From Endurance to Dressage
I really don't want to review the whole year. The first one I did at the end of 2011 was kind of fun; the second one I did for 2012 took me days and days to write, so I am not going to do it again.
Frankly, I just DO too much to report it in a short, monthly summary. Or, at least it feels like I am always doing something newsworthy. For me, there's a story in everything that happens at the barn, even when it's just a regular ride. So instead of the monthly recap, I am just going to give you some year-end totals and stats.
Here are My 5 Year-in-Review Things:
First, how much did I spend this year ($18,932) as compared to last year ($21,101)? The good news is, less! I didn't keep my accounting as carefully as in 2012, but it's still pretty accurate. While it appears that I spent less in 2013, it's only because I paid off my horse trailer which means I spent $2,800 less in the Horse Trailer category, but only $2,179 less overall.
There were a few surprises on the list. Look at my vet costs - barely $700? That's for two horses! They get their teeth done annually, vaccinations, fecal counts, chiropractic work, etc. I guess we were just lucky this year that no one got sick or injured.
I also think it's interesting that my lesson costs were so much higher than my show costs. I showed at five USDF shows this year; but I obviously spent a lot of time with trainers and clinicians, too.
So how many shows and clinics did I do? I always keep a list on My Show Results tab which you can easily check out, but here's the run down:
With Speedy I did …
With Sydney I did …
To list it another way …
I am not sure how helpful this chart is, but I am including it for those who like visual aids. Obviously I ride most of the time with my regular trainer, JL. I also rode with two clinicians this year as well as with two other trainers for a total of 65 lessons.
JL was on vacation in September which is why I rode with her only once. Most months I ride with her once a week, but in the summer, I tried for twice a week, but with my hectic show schedule, we just couldn't get the intended 8 lessons done. I find it interesting that I got a lot of instruction during the month of December; 8 lessons in total!
Rides on My Own
I had planned to tally just rides on my own without a trainer, but it got too tedious to itemize so instead, I counted every time that I rode whether it was at a show, with a trainer, or just on my lonesome. With one exception: if I was at a show, I counted it as one ride even though I probably untacked and rode several times during the day.
I work "full time," vacation with my husband, get tired, attend meetings, and have the occasional pedicure. Even with all that craziness, I managed to ride my horses a total of 358 times during 2013. I rode Speedy G 171 times, and Sydney 187 times.
Even more surprising to me was the number of non-riding days: 109! I feel like I ride nearly every day, but in reality, I only rode 70% of the year. What I find even more interesting is that I rode those 358 times on only 256 days; that's a lot of two-a-days!
We went to Central America for 11 days in June which explains the large number of non-riding days in that month.
Speedy was lame for two weeks in October due to an abscess (?) which explains his limited time under saddle.
Speedy was ridden more at the beginning of the year because I showed him through July, but after that, it was more about Sydney.
I am sure you're wondering how I know all of this. I keep a calendar at the barn, and before I leave each day, I note what I did, who I rode, where, and any other tidbit that seems interesting. If someone seemed off, bucked like crazy, or was particularly mellow, I note that too. It's an easy way for me to keep track of both horses' health and riding schedules.
In the End
I am very disappointed in Sydney's year. Until just now, I didn't realize how many times he left the barn for some kind of field trip. I showed him six times, and while he did show improvement, it was ever-so-slight. I also took him to a Ride-a-Test, two clinics, a fox hunt, and an away trail ride. This means he's left the property in the trailer for activities eleven times this year! Hmmm …
I really don't know what my plans are for him in 2014. Sometimes I think I should cut my losses and sell him, but then I think about how much I am learning by riding him. I know I am a much better rider by struggling with him than I would be without him. Am I having tons of fun doing it? No, not really, but so far it has been worth it.
As disappointed as I am in Sydney's year, I'm very pleased with the year that Speedy had. We started out struggling to crack 60% at Training Level, but ultimately, we rocked it with scores as high as 67% at USDF shows. We finished the show season with a Championship neck ribbon and the confidence to move on to First Level in 2014.
I am on the verge of one those huge leaps forward in my feel, and I can sense that it's just about to click into place.
It started with that clinic I did with Sydney in October and has continued through my work with JL and Christian Schacht. I am right on the edge of knowing when I am about to pull back instead of letting the horse reach forward.
I had an unbelievably good ride on Speedy the other day. We worked on tear drops, voltes, leg yields, and even some pretty fine extensions. The whole while, I focused on giving with my hands and asking, asking, asking with my inside leg. We finally had some show worthy First Level work.
And then I rode him the next day and it all went to hell in a hand basket. I was pulling back. A lot.
So we took a walk break, and I refocused and went back to work. Instead of pulling back to get him to slow down, I just did voltes over and over and used the corners of the arena. I finally get what they mean when they say to use the corner to rebalance your horse. I also really focused on resisting with my core to slow him down.
We finished up with some decent work, not as good as the day before, but definitely improved. Yesterday when I rode, Speedy was the most round, softest, and willing that he's ever been. For the first time ever he gave me a loooong stretchy trot with a lifted back. He was perfectly balanced and maintained an even rhythm. It was divine.
Things were a bit more dramatic with Sydney. He had a meltdown at home, which is pretty rare these days. Rather than pulling back, which is what I desperately wanted to do, I planted my left hand at the withers and just let him go. As long as he was going in a circle, I figured that he couldn't run off with me. He did get away once or twice, but it was no big deal.
By planting my left hand, I was free to soften with my right without feeling the need to actually stop him. While tracking left, my planted inside hand maintains the bend; when we track right, I am free to really work the right rein without him grabbing the left and bolting.
When I rode him yesterday, I did more of the same, but I was rewarded with a horse who started really focusing on the rhythm I wanted who then volunteered the right lead canter. And it was a nice canter.
This is all a bunch of rambling, I know, but I can really feel some big puzzle pieces shifting around. I just about have it, and when I do, I know those pieces are going to snap together tightly.
Um … not really.
I have no idea how to tie a stock tie which is really odd for someone who has shown at more than 30 rated shows! How is that possible you ask? Velcro. Yup. I have two very lovely ties that simply velcro around the neck. One is not so lovely any more as it's been through several show seasons, but the other is quite nice and looks very good under my coat.
See? The tie looks quite nice and no one can even tell that it's the dorky equivalent of a clip on. Until I take my coat off. Then I am missing that lovely splay of folds and fabric that are just so quintessential dressage.
So a few weeks ago I ordered the tie below. Hmm … was my reaction. I ordered a medium, but I think it was too big. It just didn't hang quite right. It could also be that I am a bit of an idiot and can't even make a ready-tied stock tie work.
And then came the Blogger Gift Exchange. I decided that maybe someone else could pick out a stock tie that I might like so I put a tie on my wish list. Many thanks to Appy Does Dressage for picking out a tie that will actually work! (With some practice, I am sure.)
Even though Hubby was hungry and I was supposed to be cooking dinner, I pulled out the tie (it had just been delivered) and the directions and set to work tying my very first big girl tie. Some time later, I realized that hubby already had dinner going and the tie was nowhere near "tied."
I finally gave up and asked Hubby for help. He put the tie on himself (it was really quite funny) and showed me how a man ties a business suit tie (quite sexy to watch in my opinion). Part way through his demonstration, I explained that while the first part looked right, we were missing a step.
He then proceeded to study the directions and attempted to tie the tie for me. He finally admitted that the directions were screwy and went back to cooking dinner while I got on YouTube to find a tutorial on stock ties.
There are many videos from which to choose, so I picked one at random and tried to follow along. Hubby was watching over my shoulder offering suggestions. Right away we realized that we had been missing a crucial step; the hole in the center of the tie has a purpose. Oops. Once we figured out how to run the long end through the hole and then back down, the tie started to make a lot more sense!
We rewound the video that shows the first knot at least a dozen times. Hubby finally figured out what the girl was doing and showed me. After that however, we had to rewind over and over to get the next part. I have to give Hubs a ton of credit. He has never, ever in his life seen a stock tie, so he didn't even know what the finished product was supposed to look like, but even so, he was able to figure out the second knot.
I love the tie, and I am thrilled with it, but I need to spend a lot of time practicing that knot. I can't wait to actually wear it this next show season.
But seriously people, how embarrassing is it to have your husband explain how to tie a stock tie?
I got some really cool horsey gifts this year. Two I asked for, but the rest were just what I needed without knowing that I needed them!
You already know about the stock tie from Appy Does Dressage. You'll see it on someday when I get better at tying it. I've done some practice and it's getting better, but I hate taking selfies so you'll have to wait for a real photo op!
A new reader, B.C., offered me a nice gift, too. She lives very near to where I grew up, so I think she felt a bit of a kinship with me; it's a lightly populated area. Anyway, she had recently purchased a new helmet from Stateline Tack and received a $10.00 e-card with her purchase. She knew she wasn't going to spend it so she sent it my way.
I had that puppy spent within about 2 minutes. Stateline Tack has excellent prices and while they aren't known for their dressage tack, they do have a fairly decent selection. I ordered Speedy a new dressage pad. With B.C.'s $10.00 e-card and Stateline's 15% discount, the pad only cost me an additional $16.00. Thanks a ton, B.C.
I gave Hubby a wish list this year like always, but I never know for sure if he's going with my suggestions or if he's going to wing it. He did a little of both this year. We have a door at the cabin that swings shut, so for the past 8 or 9 years we've propped it open with a small waste paper basket. Hubby surprised me with a horsey themed door stopper. Cool!
Hubby stuck to the list for the next two gifts; an Embrazio Curva belt (I wrote about it here) and a pair of Roeckle show gloves - ooh la la! These are the nicest gloves; I school in a black pair but couldn't justify paying that much for a pair that I'll wear only periodically. Since I've ridden the heck out of my black pair, I know the show pair will last me forever.
And finally, my barn owners surprised me with a gift that I had no idea I needed or wanted! For the last two years they've given me a Dover gift card which is a totally awesome gift in and of itself, but this year, they added these blue things...
The cones and meter tape were mine already. The T-Square things and rope are new. I am sure you're wondering for what on Earth I could need those things. Simple: making a dressage court that isn't a (non-right angled) parallelogram!
Well, maybe not that bad, but it is a PAIN to rebuild the court once it's been dismantled for the tractor. My "court" is just a series of poles laid out in a rough rectangle, but I do try and get it as accurately sized as possible. I use my meter tape to get it an official 20-meters wide, if not the required 60-meters long. The entire arena is maybe 60-meters long so I only have about 50 meters for the length.
With the new tools, I got my court VERY square, and it will now take me a fraction of the time to do it. What a clever gift!
Thanks again, Santa! Now for my upcoming birthday ...
I may only get to see Jaime Osbrink once or twice a year, but when I do, I am reminded of how fantastic he really is.
Jaime recently finished all of his testing and is now a Certified Journeyman Farrier, the highest certification offered by the American Farrier Association.
Both of my boys adore Jaime and nuzzle him while he works. When he's not dispensing treats, they happily fall asleep. Sydney was so sleepy while having his toes done that his ears drooped almost completely downward, his eyelids hung lazily, and even his lips sagged. Maybe I need Jaime to coach me during shows because he sure knows how to relax that OTTB!
Jaime hot shoes my boys, which is a process that never ceases to amaze me. Neither boy even flicks an ear while the shoe is pressed to their feet. How Jaime isn't covered in burns is beyond me. Not all horses are as quiet as mine.
Jaime shared with me that both boys had very light wear on their front feet, but much more wear on their hinds. This prompted me to ask if it was a case of my boys carrying more weight on their hind ends. Jaime confirmed that this could very likely be the reason for the extra wear on the hind shoes. So yah for us!
I also asked Jaime if Speedy showed any marks (bruises, holes, etc.) on his hoof from the mysterious lameness we had in October. Jaime did notice that it looked as though Speedy had blown a teeny tiny abscess through the front of his hoof at the coronet band - see photo below. He picked the scab off before I got there, but I could clearly see the spot.
Speedy was lame to sound over a two week period, and I suspected an abscess. I never saw it blow out though, so I wasn't sure. It seems as though I missed the tell-tale sign.
Speedy's feet looked just as handsome as Sydney's when Jaime was finished.
Before Jaime left, he gave me a bag of super delicious treats that his wife had made and this totally awesome coffee mug. It's my new favorite. It's filled with my morning tea right now. Thanks, Jaime, WGF!
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%: