From Endurance to Dressage
This is the fourth post in an ongoing series chronicling my journey towards a Class A Commercial Driver's License. You can read the other posts at the links below:California Commercial Driver Handbook (section 11.2.2 - Cab Check/Engine Start).
First of all, it's common sense to carry some emergency equipment, even if that just means a AAA Card. Since cell phones don't always work where trouble strikes, we all probably need more than that card in our vehicles.
Always in my truck is my original roadside kit. It's two-sided, the top half of which is seen above. Besides that kit, I always have a current insurance card and registration. I also have a jack and a spare tire. However, locating all the pieces necessary to change the tire requires a literal map. The jack is located under my rear passenger seat, bolted to the back of the truck. The jack handle and the lug wrench are under the back seat behind the driver. Once you have all of that located, you have to use the ignition key to unlock the tube in the bumper to access the spare tire. Then you assemble the lug nut wrench, an extension, and the jack handle which goes through the bumper hole. You then crank on that to lower the tire and remove the thing that holds the tire in place.
In theory, I know how to change a tire, but from experience, I know that I would have to give myself a shot of adrenaline in order to lift one of my truck's tires onto the bolts that hold the wheel. I can take the tire off, but I cannot lift the tire on; I've tried. If I were totally desperate, and if I were towing my trailer, I could probably roll the tire up onto my trailer's Jiffy Jack and try to maneuver it from there. Maybe. Without the Jiffy Jack, I'd probably be up a creek without a paddle.
What you and I think of as emergency equipment is all well and good, but the state of California has an actual list that is expected to be followed to the letter, and nothing in my roadside kit is on that list. While the list is in the handbook, it isn't very clear as to the actual specifics. You have to visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website for that. The section on emergency equipment can be found in Chapter 5: 5.14 Emergency Equipment. And once you get there, you'll need to see 49 CFR 393.95 for full emergency equipment specifications, regulations, and exceptions. CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations.
Once you make it to 49 CFR, you'll have to wade through two pages of one of these, six of these, OR several of this other thing. Since each driver's situation is different, you'll want to look it up to verify what you'll actually need to have on board.
According to Section 11 of the California Commercial Driver Handbook. you must have spare electrical fuses. The CFR defines this as one spare fuse for each type/size needed to operate any required part or accessory. I looked through my truck's owner's manual and identified every single fuse that my truck needs to operate. The CFR isn't exactly clear on which parts or accessories are required, so I drew the line at the fuses under the hood. If one of those needs to be replaced, I am calling AAA or a tow truck. I discovered that all of your basic fuses, the ones in the cab of your truck, are pretty standard, so I ordered a kit from Amazon for $8.99.
The next piece of must have emergency equipment is three, red reflective triangles, but of course, they must conform to Federal Standard No. 125, §571.125. Since I didn't know what that standard actually said, I just looked for triangles on Amazon that stipulated that they met the DOT's (Department of Transportation) requirement. The triangles I found were $32.89 and came with a bonus safety vest.
There is an "or" here. You can also choose to have six fusees - a red signal flare used especially for protecting stalled trains and trucks, or three liquid burning flares. The CFR for fusees and flares states that each fusee shall be capable of burning for 30 minutes, and each liquid-burning flare shall contain enough fuel to burn continuously for at least 60 minutes. I couldn't find 60-minute flares, and the regulations don't state whether LED flares meet the requirement, so I bought a six-pack emergency flare kit for $24.95. I don't have to have flares since I have triangles, but I wanted to cover all of my bases.
The last required piece of emergency equipment is a fire extinguisher, but like everything else, you can't just grab the old one hanging out in your garage. I know because I tried that. First of all, the one in my garage was empty and the handbook specifically states that the one you carry must be properly charged and mounted (more on that later).
There is a lot to know about fire extinguishers, most of which I researched and then promptly forgot, but here's an excellent link explaining what you need to know. For my purposes, I needed one that had an Underwriters' Laboratories rating of 5 B:C or more. That means it is used for (B) combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, and oil and (C) electrical equipment. The number preceding the B indicates the size of fire in square feet that an ordinary user should be able to extinguish. The extinguisher I ordered is rated 10 B:C and cost $26.30.
Section 11 of the California Commercial Driver Handbook lists optional emergency equipment. While it says these items are optional, they're so easy to procure that I put all but one of them in my emergency kit.
The first item listed is tire chains (where winter conditions require them). I am not buying chains because I am not hauling my trailer anywhere that chains would be required. Once, while on the way to an endurance race, heading through the Tehachapi Pass, there was snow on the ground, and it was pretty dicey, but no chains were required. I also have four wheel drive. If I decide to haul to a show in winter, and if there's going to be snow, I'll buy chains then. For now, they're just not something I need as I never drive in the snow.
Surprisingly, tire changing equipment is listed as optional, which I find to be hysterically funny. Why are extra fuses required but not a jack? Either way, I have tire changing equipment. See above.
The last two items that belong in the optional emergency equipment are a list of emergency phone numbers and an accident reporting kit. A list of emergency numbers was easy to compile. I also added my insurance information and vehicle make and model. Nowhere in the CFR could I find what was required for the accident reporting kit, so I downloaded two samples that seemed to have everything I might need to report an accident. All of my paperwork fits neatly into a zippered portfolio that I had laying around. I even made sure the ink pen worked.
Everything fits: electrical fuses, three red triangles, 6 liquid burning flares, a fire extinguisher, emergency phone numbers, and an accident reporting kit. As much as I would have liked to include the tire changing equipment, that stuff already had a place in my truck.
The one thing I need to check on is how to properly mount the fire extinguisher. Right now it's in the bag, stowed under my back seat, but I suspect that's not going to be good enough. That's going to take a bit more investigation.
These two parts, Emergency Equipment and Optional Emergency Equipment are just two sub sections out of sixteen in section 11.2.2 - Cab Check/Engine Start. There are eight more entire sections, each with numerous subsections with their own bullet points to know or do. Two of the sections, 11.4 School Bus and 11.6 Coach/Transit Bus don't apply to me, so that's a bonus.
I am trying not to feel overwhelmed. It's definitely a slow and steady sort of endeavor. Maybe it's a good thing that COVID-19 is slowing this all down. It actually gives me more time to learn all of the parts before I take the test.
Stay tuned for future posts.
Over the weekend, I wondered why I hadn't taken Izzy back out to Hart Park. It's not like my work schedule is jam packed or anything, and the weather is suddenly gorgeous. We've been working hard to prepare for this show season, but with that on hold, I realized I still needed to get him out and about. Hart Park was the perfect destination.
The drive from the ranch to Hart Park with a trailer is 15 minutes if you drive conservatively, less if you step on it. There isn't even a stop sign. I always park at Horseman's Barn which has hitching posts, a wash rack, and pipe corrals. There are also picnic tables, shade trees, and very nice views.
I didn't even warn Izzy that we were going. I showed up, hooked up my trailer, and threw my tack in the back. I gave him a spritz of fly spray and told him to load up. He didn't bat an eye; he self-loaded, and once I was parked, he backed out quietly, albeit with a bit of a confused look. There were plenty of people at the park, so there were a lot of bodiless voices. Izzy craned his neck for a few minutes trying to figure out where everyone was, but there were no theatrics. I saddled up and was on the trail within 15 minutes.
I thought Izzy was good the last time we did this loop. Just two months later, he was even better. At the walk, he was immediately on the buckle. He wasn't bored, but he was happy to listen and let me make the decisions. I did the loop the same way as we had done it in February.
At 15 minutes into the ride, I remembered that I had my phone and that I had recently downloaded an activity app. I turned it on where the map is marked with a green dot. The red dot is where we finished which was an extra mile.
Any time the trail was free of gravel, we trotted. Back when I was endurance training, I would have trotted and cantered nearly the entire thing and then added another 10 miles by heading out into the foothills. Izzy's not an endurance horse though, and his fear-meter has a much higher setting than that of my endurance horses. Sometimes, it was just prudent to walk.
We passed by one freakishly weird object that deserved a much bigger spook than Izzy offered. Right next to the trail there was a pipe about 18 inches in diameter that rose around 8 feet into the air. I have no idea what it was for, but it sounded as if it were breathing. Moaning even. It might have even been a death rattle. In fact, I am sure of it. Izzy gave it a very, very long stare and contorted his body in such a way as to put as much distance between it and himself.
I couldn't blame him. Even I didn't know what it was, and of course, it was on the section of the trail that we had to repeat. It sounded no more friendly on the way back. I have to give Izzy lots of credit; he walked by it even though he was certain it was a harbinger of the apocalypse.
Since the park and trail system are still open to the public, there were quite a few other visitors. We saw a smattering of cyclists - one who was the most polite cyclist I've ever come across, and I've seen plenty. He cheerfully warned us, "I am on your right on a bicycle." I'll share the trail with that dude any day. There were also plenty of fishermen, hikers, and families out for a stroll. Everyone was courteous and practicing social distancing.
Izzy was really happy to walk, but for the trotting I had to work to keep him soft and forward. The first time I asked for a canter, he just couldn't. His back was simply too tight. After three or four miles, we came to a slight downhill that was wide open. He agreed to canter. A few minutes later, we came to a narrower stretch of trail, so I asked for the other lead. I got in two-point and rode him with LEG ON, so he managed to keep it together through some trail that had bushes over our heads.
I wasn't just pleased with Izzy because we didn't die. He was as solid as most "arena" horses could be. He hasn't had nearly the experience that Speedy has, but even so, I felt perfectly safe on him. Even when he was nervous, he slowed down or simply stopped. He never actually spooked. Now that the park loop is back on my radar, I'm going to have to try getting out there a little more frequently. It's nice to have a dressage horse who can also do trails.
Now I have two of them.
Last June, I was urged to create some kind of marked arena so that I could improve not only my geometry, but the accurateness of the movements at Third Level. You can see that post here. To my surprise, having real corners truly did help improve my accuracy. It's hard to know if the shoulders are drifting or falling in when you're riding out in the open.
The water jugs that I used to mark the arena did an amazing job. What I most liked was how safe they were. All of the horses have either run them over or given them a good kick, and nobody ever thought they were spooky or threatening in anyway. The ranch owner's mare actually seems to use them for target practice.
A few of the jugs ended up with leaks, one too many kicks by an equine hoof will do that, but even half empty, they didn't tip over in the wind. One of them had drained itself dry but still stood upright. After nearly a year though, the letters eventually faded and/or fell off.
I've been wanting to replace the jugs for some time now, but with COVID-19 on the loose, water bottles were in short supply. This weekend, I found the bottles well stocked with no limits, so I bought six, half of what I needed, with the plan to buy another six in a few days. As it turned out, enough of my bottles were actually in sufficient shape that I just put fresh letters on them.
I replaced the cracked water bottles and the ones with no lids with my six new jugs. Then I scrubbed the dirt off the old jugs and recovered them with new letters. For less than $10, I have a freshly marked arena that will last me until at least winter.
This is a really cheap and easy, do-it-yourself project. Even though I covered my letters from top to bottom with packing tape, they're not water proof. If you water your arena or you live where it rains a lot, the letters won't last as long. The ranch owner treats our footing with a product that eliminates dust, so we don't need to water. If I lived somewhere wetter, I would probably try to spray paint the bottles white and use a stencil for the letters. If you try that, let me know how it turns out.
If you're interested in using water jugs yourself, or some other similar material, here's a pdf of the arena Ietters I created. Just download and print.
Random Thing #1 - Izzy is looking particularly shiny this year. I am kind of wondering if it's due to the Haas brushes I am using. I've been vigilant about using the Striegel, Parcour, and the Diamond Gloss every day. Of course, shininess has a lot to do with genetics and nutrition, but still, he's literally looking like a disco ball.
Random Thing #2 - On Saturday, I was feeling pretty blue about the state of the world, so the ranch owner asked if I wanted to trail ride around the property with her and her mare, Allie. It was the first "social" thing I've done in weeks. How is it that the simple act of walking along on a loose rein can completely change your view of life? A half hour later, I was completely reinvigorated and enjoyed the rest of the day.
Random Thing #3 - I just found The Humble Hoof on Facebook. She posted the most hilarious video on trimming the other day. I can't seem to embed the video here, so you'll have to jump over to Facebook to watch it. This link should get you there: https://www.facebook.com/thehumblehoof/videos/2733895766719166. It has to be one of the funniest things I've seen lately.
Random Thing #4 - I must have spent a lot of time on Facebook over the weekend because my next random piece of wonderfulness is Sarah Lockman's #Toiletpaperchallenge. IT IS AWESOME. I think you can see it at this link: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.lockman.9/videos/10163425854345461. Make sure you have your sound turned up because that's what really makes the video. Well, that and some pretty nice horses.
Random Thing #5 - This isn't a great thing. It's not even a happy thing. It's a WTF kind of thing. In less than a year, Speedy's Prascend, the medication we use to treat his PPID, has risen a full $100 a box. Sheesh! I am pretty sure I got some kind of rebate for the first box, so maybe that's why it was so "cheap," but what the heck? My vet wants to check Speedy's ACTH in late May or early June, so I am going to ask him if he knows why the price has gone up so quickly.
Let's hope for some good news this week. I don't even care if it's just news about restocked toilet paper. I just need it to be good. If you're bored, feel free to email me pretty/funny/ugly/weird/silly photos of your ponies, dogs, kids, or significant others.
This year has been something else.
I am certain that every profession has its share of jargon and acronyms, but educators have to reign supreme in that contest. We have a name or list of letters for everything. Most of the time, the letters just get rearranged - English as a Second Language (ESL) became English Language Development (ELD) which then became English Language Learners (ELL). Student Study Teams (SST) became Student Success Teams (SST) - the letters never even changed. Often times ideas just get rebranded. I've been a teacher for so many decades that what I learned in college just keeps getting recycled and spit out as something new.
Occasionally, a new buzzword will actually resonate and convey an idea that maybe didn't already have a name. One word we've been using in recent years is Backward Mapping. In backward mapping, we look at what we want our students to achieve, and then we plan the steps necessary to achieve that goal. Backward mapping is always applied to the entire year, but we also use it for specific units, like those lasting for several weeks. We also use the idea in a single lesson: I want my kiddos to understand the Order of Operations, so what do I need to teach today to make that happen?
This is related to horses and riding, I swear. While it's not only applicable to dressage, it's certainly a core process in developing a dressage horse. Think about the Pyramid of Training: we know what we ultimately want - a horse that can do the movements at the Grand Prix. In order to achieve piaffe, passage, and one-tempis, we know we must first start with the basics.
I've been spending so much time in the half passes lately that I had left the flying changes alone. Speedy's changes are confirmed. He can do them. He knows the aid, and he knows when he should and should not change the lead. But since I hadn't done them in a while, I decided to throw some in the other day. The right to left change was still there, but the left to right change was really sticky.
For our next ride, I did some backward mapping. My sole goal for the ride was to clean up the change from left to right. I called Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, for some quick advice, but she was in the middle of a lesson. Instead of hearing what she might suggest, I thought about what she would probably have told me to do: get him on your new outside rein.
Changing the rein means getting more bend to the right, something Speedy and I have struggled with since the very beginning. So that was "the lesson" that I intended to teach that day. My "test" to see if he had learned what I taught was a flying change from left to right. But what could I do to achieve a more supple bend to the right?
Actually, it was all pretty simple. I started with flexing left to right at the walk. We then moved on to shoulder in, walk pirouettes, and half passes that were super collected and bent. By the time I asked for the flying change, Speedy was dying to give it to me. The lesson took all of twenty minutes, and I got a crisp, correct change the first time I asked.
Backward mapping as it was meant to be used - developing dressage horses!
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
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%