From Endurance to Dressage
#1 Trailer Dent
First up is the dent I put in my trailer. I finally forced myself to go look at it last night. It's ugly, but it's not nearly as bad as I remember. Since I have a show this weekend, I wanted to make sure the tire wasn't flat and that I am not going to cut a tire as it travels down the road. Cutting a tire is NASCAR speak. It's what happens when one car makes contact with another car or the wall. The fender gets pushed in just enough to rub the tire. A good enough rub will cut the tire open. The last thing I need is a tire blow out as I travel over Interstate 5.
So, I took out a huge wrench and a little hammer. The pit crew of a NASCAR team would have been able to either pull the fender away from the tire by hand or hammer it out. Either I am not as strong as those guys are (duh!), or the aluminum of my trailer is sturdier than the body of their cars. Either way, I was able to put a big enough gap between my tire and the fender. I also refolded the funky tear. I have an appointment for Monday. Hopefully, the guys at Delaney's can get it looking a little better.
#2 Pampering Station
I wrote about my new "pampering station" yesterday. Who knew I needed something like that? After Monday's warm ride - it's in the high 90s again, I gave Izzy a quick shower, and then I shampooed his tail dock. Afterwards, I unclipped his lead rope and let him graze on the lawn as he dried. Having everything permanently at my fingertips has made it much easier to do the fancier things. As the weather gets even hotter, I'll appreciate not having to do so much running around to grab shampoos and whatever.
#3 Good Rides?
Whenever I think back to what riding Izzy used to be like, I wonder why I still feel so discouraged. Five years ago, every ride was pretty terrifying. His version of a spook was to leap into the air and then launch forward. It was all pretty dramatic. Back then, he couldn't just walk. He jigged, danced, bolted ... anything but walk. There was no rhythm, and he plowed through my aids like a bulldozer. He wouldn't bend, and every corner was a reason to spin and go the other direction. It was exhausting.
As I was riding the other day, I felt myself getting a bit dejected. Are we ever going to get there? I asked myself. I am not sure where there is, but I know it's not here. And then I reminded myself of how far we've come. Now, instead of all of the theatrics, a spook is just a spook - yes, he's spooking at the birds flying overhead, but at least he's staying on the the ground. Instead of diving into my hands, he sucks back a bit, reluctant to take the bit, but there are times when he will. And thankfully, those times are getting more frequent. When I rode on Monday afternoon, I was patient but insistent. I was rewarded with some show worthy simple changes. We're closer to there than we used to be.
#4 My New Boots Came
They're beautiful, but they don't fit. More on that later.
#5 Speedy's Going to a Show
I won't be riding him, but that makes it even more exciting. "T," one of Speedy's ladies and the one who has been riding him the longest, will be showing him in Tehachapi in two weeks. She came out for a lesson last night (no photos), so we could run through several tests. While we've worked on most everything from Training Level, we've never really strung multiple movements in a row. Intro B didn't go so well, but Intro C did, so we ran through Training Level test 1. After going through each test two or three times, both Speedy and T were getting tired.
I recommended doing Intro Test C for sure, but I told T she should decided whether she wanted to do the much easier Intro B test, or go for the longer canter in Training Level Test 1. She's ready for it. We had worked on the entry over the phone a few days before, so now she just needs to indicate which tests she's doing, write a check, and get it in the mail. I don't know how she feels, but I am really excited to see Speedy back in the spotlight. Retirement is over-rated.
So there you have it; five wildly unconnected things that somehow still all go together.
#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.
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