From Endurance to Dressage
I'll be honest. My first attempt to use the Pivo wasn't all that successful. I had practiced at home, I was familiar with all of the buttons, but it still lost me. I wasn't too worried about it though as a device like that has to come with some sort of a learning curve. There are just so many variables besides the settings on the app itself. I have a dark horse, a dark arena, deep shadows, bright light, and so on. So, I took everything back home and did some Google searching.
There is a ton of information out there about Pivo. The Facebook group is a good place to start as it's run by the Pivo peeps. Rather than do a bunch of trial and error myself, I took the time to read a few articles which explained each setting. That's how I ended up with the settings listed below. Why waste time trying out different settings when someone else has already done it?
After watching Pivo lose me for thirty minutes during my first attempt, I did some research and discovered that I had one setting in particular set incorrectly for my purposes - the predictive follow. Turn that sucker off. It does NOT do what you think it should do. In the end, I discovered that the optimal settings for working in an arena are as follows:
For my second go at using Pivo, it worked as perfectly as it could. As I was watching the recording that evening, I was suddenly looking at Izzy's midline and legs. Based on the position of his body, I am 99.9% sure my GorillaPod - the bendable legged tripod that I am using by wrapping it around the fence, must have slipped. I am not surprised as it actually did a pretty good wobble as I was setting things up. Outside of that little bit of use error, the Pivo tracked me nearly perfectly.
I had positioned the Pivo at "E" on the top rail of the fence which is a good six to eight feet from the edge of my dressage court. This worked great because I do touch "E" when I am riding, but since the Pivo is set back, we didn't fill the screen completely. And actually, with auto-zoom turned ON, you can hardly tell which screenshots are from close up and which are from the "A" and "C" ends of the arena.
I was also pleasantly surprised with how well my phone picked up my constant chatter. I talk quietly to my horses the entire time I ride, particularly to Izzy. On the video, I can hear lots of nope, nope, good boy comments. I have a lesson this afternoon, so I am really curious how well it will pick up my trainer's voice. She's usually pretty loud, but I don't want her to have to stand next to my camera the whole time.
Overall, I am really pleased with how well the Pivo worked. I did have that glitch near the latter half of my ride, but I know that was completely the fault of the user and not a reflection of Pivo's abilities. It's hard to video when you're pointed at the ground. For what it's worth, my trainer frequently can't see what she's filming either, so I tend to get a lot of shots of the dirt. It's hard to video and teach at the same time.
After just a second use, I am completely satisfied with the Pivo and have no regrets. From what I've read others say, it does sound as though the Pivo likes iPhones better than Andoid phones, and the newer your iPhone, the better. I have the iPhone 7 Plus, but it is at least three years old. I keep the iOS updated which I've read helps. I have also read that phone and app updates can make things worse instead of better, but I think the Pivo peeps work out kinks as quickly as possible.
I don't plan to use the Pivo for every ride - I don't have time to sort through that much video, but I do plan to use it for lessons and at least a couple of other times a month. I know that Pivo can be temperamental - see above, so here's to hoping it likes following Izzy and me around.
Hands down, this is the best clinic in which I've ever participated. Now, I realize I haven't been to a million clinics or anything, but I've done quite a few. I've even ridden with Hilda Gurney and Susanne von Dietze (of Dressage Today fame). This one, a cavaletti clinic with Erika Jansson, was actually fun in the sense that I was laughing out loud. My whole group was having so much fun that we clapped and cheered for each other, especially as the line of poles got longer and longer.
Erika Jansson is originally from Sweden. She has worked in her home country of Sweden as well as in numerous places around the world including Australia, Germany, and the US. She currently lives in Santa Rosa, California and is the dressage trainer at Santa Rosa Equestrian Center. According to Erika's website, the clinic helps the rider create a sport horse that is highly responsive, maneuverable, can rapidly and smoothly collect or extend the gaits, stop, turn, and remain balanced.
We generally rode in small groups of four, although a group of juniors made a group of five, and in another one or two groups there weren't enough to make a full group. Four was the perfect number. With a small group, we were able to watch other riders pass through the "tunnel" and by watching, our horses were able to take a break. By the end, Erika assured us that our four-legged partners were going to have sore booties. We passed through the tunnel at least twenty times.
To start each group, Erika gave a short talk that included some basic instructions. We were put into an order so that we simply followed the horse in front, always paying attention as some horses might not make it through or a rider might need to circle before entering the line of poles. I was assigned the first position which meant I also had to remember to turn left or right at the end of each pass through. We alternated turning left or right after each pass.
The poles were laid in an alternating left side up, right side up configuration. Erika started with just three poles which we walked through the first time. Since the poles were set to a trotting distance, around four feet apart, she expected the horses to whack them a bit. This gave them all a chance to see everything and to build a little trust. After that, we trotted through each time. Once each horse had developed a good tempo, she started adding poles, one at a time.
One thing that Erika stressed was this was not a dressage show nor did she want to see a dressage seat. She was looking for the rider to sit deeply so that we could drive our horses forward while at the same time getting them long and low in the neck so that they could balance themselves over the poles. She called it a cavaletti seat. This was HARD! As we approached the line, she encouraged every rider to get their horse as supple as possible because at some point down the line, particularly when we had five or more poles, the horse was going to need help. If he was braced at the first pole, his back was going to be too tight to allow him to lift himself over so many poles.
It took us probably ten pass throughs before Izzy and I started to figure it out. For every attempt, he tried his heart out, never once spooking, balking, or acting anything but brave. After each line, he swung his head around and asked if he was still a good boy. No matter how many poles he hit, I gave him huge pats and hugs. I could see on his face how proud of himself he was. He truly enjoyed the work. I think all of the horses did. It was just a big game for them, and us too!
Each time we went through,Izzy got a little better educated, as did I. The hardest thing was to get him really round and deep for the first pole. If I did that, while keeping my chest up and my seat back, I could drive forward while also half halting when he started to rush or lose his balance. Jumping looks so easy - point them at a fence, leap over it, and away you go. Except we all know it's not easy or we'd all be doing it.
Erika was so supportive, always offering just a little bit more feedback to apply the next time around. I never felt overwhelmed or discouraged. She made sure that we knew that every horse and rider team was trying, and this was only their first time ever doing this kind of work. I literally ate it up. In the next video, we did nine poles with only one small whack in the beginning. I was so proud of him!
Eleven poles with a big cheer from me at the end.
After those first few poles in the beginning, he rarely missed big, and when he did whack something, it was only once or twice. Of the approximate twenty video clips that T shot for me (OMG THANK YOU), I didn't pick just the best ones; I picked subsequent videos to show how quickly Izzy improved in just thirty-five minutes, and it wasn't just him. All of the horses showed tremendous improvement. Here's our final go with fourteen poles.
I can't say that I learned anything concrete from the clinic to take back into the dressage court, but it was still a hugely worthwhile experience. Izzy got to work in an arena with other horses, he got to do something that challenged both his mind and his body, and he was presented with an opportunity to use his body in a whole new way.
There's some talk about bringing Erika back this fall. If you live anywhere in Kern County, follow and like our Facebook page if you'd like in on the next event. I will totally be there!
When you don't follow your own rules, stuff gets broken. That's why I have rules. I have had too many things broken, trompled, sat upon, and plain old ruined. Do you remember the brand new halter that I just bought for Izzy? The one that I had to spend a bit more on to get sized right? The one I ordered a halter name plate for? Yeah. That one.
I rarely hard tie my horses. It's a rule I almost always follow. Instead, I use a Blocker Tie Ring to attach my horses to fixed objects. I have lots of them so that I can use them whenever and wherever I plan to tie my horses. On Friday, I tied Izzy in the arena while I gave T a lesson on Speedy. I did not use a Blocker Tie Ring. I tied him loosely so that he had ample room to swing his hindquarters around so that he could keep an eye on us, but I did tie him.
I was never more than 20 meters away, and I had just finished a good schooling ride on him. Even so, he managed to get bored. At first, he started pawing. I yelled at him, and he stopped. Then he did it a few more times. I yelled again, and I even walked over to him and gave him a small pep talk. This horse hasn't pulled back in a long, long time. Like years. On Friday, I saw him test the halter by leaning against it just a little bit, and the next thing I knew, the halter lay discarded on the ground, and my big brown jackass was bolting around the arena.
The halter was still useable - albeit ugly, so I popped it back on him to lead him back down to the tack room. I have a rope halter, but I haven't needed it since he's been so rock solid tied up. I hung my beautiful, newly ruined halter on its hook and resigned myself to the fact that it was back to the rope halter.
Over the weekend, we went to a cavaletti clinic - more on that in a day or so, where Izzy stood quietly tied to the trailer with a Blocker Tie Ring all damn day. Of course I rode him in the clinic, but he stood like an absolute gentleman the entire day without a single naughty moment. He was out of my sight for the entire duration, except when I popped down to check on him. Did he even think of pulling back? Nope.
Every once in a while, I must do something that pleases the universe because I drove home from the clinic with a brand new leather halter. Since my CDS chapter had to cancel all of our shows this summer, we've put on clinics instead. As a way to thank our membership, our chapter chairperson rounded up a bunch of donations to give to riders in each lesson group. When I saw the halter, a gift from Melanie Lindbeck, proprietress of Show One More Time, I couldn't believe my luck! This halter is even prettier than the one I had bought.
It has all of the features of the first one - a crown piece that buckles on both sides, padded crown and nosepiece, adjustable chin, and a clip at the throat, but it's Havana brown with brass hardware instead of black with stainless steel. It also has some fancy stitching and an ergonomic crown piece, something the first halter lacked.
Izzy will not be getting hard tied with the leather halter, my reminder of why we have rules has been firmly reestablished. I'll probably switch back and forth between the new halter and the rope halter for a while, but I am sure it will be another half dozen years before he pulls back again. In the meantime, I've ordered another halter plate, this time in brass.
All righty then, let's try this one more time!
If nothing else, the Pivo company gets huge points for order fulfillment. I placed my order on Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday, I had a shipping confirmation, and by Thursday early afternoon, my Pivo had arrived. That's a good first step.
With a headache caused from sleep deprivation and long days spent staring at a screen, I decided to approach the getting to know you of my new toy with a bit more patience and thought than I typically would. I like to just rip open my packages and get to it. Instead, I opened each box carefully, examining things as I went. Besides showing up much more quickly than I had expected, the next thing that impressed me was how nice the packaging was. It came boxed up in the same sturdy boxes that Apple products come in. In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say this was an Apple product.
Each piece, from the Pivo Pod itself to the charging cable to the remote control, came in individually labeled boxes. Even the manual came in a sleek little box. On the one hand, I hate paying for expensive packaging, but on the other, nothing makes me doubt the quality of a new gadget more than when it arrives in a box crumpled or damaged with loose pieces rolling around.
I must have been feeling pretty puny because I actually opened and read the manual before I even powered the device on. As directed, I downloaded the Pivo App and created an account. All of that went seamlessly; I allowed this and allowed that, and before I knew it, the Pivo had snuggled up to my phone - I have an iPhone 7 Plus, and was paired so completely that I wondered if the Pivo was going to follow me around for the rest of its life. Because that's one thing it did instantly, follow me. I did a toggle here and a toggle there, and Pivo was locked on to me like its life depended on it. I guess it sort of does.
The app isn't super intuitive, but it didn't take me more than 20 minutes to have the essentials worked out. My husband had to step in and help though because the Pivo wouldn't quit tracking me as I desperately tried to get behind it so I could see what was on my screen. He served as my object to track while I watched the screen and figured out the remote control. I was able to switch between video and photo - I doubt I'll take many pictures with it, and how to start, pause, and stop a recording. The one thing I haven't yet figured out how to do is to tell Pivo to stop following me. Although, that might not be a road I even want to venture down as not tracking riders is the number one problem.
At least ten years ago, probably more, my husband bought a Joby GorillaPod tripod so we could take better selfies while traveling. That was back when people still used regular cameras instead of cell phone cameras. The thing has been in storage for a long time. Just this summer I drug it out and attached my document camera to it so I could teach math. A decade later, and now the thing is finally earning its keep. The Pivo attached perfectly onto the tripod's mount like they were designed for each other. The GorillaPod even has a liquid level which makes getting the Pivo to sit level a breeze.
Once I had the basic functions sorted out, I plugged the Pivo Pod in so that it could charge - I have a lesson this afternoon. Overall, my initial impression is a good one. The order and delivery process went off more smoothly than I could have asked which earned big points right off the bat. The package arrived undamaged, another win, and the Pivo paired to my phone on the first try. There is obviously a learning curve, but after less than a half hour, I feel ready to give it a try.
So unless it refuses to track me, and I have seen that happen - I joined the Pivo Facebook group already, I think I am going to like it. I don't need more than a video or two a week, and I don't care if it's not presentation quality video, I just want to be able to see what's going on as we school different movements.
So what do I think so far? The Pivo seems worth the 150 bucks I paid for it.
Izzy's first ever USDF show is just six weeks away. Of course, telling the universe that I am going to a show is practically a guarantee that something is going to go haywire between now and then. Even so, I like to plan ahead. Universe, please don't hold this against me.
Getting ready to show on Speedy was a liner process. I studied the directives for the level. I practiced the movements for the level. When I felt we were in the ballpark, we went and showed. Usually our scores weren't great. We went home and practiced some more. We scored better the next time. We practiced some more again. Eventually, our scores rose, we won some things, and we started on the next level.
Izzy does not learn that way. His learning path looks more like a kindergartner practicing cursive. There is some up, some down, and a lot of sideways. We go forward five steps, only to reverse ten. We march forward for a few months, and then all hell breaks loose, and I threaten to sell him. All the while though, our scribble moves in a generally upward direction. I frequently forget to stop and think how far we've come.
Right now we're schooling the simple changes, particularly the canter to walk. During our last lesson, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, said something really interesting. When something catches Izzy's attention, he likes to snap his head up, stop moving his feet, and get a good look. It's a been a problem since the beginning. While Izzy has a pretty decent bolt in his toolbox, his preferred tool is the balk, and he's quite good at it. So when he tried to quit moving his feet, Chemaine said that he is welcome to think about it, but he has to still move his feet.
It's not like I've just been letting him stop to think about things. No. I've tried a lot of different ways to convince him that he still has to go forward. I've used spurs. I've used bigger spurs. I've used the whip. I've tried kicking until I've left dents in his side. None of it has cured that tendency to slam on the brakes, but it's gotten us through.
Izzy is not the same horse he was six years ago or even one year ago. He has learned a lot and grown up some. Now that he is more mature and walking around with a bit more confidence - by comparison, Speedy is flat out arrogant next to Izzy, the balking is something that I need to begin to address again. I put my baby spurs back on.
Outside of the arena we have some of those ubiquitous plastic chairs. I think one of them had fallen over, but I am not sure. Izzy was. Not only had it fallen over, but it was crawling with horse-eating bacteria. He gave that chair some serious stink eye, went into slow-motion, and then pedaled backwards. I goosed him forward with my baby spurs, and he hopped straight up in the air in total shock. Hello, naughty horse, meet my heel.
I've ridden with those baby spurs for the the last fews days, and the desire to balk has steadily decreased. I bring that back to the simple change because it is a movement that requires that the brakes and the gas pedal be pressed simultaneously. In order to go from a canter to a walk, the horse has to be pretty collected with his hind legs active and carrying.
In Second Level Test 2, the simple changes are done in a three-loop serpentine as you cross the centerline. When I was riding those tests on Speedy, I hated that movement because it was so hard. I now see how doing it on the serpentine helps set the horse up for success. As you leave the rail, the horse should be put in a haunches in so that his haunches are already stepping under while the rider collects the horse down to the walk. To do so the rider's legs say keep going while the hand and seat say whoa. My legs aren't strong enough to convince Izzy to keep stepping under, but now that he knows the baby spur is there, he's been much more willing to get that bit of a piaffe feeling in his hind legs.
Over the weekend, we were finally able to ride the three-loop serpentine with actual canter to walk transitions close to the centerline. The walk to canter part is not a problem. Izzy's got Speedy beat there. Every time I finish a ride, I ask if it's good enough and reliable enough yet to take to a show. A week ago, I would have said no. This weekend, I felt like the simple changes were weak, but they are there. My entry for the October show is filled out. The only thing missing is which tests we'll do. We have until the beginning of October to decide.
Will it be First or Second?
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. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. 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 schooling and showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
10/11 A. Newcomb (c)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS (***)
7/27 Breen-Gurley (c)
8/30 Breen-Gurley (c)
9/20 Caveletti Clinic (c)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read