From Endurance to Dressage
I've always been a voracious reader; I don't even remember learning to read. It just feels like I always could. By the time I was twelve, I was reading adult fiction. Stephen King's novels were my favorite. My stepmom still teases me about always having a book in my hand, and there was usually a second one in case I finished the first one. If you're reading this, you're probably a reader, too.
I've never tracked how many books a year I read, but I knew it was at least 30, and probably more. This past March, as COVID-19 was really picking up speed, I realized I had a little extra time on my hands and found myself reading more often than normal. I did a quick count of how many books I had read since the first of January and realized that I was reading more than a book a week. I decided to see if I could read 52 books in a year. Last night, I finished number 52. Since I can't remember exactly where I started, I know it's more than 52, but I wanted to err on the conservative side.
I am a very eclectic reader. I typically don't read a lot of contemporary fiction, but as I scrolled through my Kindle library, I realized that this year I've read more current fiction than normal. In other years, I find myself reading a lot from the twentieth century, particularly the first half of the century. While I have two favorite books of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird and Watership Down, my favorite book is usually the one I am reading right now.
In no particular order, here are ten books from this year that I think are worth reading.
There are many others that I'd like to share. I read two more of Charles Martin's books, he's always wonderful. I reread George Orwell's Animal Farm, which should also scare the hell out of you, as well as Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. The Haunting of Hill House, which is nothing like the Netflix telling, is worth a read as is another by Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I could go on. There are just more good books than there are years in which to read them.
It might sound strange, and I don't understand it myself, but to "celebrate" having reached a goal, 52 books in a year, I started Truman Capote's In Cold Blood last night. Having been written in the mid-twentieth century, it falls solidly in my wheelhouse. It's such a well known book that reading it feels like a privilege, hence the feeling of having earned it as a reward.
If you feel like sharing, let me know what some of your favorites from this year are.
I am a pretty eclectic reader, but from time to time I will find myself stuck on one particular genre or even a specific time period. A year or so ago, all I read was stuff from the early to mid-twentieth century.
During the summer, I usually read heavier material or books that are longer. Over the past two summers, I read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I am waiting for Column of Fire to show up as one of Amazon's Daily Kindle Deals. During the school year, when I can barely get through ten pages before falling asleep, I tend to choose shorter titles that are easier to get through.
A few weeks ago, I had just finished something really good, although I can't remember now what it was. I knew that the next thing I chose to read had to be light and fluffy, or I would be disappointed. Whenever I read something really good, the next title is almost always a disappointment. So I scrolled through my list of unread titles looking for something that was just mind-candy, something meant to entertain, not change your life. I landed on Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel, Just After Midnight. If you feel like you've heard Hyde's name before, you probably have. She's the author of a long list of titles including, Pay it Forward.
Just After Midnight isn't "literature." It doesn't have a message that compels you to look deep within yourself. Instead, it's a settle in for some fun kind of story that would float any horse girl's boat. Here's the summary from Amazon.
No longer tolerating her husband’s borderline abuse, Faith escapes to her parents’ California beach house to plan her next move. She never dreamed her new chapter would involve befriending Sarah, a fourteen-year-old on the run from her father and reeling from her mother’s sudden and suspicious death.
While Sarah’s grandmother scrambles to get custody, Faith is charged with spiriting the girl away on a journey that will restore her hope: Sarah implores Faith to take her to Falkner’s Midnight Sun, the prized black mare that her father sold out from under her. Sarah shares an unbreakable bond with Midnight and can’t bear to be apart from her. Throughout the sweltering summer, as they follow Midnight from show to show, Sarah comes to terms with what she witnessed on the terrible night her mother died.
But the journey is far from over. Faith must learn the value of trusting her instincts—and realize that the key to her future, and Sarah’s, is in her hands.
I know, I know. Sounds pretty cheesy. But. The whole thing is set in Central California's dressage world. Over and over Hyde incorporates actual towns and cities where dressage truly exists. She evens sets her characters in real life venues where I've shown. She mentions Moorpark, Paso Robles, Morro Bay, and many other places that are practically in my backyard.
Throughout the story, Hyde explains what dressage is as her characters go from one training barn to another. As an experienced rider, you might find yourself rolling your eyes at her very simplified explanations, but the point is to help non-riders feel connected to the characters and their actions.
If you find yourself looking for something to distract you for a few hours, this book might be just the ticket. It's not going to change your world view, but really, sometimes that's a relief. If you read it, let me know what you think!
For the last two years, Izzy has had body work about every three months. This year, I decided to see how he did by spacing the visits out on an "as needed" basis. He saw his chiropractor in early November, and hadn't needed him since.
On Saturday we did a technical trail ride that had a few dicey sections. There wasn't anything horrible, but Izzy did slip and slide a few times throwing his head and neck up to regain his balance. The next day all was well, but the day after that, he was pretty adamant that his neck was broken and no amount of suppling on my part was going to get it to bend.
It took me all of 20 minutes to realize that he needed an adjustment. In the past, it's taken me three rides to figure out that he's hurting. The first ride I always blame on poor riding. The second ride I blame on his sassy attitude. The third ride is usually when I start questioning what the heck is wrong with my horse. As soon as I ask what's wrong with you?, the lightbulb goes on. Not this time; I figured out within 20 minutes which saved us both a lot of frustration.
It took CC less than a minute to pinpoint where Izzy was hung up - the C7, the last cervical vertebra. Normally, the trouble originates in Izzy's poll. Once the C7 was dealt with, CC moved on to Izzy's rib heads. He was a little tender on the last couple, but a firm nudge had him feeling much better. And that was the extent of the adjustment - a single cervical vertebra and a couple of ribs.
CC has been doing my horses for a number of years now. After all of this time, I finally discovered the method(s) that he uses. CC combines traditional chiropractics with the Masterson Method, developed by Jim Masterson. Coincidently, my endurance pal Marci has used CC as well. After he mentioned the Masterson Method to her, she bought the book which she generously lent it to me. I have found it to be thoroughly interesting.
Chapter 1 is titled, "What is the Masterson Method?" The first sentence offers a sort of explanation. "The Masterson Method - Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork - is a unique interactive method of equine bodywork in which you learn to recognize and use the responses of the horse to your touch to find and release accumulated tension in key junctions of the body that most affect performance." It's a mouthful, I know.
CC explained that he takes many of Masterson's techniques for helping the horse to release tension and combines them with the traditional approach of manipulation, or adjustment, of an affected joint and tissues. This restores mobility, alleviating pain and muscle tightness, allowing tissues to heal.
I am sold. In my experience, CC has more than proven himself to be an excellent chiropractor/bodyworker and horseman. My horses love him, and they ALWAYS feel better once he's done. If there's a name for the method he employs, great. If not, I am not opposed to winging it.
I only wish he worked on people.
I had a rough last week. Fortunately it wasn't because of horses; they've given me enough gray hairs this winter. On Thursday, a friend tagged me in a Facebook post that pretty much saved the rest of the world from total annihilation as I was very close to going postal - how much crap can one person take?
It's Dwight's face that cracks me up the most. I know that's the look that Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, must have on her face when Izzy starts with his jackassery. I looked at that meme all weekend long, laughing harder each time. It's easy to get a little punchy though when you're on the edge.
Thankfully, while horses can drive us to the brink of insanity, they can also keep us standing squarely on our two feet. My own equine therapists, a Goddess and a Wild Card did their jobs well (sort of) over the weekend, leaving me mostly prepared to tackle Monday. My husband drew a name for last week's book give-away. Congrats to Mag for winning a copy of Is Your Horse a Rockstar.
Mag wrote, "I think mine would be the "mean girl" even though he's a gelding. He has to show everyone that he's in charge - pasture mates, stablehands, etc. I would love a copy to see if that's one of the choices!"
Mag's copy is in the mail, headed her way. And Mag, I'm wondering if your gelding might be The Macho Man, The Boss, or even The Prize Fighter. I hope you'll let me know!
I am sure that all of us think that our own horses are more sensitive (meaning "special") than others, but I am here to tell you that Speedy wins the "snowflake" of the year award. Right now, he is in the midst of tantrum that's been going on for a good month. Which brings me yet again to Dessa Hockley's book, Is your horse a Rockstar?
If you haven't bought it yet, do it. I promise you won't be disappointed. I don't get anything if you buy the book, but it really is that good. In fact, I love the book so much that I am going to buy a copy for someone who wants one. If you want the book, leave a comment, but make sure to fill in your website or email address so I can get your snail mail address. I'll do a random drawing on Saturday (March 16).
The reason I bring up the book is that Speedy is having a pretty rough winter. He's abscessed several times, been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease, and torn open both front legs. All of that means he isn't getting very much positive attention. To him, it feels as though all I do is poke him in sore places or jam weird tasting stuff in his mouth.
"Speedy is what Dessa Hockley refers to as The Goddess (Submissive, Energetic, Curious, Friendly). If he were a bit more dominate, he would be a Rock Star, and frankly, there are days when he does fall into that category. For The Goddess, the relationship is everything. Right now, Speedy's a bit pissed at me because he's not getting the saddle time he thinks he deserves. The ear pinning and tail swishing are dead give-aways that he's feeling slighted.
Speedy's mission in life is to be adored by me, and anyone else in his vicinity is welcome to jump on that band wagon as well. It doesn't matter what we do; he's happy to please as long as accolades and adoration are his reward. Cookies and candies are also expected. As The Goddess, he is, after all, a divinity."
I wrote that in January of 2017 - probably in the midst of some other injury. It is just as true today as it was two years ago. Speedy is so unhappy right now. Everything in his life sucks a big fat lemon. He now has to take a Prascend pill every morning which he hates. He hasn't been turned out in at least a month because I don't want him to re-injure his front legs or cause some new injury. And the worst thing to him is that he's no longer in regular work. I rode him last weekend, but then it rained all week, so I didn't get to ride again until this weekend.
While Speedy was happy to be out and being ridden, he was so resentful that everything I asked of him turned into a chore. Bandaging his legs caused drama. He didn't want to be bridled. He refused his peppermint candies. I was frustrated, and he was frustrated.
It's going to take some time to rebuild our relationship, and I have a feeling that I am going to be doing a lot of butt kissing over the next few weeks. And if Speedy has anything to say about it, there had better be some better treats involved.
Like I said, he's a Goddess. And a big fat "snowflake!"
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