From Endurance to Dressage
#1 Service Appointment
First thing this morning, Newt's going to the service department at Ford to see if we can eliminate the "wobble." I am prepared for a bit of well, we didn't see anything ma'am. That's the problem with something that only happens intermittently; it can't be reproduced on demand.
#2 He's Back!
What do they say, be careful what you wish for? Izzy is feeling better, much better! I sort of liked him better when he was a bit puny. When I rode last night, he was on fire. I got some brilliant moments from him - his trot work was amazing, but the rest of the time felt like I was riding a rocket. Beside being a bit of a looney tunes under saddle, there was another bit of evidence proving his wellness. He already has a sprung shoe. The farrier was out on Monday, but on Thursday, a nail was already popped out, and the shoe was slightly bent. This only happens when he's been playing roughly. Yippee, my horse is fixed?
#3 & #4 Are on Their Way!
As hoped for, my mom sent me a Riding Warehouse gift card for my birthday. A new Ovation Glitz Helmet and that pretty Equine Couture Fly Bonnet are both on their way here. The noise cancelling bonnet is back ordered, but when it comes in, I'll be ordering that as well as a new pair of Roeckl gloves; mine are shot.
I don't know if you've noticed it yet, but we're already seeing more daylight in the afternoons. Thank goodness. When I left the ranch yesterday, it was a bit after five, and I realized that I had ridden longer than I normally would after work, and there was still some daylight in the sky. December is such a tough month with its short daylight hours. January's arrival is always welcome.
Have a great weekend!
We're officially into winter here in the northern hemisphere, but somebody forgot to tell California. For those of us in the Central Valley, we're enjoying a very lovely (and lengthy) autumn.
#1 - Fall Colors at the Ranch
#2 Rainless November - Fingers Crossed for December
It's been so dry that I left five bags of feed in Newt's bed overnight without worrying about them getting rained on. I felt like tempting Fate was worth the risk of a soaking, especially if it had rained.
#3 Hairy Horses
Since I don't blanket my horses - we're lucky if we get six inches of rain a year, they get pretty hairy about now. I finally dragged out my clippers to trim up both boys' bridle paths. I only intended to do Izzy's, but then Speedy strolled past, so I asked if he wouldn't mind standing still for just a moment. You know your horse is broke when you can trim his bridle path without the use of a lead rope.
#4 Cold and Foggy Mornings
On Sunday, I dismantled the dressage court so that Reggie could both get rid of the huge collection of leaves that had accumulated along the poles of the dressage court and smooth out the enormous groove that had developed along the rail. Yesterday, the ranch owner and I set it back up. The fog was so dense when we started that it was difficult to see from A to C. By the time I saddled up an hour and a half later, the sun was brilliant and warm, but that's California for you. Nothing but blue skies.
#5 A Fall Colored Horse
Izzy's ever changing coat is well known. He's almost a buckskin in summer, nearly black in early fall, but by winter, he's the color of autumn.
These first few days of my Christmas break have been sorely needed. I wish everyone could take a few days to just let the mind and body rest without worrying about the world and its troubles. While we are eager that "this" too shall pass, I try to remember that there continue to be beautiful moments happening all around me if I just remember to look up and see them.
#1 Black Friday
I took advantage of not one single Black Friday sale. Not one. I received the emails, I clicked on the emails, but I didn't buy anything. There are a few things that I'd like to have - like the LeMieux X-Grip Silicone Square Dressage Saddle Pad, but since I don't actually need something right now, I just thought I'd wait until after Christmas. My birthday is in a few weeks, so a gift card might be in my future.
#2 Twelve Days of Christmas
Not only did I let Black Friday and Cyber Monday pass by unnoticed, I was also left cold by the Twelve Days of Christmas sales. Normally, those things get me all excited, and this year's sales were even better than normal because most online retailers left each day's special "live" for the duration of the promotion. Still, I didn't order a thing.
#3 Christmas Decorations
I am not being a Scrooge this year though. We decorated our house on Thanksgiving day. We hung lights, pulled out all the Christmas decorations, and decorated our tree. Putting up the tree is always a special part of the holidays because I have a large collection of ornaments, all of them special in some way. Many are from students which I smile about each year as I hang them. The rest have been accumulated over several decades.
For each ornament that I hang, I reflect on where it came from. I also pause to consider whether it still brings me joy. If it doesn't, I put it in the donations box that I keep in the garage. Once the box is full, it goes to the Good Will. As one ornament goes, one usually arrives. I haven't bought any new ornaments this year, but I did buy some new household decorations that put a smile on my face. One is a large "JOY" that lights up with a timer. Each day, it lights up on its own reminding me to think about what brings me joy.
#4 Christmas Gifts
It's been an odd gift giving year though. Normally, I would have given and received gifts from my colleagues and students. Since I am not at work and most of my colleagues aren't either, few gifts are being given. I did drive to work yesterday afternoon though as a very sweet student in my class sent me an email informing me that she had left a Christmas gift in the office for me. While there, I also discovered a very thoughtful gift left by our school's librarian. While the treat was deliciously edible - it didn't survive the trip home, it was the note she left that was the best part.
Today, instead of math and writing, science and history, I've planned a special day for my students. Instead of the little trinket I might give them during a regular school year, I've planned a series of activities that I hope they'll enjoy. We're doing a scavenger hunt, a trivia game, art, and a few other activities. One of which includes me doing The Floss.
#5 Done with 2020
While we're all over this year, today marks my last workday of the calendar year. My students are excited, but I fear they're going to be bored by Tuesday or Wednesday. I've told them that I'll check my messages throughout the next two weeks in case they want to chat with me, and I will no doubt work off and on during the Christmas break, but it won't be with the same intensity as a regular school day.
Let Christmas break begin!
Like a lot of other people, I am worried about my job. Right now, I am still getting paid. I'll also get a check in June and July because out of my ten paycheck a year, my district withdraws a portion sufficient to cover the two paychecks I need in June and July. I know; it's confusing, but I am only contracted to work ten months a year, so that is what my salary covers. Back in the "old day," I had to save the summer portion myself, but through some process that I have never quite understood, my districted opted to save my money for me. I am not quite sure who that benefitted, but either way, I do get my money back in the summer.
The thing is, it's not looking like schools in California are going to reopen in mid-August as usual. The CDC has published some proposals that Kern County is looking at very closely. The CDC has established three risk factor scenarios that range from least risky - everyone stays home for the rest of their lives, to high risk wherein kids go back to school as normal. Excuse me for a moment as I digress. Doesn't it seem most risky to NOT have kids go back to school and get a decent education? Hey, I am a great teacher, but doing it online is just not nearly as effective as being there in real time with my kiddos.
So why am I worried? Number one, Governor Newsom has stated (threatened?) that if the federal government doesn't offer California a bailout, it is likely that first responders and nurses will be the first workers laid off. Number two, education accounts for more than a quarter of the state's annual budget (source). In a state already strapped for cash that is willing to fire their police and firefighters, why wouldn't teachers be next? Especially if we're going to stay at home and teach with Zoom. You don't need a 1:33 teacher to student ratio if you're doing everything remotely.
Bias alert, a bit of hyperbole is on the way. The state could save a lot of money by firing teachers. If one teacher can zoom with 31 students, what's to stop her from Zooming with five groups of 31 students? That would be a group every hour with a break for lunch and an hour left for planning. And then, she could do that five days a week. The state could fire 80% of its teachers reducing its financial shortfall by billions.
In Sunday's edition of the Bakersfield Californian, the cover story was that Kern County's jobless rate has soared to over 18%. One in six people are now jobless. It's scary because as we know, many of those people don't have a job to go back to once the lockdowns are lifted. Many of their jobs no longer exist. I personally know of small businesses that have closed and other companies that have simply downsized and eliminated jobs. If my pay is affected starting in August, I will be responsible for "firing" five more people.
My husband and I are part of the middle class, and the way we live is very typical for Bakersfield. So when I share the service jobs that I would be responsible for eliminating, they are services that are the norm where I live. Everyone employees people for these same jobs.
The first service that I would eliminate is our "bug guy." It's a service that we pay for where a technician comes every other month to help control the bug population in and around my house. If I get laid off, or if my pay is reduced, he will have to go.
Our "pool guy" and his brother have been friends with my husband for forty years. They went to school together and have remained close friends all this time. We love his expertise - he's always fixing things both small and large, but really, we could toss in the chemicals ourselves. If I lose my job, he'll lose his, too.
Our HOA requires that lawns be maintained, but ours is fairly small, so we could probably buy a really cheap mower and do it ourselves. Most people in Bakersfield don't do their own lawns. We all employ gardeners. In all our years as homeowners, we've never actually fired one. We're pretty loyal and never "shop around." Our current gardener does a wonderful job, and I know his family desperately needs our business, but if my pay gets cut, he'll lose our account.
Here in Bakersfield, having a house cleaner is quite normal, especially in families where both partners work full time. In my case, having a house cleaner is definitely a luxury. I could easily clean my own house, especially during the summer, but I know she needs the business.
Many teachers lay off their house cleaners during the summer months and then rehire them when we all go back to school. I've never done that. My pay is the same in the summer, so I think it's only fair to keep our house cleaning lady employed during the summer. She's been with us for close to 15 years, so firing her if my pay gets cut would be really hard. But honestly, she would likely be the first service I let go, as it's the easiest to do myself.
Also to go would be my trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. I know business is already a little slow for her. Some of her clients have had to put their lessons on hold since they're not working as much right now. One in particular is a psychologist (?) who would normally meet with clients for counseling, but with the stay at home order, she's seeing less clients which means she's making less money which means no lessons. If I lose my job or my pay is reduced, I won't be able to afford lessons either.
For every person who loses their job, someone else probably loses theirs. If I lose my job, or if my pay is reduced, I will be responsible for five other people losing a part of their income. You can only lose so many clients before you can't operate a business.
As we seek to eliminate risk of contracting the Coronavirus, please consider how interconnected we all are. I am willing to risk contracting COVID-19 so that others can get back to work. Everyone needs to assess their own risk factor, but please don't let your fear ruin someone else's life.
I know, right?! But sometimes, it really is the seemingly random little things that can either annoy us half to death or give us a reason to smile. And when we put all of those smile-worthy things together, we realize that even in the midst of stormy waters, also known as a pandemic, there really are plenty of reasons to be happy. Here are my five things.
Happy Thing #1 - Yesterday morning, as I was bringing the dogs back after a very short walk, I found this amazing sign nestled in my front yard. I didn't realize how much I needed a good thing from the outside world. A positive statement from someone I am not married to, related to, or bound to via genetic material. Knowing that people outside of my immediate circle care about me and are thinking about me, was as good as any bear hug, something I am sorely missing.
Happy Thing #2 - While this might seem like a shameless plug, it's really something I am just happy to be doing. The California Dressage Society (CDS) chapter that I both belong to and serve on as Vice-Chair, Tehachapi Mountain Chapter (TMC), has worked really hard to get ourselves a bit better known here in Kern County and beyond. We've launched a Facebook page (Like and Follow us!) and a new website, and now, we have a commemorative t-shirt for sale. This puts a smile on my face because it's the product of a group of wonderful ladies all trying to serve the equestrian community. And, they've done it in a way that promotes inclusivity, fairness, and accessibility.
Happy Thing #3 - Native, and definitely ubiquitous in Kern County, are Cottonwood Trees; they truly are everywhere. In the spring, the "cotton" floats in the air and piles up beneath the trees. If you didn't know better, it might look like snow. It also looks like Speedy's shedding winter coat. After a good roll, there is always a pile of white hair littering the ground. Sometimes it's hard to tell the two mounds of white apart. Maybe Speedy would stay cleaner if he rolled in the white cotton?
Happy Thing #4 - generous ranch owners. I really cannot express the extent of my gratitude at having landed at a ranch where the horses' health and well-being are of the highest importance. I know my horses aren't the easiest to care for. Speedy requires daily medication, and he's a picky eater who frequently eats the yummiest parts of the hay while discarding those pieces he finds less palatable. Never mind that every other horse on the ranch gobbles up every last morsel. The ranch owner accommodates his picky palate and tosses his "leftovers" to the other horses.
While Izzy isn't nearly as picky, he does seem to have a bottomless stomach which the ranch owner continually tries to fill. This mound of hay is what's left over from his breakfast. If he happens to eat it all by lunch time, which happens with some frequency, she always gives him more so that he's never without hay. Both of my boys are lucky to live with someone who cares for them as if they were her own.
Happy Thing #5 - I don't think I even need to explain why this makes me smile, but I will. This horse just charms me to pieces. You can see how the Bedouins might truly have welcomed the Arabians into their tents. I don't know if those stories are true or not, but Speedy says they are. He knows who in his tribe, and he knows he has the run of the place. There is no doorway through which he is not welcome - in his mind anyway. Every once in a while, I do need to shush him outside where he is decidedly safer. All I need is for him to knock over the broom or that pile of buckets - oh, the chaos that would ensue!
I hope you are finding random reasons to be happy, or at least moments in the day when you are able to forget about all the chaos that we're experiencing. Maybe we all need to take a moment to "back out of our own feed rooms" and go for a walk. Happy Friday!
See, right there is a reason to smile!
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 …
3/27-28 SCEC (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
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