From Endurance to Dressage
You know, I used to be the first person to defend California. When people complained about the hot weather, I used to say, yeah, but we can ride all winter. When people complained about our forest fires, I would say, at least it's not a blizzard or a hurricane. It's too expensive, yeah, but it's beautiful. You know what? I am DONE defending this state, and the instant my husband gets as tired of the excessive taxation, regulations, and capricious laws as I am, we're out of here.
So what's got my panties all in a wad this month? Too many thing to cover in this space, so I'll keep it down to two. The first has to do with California State Senator Shannon Grove's SB287 which would have created equity in the laws for drivers towing horse trailers used for recreational purposes. The law would have created the same driver’s license requirements for those who haul horse trailers as for those who tow recreational vehicles by allowing for gooseneck hitches instead of specifically requiring fifth-wheel hitches. Right now, I need a Commercial Driver's License because my trailer weighs more than 10,000 pounds, but if I hauled an RV travel trailer of the same weight, I wouldn't.
The bill passed the Senate 38 - 0. According to Senator Grove, "Despite the overwhelming support and speed with which the bill advanced through the legislative process, in the final hours of the bill passing through the Assembly Appropriations Committee, amendments were forced upon the bill to delay implementation until 2027." Yes, you read that correctly. 2 0 2 7.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to delay implementation of the law for SIX YEARS to allow for "programming updates." I can't even begin to list the reasons why I am so incredibly disgusted by California's lawmakers. I'll start with this example: In an effort to alleviate the suffering of those Californian's who lost their jobs due to COVID, there are estimates that TWENTY BILLION dollars in unemployment benefits have been paid out to, wait for it, INCARCERATED inmates at jails and prisons across California who couldn't "find work." That money poured into the bank accounts of MURDERERS, RAPISTS, THIEVES, and PEDOPHILES. Okay, maybe some of them were just thugs and drug dealers. (Source, Source, Source).
California's law makers approved those unemployment expenditures within WEEKS of our economy's shut down. Now, that same legislative body needs SIX YEARS to figure out how to change the language on the DMV booklet and written test to include drivers who haul a horse trailer (instead of an RV) that weighs less 15,000 pounds. How stupid do they think we are? On the plus side, maybe I'll get arrested for driving without a correct license, and then I too can draw millions in unemployment benefits.
Sheesh. But wait, there was a second issue, and not surprisingly, it too has to do with California's DMV. A week or so ago I was complaining about the high cost of registering our vehicles in this money-hungry state. After paying 57 bucks for the smog test, I went home and tried to pay the $780 for the license plate sticker online. The smog results are submitted to the DMV automatically, and as soon as the test is done, you get a piece of paper that says pass or fail. As I tried to give California the requisite 780 bucks, I was DENIED because the DMV did not have proof of my smog test. Oh, California you disappoint me on so many levels.
I remember being told in that past that it takes some time for the test to register with the DMV, so I gave it a few days before I tried again. Once again, I entered my truck's license plate number and the last five numbers of my truck's VIN and waited until the DMV system located my truck. I didn't know for sure that the state had received my smog test, but since I was finally able to put the renewal in my virtual cart, I figured they had.
I pulled out my credit card - might as well get $780 worth of points, and prepared to pay. After I clicked pay with credit, I read the fine print. To pay instantly with a debit or credit card, wait for this one ... California charges an additional 16%! I'll admit it; I might have exploded with a few MOTHER FORKLIFTS! You have got to be kidding me, California. In a state with arguably the highest taxes of anywhere - you tax us for EVERYTHING, you now want to TAX MY TAX PAYMENT????
There are 49 other states, and at this moment, they all look better than this one.
Tehachapi Mountain Chapter is throwing itself into the world of merchandising. That's right, we now have stuff for sale! One of our first orders was for two new banners, one for the California Dressage Society to display, and one for us. With a newly designed logo, we are eager to slap it on anything that stands still!
We next ordered a huge pile of canvas swag bags. Our Treasurer/Secretary and Show Manager have been stuffing these handy little bags with all sorts of treats for our competitors. When the first supply went over so well, we ordered another set for next year.
While they may have taken longer than we would have liked to process - everything is backordered right now, our t-shirts also turned out great. The first batch we did were short sleeved, but we had our custom graphics shop do a small selection in long sleeves to see how they would sell. As much as I wanted to grab one for myself, we only ordered a few in each size, so I restrained myself. I did get a short sleeved t-shirt, so I'll wait until we order again.
Our cutest offering though is our new ball cap! This is a brand new product for us, and one that is already selling like crazy! Our model hat, the one New Generation Graphics did as a prototype, was immediately gifted to our show announcer as it was his idea to offer a ball cap. As soon as I listed the ball cap for sale on our facebook page, a bunch of people asked if we had any left. I sold four in the first 30 minutes. If you want one, and you're local - we're not shipping them, let me know as soon as possible.
Our chapter's year-end show gifts have also been finished and picked up, but we're keeping those a secret until our year-end celebration in early November. We've also embroidered a few saddle pads to see how our logo looks on those. Besides the t-shirts, hats, bags, and pads, what other things do riders want to have embroidered or silkscreened?
Send me your ideas, and we'll see what we can do!
Long time, no see. Wow. Sorry about that. I was here one minute and gone the next. It's not often that I disappear. Nothing's wrong; I've just been really busy. Things have settled down a bit which means I once again have time to share what's been going on with my two boys and me. There's a lot to tell, so I'll start with last Monday.
As many of you know, I am an elementary school teacher - fifth grade for the past twelve years, and Back-to-School season is upon us. While our students don't come back until Wednesday, teachers have spent the past week in what we call "Professional Development." That's just a fancy expression for "inservice days." You had them when you were a kid, but all you knew was that you got a day off from school. For teachers, it's an opportunity (?) for more training.
I've been teaching for 27 years - I am starting my 28th, so "training" usually makes me roll my eyes. If I need "training" at this stage in the game, something isn't right. Fortunately, our PD this year was more about our new administration's change in attitude, which turned out to be a good thing, a VERY good thing.
One of the things that really resonated with me during one of the days' training was the idea of "compression." In her book, Mathematical Mindsets [you could so easily substitute the word dressage for mathematical], Jo Boaler writes "... we engage in a brain process called compression. [...] The process of compression happens because the brain is a highly complex organ with many things to control, and it can focus on only a few uncompressed ideas at any one time. Ideas that are known well are compressed and filed away."
Seriously. Read that part again. " ... It can only focus on a few uncompressed ideas at any one time." This is a brilliant explanation for why we struggle for so long in this sport. We can only work on a few things at a time, and most of us also deal with ideas and concepts away from riding, work for example. No wonder we don't "get it" the first time. Or the tenth time. Or even the hundredth time.
Basically, when you finally understand something, it no longer takes up so much space in your brain because it gets compressed which makes room for new stuff. Here's how Boaler describes it, " ... you may struggle a long time, step by step, to work through the same process or idea from several approaches. But once you really understand it and have the mental perspective to see it as a whole, there is often a tremendous amount of compression."
But here's what makes this idea even more fascinating. Boaler asserts that the brain can only compress concepts, not rules and methods. This is why memorizing tests is so hard! But what is it that we spend most of our riding time doing? Learning concepts, ideas, and feels! This means that once we "get" one of those, our brain can compress the idea and file it away to be used as needed. This frees up our brains to begin working on a new concept or idea. I don't know about you, but this idea really explains a lot.
Besides learning some new stuff that I'm able to apply to my riding, I've also been especially busy wrapping my head around my "new" job. A week or two ago, I was chosen to be a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). While the vast majority of our 18,000 plus students will be back for In-person instruction, approximately 200 of them will be at home in front of their computers. I was selected as one of the nine teachers who will continue teaching our remote learners. We have one classroom for each grade TK/K - 8th grade.
I was good at teaching remotely, and our kiddos needed someone with experience, so I applied. While I am excited about the job, I am also panicking. When I left school on Thursday, none of our classrooms were ready. My district is taking portable buildings and converting them into work spaces that can house two teachers each. The left half of each room will be a common area while the right half was split into two offices/mini-classrooms. None of the rooms are ready yet. The interior doors were propped against the walls, and none of the technology needed for remote teaching was installed. We're also missing most of the textbooks and other teaching materials that we'll need. My fingers are crossed that things will be more put together when I arrive later this morning.
So where was I all of last week? First, I was in training from 7:30 to 3:30. After that, I had to go to my old school each evening and pack up most of my materials to make room for the teacher who is filling my position for this school year. Since my new position is a "special assignment," I'll be back at my old school next year. Making room for someone else revealed that I am in fact a hoarder. Today and tomorrow I'll be getting my room ready and lesson plans uploaded.
I'll keep going with the updates tomorrow; there was a show after all!
As some of you know, I serve as Vice-Chairperson for the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter (TMC) of the California Dressage Society (CDS). CDS is a Group Member Organization (GMO) of the United States Dressage Federation (USDF). Not just a group member, but the largest GMO. And while we're not the biggest CDS Chapter, we've got it going on!
By studying my little attempt to organize the various dressage organizations (see above), you can see that TMC is a chapter of CDS which is a GMO of USDF which falls under the USEF umbrella. I thought education won the prize for alphabet soup; I might be wrong.
This is my second year as Vice-chairperson of my CDS chapter. At the end of 2019, all of the previous board members retired - aren't they glad now? Try as we might, the new board struggled mightily during 2020. Every single time we tried to plan something, the Covid-rug was yanked out from under us. Even with COVID restrictions though, we still managed to get some things accomplished. We held four, two-day clinics, we sold t-shirts in support of the 50th anniversary of the Bear Valley Springs community, and many members learned how to Zoom.
We've been MUCH more successful this year. We've just finished our third show & clinic combination, and our entry for the fourth one is now up on our website. We've held an ongoing tack sale which has raised hundreds of dollars thanks to the many donations we've received. Plus, with help from our sister chapter, Ventura County Chapter, we've sent both an adult amateur and a junior rider to their respective CDS clinics.
One of my jobs as Vice-Chairperson is to manage pretty much all social media on behalf of the chapter. I update our website regularly - check it out! as well as our Facebook page. On our Facebook page, I post funny or interesting memes as well as create Events for our shows/clinics and monthly meetings.
Besides managing the website and Facebook account, I've also worked really hard with the rest of the board (all two of them!) to redesign our chapter's logo. You wouldn't believe the amount of discussion that took. Simply ditching the old for something new wasn't nearly as easy as it sounds. First we had to identify what was wrong with the old logo and then create a plan for designing something that accurately fit our region and demographic.
After lots of discussion, mock ups, and jokes about the poop emoji, we finally sent our idea to a local graphics company who happily modified the design no less than a dozen times. We chose a rider wearing a helmet with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background. California's state flower is the poppy, and since it blooms all over Kern county in the spring, we felt it was just the pop of color we needed. With an updated font and a rearrangement of our chapter name, we're incredibly proud of our new logo.
Over the past few days, I've been working with the graphics company to place our first few orders. So far we've ordered two banners, one for CDS to keep, and one for us to to display at our shows and clinics. We've also ordered year-end awards that have the logo embroidered on them (shhhh ... that's still a bit of a secret). Right now, I am collecting order forms and payment for this year's t-shirt.
Now that we have a logo, we're coming up with all kinds of things upon which to embroider or silkscreen. As soon as the Union Hill Dressage Pad comes back in stock, I am definitely getting at least one so I can embroider our logo on it.
When I was in my 20s, and even my 30s, I rarely volunteered for anything because I didn't have the time, or frankly, the experience to be of any real help. Now that I am 50, I understand how important volunteers are for any organization. And with 30 years of adulting under my belt, I feel that it's my turn to give back. Being on a board does take a lot of time, but just like being a trainer/coach, I get to see the other side of the coin.
Volunteering is hard work, but it's also a ton of fun. Do it!
This last month or two has been about me breaking, wrecking, and generally trying to destroy things, although not intentionally. Fortunately, my ship has started to right itself. My truck is driving and handling well, the zippers on all of my boots zip up and down as intended, and my horse trailer no longer looks like it has been through a war.
Yesterday, I got the call that Delaney Manufacturing had finished repairing the fender, and my trailer was ready for pick up. While I know these guys do good work, when I dropped it off, they hadn't sounded like they were sure it would come out looking very good. Their specialty is manufacturing stuff, not necessarily pounding out dents. When I pulled around to the back lot to hook up, I approached the funky fender with my eyes closed. I wasn't sure I really wanted to see. To my delight, it looks almost like it did before I crunched the fender with a brick column.
In total, my small lapse in concentration cost me two, slightly out of the way trips and $400. My husband said it could have been worse; my first thought was it could have been better (if I had been paying attention). When it comes to money, I tend to think in terms of shows and lessons rather than in dollars. So this little SNAFU just cost me the price of a show or five lessons. Saying it only cost $400 sounds less painful than the lost five lessons.
None of that is a reflection on Delaney Manufacturing. They can't be held responsible for my stupidity, so if you live locally and need something made from metal, or need something repaired, check these guys out. DeLaney's can be found just off Rosedale Highway and Fruitvale at 2920 Wear Street. You can call Mike Combs at 661-587-6681. We are once again ready to hit the road which is good timing since Speedy will be at a show on Sunday. More on that next week.
I am grateful it's Friday. Let's hope I don't manage to wreck it.
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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