From Endurance to Dressage
I've never kept my horses anywhere that had a true dressage court. Maybe someday... At the last barn where I boarded, the owner was fine with me laying poles from Home Depot on the ground to form a short dressage court. When I moved to the current ranch where my boys live now, I just never set my poles up again. For First Level, and even Second Level, the lack of a measured space didn't seem to have too much of an impact on my dressage scores. The same can't be said of Third.
After last weekend's show, I showed up bright and early to the ranch and asked if it would be okay to assemble a dressage court. The ranch owner is a kind woman and supports Speedy and me however she can. She instructed Reggie, the ranch's doer of things, to drag the arena and bring my poles over with the tractor. I spent the next two hours measuring and placing poles. I ended up with a 20 x 48-meter dressage court.
With my poles laid out, I added my orange cones that have the letters taped to one side. Since it's not 60-meters long, I had to decide where to modify the length. I subtracted 2.5 meters from each 12-meter section, and 1-meter from each 6-meter section. While it's tight at H,M,F, and K, it will feel like I have oodles of room once I am back in a standard length court.
The first day I rode in my new space, I wanted to kick myself for not setting up my poles THREE YEARS ago when I first moved to the ranch. It was a whole different experience riding from letter to letter and actually using a measured-out center line. I could see how this is going to improve my test riding accuracy as well as the over-all quality of our movements.
With my spaced measured out, I decided that the cones weren't a good every day solution. I've used them before, but not only are they hard to see, any time there is a puff of wind, they get knocked over and blown away. I've had to hunt them down after a windy evening, and I didn't really relish the idea of looking for them every morning. I went back to the ranch owners and asked if they had something heavy that could serve as my letters. No they didn't but what about using ...
A quick trip to the grocery store, and I had just what I needed. I bought square water jugs and printed two of each letter on a piece of paper so that I could apply a letter to the "front" and "side" of each jug. This way, I was able to angle the jugs so that I can see the letter no matter from which direction I ride.
I cut the letters to size with a paper cutter and affixed them to each jug with packaging tape. For less than $10 (I already had 4 jugs), I had new letters that wouldn't blow over, were essentially water proof, and were cheap to replace if kicked or damaged.
The whole project took me less than an hour, and they look really good! I even added the center line letters in red although I can't see them when riding. That's something I can always fix later on.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy they are to see while riding. If I thought having long sides and a 20-meter short side were helpful, having letters is a game changer! As I rode, I was able to keep my figures much more round and even, particularly on Izzy. Even he seemed to like the new set-up. It was like driving a car out in a field versus driving on the freeway with marked lanes. Izzy just seemed to know where I wanted him to go!
We're supposed to have one last lesson tonight before Sunday's CDS-show. I can't wait for Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, to see my new work space. Hopefully it will help me improve my geometry. It certainly can't make it any worse!
If you're interested in using water jugs yourself, or some other similar material, I'm leaving a pdf of the arena Ietters I created. Just download and print.
Oh, that makes me laugh. Nothing is normal with Speedy. That boy makes me and everyone around him march to his own personally selected drummer. Even the drummer gets told what tune to play.
While I mostly adore Speedy, he is also the most infuriating equine I've ever owned. He is nearly impossible to please, yet he'll do anything that I ask of him. Believe me, doing Third Level dressage was never anything I even considered when I bought him in December of 2007 - more than 11 years ago (I missed his Gotcha Day). And yet, here we are.
While he may call most of the shots around here, I am putting my foot down for now. The "separation" anxiety is really just a temper tantrum. Speedy is perfectly fine by himself at shows or standing by the tack room out of sight of his friends. What he doesn't like is that Izzy is getting me all to himself while he is being left behind.
Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I may be anthropomorphizing a bit, but not by much. Speedy is wicked smart, and his feelings get hurt pretty easily. So, I am going back to an old method I've used to halt the whirling and pacing.
A few weeks ago I hung one of my Blocker Tie Rings, one of my all-time favorite gadgets, in Speedy's paddock. If you aren't familiar with the tie ring, it's a small "clip" through which you can loop your lead rope. If a horse pulls back, or gets caught on something, he can pull back, and the rope slides through the ring. It has three settings of "firmness." Speedy always gets tied with the loosest setting as he never challenges being tied up. Izzy gets tied on the middle setting as he has learned that steady pressure on the rope will also allow him to walk away, unchallenged.
While it adds yet one more step to my busy schedule, Speedy now gets tied up when Izzy gets ridden. Last night, he hollered a few times, but it was of the pathetic ... waaaahhhhh kind. When I brought Izzy back to his own dry pasture, Speedy was standing there calmly giving us both the stink eye. He knew the jig was up; at least until he can think of a way to outsmart me.
The worst I've ever seen him do while being tied to a patience pole was to rear up ever so delicately and stamp his feet on the landing. He's careful about being tied. For the most part, he just stands there. Since I can't afford any more vet bills, his new normal will include a lot of conversations with the fence.
That's okay; maybe he can work out some of his feelings in fence pole therapy. That pole is a really good listener.
We all know that I am not much into grooming and hair products, but I do enjoy seeing my horses look good. I must be doing something at least partially right because both of my horses have lovely coats, beautiful, barefoot hooves, and healthy manes and tails.
It's more likely that I've just been blessed with horses who posses good hair and hoof genes.
Manes, and to a lesser extent, tails are my least favorite parts of the body to address. I enjoy a thick mane and tail which means I use a fair amount of detangler, but I only comb them out once or twice a month. Frequent combing thins the tail and shortens long mane hairs. This has been a great strategy for Speedy because Arabians are "permitted" to have a running braid while showing. Other breeds can as well, but it's not as traditional.
Izzy's mane is a hot mess. Number one, it wants to hang on the "wrong" side, and even worse, it splits down the middle where it can't decide what it wants to do. Enter the amazing Smart Tails Professional Mane & Tail Thinning Comb By Smart Grooming. I ordered mine via Amazon for $32.89 plus $6.82 for shipping and handling. It came all the way from Germany and was supposed to take a month to arrive, but it was at my door within about a week and a half.
A friend of mine shared this mane and tail thinner on Facebook, and I was immediately intrigued. She shows regularly, so I knew that I could trust her recommendation. The tool is beyond simple to use. You simply start at the base of the mane or tail and gently drag it through the hair. Within just a stroke or two, an entire section of mane can be thinned.
The comb is quite sturdy, and the blades are sharp. It comes in three blade types; coarse, medium (which I ordered), and Fine & Superfine.
I still need to do some more work on Izzy's mane, but already, it is starting to lay on the correct side, and it's half as thick as it was.
When I saw how easily it worked on his mane, I decided to clean up the bushy hairs from around his tail head. If I don't want to pull his mane, you can bet that there is no way I am pulling tail hairs. With this trimmer, I had his tail looking quite tidy in less than a minute. I even did Speedy's!
As I continue to shape and thin his mane, I am certain that braiding will get easier and easier. The only trouble with this thinner is how easy it is to get carried away. It combs the thickness out so easily that before you know it, you'll have no mane to thin!
You've been warned!
A few weeks ago, Poor Woman Showing wrote about Braideez braiding wires and then offered to give away a set. I never ever ever win anything, but I entered my name anyway because I really like Carly's blog, and I wanted her to know I had read her post.
Immediately after entering her giveaway, I turned around and ordered myself a set of braiding wires - she made them sound that good. I've shared many times that I am not a lover of grooming and such. I happen to have the two cleanest, shiniest horses on the planet despite my ineptitude and lack of hair care products.
But you know what a sense of humor Fate has - try sending in a show entry early ... HAHAHAH - you're screwed! Pay a late fee and you'll probably win the class. Fate had a good laugh at my literal expense: less than twelve hours after ordering my very own set of Braideez braiding wires, Carly sent me this message:
So first, many thanks to Carly for the braiding wires. At first, I almost told her to pass them on to another reader, but I am greedy, and I know how hard on stuff Izzy is, so I sent her my address. Before I share my experience with the braiding wires, I have to show the amazing artwork that seems to accompany each shipment. I am keeping these envelopes and getting them framed. It might be worth the order just for the sketches! The one on the right even looks like Izzy.
The packaging is really awesome. Not many companies go to so much trouble to encourage you to like their product before you even see it.
While the braiding wires are easy to use, especially if you already know how to do button braids, I would still recommend looking at the directions that come in the package (they're made up of a pictorial on the back of the horse) and watching their video.
I followed the directions exactly, and the whole thing took me 40 minutes, including stopping and starting to go get something and cutting the wires to length. I did twelve braids. With practice, I could probably shave off 10 minutes.
I started off by braiding each of the sections and tying them off with a half hitch knot. The wire is coated with a thin plastic and tied without any trouble. To braid the wire in, I folded it in half and put one end in each hand as I grabbed the three strands of hair. The wire stayed put as I braided. After each braid was finished, I gave the wire a tug and straightened out the braids so that they hung straight down.
Then I went back and pulled each strand of wire through the base of teh braid as shown in the directions. I think that pulling the wires through really straight will give a smoother button. I kind of struggled with this part, but again, with practice, I think it will get easier. Once I pulled the wires through and brought them underneath and twisted them, I gave the braid a good "squish" and shaped it into a button.
After I had them in a shape that I more or less liked, I cut off the extra wire, but since I have a completely brand new EXTRA set waiting in the wings, I am not too worried if I cut them too short. Here's what the finished braids look like - from a distance ...
The true dressage queens out there are probably wrinkling their noses at the idea of using wires, but I simply don't care. I am not good at braiding. With the wires, it almost looks like I know what I am doing. I am sold!
Oh ... one last thing, I did leave them in over-night to see if that was an option for showing. You can see the results for yourself.
Clearly this is not going to work. Some of the wires were just gone - good thing I have more, and in other places, his mane was gone. Literally. It looked like someone had cut the braid off with scissors. Even with them looking like this, the wires were still super easy to take out. I just untwisted and pulled.
Overall? These are a no brainer, especially for the price and the artwork!
We all know it's really just called a "selfie," and according to Wikipedia, the term first came into use as early as 2005. Selfies themselves have been around since before a camera could be held in one hand. Again, according to Wikipedia, the first known selfie was taken in 1839.
I've mentioned a time or two that my husband and I enjoy traveling. While in Portugal this past summer, we saw something that I immediately dubbed a selfie stick. I truly thought I was being extraordinarily clever in coming up with such a creative moniker for the pole holding the cell phones. I was a bit disappointed when I realized that someone else had already coined the phrase.
For Valentine's Day, my husband bought us a selfie stick (along with the liners for my Juke and a dozen roses - he's really sweet when it comes to gift giving!). I haven't looked into selfie sticks myself, but this one kicks some serious butt. He bought us the Fugetek FT-568 which telescopes, is bluetooth enabled, and works with multiple devices.
After goofing around with it on the couch, I suddenly realized that a selfie stick could have more more than one application. Sure, it's going to be great when we're in Italy this summer, but then I realized that I COULD USE IT AT THE BARN! When I excitedly voiced my realization out loud, my husband rolled his eyes and said he had already figured that's where it would get most of its use. Oh.
For it's first foray out to the barn, I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until I had the selfie stick fully extended and ready to go that I realized I had left the re-chargeable remote button plugged in at home. Talk about a selfie fail. I was slightly more successful on day two. The photos are only somewhat unflattering, but it was fun to finally get most of my horse's head in the frame.
Who would have thought that a selfie stick would be my next favorite barn gizmo? Let me know if you use one at the barn.
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 …
7/26 TMC (*)
8/8 - 9 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/30 TMC (*)
9/20 TMC (*)
10/11 TMC (*)
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 WC (***)
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