So, USDF, thank you!
I don't know if I am simply the last person to discover Your Dressage, but I am sure enjoying it. I am not sure how USDF describes the site, but it feels like a better version of a magazine. It's a dynamic platform, changing all the time, loaded with all kinds of (what we in education call) multi-media text. There are videos, articles, polling questions, Words of the Week, Photos of the Week, and on and on.
Besides the landing page and a link to the USDF website, there are five other topics to browse: Education, Competition, Achievement, Community and Quick Reads. Within in each section, there are tons of articles, videos, and other things related to that general idea. If you haven't checked out the page, you might find it worth your while.
I am not joking when I say that I am quite possibly the last person to appreciate (and even notice) what USDF is sharing. Recently on my radar is USDF's eNews. I never have time to read everything, but I like being able to scroll through quickly to see if there's anything I need to know about. Like yesterday, when I saw the July 2020 "issue," my curiosity was piqued about what's going on in my own region - Region 7. You can obviously read it for yourself, but I was quite proud of how my own Group Member Organization (GMO), the California Dressage Society (CDS), has responded to COVID-19. I know I am lucky to have such an active and enterprising GMO.
As if all that weren't enough, I opened my July/August edition of the USDF Connection to read about a "new" face on the Executive Board, CDS's own Kevin Reinig. His election to the position of Vice-President wasn't news to me of course, California's not that big, but it was great to see someone I know and recognize, representing my interests at the national level. I know Kevin will do a great job.
One last thing. Speedy and I are headed to a CDS/USDF/USEF show this weekend. While I know that many states are probably not allowing equestrian shows to happen, I am ever so grateful that CDS, along with help from both USDF and US Equestrian, has persevered through the governmental red tape in order to provide a safe way for many Californians to still compete this year.
So, USDF, thank you!
I've written about our resident bunny a few different times. She came to us a year ago this spring. Reggie, the ranch handyman, found her abandoned in an apartment complex and brought her to live at the ranch. We thought the rabbit was a he, but we've since had her sexed. She's a she, and I somehow like her better for it. She's proven herself to be quite an independent and resourceful young gal.
In the sixteen months that she's been with us, she's changed quite a bit. She's gotten much larger, and she's grown bolder and also a bit more leery - which is a good thing. A few months ago, I found her three-legged lame. She hates to be picked up, and I every time I do it, our trust balance drops to nearly empty, but it just had to be done. I was so worried that she had suffered a fatal injury and was suffering.
I cautiously scooped her up - she kicked and clawed at me pretty ferociously, but after a moment she went still. I carefully felt all four legs as well as her body. There was no blood nor any other obvious wounds. Whatever had happened to her, a bum leg seemed to be the extent of her injuries. I gently put her back down knowing that she wasn't going to let me touch her again for a quite some time, if ever.
It took a while, but she healed up nicely and eventually forgave me. It doesn't hurt that she's highly food motivated. She comes out to see me on most days, darting between my feet waiting for me to hand her a pile of pellets. Initially, I fed her Speedy's senior feed (no molasses), but since discarding that, she now gets his rice bran pellets. In the beginning, she lived under the pallets in the hay barn and seemed to prefer the alfalfa to anything else. Now, she has made a new home (video below) and seems to prefer the grasses and weeds that grow nearby.
She's quite industrious. She has carved out an extensive system of tunnels all by herself. When she's not working, I've peeked down into her burrow and was surprised to discover that she has several tunnels. We've watched her both claw the dirt loose and use her teeth to loosen it. Then she either kicks it out with her feet, or more interestingly, she pushes it out with her chest.
We've seen her range quite far from her burrow which worries me to no end. Where she lives now, she has plenty of cover to protect her from predators, namely snakes, hawks, owls, and coyotes. When she wanders farther away, there's very little to protect her should a hawk spot her. In fact, sometimes we see her cooling her belly under one of the trucks. If we're sitting in our Equestrian Lounge, she'll pop over to see what we're doing, but she's extremely wary of strangers. She seems to understand that she's pretty vulnerable, but she does trust the ranch owner and myself, at least enough to beg goodies.
Wild rabbits, Lepus sylvaticus, typically live only one to two years while domestic rabbits, like Oryctolagus cuniculus, can live eight to fourteen years. (source - I know virtually nothing about rabbits.) Since our bunny doesn't live in a hutch, she probably won't survive as long as her breeding would suggest, but we think she's pretty happy none-the-less. If too many days go by without seeing her, I get really anxious and worry that she's been preyed upon, but then she reappears.
She has quality shelter, access to plentiful food and water, and the larger predators don't tend to come too close to the barn. We hope she's with us for many more years.
I've definitely written about the Haas line of brushes a number of times, but really, I like them that much. Of course, take this all with a grain of salt as I am not a groomer extraordinaire. I tend to go with a "less is more strategy," but if you like a pretty simple routine, we're on the same page. I started with purchasing the Fellglanzburste, and went from there.
Right now, the Fellglanzburste and the Diva, the one with the lambswool center, live in my trailer, reserved for showing. I keep a grooming bag in my trailer so that I don't have to load and unload one more thing. The Diva is just too soft for everyday use, especially on a dirty coat. I did get to use it at a show two weeks ago, but I have to admit, it wasn't as awesome as I thought it was going to be.
The brush is amazing; don't get me wrong. And in the past, even just last year, it would have been as wonderful as I had hoped. With Speedy's PPID (AKA Cushing's Disease), his coat has become just a little rougher than when he was younger. His summer coat used to be ultra fine and soft. He would be nearly naked with his black skin visible beneath those super short hairs. Now, he's not so sleek and smooth, but it was lovely to use on his face and neck. He seemed to enjoyed the feel, but for the rest of his body, a super fine brush worked just as well.
Besides those two brushes, the Fellglanzburste and the Diva, I now have four others that I use every day, one of which has become a surprising favorite. For Speedy, I start every grooming session with the Striegel Curry Comb. Since his coat is rougher than in year's past, this thing has proven to be a real time saver. Even in July, he's still shedding, so it makes quick work of the loosest hairs and ground in dirt. When Izzy's coat was a little longer, he enjoyed it as well, but now that he's fully shed out, I don't use it on him unless he's really crusty. I think his thin coat makes it a little uncomfortable.
After the Striegel, I pull out the Schimmel. It's the Schimmel that I am most surprised about. This thing is stiff, stiff, stiff, but Speedy doesn't mind it at all. I can't touch Izzy with it right now, but it works wonders on Speedy's stains. It claims to work well on removing stains from white coats, and initially I was doubtful, but after using it for several months, I can say that it is absolutely the truth - that is if your horse can tolerate the stiff coconut fiber bristles. In the photo below, you can see how much dirt it lifted even after the Striegel.
Once I've scrubbed out the deep dirt, I switch to the Parcour. Both horses like this brush a lot. It's nearly identical to the Fellglanzeburste, but it scrubs just a tiny bit deeper. Often times, I start with this brush when I am grooming Izzy, especially now that he's shed out. But even in the wintertime, this is a great all around brush. It's soft, but it brushes through the hairs instead of just gliding over the top. Even after using the curry and the coconut fiber brushes, you can still see the fine dirt the Parcour has lifted.
I finish both horses with the Diamond Gloss. Speedy really enjoys this brush. He will often swing his head around to look at what I am doing. It must offer a different sensation than the others because he notices when I've switched to this brush. The Diamond Gloss isn't as soft as the Diva of course, but it is still pretty soft. It works great on the face and is perfect for lifting off those last specks of dust. I also like using it to smooth out their tails as well.
If you're interested in the Haas line of brushes, it can be really hard to choose with which ones to start. Initially, I found the whole line quite confusing. Now that I've purchased a half dozen of them, I've come to realize that many of them are repeated; they just fit in a different "line." One way to identify which line you're looking at is by checking out the back handle of the brush. They can be ordered to sort of create a set. Some are colorful, some have the diamond back, some have the straps, some are longer, some have plain wooden backs, and so on.
Myself, I prefer the oval brushes with a strap, and I like horsehair bristles. If you read the descriptions of two brushes, and they sound very similar, it's probably because they only differ stylistically. Of course the composition of the fibers might also be different. Some have horsehair bristles, others are from natural fibers like coconut, while still others might be synthetic.
I noticed that Haas now has hoof picks. I may have to toss one of those in my cart the next time I place an order. I haven't seen another brush that I need, but I am keeping the option to add to my collection. You just never know!
Waiting for my latest scores to become official on USDF Scores was a brutal wait. The website was super glitchy all last week, so who knows? My scores might have been official sooner, but I couldn't see them. As I was eating lunch on Friday afternoon, I decided to hit refresh one more time knowing that it probably wasn't going to be the last time. We've all heard a trainer say that, "okay, one more time." Yeah, sort of like that. To my surprise, it really was just that one time.
As soon as those scores popped up, I bolted for my laptop and got to work applying for a USDF Bronze Medal. First, I had to verify that I had earned the right scores. I keep meticulous track, but you never know when there's going to be a problem. I clicked the Rider Award Eligibility link, and to my relief, my pink score was lit green. All systems were go for the medal!
Once everything is verified, USDF gives you the option to apply right from the Rider Award Eligibility screen, which of course I did. When you click on the link, you are taken to a payment page. Once I had completed the personal information and provided my credit card number, my application for a USDF Bronze Medal was received.
Once that was done, I zipped on over to the USDF Store and tried to order a Bronze Medal lapel pin. Whomp, whomp. First of all, the Bronze and Silver pins are on backorder - it's not like they give out that many; how are they on backorder? Secondly, it looks as though you have to have been awarded the medal before you can order a pin.
I sent an email to USDF asking for clarification. Yesterday, Sarah Kissman replied, "Thank you for contacting USDF. I can confirm that USDF has processed and awarded your USDF Bronze Medal. You may order the corresponding bronze lapel pin online through the USDF store." Of course I ordered it right away.
I had decided to attend the USDF Convention and Gala Awards Dinner, so that I could receive the medal in person, but USDF just announced the convention will be virtual. Well crap. So, I'll get the medal in the mail but probably not until January.
Once that last score became official, Speedy became eligible for his California Dressage Society (CDS) Third Level Horse Performance Award. The Performance Awards are fairly new. The first year they were available, Speedy and I were competing at Second Level. We earned the award in 2018. Like the USDF Medals, the Horse Performance Awards are handed out at the CDS Annual Convention and Awards Gala.
This year's event, if it happens, should be in Southern California in January. I went in 2018. Now that we have an extra reason to go, it will definitely be on my calendar. Oh, and much like the USDF Medals, you have to apply and pay for this award as well. I also completed that application and sent in my credit card number.
I am not complaining, well not complaining much anyway, but awards season is pretty expensive!
I love the idea of Independence Day, it's a meaningful day in our nation's history, maybe even the most meaningful. What I don't like is the rampant use of illegal fireworks in the celebration of that significance. I am sure you've already seen plenty of news reports showing the brightly lit skyline of Los Angeles as Angelenos defied Governor Newsom's recent order to essentially sit out this 4th of July. "Counties with mandatory closures should consider canceling Fourth of July fireworks shows, the governor said, and Californians should not gather with people they do not live with." - source
On the one hand, I was happy to see so many people take a stand for what they feel is their right, but on the other hand, I was frustrated by how dangerous illegal fireworks are and worried about the safety of my animals. We went to a barbecue during the afternoon, making sure to be home before 6:00, well before the evening's festivities began.
Even though we live just outside of town, Tobias can still hear or sense the distant fireworks. They terrify him. Loud movies do the same thing, but thunderstorms and fireworks send him over the edge. We know this, so our vet has prescribed Ace for those times when we know the noise is going to be prolonged. At about 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, Tobias got his sleepy pill. While he was still worried about the racket, at least his body didn't break down in uncontrollable tremors once the booming began. Thankfully, Yellow Dog doesn't care one whit about loud noises; neither does Izzy.
Giving Tobias a little Ace to help him cope with the stress of the 4th of July is a lot easier than managing Speedy's stress. Last year, the neighbors across the river threw a loud party, which resulted in Speedy's heels blistering as he ran around in terror. (You can read that four part series here.) When we saw the gigantic water slide go up this June, the ranch owner and I discussed at great length how to keep Speedy calm for 2020's bash.
Speedy was actually moved to his current dry lot as a result of last year's 4th of July debacle, and he's been much, much happier overall. We decided to keep him where he is and dose him with Dormosedan just before dark in the hopes of keeping him calm once the explosions began.
After dosing Tobias with a bit of Ace, my husband stayed home to keep an eye on both him and Yellow Dog who is still recovering from a sprained ankle. I headed out to the ranch just before 8:00 p.m. To my utter amazement, the party across the river was over. I heard the last of the guests leaving and the property owners doing some clean up. It looked like all our planning and worry might have been for naught.
All of the horses were munching quietly on their hay, so I gave both of my horses their daily bucket of feed and freshened up the water troughs. I grabbed Speedy's halter and the tube of Dormosedan and sat down in our equestrian lounge to wait. Just as the sky darkened, the first of the fireworks started. Instead of coming from directly across the river as anticipated, a massive boom came from the property a half mile to the north.
I quickly put Speedy's halter on and started soothing him. He was tense, but nothing like he had been the year before. Knowing that the Dormosedan can take a while to work, I held it in my hands contemplating whether to give it to him or not. He just wasn't that upset. I decided to wait a bit longer to see how loud things were going to get. The year before, I wasn't there when things started. This time, I was right there with him.
It was really heartwarming to see how much Speedy trusted me. He was worried, but as long as I stood by him with a hand on his neck or back, he seemed willing to trust that I would keep him safe. As the booms and blasts continued to build, his tension actually began to subside. He nibbled on his hay, confident that I would take care of him. When a blast was particularly loud or close, his head would shoot up and he would stare intently, but he never spun away from me or even spooked.
To the west of us, in town, the explosions and booms continued unabated for more than an hour. I have never heard so many fireworks go off for such an extended period of time. While I couldn't see the lights from where we were, after watching the videos of LA's skyline, I know East Bakersfield looked the same. The explosions closer to the barn died down within an hour, but those in the city wouldn't let up. Speedy was wary, but not terrified. I decided not to use the Dormosedan as a drugged horse comes with its own problems and management issues. Since my presence seemed enough to keep him quiet, I thought it was healthier for him to spend the night without the drugs.
Just before 10:00 p.m. the distant booms and explosions began to die down. Speedy seemed less concerned with where I was and actually began to look sleepy. I put my stuff away keeping an eye on him the whole while; the full moon was a great help. As I drove back into town, I was shocked at how many fireworks were still filling the sky. As I drove up Fairfax into town, I was stunned to see the air heavily laden with smoke. I rolled the window down and was assaulted by the acrid smell that filled the air. Having lived in that neighborhood for years up until fairly recently, I was stunned by the thick haze of smoke.
As I headed back east toward our neighborhood, the number of fireworks began to dwindle. My own neighborhood was quiet. Both dogs greeted me happily, but Tobias insisted on sleeping right next to my side of the bed. He was still sleepy the next day, but at least his anxiety had been controlled. I drove back out to the ranch on Sunday morning to find a sleepy gray horse. I gave Speedy a thorough grooming, checking for any injuries. I hopped up on him bareback with a halter and rode him around the neighborhood. He started out feeling pretty lethargic, but as we made the turn for home, he perked up considerably marching forward with purpose.
All in all, my animals did well considering it was the perfect storm of a night - Independence day falling on a Saturday night with the energy of a full moon fueling the social unrest in which we find ourselves living.
I find that I enjoy July 5th a whole lot better than the 4th.
Through last fall, the ranch was actually my third home, but thankfully, we finally sold our cabin. As it is, I now officially have everything but a kitchen sink out at the ranch. When and if I ever have to leave, I'll need a moving van or three to get everything out.
Not only do I have a lot of stuff/junk, it's spread around the ranch from north to south and east to west. I have at least a dozen poles up in the arena, not to mention another dozen letter markers. Yes, I know they're just water jugs, but it wouldn't be polite to just abandon them. Behind the barn, I have several feed/water troughs, and behind the round pen is stored my horse trailer.
Of course I also have a table and chairs and some other accessories in our newly constructed Equestrian Lounge. Now that we have a new set at our house, I am not sure I'd want to take the table and chairs, but you never know where you might end up.
Then there's the mountain of stuff living in our combination feed/tack room. No matter how hard I try to limit what lives out there, I end up failing. It seems that I add something new each day. Sometimes it's a piece of tack, more often more grooming equipment, or occasionally some device designed to make my life seem easier.
Yes, all of that is mine. In my defense however, I have two horses, and I do most of my own doctoring and feeding. I also travel with my horses. Of course, most of what I need for traveling already lives in the trailer - the grooming supplies, buckets, lunge line, spare halter, whip, and a boatload of other stuff. The only things I actually take from the feed/tack room are my saddle and bridle, shampooing bucket, and the muck bucket/cart combo.
Last week, the ranch owner dove in and cleaned the heck out of the other side of the feed/tack room in preparation for a new boarder, DG. DG has been riding one of the ranch's horses for the better part of a year, but she recently asked if she could bring her aging, less-than-sound mare out to the ranch to live. Room had to be carved out in the feed/tack room. When I saw an opening, I quickly loaded up an old wicker table and my refrigerator and promptly filled in the "hole."
DG has already added some equine medications that are temperature sensitive, and of course I shoved in some beverages. This is the cleanest it will probably ever be. Like I said, the only thing I am missing is a kitchen sink.
Our ranch owner is probably regretting that she ever gave me a key to the place.
During all my years of showing - a puny ten, I've rarely practiced the tests at home because Speedy is the king of anticipation. He likes to tell me when we should do a movement. I've always worried that he would memorize the tests and stop listening to me. After looking over my spread sheet of movements however, I could clearly see that we need to practice the tests at home so that I can focus on what is making things difficult at shows.
The analysis of my data shows that our half passes and our left to right flying changes are weak. I decided to ride those sections of the tests at home. Was that ever a great idea. Did Speedy start to anticipate? Why, yes. Yes, he did. I love it though because I was able to school him a bit on waiting for my aids. It's okay if he anticipates. I sort of like that he does because it tells me he's with me; he knows what's happening. Asking him to wait is like building in a half halt.
Schooling the left to right flying lead change has been really helpful. By doing 4 or 5 of them in a row, I am discovering why he doesn't always change. Sometimes, he's just being a stinker, but most of the time it's because I am doing something wrong. Yesterday, I realized that I was losing the new bend, so when I asked for the change to the right, I was letting him look left. Ain't gonna happen like that.
I've also found that by schooling a series of movements in their entirety, like the canter half pass to the flying change, I can really focus on what my aids need to look like. For the canter half pass left, we need to start with a walk to canter at K followed by the half pass left followed by the left to right flying change. If the canter depart stinks, I stop, and we do it again. If the half pass sucks, we stop and do it again. Same thing with the flying change. I am able to isolate each movement when and where it should happen which is helping pinpoint the problems.
Surprisingly, it's not boring either. I offer Speedy lots of praise, and somehow he has stopped feeling picked on for repeating an exercise. In the past, doing it more than two or three times seemed to suggest to him that he was doing it WRONG WRONG WRONG. Maybe I am approaching the repeats differently. I keep telling him that he's a good boy and asking him to try to get it even better. I also feel like I am building his fitness level. Three days of riding at a show - Friday's warm up combined with tests on Saturday and Sunday, was sort of wearing him out. He needs to be able to do more than four flying changes over a weekend.
We'll be going to show next weekend, fingers crossed - damn you, COVID-19! I am feeling better about our chances of scoring closer to the mid-60s. I am hoping that by really honing in on our weak points, it will pay off in higher scores. We'll see.
It was supposed to be a show, but we'll take the miles where we can get them. I am the Vice-Chairperson for the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter of CDS which is my GMO of USDF. We had a show planned for Sunday, but due to COVID-19, we were forced to cancel. In its place, the judge, Ulf Wadeborn, agreed to do a two-day clinic.
Ulf lives and works just two hours from Bakersfield, so he's been a judge at our shows for years. All of our riders love him. Even though he's been the judge at shows where I've competed, I'd never taken a lesson from him. I really appreciated his coaching style. He was very supportive, ignoring the awkward moments while focusing on helping me feel the "right" moments.
Before we started, I told Ulf a little bit about Izzy and then explained that all I was really hoping for was to get Izzy to stretch his topline and reach for the bit. We can get it at home, but off the property his tension frequently takes over. Like most clinicians that I've worked with, Ulf asked me to just ride like I normally would do so that he could see what we needed to work on. At one point he asked for the canter, and then he asked to see the canter going the other way. When Ulf had seen enough, he called me over.
The first thing I was happy about was that Izzy stood patiently in front of Ulf without fidgeting or getting fussy. It was as though he were listening too. I was also happy that Ulf saw the exact same things that Chemaine Hurtado (owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables) and I had just worked on. I have been allowing Izzy's right shoulder to pop out which means he doesn't track up with his hind legs. Since he's not correctly aligned, he can't push forward to the bit.
After the warm up and the quick chat, we spent the next 30 minutes working on controlling the outside shoulder. With Ulf's voice in my ear - I love the Comtek for so many reasons, he softly offered suggestions: sponge the outside rein to capture the shoulder, sit taller when Izzy wants to race off, open the inside rein to invite him to turn, think about riding an octagon. It seemed that within minutes, Izzy's topline lengthened, and he stretched forward to the bit.
We never did anything fancy, but I was fine with that. Working for a solid half hour on just establishing and re-establishing a soft and elastic connection was worth the price of the lesson. It was so wonderful to hear Izzy snorting and sneezing as he loosened his back. He really and truly relaxed. Had we had a bit more time, I am sure we could have gone on to work on leg yields and half passes, simple changes and maybe even flying changes.
Finishing the lesson with a quiet and relaxed horse was all that I hoped to achieve. Not only did I finish with a relaxed horse, but I started with one, too. When we were finished, I rode Izzy back to my trailer and untacked. He stuffed his head in a hay bag and rested quietly for more than an hour while I went and watched Chemaine ride. When I came back to the trailer, he gave a big whinny and a goofy smile. Another rider, who was nearby with his own horse, remarked on how quiet and easy-going Izzy had been standing.
It's taken half a dozen years, but I think we're finally ready.
Our Equestrian Lounge is finally "finished." I use quotes because you never know what we might add in the future. For now, all of the projects that I wanted to do are now complete. Everyone at the barn enjoys the space, and we wonder how we lived without it.
I so wish I had taken a before picture, but we started moving in the furniture before anyone had a chance to say no. If I had taken a before shot, you would have seen a lovely tree with piles of leaves and some discarded fencing panels and some discarded buckets. So what did we add to create our lounge? Well ...
Here's a final tour.
Now if I could just find a way to add a water feature, it would really be done.
As I sit here hitting refresh on my Rider Award Eligibility page at USDFScores.com, I decided to do a little research. But first, what's up with the USDF website? It has been ridiculously glitchy for more than a week. Sometimes, a click will take me to a blank page and other times I can get where I want to go. Also, lost from the menu, is the link to look up how many medals have been awarded and to whom. I eventually found it by doing a Google search, but I can't find the link on the current USDF website. Meanwhile, I refresh the page.
The reason I keep hitting refresh on my eligibility page is because you aren't automatically awarded a medal or performance award. You have apply for it, and you can't apply for it until your scores are officially recorded by USDF. And so I hit refresh. One of these times, my pink section will light up in green.
While I wait, I've been busy looking up some interesting numbers. First, USDF was established in 1973 after it was decided that there ought to be a national governing body for the sport of dressage. There were already dressage associations spread around the country, but there were no uniform standards. The California Dressage Society (CDS), my own GMO, was formed in 1967, six years before the birth of USDF.
I am sure many articles have been written on the history of the various USDF awards programs, but after a brief search, I only found this one. Admittedly, I was only casually curious and didn't want to spend too much time looking. According to the article, the first Gold and Silver Medals were awarded in 1974. After searching through the USDF website, I found that a Bronze Medal was issued in 1977. Were there other medals awarded before that? Probably, but there are currently 9,626 Bronze Medal recipients, and I didn't want to look through them all.
If you can get to the page, USDF has a way to look up every medal recipient by the current year and by all years. You can find the link here (maybe). I was really curious to know how widespread the Bronze Medal actually is. Frankly, I feel like the last person on Earth to get hers. Many of my friends have had their medal for years. I also have friends who have earned the needed scores but haven't bothered to actually apply for the medal.
As of late June, 179 riders have applied for a Bronze Medal in 2020. The total number of Bronze Medals that have been awarded since the late 1970s is 9,626 - soon to be 9,627. Of course, fewer Silver Medals have been awarded; 111 in 2020, and 5,487 in total. It's not surprising that the number of Gold Medals is even less. There have only ever been 1,625 Gold Members awarded and only 43 in 2020. The Freestyle Bars have even fewer recipients: 287 Bronze Freestyle Bars, 328 Silver Freestyle Bars, and 160 Gold Freestyle Bars. My trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has ALL SIX. I would really like to know how many other riders have all the medals.*
As I was researching the number of riders who have received the three different medals, I ran across this article, "Building Blocks to Bronze." While it doesn't tell you how many Bronze Medals have been awarded, it does talk about how difficult it can be to achieve. If you're working towards you own medal, it's a worthwhile read.
In the meantime, I am going to continue with my strategy of hitting refresh. Eventually my scores will become official, and I'll be able to apply for my Bronze Medal. Of course, the medals aren't awarded until the end of the year so more waiting will be necessary. I will be able to buy my lapel pin though. You can bet that will happen the instant my pink section becomes green!
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh ...
* According to this USDF article, as of 2011, only 10 USDF members had earned all six medals. Chemaine Hurtado is certainly a member of a very elite group of dressage riders.