From Endurance to Dressage
I have some new thoughts brewing about "bad days," but I'll get to that next week. In the meantime, here's a look at what Izzy looks like these days when he's tense.
This last screenshot? I remember this exact moment in time, and it felt as lovely as it looks. Izzy had just let out a deep breath, and his whole body turned to butter. It might not have lasted forever, but after jarring me in the canter for several minutes before this, those next few strides were magical.
Isn't that why we keep going back for more?
I am a careful shopper which means I am not often disappointed in my purchases. That doesn't mean I love everything right out of the box though. These breeches, the Wellesley Cargo Full-Seat, I LOVED as soon as I slipped them on. Granted, I only paid $58.44 so my expectations weren't really that high, even so, I will definitely buy these again. The Wellesley line belongs to Dover Saddlery, so you won't find them anywhere else.
If breeches don't fit well, it doesn't matter how cheap they are. So while I am always on the hunt for budget-friendly tack and clothing, fit comes before price. A few of the reviewers on Dover's site mentioned that these breeches run a bit large, and I would agree. I wear a 32 - damn you, COVID!, but even though I knew they might run big, I bought my regular size because I hate breeches that fit snugly. I definitely have room to spare in these, so keep that in mind if you decide to grab yourself a pair. Order down if you want them snug.
Hands down, these cargo breeches win all of the marbles for comfort. I like a structured breech because they look better, but in my heart of hearts, tights are so much more comfortable. The Wellesley Cargo Full-Seats are less rigid than traditional breeches, but they offer more support than tights do. The fabric is lighter than most breeches which means I'll be able to wear these all summer long. During the worst of our heat, I can't wear my regular breeches as they are simply too heavy. These are super stretchy with a full seat that is just sticky enough. Also a plus are both the front pockets and the cargo pockets on the thighs; my phone fits!
While I would like to say that style comes before price, it's not true. I buy all of my breeches on sale, in last year's colors, or when the retailer is looking to offload excess inventory. These go for $125.95 when they're not on sale, but if you shop at Dover at all, you'll know that you never need to pay full price for anything. Wait long enough and you'll hit a BOGO sale, especially on Dover products. Would these be worth it at $125? I wouldn't pay it, but then, I only buy breeches on sale. I would easily pay more than I did though.
Since I only buy bargain breeches, I don't always get to indulge my inner fashionista. Since I tend toward conservative styles anyway, it's not a great loss. But still, I am a girl, and fun is fun. While not loud and splashy, these cargo breeches are definitely different than the typical black, gray, and navy breeches that I tend toward. I'd say their cute factor is up above the 70% mark. If nothing else, they're a little more street friendly than many of my breeches, so I plan to wear them to work. There's nothing better than not having to change once I am at the barn.
Overall, I definitely give these breeches four out of four stars.
If it would help to cry, I would. Since it doesn't, I just have to laugh instead. Insert maniacal lighter here.
My check engine light is on again. I am not even going to give you links to all the posts I've written about my friend Newt. Newt, which stands for New Truck, is not exactly pulling her figurative weight this past two years. While I have complained loudly about all of her faults, the truth is that each and every thing has been taken care of by my local Ford Service Departments, plural because there are two. I am pretty sure they hate me. Anyhoodle, Newt is going back in next week for yet another round of diagnostic work.
When the check engine light came back on more than a week ago, I first took Newt to my oil change place. They used two different scanners to try and diagnose what the issue might be. Since neither one seemed to be working, we couldn't read the code(s). They suggested I take it to O'Riley's Auto Parts where they actually offer free scans that come with a print out of the codes.
While the scan is always free, the box of DEF that I bought most certainly was not. Neither were the fuses and fuse tester/puller that I also bought. You see why the scan is free. Anyway, the guy plugged the scanner in, but nothing happened. Whoops! The two scanners that the guys at the oil change place had used hadn't malfunctioned after all. It was Newt's On Board Diagnostics II (OBD) port that wasn't working.
The OBDII port's job is to monitor emissions and other data about your vehicle. It's connected to the check engine light, which illuminates when the computer detects a problem. Here's the thing. The OBDII port needs power to work, so if your check engine light comes on but there is no power to the port, the scanner can't generate a code to tell you what's wrong with your vehicle. Excuse me while I have a short Chevy Chase moment. Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?
When the very kind employee at O'Riley's explained that the scanner wasn't working because there was no power to Newt's OBDII, I dug out my vehicle manual and flipped to the page on fuses. Believe it or not, I had tabbed it with a sticky note and even labeled the sticky note, fuses. Such a teacher thing to do; we love highlighters, tabs, and sticky notes, and when used together, we've found the Holy Grail.
According to my now reluctant helper, the OBDII most often uses the same fuse as the cigarette lighter. Weird fact: I told him that I didn't have a cigarette lighter. Do they even make cars with cigarette lighters? Yes, but now they call it an auxiliary power outlet. Oh, that thing? Why didn't you say so? Of course Newt has one of those. We found out it works just fine.
I could tell the guy was putting in some serious effort to try and ditch me and probably go back to work, but I just kept giving him jobs to do. Before he knew it, the hood was up, and I was pointing out the fuse box and letting him open it. We identified which fuse was the most likely one, Newt has three auxiliary power fuses, and tried to pull it out. Unfortunately, the fuse puller I had just bought wasn't big enough to pull the larger fuses, so my helper quickly returned inside and left me to fend for myself.
Not one to quit, I gave my mom a call - she kicks butt when it comes to engines and vehicle maintenance, and asked how to pull a hard to reach fuse. Her advice was to grab a very long set of needle nose pliers, which I found in my husband's tool box, and yank it out like a tooth. Done and done. As a side note, I do have a work bench and tool box but it isn't filled with nearly as many fun tools as is my husband's which he inherited from his grandpa many years ago. That toolbox came loaded with stuff you don't always see anymore.
With this truck, I never know if finding the problem is better than not finding a problem. I pulled the fuse and saw that it was good. Since I was already dirty, I decided to start pulling more fuses just to get my money's worth out of the fuse tester. I pulled the first five fuses, 80 - 84, and saw that they were all black. I didn't need the tester to tell me those had blown. For the fuses that looked good, I did use the tester to verify that they truly hadn't blown.
Using the fuse tester (a fancier name that my mom taught me is continuity tester) is pretty easy. You push the two points of the tester down into the corresponding holes on the fuse. If the tester lights up, you're good. In small fuses like the ones below, if that curve of metal is broken or there is black on the fuse's prongs, the fuse has blown.
Fuses blow for lots of reasons, but before replacing one, it's often times a good idea to figure out WHY it blew. In Newt's case, I found five in a row that had blown. Eventually, I put the tester away and left the blown fuses where they were. While I love to solve my own problems, I want the guys at Ford to see the blown fuses and then check for more. I don't know why my check engine light is on, and I don't know why there is no power to my OBDII port, but it sounds like I might have an electrical problem. And if I do, that is a job way, way above my pay grade.
Once I know what's wrong with Newt, I'll fill you in.
Man, I feel like that's where my life is constantly headed, sideways. I try to meet problems head on, but things have a tendency to go sideways, don't they. In this case, sideways is deliberate.
Saturday's lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, went just as well as they all do. In the days leading up to the lesson, Izzy had been a rockstar, so I was really looking forward to doing a bit of showing off. Not that I can fool Sean; he sees me every week, so even a decent renvers is going to come with a yes, much improved, now get more power.
Izzy though, had other plans. He wasn't horrible, but his panties were in a bit of a twist over something. There were more than a few grunts and sassy moments. Some of them were legit. The sprinklers that water the grass just past the C end of the arena came on, but one is broken so water erupted straight up much like having a personal Old Faithful. After that, a row of Rainbirds came to life in the small pasture just past the A end of the arena. With all of the phhht ... phhht ... sounds, it was no wonder Izzy was a bit on edge. Sean's comment to all of the shenanigans was a wry, but does he have to react so excessively?
Even with some spooking and awkward moments, Sean was able to talk to me about what he's looking for. More power is one thing, but that still eludes us, and it can't come until Izzy stops bracing. Not that eliminating the bracing is a new concept. Every once in a while, Sean will say, "I would still like to see him less braced." Uh, yeah, me too! The other thing Sean is looking for me to do more often is more transitions (definitely working on those already), more counter flexion (yep!) and more moving Izzy sideways.
We've been doing leg yields from the centerline to the rail, from the rail to the center line, out on the circle, and in on the circle. Sometimes we leg yield to the center line and then leg yield out on a circle. And all of that is at the trot. Now Sean is asking me to do more and more of it at the canter. When Izzy gets stuck, cantering a 20-meter circle with a braced neck and stiff back doesn't achieve anything.
Sean explained that leg yielding in the canter gets Izzy to focus more on what his body is doing rather than the imagined stuff happening outside of the arena. On Saturday, we played around with canter leg yields out of the corner. It's not a half pass because the neck is slightly counter bent and the body is straight. It's hard y'all. One way I like to do it is to leg yield to the quarter line (or centerline), and then do a half circle, still canter bent, to the rail and back to the same corner to do it again.
Another variation is to leg yield out of the corner, do a full circle at the quarter line, and then go straight ahead on the first quarter line to C and leg yield out of the next corner. Basically, Sean just wants me to get Izzy going sideways whether it is at the trot or canter. Adding in changes of direction are also good. Anything that gets his body bending and crossing his legs is a good thing.
While all of this seems tedious, it is anything but. I don't mind grinding out the "boring" stuff anymore. Instead of feeling like I am stuck at Training Level, I now see the basics as an avenue for helping Izzy instead of holding me back. Who cares where I am in the training if Izzy is struggling. As he gets softer, more balanced, and more powerful, things will only get more fun.
The basics are now my favorite thing to do.
Here in the next week or two, I am pretty certain I'll be once again threatening to sell my big brown horse or even slapping a free to so-so home on his big brown butt. When that happens, will you remind me of the great rides this horse gave me over the past two weeks?
I don't even have anything articulate to say today other than Izzy was a joy to ride. Without even needing to cherry pick the best moments, I was able to screenshot more than two dozen moments from Sunday's ride that showed how pleasant he was to ride. I did limit myself to ten photos for this space though as no one wants to look at that much fluff unless there is at least one train wreck in the mix. You're welcome. I genuinely tried to find some awkward moments, but there weren't any really good blooper moments to share. How can I be disappointed by that?
Anyway, enjoy the view. :0)
Don't forget to talk me off the ledge the next time I get too close!
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 the lower levels. 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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: