From Endurance to Dressage
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!
Random Thing #1: April was really weird. The first half of the month was unseasonably cool and very wet. In fact, it was the third wettest April out of the past 132 years. We saw two record daily rainfalls and one day with a high temperature of only 51℉. On Wednesday, it was 92℉.
Random Thing #2: Here's what $375 looks like. It reminds me of Pepto-Bismol. Maybe they ought to consider changing the pink color to Tiffany Blue and then adding a white satin ribbon. Who wouldn't want one of those? In all seriousness, I was actually getting worried about the box not arriving on time. Speedy's pills are on auto-ship, but shipping is taking so long that I quickly changed the date to allow for the delay in shipping. It made it on time.
Random Thing #3: It was so hot on Wednesday that it inspired me to wash a bunch of stuff. When I took my gloves off, a stench of nasty horse sweat, not the good kind, but the kind that you hope isn't coming off you, rose up and punched me in the nose. I washed all of my current brushes - the old ones are already cleaned and in storage, scrubbed both girths, my helmet liner, and my gloves. You wouldn't believe the brown water that came pouring out of those!
Random Thing #4: Izzy got a promotion! After I untack Speedy, I unclip his lead rope and turn him loose to graze in the yard. He immediately wanders over to his favorite spot and grazes until he sees that it's time for lunch. It's taken three years, but Izzy has finally earned the same privilege, but he still gets to wear his lead rope. Now that his fear-meter has adjusted downward, he feels safe grazing alongside the other horses. He too has learned to come in when it's lunch time, but he sometimes forgets how to get back in his field. He'll figure it out; I think.
Random Thing #5: This truly is random, but it's worth mentioning. You know that I've been resupplying my breeches. I discovered the Stride Full Seat Tech tights from Dover, and they have become my hands down favorite tights. I know I keep saying that, but the day I rode Izzy to the park and had my cell phone shoved in my pocket, I discovered something new about the breeches that is ingenious.
I like carrying my phone in my right pocket, so I didn't notice the difference until I put my phone in the left pocket where it immediately slid uncomfortably to the bottom of the (very deep) pocket. I stuck my hand in both pockets and discovered that the pocket on the right, but not the left, is lined with the same silicone material as is on the seat! Is this normal? Have I just not noticed this before? Whatever the case, I hope other manufacturers pick up on this creative little idea because it makes my phone ride much more secure against my thigh.
It's the random things that are making life bearable right now. Have a good weekend, and try to find some of your own positive randomness.
Random Thing #1 - Izzy is looking particularly shiny this year. I am kind of wondering if it's due to the Haas brushes I am using. I've been vigilant about using the Striegel, Parcour, and the Diamond Gloss every day. Of course, shininess has a lot to do with genetics and nutrition, but still, he's literally looking like a disco ball.
Random Thing #2 - On Saturday, I was feeling pretty blue about the state of the world, so the ranch owner asked if I wanted to trail ride around the property with her and her mare, Allie. It was the first "social" thing I've done in weeks. How is it that the simple act of walking along on a loose rein can completely change your view of life? A half hour later, I was completely reinvigorated and enjoyed the rest of the day.
Random Thing #3 - I just found The Humble Hoof on Facebook. She posted the most hilarious video on trimming the other day. I can't seem to embed the video here, so you'll have to jump over to Facebook to watch it. This link should get you there: https://www.facebook.com/thehumblehoof/videos/2733895766719166. It has to be one of the funniest things I've seen lately.
Random Thing #4 - I must have spent a lot of time on Facebook over the weekend because my next random piece of wonderfulness is Sarah Lockman's #Toiletpaperchallenge. IT IS AWESOME. I think you can see it at this link: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.lockman.9/videos/10163425854345461. Make sure you have your sound turned up because that's what really makes the video. Well, that and some pretty nice horses.
Random Thing #5 - This isn't a great thing. It's not even a happy thing. It's a WTF kind of thing. In less than a year, Speedy's Prascend, the medication we use to treat his PPID, has risen a full $100 a box. Sheesh! I am pretty sure I got some kind of rebate for the first box, so maybe that's why it was so "cheap," but what the heck? My vet wants to check Speedy's ACTH in late May or early June, so I am going to ask him if he knows why the price has gone up so quickly.
Let's hope for some good news this week. I don't even care if it's just news about restocked toilet paper. I just need it to be good. If you're bored, feel free to email me pretty/funny/ugly/weird/silly photos of your ponies, dogs, kids, or significant others.
This year has been something else.
Things have been impossibly hectic, yet when when I take a moment to ponder what to write, I realize nothing is going on. Which is not the truth or else I'd have spent the past week binging on Netflix. I didn't, ergo, plenty is going on.
#1 Speedy's Blanket
Speedy has worn a blanket more days and nights in this past month than in all the 12 years I've owned him put together. Since moving to his new field, there's no shed or roof to stand under when it rains. There are plenty of trees, which are awesome for our 9 months of summer, but naked trees don't offer much protection from the rain. None of the other horses seem to mind, especially Izzy. There are mornings when steam is pouring off of him. Even in the 50s he stands there damp and sweaty.
Speedy's a bit of a hot house flower this past year or so. We think it has something to do with his Cushing's Disease. Although, with his thick coat, you'd think he'd handle the cold better. Nope. So, on the nights when it's goin to rain, he wears a blanket. I don't know if he sleeps better, but I sure do. I did find it interesting that on Saturday night, when he went without a blanket, he didn't lay down to sleep. It was cold, but very dry and calm. The night before, which was warmer but wet, he was blanketed and laid out flat as a pancake. I could tell by the mud that covered his face, neck, belly, and thigh.
We only average around 6 inches of rain a year so he doesn't need to be blanketed very often, but we're having a wetter than usual winter. I don't worry about Izzy (yet), but I have found that I am much happier when Speedy is blanketed.
#2 Another Abscess ...
Before you panic, it's not Speedy's or even Izzy's foot this time. Thank goodness. Instead, it's the TB mare who lives at the ranch (she's standing next to Speedy in the photo above). Hers popped up literally as she was being groomed. One minute she was fine, the next, she walked off lame. Ten minutes after that she stood in a pen pointing her toe like a bird dog. The vet came out and tried to work on her, but she was in so much pain, he had to sedate her. He poulticed her hoof and directed the ranch owner to give it 48 hours and then see where she was.
By Sunday, she was much sounder and bearing weight. Since I am now the resident abscess expert, I pulled the old poultice off and got to work with my hoof testers and trusty knife. It looked as though the abscess had migrated from the bar to near the toe. I dug out some sole, particularly along the whiteline, and then repacked it with a Numotizine poultice. We'll have another look at it tomorrow, and then the farrier is scheduled to come on Wednesday. Since she was already much happier on Sunday, it looks like she'll heal quickly.
#3 San Fransisco
We went to San Fransisco a week or so ago, but I never got around to sharing. We did all of the things that were on our list, but then we managed to squeeze in a few extra things, one of which was the Legion of Honor, a fine arts museum. The collection includes some fabulous pieces by artists you would actually recognize.
While those works were quite fascinating, two others caught my eye because they were equine related. The first was the sculpture pictured above. I can't remember who the sculptor is, but what I liked was the draped rein. Yes, the horse's mouth is gaping, but his ears are pricked, and he looks to be in self-carriage.
Another piece that caught my eye was this painting. What's not to love? He's bridle-less for one thing, he has a mane and tail to die for, and he looks as though his canter pirouette is right there, waiting to be asked for.
#4 The Double Bridle
Speedy's not much of a talker, but since he hasn't chimed in, I'll speak for both of us when I say, LOVE IT! Don't get me wrong, we're still struggling with the half passes, damn those things, but I am finding that we are communicating better than ever. The double has given me a whole new feel. I can get him softer so much quicker, and I am finding it MUCH easier to push him from behind up to my hand.
With just a snaffle, adding leg often just had the effect of driving him onto his forehand. Now, I can ask him to come through from behind while LIFTING. It also helped that Chemaine did the "follow me with the whip" lesson. That helped both of us understand that he could drop his croup without launching forward. And finally ...
This is a horse blog and not a fashion or design blog which means you're not here for design tips. That's good because I don't have any. On the other hand, I can tell you a lot about garage doors. We've replaced at least four of them over the past 25 years.
Not too long ago, my garage door opener malfunctioned, lifting the door just high enough so that when looking out my rearview mirror, it appeared as though it had gone up as usual. It hadn't, and when I backed up, it scraped the roof of my car, ripping off my antenna and causing quite a lot of damage to my roof which had to be repaired and then repainted.
Much to my husband's relief, the garage door seemed okay. Last month it finally fell off the cable though and became inoperable. There must have been more damage than we originally thought. Fast forward to last week. After waiting for nearly two months for the door to be built and delivered, we finally have a brand new door that looks 10 bazillion times better than the old one. We've hated that peach door since we moved in, so maybe I hit it on purpose.
I did not hit it on purpose, but if I had known how much better a new door was going to look, I would have. This door was fun to pick out because I got to select not just the window design, but the color and the hardware (which you can't really see, but it includes the handles and the "hinges"). My design tip would be to spend the extra money on a custom door. It looks so much better.
I can only hope that this week is less hectic than last week was. I need a break!
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 …
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