From Endurance to Dressage
I both love and hate Black Friday. I love it when I actually need something. I hate it when I don't. November and December tend to be pretty lean months because I am usually trying to recover financially from the show season. Added to that is Christmas. We don't over-do it at our house, but we enjoy giving gifts which means that for me, Black Friday doesn't get to be much of a thing.
This year though, there was one thing that I really did need and another that I am going to need sooner than later. Both come from the Riding Warehouse whose Black Friday sale ran from the 26th - 29th. The discount was a hefty 25%, but disappointingly, it only applied to some products, none of which were the ones I needed. I can almost always get a 15% discount at RW, but that extra 10% can really help on a more expensive product, and it makes a cheap product feel free. Too bad it didn't work for me.
The first thing that I truly did need was a new bucket of vitamins for Izzy. I hate to spend money on vitamins since they're not something you can actually see working, but I feel an obligation to "support" his physical health with at least something. Izzy gets a top quality grass hay (free choice), several pounds of beet pulp, several more pounds of rice bran, a cup of milled flaxseed, and GastroElm, a supplement that helps his ulcer-prone gut. Does he need a vitamin/mineral supplement? He certainly won't die without it, but it can't hurt.
Over the years, I've tried a variety of vitamin/mineral supplements, including Platinum Performance, but none of them did anything obvious, so I've settled on a product that's less expensive while still covering the major vitamin/minerals, Horse Guard Vitamin/Mineral Supplement Pellets. It seems to be a pretty well rounded formula, and Izzy eats it happily. It's also in a very easy to feed pellet which means none of it gets blown away in the breeze. The 24 pound bucket runs $79.95 for a 192 supply. That works out to $0.42 a day. Sadly, Riding Warehouse's Black Friday deal didn't apply - whomp, whomp, so I had to use my regular 15% discount which brought the price of the bucket down to $67.96 ($0.35 a day). Since that is what I always pay, it didn't feel like I saved anything.
Next up on my list was a new pair of schooling boots. I am either really hard on boots or I must not be as offended at replacing them as most people. I need new tall boots about every other year. My Ariat Maestros, now eleven years old, are reserved for shows which means I need a second pair for daily riding. Quite a few years ago I landed on the Tuffrider line of boots and haven't looked back. I've owned at least four pair of them.
The first pair I bought ran around $180. They've gone up in price since then, but they're still just affordable enough that I don't mind beating them up. Riding Warehouse has the Tuffrider Belmont Dress Boots listed on sale for $201.13. Their regular price seems to be a steep $278.20. I checked around and found that I can also get them at Chewy's for right around $200, so the "sale" price doesn't seem like a real sale price.
Unfortunately, the 25% Black Friday deal didn't apply to the boots either nor did my regular 15% discount. My current pair is still going strong although I did have to replace the zippers this past spring. While I really wanted to buy them, there wasn't any reason to spend $200 before I needed to, so I put them back.
This is totally not a need, but with the hope of 25% off it's hard not to throw in one of these and two of those. I have frequently written about my love affair with socks. I LOVE socks. I have drawers FULL of socks. I have socks with individual toes, booties, wool, knee high, fluffy, rag, sports, thin, thick ... you name it, I have them. Besides just daily socks, I also have a drawerful of riding socks. In the past, I had gotten a little over zealous about rounding out an order by throwing in a pair or two of socks. I eventually noticed that I had piles of brand new socks. Socks that were still hooked on their little mini hangers. Socks that were still attached with plastic. I quit buying socks for a while.
Eventually, my socks started to wear out. Every time a hole appeared in the heel, I tossed them in the trash and brought a new pair into the rotation. Eventually, my sock nest egg was gone. All the socks in my drawer are currently part of the rotation. I feel justified in beginning a new sock stockpile. My current favorites are the Noble Equestrian Over the Calf Peddies and the C4s. Riding Warehouse doesn't seem to carry the OTCP anymore (WHAT?!?!?), but they do have a selection of the C4s. I've had quite a few pairs of these and love them, so two new pair are headed my way. The socks ended up costing $7.96 a pair, 20% cheaper than the original $9.95.
The Black Friday event was something I was looking forward to. I even got up early on Friday morning and raced to my computer as though it were Christmas morning. After throwing my picks in the cart and seeing that they weren't going to be any cheaper, it felt like getting coal in my stocking. I did poke around the website hoping to find something on sale, but it wasn't meant to be.
I wish I could splurge on some new breeches - oh man, do I need to freshen up my current pile. I would also like a new dressage pad, a new bridle for Izzy, and maybe a few new riding shirts. Alas, wanting and needing are just not the same thing no matter how good the Black Friday deals may seem (or in this case, don't seem). I hope you found some awesome deals this weekend because I sure didn't. I'll have to be content with a slightly discounted bucket of vitamins and a new pair of socks.
And hey, really, new socks aren't something to complain about.
It was only by chance that I actually remembered on the correct day. Most of the time, I completely forget about it. I always remember that I bought Izzy in November during Thanksgiving, but the exact date always slips by me. So, in celebration of Izzy joining my family on November 29, 2014, here is one favorite photo from each year that we've been together.
2014 - December
2015 - September
2016 - March
2017 - March
2018 - April
2019 - August
2020 - September
2021 - April
It's been a lot of fun, Imperioso. Here's to the next seven years!
Begin out of the saddle for any length of time always knocks me a bit off kilter. Whether it's because we've been on vacation or a horse is recovering from an injury or I've been sick, it always takes me a few days to remember where I left off. This most recent break has been a little tougher than usual to come back from because my last ride was at a show. That means my last few rides were not aboard a happy, relaxed partner.
The first day I rode after being sick, my goal was not to fall off. I mean that literally. I knew I was pretty weak, and as we all know, Izzy isn't the most reliable of horses. After a three-week break, I worried that he might feel a bit ... fresh. I got on did some walk/trot, and got off, mission accomplished.
The second day, I decided to add in a bit of canter. There were no dramatic moments, but Izzy was tight, hollow, and extremely braced through his poll, neck, and back. Knowing that I didn't have the strength to survive any major spooks, I still tried to insist that he let go through his neck. He never did, but I never lost control either.
By the third ride, I started to remember where we left off. From the moment I sank into the saddle, I started to ask Izzy to let go of the bit and relax his neck. At the mounting block, I asked for flexion and softness, and I didn't quit asking until he finally gave it to me. For the next 30 minutes, that's all I focused on.
At the show we did at the end of October, Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, really pushed me to have confidence in the effectiveness of the tools that he has been giving me. Since they're new to me though, I don't have perfect muscle memory yet. I don't just go to those tools with automaticity. I still have to ask myself, what would Sean say to do here? As I let Izzy trot around, I started a dialogue with myself. Why are you letting him hang on that inside rein? What should you do to get him off of it? Why are you letting him rush onto his forehand? Above all else, keep control!
Rather than let myself feel discouraged, I started to honestly assess my riding. The first thing I did was better control the tempo with my seat. Letting Izzy pick up speed does nothing for his balance. Instead of letting him fall on his forehand, I sat up and imagined picking up his shoulders with my thighs. When he tried to brace against my rein, I over flexed him to the inside and then let it go. With nothing to lean on, he got softer in his neck.
As I started to get him sorted out, my confidence in the choices I was making began to grow. Riding a particular figure stopped being important. Who cares if I make it all the way to M in the leg yield if he's braced through his neck? Instead, I started focusing solely on the quality of his movement, and I made immediate adjustments to get the results I wanted.
It wasn't as though I "fixed" anything, but he did get softer and best of all, nothing escalated. He didn't get anxious or worried, and I finished up with a happy horse. That's when I remembered where we had left off. For now, every ride is about developing his confidence and proving to him that he can trust me to ask only what he is capable of doing. I've been so worried about finding my motivation and getting back on track. Who knew it would be so easy to step right back into the habit?
As Laura Goodenkauf quoted in a recent post, "The secret to getting results that last is to never stop making improvements. It's remarkable what you can build if you just don't stop."
I hope today finds you exactly where you long to be. Spending time with family and friends will fill most of my afternoon, but no day of thanks would be complete without sharing a few moments with my boys, so I'll head out to the ranch this morning for a ride full of thankfulness. Happy Thanksgiving!
Being sick for several weeks was hard, and not just because I felt crummy. I am a goal-oriented, check off the boxes kind of girl. Not being able to check things off a list or reach even tiny goals was really starting to sap my motivation. I teach my students about inertia when we study the solar system. Inertia can be defined as a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. Both Galileo and Newton knew that once moving, a body doesn't stop moving unless acted upon by a force such as friction. COVID was my friction.
I love routine, order, and movement. I rarely lay around doing nothing. The busier I keep myself, the happier I tend to be. In my early 20s, I struggled with feeling overwhelmed by all of the adult chores that I faced each day. In an effort to make life manageable, I determined that before I could sit down for the day, I had to accomplish three tasks at home. At first, those tasks were simple: check the mail, take out the trash, clean up the morning newspaper. Before I knew it, those three tasks became habits, and I began doing three more tasks. Eventually, inertia took over, and my body in motion stayed in motion.
Having spent two weeks laying around trying to recover from COVID, I started to worry that I would never get back my motivation to ride. Even the thought of driving out to the ranch left me feeling exhausted. The first day I did go, all I had the energy to do was put Speedy's new pills in their place. I didn't even go over and look at my boys. I was just too overwhelmed with guilt and fatigue. Instead, I sat on the rail for a few minutes and watched as the ranch owner and neighbor had a lesson. I wouldn't have even done that except that the sun was out, and I felt like a wilted sunflower looking for strength.
That was Thursday. By Saturday, I reminded myself that a body at rest will continue at rest unless something gets it moving again. I gave myself a huge push and determined to do at least one thing out at the ranch. My husband threatened me with all sorts of bodily harm if I overdid it, so I promised to keep things short. All I did was mix buckets and give each each horse a quick groom. I didn't even take them out of their paddocks. I groomed where they stood. And before I knew it a body in motion ...
The next day, I saddled up. I was definitely feeling a bit like I had wet noodles for legs, but I reasoned that the only way to build back my strength was to start working my body. I rode for 16 minutes and only at the walk and trot. The day after that, I rode for 36 minutes with a fair amount of cantering. Since then, I've been picking up my routine; cleaning and filling water troughs, mixing feed, sweeping, grooming, and riding.
Yesterday, I shared some advice from Laura Goodenkauf, head trainer/owner at Laura Goodenkauf Dressage. What she said about habits really resonated with me. Pondering how to restore my equestrian habits while worrying that I will lose my motivation as I recover from being sick has been giving me a certain amount of anxiety. In her article, Laura quoted James Clear, "The bad days are more important than the good days. If you write or exercise or meditate or cook when you don't feel like it, then you maintain the habit. And if you maintain the habit, then all you need is time."
I certainly haven't felt like it, but I am doing it which means all I need is time. I can make that work.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%