From Endurance to Dressage
I am pretty sure I mentioned this a few months ago, but the day has finally (nearly) arrived! Early tomorrow morning we're headed to the 31st annual Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park. We bought our tickets months ago. We've been to Santa Anita Park twice this year, box seats (purple), but for this event, we had to settle for seats that were a little less grand.
Normally, box seats run about $15 each, but for this event, they were around $1,000 each, so um … no. We spent $125 (each) for the Club Apron seating (yellow seating), which is okay, but not quite the view we've come to expect. Basic grandstand seats, which are quite a ways from the finish line, are normally around $5 but were $75 for this weekend.
The Club Apron seats are just a little bit beyond the finish line, but the promoters guaranteed us a massive television screen for our area to improve the view. Hopefully it's as massive as they advertised! The photo below was taken earlier in the year, but the Club Apron seating is just down to the right from this view. The finish line is at the pole in front of and to the right of the gray horse.
Our ticket package arrived a week or so ago. The tickets are those big plastic things that require a lanyard. We also got brochures and discounts for Breeders Cup wear; hubby has already ordered a polo.
My husband has become the horse racing guru. He bets every weekend with his Twin Spires online account. He already has his picks for this weekend circled. Me, I am not such a big gambler (breeches to buy, dontcha know!) so I am taking $5 for each of the 12 races. I will however, be bringing along a little extra for my beverage of choice, of course.
A friend has a friend who has a horse running, Sweet Swap, ridden by none other than Corey Nakatani, so I am definitely betting on that horse. And of course, what Californian is not betting on California Chrome?
I promise a full report later next week, and hopefully I'll get some decent pictures. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you all on Monday.
Probably just four: two for schooling and two for showing.
Someone started a blog hop about the number of breeches that we all own. I don't generally participate in blog hops, not because they aren't interesting, but because I am too lazy to figure out how to add my URL to the list. But this topic, the number of breeches I own, is timely since I just added four new pair to my already ridiculous pile.
I should start with a short story …
When I first started riding endurance, back in 1996, I thought breeches were only for jumpers. After doing some conditioning rides in jeans, I discovered that ANYTHING other than jeans would have to be more comfortable. Since online shopping wasn't quite as easy back then, finding breeches was a little challenging.
Instead of breeches, I opted for leggings from Target. They were black and far more comfortable than jeans, but they didn't last very long. They tended to get pretty thin and see through. Once I got to know a few endurance riders, I discovered that there were endurance vendors who sold riding tights geared for endurance. I was hooked.
My favorite pair were a super loud giraffe print. I had plenty of others in all kinds of wild colors and prints including electric blue, copper, shiny burgundy, and a cool pair of hot pink paint splatter (down below). I also had many pairs in standard black and brown.
I share this so you get a feel for my love of riding pants. I still own four pair of endurance tights, three of which are made by a company that have long since gone out of business.
I answered my question from above: how many pair of riding breeches do I need. The more important question should be: how many pairs of breeches do I own? The simple answer is too many. Why I have so many pair is a mystery to me, especially since I like to wear one pair over and over. Somehow, being filthy makes them more comfortable.
Since I added a few new pair to the collection, I needed to empty out my two drawers set aside for breeches so that I could make room for the newcomers. Here is what I found.
I certainly don't need all of these breeches. As it is, I wear the same pair most of the week. And even though I ride five to seven days a week, it would still take me almost three consecutive weeks of daily riding to get through the entire pile. There is nothing else in my life that I hoard. As a general rule, I am frugal, conservative, and hate waste.
I guess we all have that one thing … So what was my total count?
I would really like to know how many pairs you all own. Is your count anything like mine?
If you only started following recently, Sydney has several nicknames. When things aren't going too well, he's Mr. Hyde. When he's right there with me, he's Captain Awesome all the way. Last week, we had a serious Jekyll and Hyde afternoon. It was so terrible that I didn't even want to write about it.
I jinxed myself, of course, because it came after a day that I had flippantly tossed out that Sydney's normal fall freak-outs had not happened (yet). Sure enough, the very next day, all hell broke loose. Not half way down the arena, on a loose rein while walking, Sydney spun violently to the right, his preferred direction for freaking out, and stood at full attention with his heart pounding beneath my thigh.
Shit. Pardon my language.
I spent the next 45 minutes riding a 2 x 4. I tried every single suppling exercise that I know, but nothing worked. Eventually, I felt that he wanted to canter, and I knew it would be good for him, if he could stay in control. I told him that he could canter, but it was going to be on the left lead, to the left. He tried everything he could to whip his head to the right, but I planted my inside rein on my knee and repeatedly asked for a left lead canter.
Finally, he let go through his neck just enough that he could pick up his inside shoulder and canter on the left lead. I let him burn off some of his tension in a good hand gallop, but then I slowly asked him to collect and get back on his haunches. By the time we finished, much of the tension was gone, but it took the better part of a week to get rid of the rest of it.
I rode him nearly each day, focusing solely on relaxation. He got better and better. On Monday afternoon. Captain Awesome finally showed up with his cape snapping smartly in the wind. He practically saluted me. We worked in the scary end of the arena for the first time in nearly a week. That's where the freak-out had occurred. We cantered the whole arena, we rode big looping circles, and even did 15-meter circles, all on both leads.
What a relief. I know I don't have an easy horse to ride, but it's always frustrating when Sydney takes ten giant backward steps. Those weird freak-outs are occurring less and less, but that doesn't make them any more fun to get through.
When we finished our ride on Monday afternoon, Sydney got TONS of hugs and kisses followed by a handful of cookies. He looked pretty pleased with himself, and maybe even a bit surprised. I hope he remembers that feeling for the rest of the fall.
The Pied Piper being SmartPak.
You might remember that I reviewed SmartPak's Piper Breeches a few weeks ago. I didn't love them, but I was considering re-ordering a different size.
As it happened, SmartPak had another sale the day I posted my review. I just couldn't quit on those breeches; I liked everything about them except the fit. My plan was to order one size down and get them in the long. I am not sure why I expected this strategy to work for me. If something doesn't fit in my standard size, tweaking with the sizing rarely works. And a long? I'm 5'3" - no one has ever suggested I need a taller size.
I couldn't help myself though. I really wanted those breeches to be The One. I placed my order for a pair of Military Green Piper breeches in a 28L and kept my fingers crossed. When they arrived, I laid the 30s on my bed and placed the 28Ls over the top see how they compared. As expected, the 28s were about two inches narrower at the waist and about two inches longer.
As I slipped them on, I prayed fervently that the fit would be right. To my surprise, they did fit a lot better, but that pesky sag was still an issue. It wasn't horrible, no belt was needed, but I did feel the need to do the occasional hitch up.
The color was really nice, almost a deep forest color - I guess military green (more brown than green though) is the best way to describe them. I liked them … a lot. Since jeggings are so popular right now, I knew I could get away with wearing them to work, and what better way to test them out than by wearing them ALL DAY LONG.
I paired them with a pair of black boots (fashion, not riding), a swooped-front, clingy black cardigan, and a white cami/tank. It was a really cute outfit that garnered several compliments. And you know, once I got to work, I found the breeches to be really comfortable. They needed to be hiked up every now and then, but so do lots of the jeans that I wear.
When I got home after work, I switched out of my top and kicked off my fashion boots. I threw on my paddock boots and was off to the barn. If nothing else, wearing your breeches to work is definitely a time saver. I had a lesson that afternoon, so those breeches got a full trial - all day at work followed by a ride. I wore them for more than twelve hours that day.
I liked them so much, aside from the occasional need to hike them up, that I got on the phone with SmartPak that night and asked what we could do to trade in the already worn and laundered 30s. I know SmartPak says they take anything back, but there is some fine print. Since they can't resell them, they offered me a partial credit. We negotiated the credit based on what I had paid, which I considered fair.
The credit was in my account before I could even return the larger pair of breeches. I packaged them up and sent them off, and then I re-ordered the anthracite with electric coral - they were just so darned cute, and then I went ahead and bought the navy with teal. I know. I am shaking my head in embarrassment; I don't know what came over me.
Can you hear that? I am sure it is a lilting tune from a flute that I hear ...
Er … metal shoes?
Given that I spend way, way, WAY more on my ponies' shoes than I do on my own footwear, it's not surprising that I see horseshoes as valuable objects that deserve respect.
I mentioned the other day that I have moved to a new school. My last school didn't recognize a student of the month, but happily, this one does. The first student of the month passed without me being there.
When I realized what a great group of students I have this year, I decided that I wanted to honor their achievement of being THE STUDENT OF THE MONTH with a tangible trophy. And of course, upon what do we (equestrians) place a high value? Good feet of course. No hoof, no horse and all that.
I asked my farrier, the World's Greatest if you'll remember, if he wouldn't mind leaving my boys' old footwear when he finished his work. To my surprise, and delight, he left me a stack of brand new horseshoes. I immediately set to work planning on how to turn a piece of gray metal into a trophy.
I bought some red spray paint (had to show ID), a black paint pen (had to show ID AGAIN!), and a roll of jute string. I spent two afternoons spray painting my horseshoes - fronts and backs. Later in the week, I attached the jute string and then used the paint pen to label my new Student of the Month trophies.
My school is named after a gentleman named Hart, and our mascot is a Hawk - we are the Hart Hawks. Our students of the month earn the Hawk Hero award - cute, huh? In my class, we are stallions so I decided to combine the two by painting "Hawk Hero" on a red horseshoe. Our school colors are red and black. I can't believe how cute these little trophies turned out! Take a look.
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%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: