From Endurance to Dressage
I am back! Sorry for the sudden radio silence. I knew we were going north to visit my dad and stepmom, but I just didn't get around to saying so. And then by time we were back, all sorts of other craziness happened, so I just decided to wait until today to start telling those stories. Here's the first one.
My dad and stepmom live in southern Humboldt County which is a solid 500 miles from Bakersfield. It took us nine hours to get there and ten to get back home. We took the dogs with us, so there were a lot of potty stops.
Humboldt County is very rural, especially where my parents live. Heading south from Humboldt County, the nearest stop light is more than an hour away. Heading north, it's a forty-five minute drive to find a stoplight. There are no stoplights if you go west, and the nearest one to the east is over a mountain range and several hours away.
It had been more than a decade since we'd been to my dad and stepmom's house - long story, so it was fun to see all of the things they've done. My dad is very handy; with some help, he built the house. He felled all of the trees to open up the building site, and he's carved out more and more space over the years.
He has since planted beautiful trees, an orchard, and several gardens. There's a fish pond with a swinging bench, bird feeders, and a beautiful stone wall.
Below the house my dad built a small barn for the chickens and his goats. Since they live in a rainforest, things grow like crazy. He uses the goats to keep the brush under control, and they do a pretty good job of keeping the undergrowth from taking over. On the days that they don't graze on the property, my dad feeds them hay with peanuts in the shell as treats. They LOVE peanuts.
The goats live with a bunch of chickens, and of course they have an excellent watch dog in Rusty, a Heeler mix. Rusty keeps the wild turkeys back as they too have repeatedly tried to take over.
The house is a split level, so on one side it is two stories high, but on the other, the west side, it's three stories. The bottom story houses a garage, root cellar, and my dad's game room. He has a dart board, TV, and a very fancy pool table. While my stepmom is a good sport, she doesn't enjoy being down there as much as my dad does, so to have two new players - my husband and me, was a real treat.
We spent one whole afternoon laughing our butts off as we went head to head in a mini pool tournament. My dad and husband made a team while my stepmom and I banded together. It would seem like an unfair match up, but the boys played according to one set of rules while my stepmom and I were allowed to play slop pool. We won three out of four games, so we held our own. Not that I wanted to lose, boy, do I hate losing, but when we did, we were having so much fun that it didn't really matter.
We had a great visit, and it was certainly over-due. My dad is already asking that we come back for Christmas. If we all lived even just a bit closer, making the drive would be easier, but as it is, I don't think we'll make it back in 2020. If anyone has a plane they'd like to rent out, my parents would be super appreciative. Until then, our next visit will more than likely have to wait until 2021.
More on the rest of the week tomorrow...
I am not in the know. I don't follow people. I don't use my Instagram account. I don't even have a Twitter account. So it should come as no surprise that I am the last human on Earth to have discovered The Home Edit on Netflix. I don't watch much TV, but on a rare afternoon where I did sit down for a few minutes, I binge watched The Home Edit.
I am an organizer. My house is always clean and tidy. I literally can't function if things are stacked, strewn, or piled. I also suffer from a healthy amount of obsessive compulsivity. If the dishes are clean and dry, I can't walk by without putting them away. Mail is sorted as soon as it arrives in the house. Clothes are either dirty in the laundry basket or folded and put away.
That doesn't mean my house can't use a bit of The Home Edit's touch though. After watching the show, I started "editing" various drawers and cupboards around my house. I always tell my husband that I'll never have an item for the Antiques Roadshow because I am a minimalist when it comes to the house. If it's not necessary, out it goes. That's probably because I am a mental hoarder with plenty of junk stored in my brain's cracks and crevices.
The one room in my house that hadn't been updated since we moved here four years ago, was my office. I just hadn't found new office furniture that suited my personality and taste. And then suddenly, I saw the two pieces that I needed, a cabinet and a desk. I ordered both and then set to work reorganizing my triple-door closet.
I found containers for the loose things, grouped things into categories, and labeled the boxes. THE has much more attractive containers, but function was more important to me than form. Clea and Joanna have some very cute products though.
I am terrible about taking "before" photos, mostly because I usually start by moving this and replacing that, and before I know it, the whole project is done. That's what happened with the bookshelf and cabinet. I emptied the bookshelf before taking a photo. Oops! In the end, I replaced the bookshelf, one my dad and I built thirty years ago (!), with the new cabinet.
I also forgot to take a picture of the old desk, but I did find a recent photo showing at least the top. The desk was nearly fifteen years old and slowly falling apart. The new desk is not as spacious, but the minimalist aspect is less distracting, allowing me to better concentrate.
Without the hutch and old desk, my wall looked pretty bare, so I also ordered a canvas from Speedy's last show. I've been wanting it for several months, but I didn't have a good place to hang it. With the hutch gone, the perfect place was created. It doesn't look very big in the picture, but it's 24" x 36." It gives me the feeling of looking out a window.
The one remaining project is to get a large, framed picture of Izzy. I replaced some of the photos on the cabinet to include one of him, but he needs to be on my wall as well. I just need to get a good quality photo that doesn't come from a Pivo screenshot.
I need to schedule a photo shoot ...
Earlier in the week I wrote about Izzy's Show Kit and about the new pad I wanted to order for schooling at shows. Almost immediately two of you jumped in and gave me some great tips. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is that it provides such a great opportunity to connect with other riders. All of us have an experience or tip to share no matter our level of riding.
One of the things I mentioned wanting to try was lavender. Lucy, a rider that I met at Horse Expo in Sacramento, mentioned that she thought lavender was banned from USEF sanctioned events. We chatted via Messenger, but because of her ideas, I started investigating ways to utilize lavender that didn't involve actually putting any on Izzy's skin. That search led me to HorseScents.
HorseScents makes a product that attaches to a halter or noseband of the horse's bridle. Attached to the strap is a pouch filled with dried lavender. They offer a variety of designs and black or brown leather. Since the lavender doesn't come in contact with the skin, it won't show up on a blood draw or urine sample. Of course, if attached to the bridle, it would need to be removed before entering the show ring. Each pouch lasts for approximately a month. You can sign up for an auto-refill, but the re-fills are a bit pricey. The whole pouch is expensive actually.
Before spending a hundred bucks and then another $35 each month, I need to see if Izzy even responds to lavender. I'm thinking about giving the whole thing a try via a much cheaper, if slightly messier, option. I want to buy a fleece noseband, although I think I might already have one, and a small vial of lavender essential oil. A few drops on the noseband might tell me whether Izzy likes lavender or not. If he does, the ScentStrap might really be what we need.
So thank you, Lucy!
The second great tip I got came from Nikki. After reading my post about the out-of-stock LeMieux pad, she instantly shared that Schneiders had the pad in stock for a cheaper price! Not only was it cheaper, shipping was free, and I earned a $20 gift certificate to spend on a later purchase. Didn't I just say I wanted to buy a fleece noseband and an ear bonnet to muffle sound? Needless to say, the pad is on its way to Bakersfield, California, arriving sometime between November 30th and December3.
Thank you, Nikki!
And Schneiders? No worries, I can wait.
I wrote about that here.
At the show Izzy and I did at SCEC in October, I made a terrible goof. On Friday afternoons when I do a lesson or schooling ride, I always bring a schooling pad. I don't use my show pads. Usually, my horse has already had a bath, but even with a bath, show pads start to look dirty even after just one ride. To keep my pads looking nice for show day, I simply school with a non-show pad.
As I was saddling for our Friday lesson with Amelia Newcomb, I gave Izzy a good looking over and about died from embarrassment. The pad I had packed for my schooling ride was filthy. It was dingy and sweat stained. I don't know what I was thinking. I asked the rider across from me what she thought, and she agreed that it was pretty bad. I could have run back up to my trailer for a show pad, but my lesson was due to start within minutes.
As I stood pondering what to do, my neighbor offered me her schooling pad. My first instinct was to politely decline, but then I looked at how horrible Izzy looked in his dirty pad. I asked her if she were sure, and she honestly sounded as though the offer was genuine. I gratefully accepted. As I placed it on Izzy's back, a huge smile crossed my face; it was GORGEOUS! In fact, it's a pad I had been looking at buying.
The pad was a LeMieux dressage pad half lined with Merino wool. Everything about that pad is perfect. It has a very steep profile, perfect for high withered horses. The fabric at the billets is sturdy and positioned to actually protect the pad beneath the saddle's billets. The dee ring attachments, which I would normally cut off, are contoured and shaped nicely. The Merino Wool underside is luxurious without being bulky. The rest of the underside is a soft flannel that actually polished Izzy's coat.
As we took our lesson with Amelia, I felt like I was actually showing Izzy off. That pad looked spectacular on him, and I am sorry I didn't get any photos. As soon as I got home from the show, I looked up the pad to check on its price. It's pretty expensive at Dover - $185.95, but it's a lot cheaper at my favorite online store, Riding Warehouse. They have it listed for $149.95. Forty bucks cheaper!
The pad comes in black, gray, navy, and white. Unfortunately, all but the gray pad are currently backordered. I've signed up to be notified when it's back in stock, but I have a feeling that if it arrives in December, it will quickly sell out for Christmas. It's definitely on my wish list. It sounds funny to buy a schooling show pad, but I think we really need one. And besides, I could use it at clinics, too.
Dear Santa ...
Izzy won't be going to another show until February or March. I have until then to get a few things figured out. The first thing I am working on is getting a better connection from his booty to my hand. It's not like that's a brand new idea or anything, but I am just digging in a little deeper.
Seeing how he behaved at the two shows we did this fall has given me a lot of information. Things that were little at home turned out to be big at the show. It turns out that the movements themselves are not what I need to be schooling. Yes, he needs a clean simple change for Second Level, but that doesn't really matter if he's going to be a giraffe.
Fixing the giraffe moments at home is my new priority. Over the past few days, I've added baby spurs and upped my determination level to a slightly higher setting. I told Izzy, very politely, this is your space. This is the box in which you will work. You are not permitted to leave this box unless I give you express permission. The conversation has gone over just about as I thought it might, not exactly great.
Being in "the box" means that he has to step forward from the hind end, and his head is not allowed to be anywhere near mine. The spurs are to insist on sideways when he tries to be a giraffe. It's really hard to be a giraffe when you're leg yielding. On Sunday, I had him leg yield from quarter line to centerline back to quarter line about 4 billion times. It's amazing how non-giraffe-like one gets when one is moving sideways.
I am also preparing Izzy's Show Kit. Speedy's Show Kit included Quic Silver Whitening Shampoo and a cooler for keeping warm when he was wet. Those was the only "special" things he needed at shows. Keeping Izzy clean and bright is not really an issue. His brown coat hides all kinds of things, and if he gets dirty, he doesn't mind being wet as he's never cold.
Izzy's Show Kit will include a tube of UlcerGard. One tube holds four doses which will work perfectly. Until he shows me differently, he'll get a dose on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. In his kit, I'll also need a ton of Medical Report Forms. Omeprazole is not on USEF's prohibited substance list, but the Technical Delegate (TD) at the last show - a TD I respect, said that reporting it is the safest course of action as you never know when your horse might be selected for drug testing. There's always a chance that one of the ingredients in the tube might pop up on the drug report.
The next thing slated for Izzy's Show Kit will be two tubes of Grand Meadows Grand Calm; each tube contains one to two doses. None of the ingredients are on USEF's prohibited substance list, so I feel pretty safe with this one. According to the package, it's essentially a comprehensive blend of nutrients including Magnesium Oxide, Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Chelate, Theanine, Thiamine, and Organic Magnesium. For now, magnesium isn't performance enhancing although technically, it is used to affect the mood of the horse, something that USEF disallows.
USEF strives to eliminate any drugs and medications that enhance the performance of the horse or affect the mood of the horse. The difficulty is that there are MANY therapeutic uses for a lot of the drugs listed in USEF's guidelines. Magnesium is not banned, and since it is something that horses actually require for proper nerve and muscle function, I am not going to feel as though I am cheating by giving it to him. Izzy's daily vitamin supplement already contains a good amount of magnesium, but maybe a bit more will help him when he's stressed.
Currently, I am on the hunt for a small tackle box type of container to store Izzy's goodies in. I am also looking at maybe adding some essential oils like lavender. Speedy had his own preferences at shows - he liked a 5:30 a.m. jog. I just haven't had Izzy at enough shows to learn what he needs or wants at a show to be happy. Now that I know that he needs to be a bit pampered, I am on the hunt for anything that even smacks of pampering.
Whatever it takes ...
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%: