From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy got a lot of turn out time this weekend, but no ride. I always find it funny that I have to turn out a horse who lives on an eighth of an acre, but I do. The turnout is the grassy alley between Speedy and Dollar's quarter acre and the mares' super-sized pastures. While Speedy loves the grass, he loves chatting up his ladies even more, especially his girl Sarah.
The biggest reason Speedy didn't get ridden was because I just didn't feel like it. I had had a pretty disappointing week and was feeling very blue. I simply didn't have the emotional energy to ride a second horse. On top of that we had a family lunch on Saturday, and then we went to the county fair on Sunday. While riding normally brings me joy, spending time with family and then going someplace so happy did a ton to boost my spirits. By Monday morning, I was feeling recharged.
It might have been the bull ride that perked me up. There is nothing like watching a chunky, middled age woman make a fool of herself. I think the bull was set to "kid speed" because I stayed on way past 8 seconds, but it was still hard! I eventually came off, but I did it gracefully.
When we hit the fair, we go for the food and the exhibits. A friend of ours always enters every food category there is, so we spent time reading all of the labels looking for his entries. I think we found most of them.
We're not interested in the rides or games of course, but we do love the various other exhibits, particularly the animals. We spend an inordinate amount of time watching the 4-H kids show their animals and wandering through the barns. We love the cows (dairy and beef), sheep, goats, fowl, and pigs. Well, my husband doesn't like the pigs, but I think they're hilarious.
We also enjoy the non-farm animals. In the past, the Budweiser Clydesdales have made appearances, although it has been a number of years, and sometimes there are insect or reptile displays, but not this year. We did watch the duck and pig races, which are always entertaining. There was a stunt dog show this year, but they did their show after we left.
Once I spotted the camels and zebra, we hurried over. I've ridden a camel a couple of times as a teenager, so I didn't need to embarrass myself a second time, but I did stand and watch for quite some time. For a small fee - I think it was $5, you could feed a bowl of carrots to the camels and zebra. I didn't feel the need, but I watched as a family of littles fed them.
I've seen zebras at the zoo of course, but it never bores me to see them up close. This zebra, however, looked pretty bored with us and the carnival in general. I guess when you've seen one county fair, you've seen them all. I wish my Big Brown Horse would be as indifferent as those camels and zebra were.
I don't know how big or interesting your county fair might be, but we sure enjoyed ours.
The best thing about Hurricane Hillary was the great shower she gave us. If you live somewhere where it actually rains during the summer, dust probably isn't much of a problem for you. Here, late summer and early fall are usually hot as hades and dry as a bone. Dry and hot equals dust, and lots of it.
Not this year. Everything that can be green is bright and vibrant. Over the weekend, the ranch owner and I took Alli and Speedy for a walk through the old golf course and around the cherry orchard. When we got to the copse of trees on the edge of the golf course,I just had to stop and take a quick photo. It felt like we were swimming in a sea of green. It was stunning!
It was so beautiful that we stopped for several minutes just to breathe in the calm and serenity the place offered. So often I live my life rushing from one thing to the next. These rides the past few weeks with the ranch owner have forced me to take a breath, let it out, and just be.
Who knew that a lack of dust could bring so much peace?
It's funny that today is Labor Day because the whole reason that I was off air last week was because I was laboring away on my computer for way too many hours a day to even think about taking 5 extra minutes to type out a post. Funny, not funny. According to the US Department of Labor, "Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers." That all sounds good until you're the American worker.
The Thursday before, I had received one of those emails that said we had an emergency meeting the next morning at 7:15 a.m. to discuss "staffing." My exact reply to my assistant principal was "that can't be good." And it wasn't. Unfortunately, our program just doesn't have the number of kids enrolled to support six teachers. On Friday morning, half of our virtual team was reassigned to other schools which meant that the other half of us will be teaching combination classes starting tomorrow morning.
It means a lot of extra work - I'll now be teaching both 5th and 6th grade, but what makes my situation unique is that I'll be doing it via Zoom and Google Meet. In a typical combination class, the teacher can "walk the room" bouncing from one grade to the other. It's a lot more challenging to "walk the room" when half of your class is in one or more breakout rooms. For you non-Zoom users out there, a breakout room is a separate session that is split off from the main meeting. I've had 10 or more breakout rooms going at times so you can see why it would be challenging. Anyhoodle ...
My district gave each of us three days (with no students) to get our ducks in a row. I busted out a year's worth of planning in those 24 hours. By Friday afternoon, my fingers were aching from typing, and I was mentally exhausted. I've got it all organized though, and I am ready to give my kiddos a fantastic year.
Despite being super busy, I did manage to squeeze in some rides. I've had two lessons now with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. More on that tomorrow. He's in Ocala, Florida, but it looks like we can still make the virtual Pivo lessons work. I am super glad that we're already experts at a long distance relationship because the distance just got a lot longer.
In other horse news, Izzy's heel/pastern has almost healed. The wound is now smaller than the size of a fingernail, and I am no longer wrapping it. Click here to see the original injury. It's shocking how cleanly it has healed in just 35 days. He is still wearing a bell boot just to protect it from flies or the inevitable wayward step.
With the worst of summer's heat (hopefully) behind us and my extra work responsibilities under control (HAHAHA), I am ready to settle back into my regular riding routine. Summer was tough on us with all of Izzy's "issues," but we both came through it happy and healthy.
Bring on another week; I got this!
California just can't be like anyone else. If we'e going to do something, it's always a hold my beer kind of effort. Not only did we have a hurricane, but nature threw in a medium earthquake for good measure.
Of course, by the time Hillary got to us, it was just a tropical storm. But in all in fashion, that storm broke more records than anyone can count. First, there has never before been a drop of rain in Bakersfield on August 20th. By the time Hillary petered out and drifted away, we had 2 5/8" of rain on the east side of town. Our annual rainfall, if we're lucky, is only about 6".
Before Hillary arrived on Sunday, we had some pretty strong winds on Saturday afternoon. I sat outside for quite awhile admiring nature's power.
Given how windy it was on Saturday afternoon, we were lucky to not have more damage. Our house is surrounded by queen palms which handle windy weather quite well, so we had no fallen limbs or trees. Despite being covered by a forest of sycamores and cottonwoods, there were only two or three limbs that came down at the ranch. One was in Izzy's paddock, but it didn't damage anything, and by yesterday afternoon, Reggie had it cut up and moved to the compost heap.
The rain started around noon on Sunday and continued falling heavily for the next twelve hours. Many of you live in wet places, so two or three inches of rain is nothing. If you live in the desert, or in a place where there is very little rainfall - cough, cough, Bakersfield, twelve solid hours of rain is shocking.
Despite record shattering rainfall, nearly all of the puddles were gone by Monday afternoon. The air was heavy with moisture, and the August sun was beating down. It was HOT. I got to the ranch after work confident that it would be dry enough to ride, hot as it was, and I was right. There was standing water in one corner of the arena, and the ground was a little squishy, but it was plenty dry enough for a ride.
I have a lesson this afternoon - my first since early June. That's why it rained of course. The universe has been messing with me all summer. Want to ride? No soup for you! (That's a Seinfeld reference by the way.) If I have to carry Izzy, we're doing that lesson, hurricane or no.
Get it together, California, I have some riding to do!
I had the best spring break. Last week flew by, but it was only because I did so many things. Now that I have found my joy - I lost it last November, it seems like fun is around every corner. I did a lot of riding of course, but I made time for some non-horsey activities as well.
One of the not-so-fun-but-you-have-to things was getting Newt serviced. I went in for an oil change and walked out nearly $500 poorer. Some of the charges made no sense at all, and I wish that I would have asked about them before I drove off. I paid $45.15 for a full service oil change. I paid $22 for a "special filter charge" and another $82.80 for the oil. Why not just charge me for an OIL CHANGE?
On top of that, I paid $140.95 for a fuel filter and $20 for the fuel filter service. Of what use would the fuel filter be without the installation of said filter? Just charge me what it costs, please. I also spent $95.95 for a Rear Differential Service and an additional $12.95 for the Differential Modifier. Again, shouldn't that all come together?
And finally, I paid $76.95 for an air filter. The one in my house costs $15.00 and lasts for six months. I also paid a Hazards Material Charge, two separate environmental fees (you suck, California!), and $28.02 in tax. These diesel trucks are actually money pits on wheels.
Remember how I said the Kern River was going to flood our lower pasture? Well, it did, and there's a strong likelihood that it will get higher once the weather gets hot. Our fingers are crossed that we have a slow rise in temperature because if it gets hot all at once like it often does, the snow in the Sierras is going to melt fast and overwhelm California's rivers. If that happens, the inflow to the Isabella reservoir will exceed the rate of outflow and the excess water will pour over the overflow spillway wreaking all kinds of havoc.
As it looks right now, the lower pastures will probably be flooded continuously until the fall. We can hope the heat is mild this summer, but I can't remember the last time we had a "mild" summer. We typically experience more than 30 days of triple digit temperatures, and on a hot year, we will see double that. Fingers are crossed that this is an unusual year in the best sense.
While we are experiencing a bit of flooding below the Isabella Reservoir, the Upper Kern is filled bank to bank and hurtling down from the mountains. The river guides up in Kernville are chomping at the bit, stoked for some of the best river rafting in the country. The flip side is that very soon we will have too much water for safe river rafting.
On a whim, I took my husband white water river rafting over the weekend for his birthday. I had no idea we might have picked one of the best weekends of the year. The water was nearly double in flow from just a week ago, but just shy of peeking in terms of ability to raft.
It was an awesome trip! Despite being middle aged, we're still fit enough to get a little wild. The next morning though we assessed the damage. During one particularly hairy part, I took a hard hit to my thigh that hurt like heck, and my husband's left paddling arm was a bit sore, but other than that, we came out of the adventure in one piece.
With April nearly half over already, we are gearing up for nicer weather and our next vacation. Once May arrives, I'll have just another month of school before summer vacation. I am not counting the days yet, but I am counting the weeks.
Seven weeks to go ...
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 the lower levels. 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%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: