From Endurance to Dressage
I had lunch at the Malt Shop with Cha Ching's Mom on Saturday. It's our favorite after-the-barn burger/ice cream/fries/taquitos place to hang out. The owners are very accommodating and don't mind that we A) sometimes stink, and B) hog up a booth for several hours at a time. While we didn't smell like horse sweat for Saturday's lunch, we certainly sat there far longer than our taquitos, chicken strips, and sundaes were worth.
During our conversation, I mentioned to Cha Ching's Mom that the combination of summer heat and work had robbed me of any and all creative thought. Most days I have no less than 5 blog posts rolling around in my head. This weekend, my head was filled with the quiet sound of crickets ... chirp, chirp, chirp ...
Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I was feeling decidedly uninspired and very unmotivated.
Cha Ching's Mom suddenly remembered a series of posts that she's been following on a blog she reads. It had to do with posting pictures of some of your favorite things. After reminding me of a few "tips" that I've shared with her, she thought I should share some of them as well as some of the things that inspire me, but it should be done through photos.
Welcome to My 5 Things. This is a new series, done through photos, that illustrates things that inspire me or just plain catch catch my eye. I thought I should show you my office first. When I write, I surround myself with horses, literally, and find great satisfaction in just sitting in here. It's a good place to think.
From here on out, I'll try to just limit myself to a short caption as the pictures should do the talking for me.
I had something else to publish today, but as I rolled out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to get ready for work for the first time in more than ten weeks, I decided to share what many teachers feel after summer break: excitement, anxiety, worry, renewal, exhaustion, frustration, and sometimes even dread.
I am starting the school year with a 7:30 a.m. meeting in my capacity as union site representative. Then I'll spend the next 7 hours trying to learn the names of 60 fifth graders while at the same time showing them the ropes and hoping that they go home with a good feeling about school.
I may not make it out to the barn today. I'll be physically tired, but that won't be what really tethers me to the couch. I'll probably be mentally exhausted. I am giving myself permission right now to come home, kick off my heels, grab a cold one from the 'fridge, and plop down for a little Netflix viewing before I start cooking dinner.
Ponies, you might have to do without me for a day. Have a great day, everyone.
I really enjoy hearing from the people who read this blog. I know some people land here, take a peek, and then head off to places more interesting. Others probably poke around a bit longer before they leave. Some even take time to offer advice or simply encourage and commiserate. I have thoroughly enjoyed developing a relationship with those of you who do comment. I now have friends on several different continents; I have friends in states I hope to one day visit; and I've even made some new friends in my own back yard.
Angela lives in Tehachapi, a small town just up the road from Bakersfield. Just like many of us, she is beginning her dressage journey. A few days ago she sent me this email. I thought it echoed so many of my own experiences that I asked her if I could share it with you. She graciously said yes. Meet Angela:
My riding is going well, but it's like assembling a mono-chromatic jigsaw puzzle, and I'm fitting in one piece at a time very, very slowly. Most days are - nope that's not the one, but it sure feels great when you make a match! Right now we are working on putting William into the proper frame or back into frame, since he has been there before. :0 Hence the puzzle analogy, it's all I have stuck in my brain. I think we may have one or two pieces of ONE corner in place...I pray it holds together for the Cool Mountain Show up here in two weeks, because I'm sending in my entry for Intro level A and B. I'll be using Will's barn name, which is Good Will, on the entry form. So, it begins! My first show EVER. The goal is to Show UP, Breath, and Have Fun!!!!
Buying everything sure has been an experience, and it sure is expensive. I've opted to take the Goodwill route in honor of Good Will. Thank heavens for Bar JJ up here. They are a consignment tack and supply store. I found a nice jacket for $40, it will need to be taken in, but it works. I also found white breeches for $20 and a white show shirt with a collar for $15, along with other odds and ends. It kind of reminded me of that Ikea commercial where the lady is running out of the store yelling, "start the car, start the car," to her husband who is waiting in the car. I love a good deal, and they are super nice people so I love giving them business.
I thought I had found a good pair of "starter" boots for $50, but Debbie said they were too short. :( However, I decided to keep them as back up "everyday" riding boots because they are really comfortable. And besides, my basic riding boots and half chaps will work just fine at this level; unfortunately, it also means I have to clean them...lol The funniest part of all of this is that the "second hand horse" has all brand new tack, but his newbie rider is in "second hand" tack...and I wouldn't have it any other way!!!
I'm loving the journey and progress, even if we've haven't made it very far. :)
See you soon,
It continues to be hot although it has been ten degrees cooler this last few days. It hasn't mattered much though since I went back to work on Thursday. I worked a ten hour day the first day and was simply too done to make it to the barn. Friday was a bit shorter of a day so I hauled myself out to the barn for some chores, but no riding.
It felt strange to miss a day at the barn, even stranger not to ride. Since I knew I wouldn't be saddling up, I decided to take poor Tobias with me. I say Poor Tobias as these last two days have been pretty tough on our little guy. All summer he had human company for the majority of the day. I went to the barn each morning for three to five hours, but after that he got to hang around in the house with me. I think he was a little stunned on Thursday when we left so early and didn't come back as he expected.
Hubby took him to the pool after work on Thursday to try and make up for his lack of entertainment that day. Friday was my turn. When I got home, I just felt so guilty greeting the excited little guy only to run off and leave him again. so I took him with me.
Tobias went through a lot this summer. We brought him home in mid-May only to discover that he had arrived with the parvovirus. Once he recovered from that, he continued seeing the vet for various vaccinations, several of which made him feel rather puny. He also got his adult teeth during the early part of the summer which caused him some amount of tummy trouble and general lethargy. Added to that, he was neutered and had his dew claws removed which made it necessary for him to sport a cone for three weeks.
Tobias is finally, finally a healthy 7-and-a-half month old Labrador Retriever who is enjoying all of the things that most adolescents get to do. He enjoys hiking at the cabin, swimming in the pool, and going for walks in the neighborhood. Friday seemed like the perfect day to introduce him to my ponies.
I am pretty focused at the barn and can't watch a puppy and ride at the same time, and Labs aren't the kind of dogs who are happy to just sit in the barn aisle and snooze. Once their noses hit the ground, they're off and running. Since I only planned on cleaning stalls and doing turn out, I figured I could do that and supervise a rambunctious pup, too.
I was quite surprised when I unloaded Tobias from the car. He took one look at the first horse he saw, Bailey, and planted his feet in a no way, Buster! stance. He was pretty nervous. I coaxed him to the barn aisle and sat with him as he took it all in. Labs are very inquisitive, and I knew he'd figure it out. Pretty soon he was willing to sniff noses with all four horses and then happily followed me around while I did my chores. I did tie him up as I turned each boy out. I didn't want there to be any accidental squishing of puppy toes if Tobias got extra brave and decided to "help."
I am not sure if he had as much fun as I was hoping for. It was pretty hot, and he's used to getting in the car or truck for a trip to the pool, much more his speed. We'll have to see how much he likes the barn when it gets cooler.
Wednesday's lesson, which was actually on Monday, was really good. I wish I had sat down to write about it while it was still fresh in mind. Going back to work this week has gobbled up quite a lot of my free time. Even though it's been a few days, I do remember the gist of the lesson: WHOA! and GO!
Part one involved only some whoa, and it was done sans yelling, represented by capital letters, italics, and a bold font. JL had me repeat the previous week's lesson, but to the right: planted inside hand and outside pulley rein to halt. We did it at both trot and canter. The next step involved the same level of halt at the trot but without planting the inside rein; I had to just hold that inside rein very steady in the air. It was a bit challenging, but since Speedy was listening to my outside rein, we were successful at that exercise very quickly.
Part two focused on putting all of the pulley rein stuff to work at the canter. Here is how it went: canter, ask for slower pace with the outside rein, no response, pulley halt in two counts or less. When Speedy decided that he didn't like the pulley halt anymore (demonstrated by some rearing which isn't scary on him), we played Race Horse again. When he wasn't responsive enough off my leg, which was most of the time, JL instructed me to make my aids louder, A LOT LOUDER. JL's comment was that she wanted to see his eyes pop in surprise when I asked for the canter. It didn't matter if the lead was right or if he was soft or balanced. She just wanted a sharp response to my leg.
After a lot of cantering (our high was 110℉ that day so the morning was already pretty toasty), the pulley halt started to look pretty good to Speedy so we went back to that. I asked for a nice canter, which he responded to much more quickly (image that), and then I asked for a slower pace with the outside rein. When we finally got it, I switched to rocking the inside rein to get some bend. I rocked BIG at every stride: BEND, BEND, BEND.
By the end of the lesson, JL gave us a 50% for our canter. That wasn't a failing mark, instead, she meant that we were about 50% there on our canter work. The trick for me is to understand when to rock the outside rein, and for how long, before finally shutting him down with it all the way. JL had to tell me when. On my own, I either stopped him too quickly, or let him fuss with me for too long. The other problem is with the inside rein. I fuss with it too much and he curls under, especially to the right.
Our trot work has improved tremendously, and I know our canter work will follow. Going back to work means that the improvement will come more slowly over the next two months, but I know it will come. While it's hot, lessons will continue on Wednesday evenings, but once it cools down we'll move to Mondays. I'll miss the mid-week work; I enjoyed having something to look forward to on Hump Day!
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.
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 …
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 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