From Endurance to Dressage
I try to keep things on topic here which usually means all things equine. Occasionally I wonder off though and share about a vacation we've taken, or I'll write about my dogs. I don't consider that to be too off topic though as horses and dogs just go together.
Last weekend, my husband and I headed over to Bakersfield's annual Via Arte, an Italian street painting festival. Bakersfield's event is always held at the Market Place, an upscale, outdoor shopping and entertainment center. A large section of the parking lot is cordoned off where artists, both local and visiting, transform the asphalt into works of art with chalk.
The school where I teach is one of the only schools in Bakersfield that employs a real life artist, as opposed to me with my rudimentary kindergarten ability to draw. My teaching credential says I am qualified to teach art to kids, but who are they kidding?
Thank goodness for Miss K. She's an amazing art teacher, and our students love her. Do you know who Miss Frizzle is? Ms. K dresses just like her except her dresses are art and holiday inspired and well, just better. Ms. K and her team enter a lot of chalk art festivals as professionals, no adult ammies here. As often as not, she'll report back having won the people's choice award or even best in show.
When we got to the festival, I dragged my husband past each artist's spot scanning the crowd for Ms. K. When I finally spotted her resting in the shade, I squealed in delight. She had done the BEST piece of art.
Ms. K explained that the original painting, done by Domenichino in 1602, was of Giulia Farnese, the pope's mistress. She is pictured with a unicorn which represents virginity. The painting is entitled, A young Lady and a Unicorn. Via Arte's theme for 2018 was Italian art. I think Ms. K and her team nailed it.
Ms. K always includes two secret images in her work, a Mickey Mouse and a goldfish. I found the goldfish pretty easily, but I needed help for Mickey. Check out the unicorn's hooves and the base of the mane. Did you find them?
Hey, not so far from equine related stuff after all.
I am in a hurry, but then I am not. If there is anything that I've learned on my dressage journey, it's that hurrying will get you absolutely nowhere. In fact, by zooming ahead, you might end up further behind where you started.
So while I really wish Izzy would get his canter together, I know that it's not going to do any good to rush it or force the issue. Instead, I'm just chipping away at it little by little.
Last night, Izzy was strangely mellow - a result of a tender sheath I wonder? I have an update about that issue coming up. Needless to say, there's some weird stuff happening to his junk, and based on the way it's looking, he's probably a wee bit tender in his back end. And while I am tempted to feel sorry for him, I don't because I've watched him play in turn out, and believe me, there's plenty of bucking, rearing, and racing around going on, swollen sheath or no.
Anyway, back to last night. I took advantage of his mellow mood and did a bunch of figures at the trot. We did about a million changes of bend in serpentines, the tear drops from First Level, and then we did Chemaine's Butterfly exercise - a tear drop into a ten-meter circle into a new tear drop.
When Izzy started to feel a bit bouncy, which is how he gets when he's starting to really work from his hind end, I asked for a left lead canter. Right now, my focus is on getting the lead without Izzy feeling like he has to explode into it. Happily, the transition was fairly decent, so after a half circle, I brought him back to walk and gave him a big pat. If he was sore in his nether regions, I didn't want him to think that it was because of the canter work.
I let him walk a bit and then started to track right. I almost called it quits as I didn't want to pick a fight, but I figured that one more canter transition wouldn't kill him. I set him up for a right lead canter but got a bit of a balk with a kick aimed at my leg. I put my spur into him gently and said, Forward. he wasn't thrilled about it, but he trotted forward. I just sat very quietly, and kept asking for the right lead.
After a bit more fussing and another kick or two, Izzy hopped into the right lead canter smoothly. Almost immediately, I brought him back to a walk and gave him a lot praise. I repeated the request several more times and got two more very nice trot to canter transitions. We walked after each one. I wasn't focused on the quality of the canter but on the correctness of the lead.
It took Michelangelo three years (1501 - 1504) to carve the David. It's a masterpiece that any sculptor would be proud to call his own. How much different is it to mold our horses into works of arts? If it takes three years to turn Izzy into a figure as beautiful as the David, it will be time very well spent, well spent indeed.
Special note; the David is on my mind as we'll be in Italy this summer and seeing Michelangelo's sculpture in person is very high on our list of must see. Have any of you seen it?
Dressage horses are undoubtedly works of art. Who cares how long it takes to finish our work? It's worth it in the end.
I had something else to share today, but with the biggest winter storm to hit California since 2008 (according to last night's news) raging outside this morning. I wanted to share that news instead.
The wind blew pretty fiercely most of the night, which always heralds a weather change. Rain walloped the northern half of our state yesterday, but there was fear that the rain would miss us here in the south valley, which happens more often then not.
I woke up in the middle of the night to hear the rain pounding on our roof. I let out a deep breath of relief. I may not be able to ride for a day or two, but it is so worth it. We have been in such a severe drought for the past three years (or more) that even the sound of rain has been sorely missed.
Related to the rain, if only marginally, is this ...
My trainer's barn party was on Sunday. We did a gift swap and steal thing that is always fun with this group of ladies. I saw these mugs get opened by my barn owner, and I knew I had to have them (there are two different ones). My trainer "stole" them from her, and as luck would have it, my turn to pick came soon after.
I love mugs, but I am really picky about the shape, texture, and image. These two mugs are absolutely perfect for a cup of tea. They're big, thick, and simply beautiful.
So as I sit here this morning and think about my day, I am serenaded by the rain while enjoying my tea from a beautiful piece of art. Life is pretty good. Have a great Friday!
Post Publish edit: heading to the cabin this weekend (I think), so I'll see you all on Monday.
Er … metal shoes?
Given that I spend way, way, WAY more on my ponies' shoes than I do on my own footwear, it's not surprising that I see horseshoes as valuable objects that deserve respect.
I mentioned the other day that I have moved to a new school. My last school didn't recognize a student of the month, but happily, this one does. The first student of the month passed without me being there.
When I realized what a great group of students I have this year, I decided that I wanted to honor their achievement of being THE STUDENT OF THE MONTH with a tangible trophy. And of course, upon what do we (equestrians) place a high value? Good feet of course. No hoof, no horse and all that.
I asked my farrier, the World's Greatest if you'll remember, if he wouldn't mind leaving my boys' old footwear when he finished his work. To my surprise, and delight, he left me a stack of brand new horseshoes. I immediately set to work planning on how to turn a piece of gray metal into a trophy.
I bought some red spray paint (had to show ID), a black paint pen (had to show ID AGAIN!), and a roll of jute string. I spent two afternoons spray painting my horseshoes - fronts and backs. Later in the week, I attached the jute string and then used the paint pen to label my new Student of the Month trophies.
My school is named after a gentleman named Hart, and our mascot is a Hawk - we are the Hart Hawks. Our students of the month earn the Hawk Hero award - cute, huh? In my class, we are stallions so I decided to combine the two by painting "Hawk Hero" on a red horseshoe. Our school colors are red and black. I can't believe how cute these little trophies turned out! Take a look.
I really expected to see horses in Washington, DC. I am not sure where exactly, but I figured there would be horse drawn carriages or something. Nope. The only live horses we saw were at Mount Vernon.
I did see several statues though, although none of them were that exciting. Surprisingly, the best non-living horses that we saw resided in the National Cathedral.
The National Cathedral, or more formerly known as Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, was begun in 1907 and completed in 1990. Although it took 83 years to complete, parts of it have been in use since the first chapel was completed in the early part of the 20th century.
The cathedral is one tenth of a mile long and was built in the Gothic style. If you've been to Europe, you can imagine the cathedral's grandeur as it rivals many of Europe's finest churches.
I had to look hard, but I finally found a very fine horse. If Darth Vader made an appearance, an equine had to as well!
This lovely carving was found in the choir pews. There were many others, including a dragon!
If you get the chance to visit this lovely building, I recommend it. One of the things I most enjoyed was how the architects and designers incorporated so many elements of math, science, and history into the art and decoration of the church. The self-guided tour pamphlet says, " … the planned system of images and symbols designed to teach Christian beliefs, reveal the presence of God, and pay tribute to our country's history and values."
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read