of video is way too time consuming. Instead, I like to limit its use to lessons and clinics.
When I was riding with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, it worked brilliantly. Chemaine is loud, and she talks to you throughout the whole lesson. After the lesson, I would make a cup of tea, grab a notepad and pencil, and watch the recorded lesson as I took notes. It was like getting two lessons for the price of one.
Now that I am riding with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, I've been using the Pivo a bit differently. Sean uses the Cee Coach, a two-way communication system which means I can hear him while I ride, but the Pivo Pod can't. Since I can't hear Sean on the Pivo's recordings, I skim through the video looking for moments that I remember, and I watch those.
I've been riding with Sean about every other week since the very end of March, exactly four months. During that time, I've made the nearly six-hour round trip drive at least nine times. It has been worth it, but it has also cost a small fortune in diesel, and the wear and tear on Newt's tires is no small thing either. That girl is HARD on rubber.
With the start of school just around the corner, I knew that two or three trips a month to Ventura County just wasn't sustainable. When I first started working with Sean, he was the one who suggested virtual lessons. That's how he works with David Hunt, president of the International Dressage Trainers Club (IDTC) and FEI Judges' Supervisory Panel member. They use a Pixio for Sean's weekly lessons, but Sean was more than willing to give Pivo a try.
A few weeks ago, we gave Pivo Meet, Pivo's version of a Zoom call, a try while I was at STC Dressage. We wanted to see if the Pivo Meet would actually work, and, after a bit of trial and error, we found that it did. This past weekend, we gave it a try for real. Sean worked from his laptop at STC Dressage in Ventura County, and I worked from my ring here in Bakersfield. Technology is a marvelous thing.
I set everything up and waited for Sean to join in. To my surprise, I suddenly heard him in my ear, and we got to work. Sadly, the lesson lasted less than ten minutes. One second Sean was offering feedback on the leg yield I was riding, and the next, I heard a very empty silence. Sean ended up calling me on my phone. He wasn't sure what had happened, but he had been kicked out of the Pivo Meet.
It took me a few minutes to figure out that my phone had overheated in the sun. I repositioned it, but the magic was gone. My camera just wouldn't work. While I was super frustrated, Sean wasn't put off at all. He explained that it had taken him a few tries to work out the kinks for his remote lessons. That made me feel a lot less like his biggest waste of time. We rescheduled for Sunday morning.
The way Pivo works is that it tracks the horse's outline. If the Pivo can't really "see" the horse because of shadows, poor contrast, bright sunlight, or whatever other reason, it has trouble following. Putting Pivo in the early morning shade would mean it would be looking directly at the sun as it rises, that wouldn't work. I scoped out all four sides of the arena and noted that from the A end of the arena, which looks mostly north, there was some shade from a big cottonwood tree, but not enough to totally shade my phone.
I've seen other riders use small umbrellas to keep their Pivo Pods dry, so I thought an umbrella might shade my phone. If you have horses, you'll already know that umbrellas are quite often terrifying for our four legged friends. Fortunately, one of the ladies at the barn had an umbrella in her car, so on Saturday, Izzy met an umbrella. He glanced at it, gave it a "meh," and went back to grazing on the lawn. I brought it nearer. I twirled it. I raised it over my head. Izzy never even glanced my way.
You already see where this is headed. On Sunday, I set up my Pivo Pod, attached the various cords and cables, and looked around for something on which to attach the umbrella. I grabbed a discarded jump standard, and attached the umbrella with a jumbo twist tie. It turned out to be the perfect solution. My phone and the Pivo Pod were nicely shaded, and the whole thing was sturdy and mostly unobtrusive.
I went back to the barn, bridled Izzy, and started the walk back up to the arena. When we turned the corner, Izzy SLAMMED on the breaks. His head shot up and his hooves backpedaled. I could hear him shouting, OH, NO YOU DON'T. Uh-uh, ain't gonna happen, no way, no how.
The umbrella from the day before had been black with polka dots. Mine was plain black with nothing distracting on it. Apparently, Izzy had not been paying attention the day before when I twirled the umbrella in front of his face. There was no point in arguing with him, so I just stopped. I patted his neck as he moonwalked to nowhere. We took a step forward. And another. And another. Eventually, we walked past the umbrella and approached it from the other side. We crept up towards it until we were right next to it.
And again, I am sure you know what came next. I reached out very quietly to turn the Pivo on and send Sean the meeting link. While I was busy with my phone, Izzy reached over my head to sniff the umbrella. He touched it with his nose, and then started to nibble it. Suddenly, the umbrella that he felt SURE was going to kill him 10 minutes ago, was now his best friend. I had to elbow him backwards before he ripped it, or worse, broke my shadow "machine." For the entire lesson, he forgot the umbrella was there.
Pivo Meet was finally a success. Everything worked, Sean could both hear and see me, I could hear him, and Pivo only lost me once. The only problem was that the Meet shut itself off after an hour. I think there might be a time limit on how long you can keep the Pivo Meet open. An hour is plenty of time though, so I think we can work around that.
Besides the Pivo Pod case, remote, charging cable, solar charger and its cables, PowerBeat wireless ear buds, jumbo twist tie, and tripod, I now have to add an umbrella to my list of Pivo Pod accessories. Still, when I add up the cost of the Pivo Pod, the earbuds, and a few of the other smaller pieces, it's all a lot less than what I spent in diesel (and time) over the summer. Being able to ride every week with Sean will do more for my riding than any other thing.
I am so happy he's a techie kind of trainer!
This horse. Izzy hasn't quite figured out whether or not he wants to actually come through the doorway like Speedy, but he's getting close. Just like Speedy, Izzy likes to hang out with me while I am puttering around. The way the ranch is configured, the road is quite some distance from where the horses live, and if they did make a run for it, the first road they would come to is just a single lane that travels through the neighborhood. Making it to the "main" road, which is only a two-lane affair anyway, would mean passing by lots of other horses and green grass. I feel safe letting my boys wander.
Yesterday while I was putting my tack away and mixing feed buckets, Izzy poked his nose in looking for a treat. Once my buckets were ready, he followed me back to his turnout. When I turned around to take off his halter, I realized that he had double backed to the feed room. I had left the door open, so I quickly looked back to see if he had worked up the courage to actually step foot inside. He hadn't, but he was busy doing something else.
Instead of helping himself to a feed bag, the big brown horse decided to do some dumpster diving. He tipped over the trash can and then rooted around inside it, tossing the trash to the side. When that proved boring, he decided to give the lid a look-see.
I picked up all the trash, replaced the trash can, but before I could get the lid back on, Izzy insisted that he wasn't done checking things out.
Of course, when the whole thing turned out be nothing, Izzy tried to flee the scene.
All this from a horse who thinks new places are terrifying. Maybe it's a sign that his confidence is growing.
Dude, bring that curiosity with you to shows!
Last week, Dover sent me one of those daily emails highlighting some product or other. Most of the time I delete them without checking out the "special" sale, but on that day, I did scroll though, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Why nothing but a burgundy colored fly veil! Rats!
I have spent a small fortune on fly veils this year, and sadly, I lost one of the pricier LeMieux bonnets at a show in May. I am fed up with spending money on bonnets, but I have been wanting one in burgundy/maroon to match our Sunday turnout.
The black bonnet is okay, but one that matches my coat and helmet would look so very nice. So when I saw that Dover add, and then when I saw the price and reviews, how could I say no?
The thing with color though is that matching it close enough to look good can be tough. In the picture, the veil looks more pinkish red than burgundy or maroon, but so did my helmet. My fingers are crossed that the veil will match, but if not, I can school in it or simply send it back.
I'll let you know once it gets here.
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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