From Endurance to Dressage
I am diving into the world of virtual lessons. I love my Pivo Pod and have it dialed in so that it works effortlessly every time. It has taken a few tweaks, but it now works perfectly. If you're considering a Pivo Pod, here are my quick recommendations:
Now, I want to start using Pivo Meet for remote lessons so that I don't have to spend nearly six hours driving for a lesson. Not only is my whole Saturday spent just so I can get a 45 minute lesson, but the price of diesel keeps going up. Driving to a lesson now costs around $70 which is nearly the price of a lesson!
While I would have loved for someone to just tell me what to do to make Pivo Meet work, I know from experience that doing the research myself usually gives me a better understanding of the process. I started off with this article from Pivo. The process is pretty simple:
The last thing I need to do - besides practicing some more, is acquire a set of wireless ear buds. Holy moly is that a rabbit hole. Apparently, there are wireless earbuds and true wireless earbuds. The first are wireless, meaning they connect via Bluetooth but they are connected to each other by a wire. True wireless earbuds aren't connected to each other. Both styles vary wildly in price, but I think I have found a pair that will suit my budget and needs both: PowerPro Sport 5.0 Bluetooth Headphones. What I like about these besides the functionality is that they claim to work up to a range of 100 feet.
Before spending the money on the earbuds though, I want to do a bit more practicing. I need to make sure I can get Pivo Meet to work smoothly every time. Right now, I am having a few problems, but I feel quite confident they are due to user error. While reading posts on the Pivo Facebook page, I also discovered that connecting the earbuds and getting them to work during the Meet can be problematic, so now I need to get that part working as well. Thank you, Janet and Ruth, for the tip.
If you have any other Pivo Meet tips, feel free to share!
Life has been verging on the out of control lately as I find myself working ridiculously long hours. You would think that working from home would make life easier. Sure, I can get a load of laundry done, and I can pee without having my neighbor come over to watch my class, but the work that distance learning requires is wearing me out.
Life must go on though, and I refuse to let this pandemic change every aspect of my life. No matter how tired I am, I make it to the barn anyway to ride or take care of what needs to be done. So, here are a few interesting updates.
Update #1 Pivo Pod
After a few initial adjustments, my Pivo has tracked me pretty much perfectly. When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, comes down for a lesson, she no longer has to be videographer and trainer both. That part has been working great for several months. The trouble I was having was that my iPhone 7 Plus's battery would be drained by the end of the lesson.
I know I mentioned this already, and I shared my plan, but the first time I tried, my solution didn't work. My husband replaced my last solar charger when mine was stolen in November. The first time I connected my solar charger to my phone while using the Pivo, it didn't charge. I later discovered that unlike my first charger, you have to turn this one on. Doh! When I tried the whole set up again this weekend, I turned the darn thing on, and what do you know? It worked! At the end of the lesson, my phone was still at 100%. You gotta love smart technology.
Update #2 Gastro Elm
I now know with absolute certainty that the GastroElm is working. After giving it daily for almost two weeks, I missed a day at the barn. The very next day, Izzy's poop was once again ploppy, and the day after that, his belly was sensitive to grooming.
On one hand, I am thrilled that it is working. On the other, it's frustrating that the ulcer hasn't healed. I am hoping that if I persist with the activated dose, his tummy will eventually heal over. I had planned to just sprinkle the powder straight into his lunch, but since his stomach is till not quite right, I'll continue activating the GastroElm before top dressing his feed.
On the day his tummy was sensitive, I also syringed a dose before riding. I really like that about this product. You can dose them several times a day as needed for more instant "relief." I know UlcerGard (and GastroGard) should be the better choice, but honestly, I got quicker results with the Gastro Elm.
Update #3 Shedding
It always catches me off-guard how early in the year that Izzy starts to shed. The first hairs started to let loose over the weekend. I know the shedding is connected to daylight hours, but winter only just arrived here in California's Central Valley. We had our first heavy rain of the season. Before Sunday's rain, it had only rained about 0.2". Even with this week's heavy rain, we're still under 2 inches for the year!
Speedy of course won't start shedding until March or so, and then he'll continue shedding all summer. It could be just his age, but it's much more likely that his PPID (Cushing's Disease) is affecting his coat. Each year his coat gets a little longer, and he takes longer to lose it.
Focusing on all of the little things like solar power, ploppy poop, and shedding hair forces me to step away from my job even if just for an hour or two. My brain and emotional health say thank you.
Sometimes, it's the little things that are important.
A few local friends have been asking me if I like my Pivo. I don't like it, I LOVE it! I don't have time to watch hours and hours of video though, so I tend to use my Pivo Pod mostly for lessons. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables has been great about videoing lessons, but using the Pivo allows her to focus on giving the lesson instead of trying to teach and video at the same time. And with the Pivo, I can record the entire lesson which includes all of the non-riding conversation. It's during those chats that Chemaine gives me a lot of information.
Besides the Pivo's settings, which I now have dialed in and never adjust,
I bought a bendable tripod that I use to secure the Pivo to the fence. It wraps snuggly around the top rail of the fence and keeps the Pivo level. It's also strong enough to withstand a windy day.
A few years ago, my husband bought me a solar charger that I used at shows to charge my iPhone at night. At the last show I went to in November, someone stole it off my truck where I had set it to recharge. I've done this for several years without worry, but this time, someone thought it looked useful and swiped it. My husband bought me another one for my birthday. Since my iPhone is getting a bit old, the battery doesn't last very long, especially while using the Pivo Pod, so my plan is to use the solar charger while I am recording.
This is the part I have yet to try. I think I can wrap the charger with the foam twist tie and secure it next to the Pivo so that it can charge my phone while it's recording. This is still a work in progress though. It may takes some trial and error, but I am pretty sure it will work. I think I also need a longer iPhone cable .
Because I now have so many pieces for my Pivo, I needed a storage container to schlepp it all to the barn or my trainer's place. At a show I did in the fall, Riding Warehouse donated these cute little backpacks as show swag. It's the perfect containment system! And as an added bonus, it is hands free. I can wear it to the arena and still keep track of what my horse is doing. You know, 'cause it's Izzy.
I truly love the Pivo Pod and feel that it is worth every penny. Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions.
Things have been good in my neck of the woods. With such a mild winter, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has been able to come down more frequently over the past month, and I've been able to go up to her place. During our lesson on Sunday I told her that it feels as though I've learned more in the past six months than in the past decade. That's not true of course, but it's really motivating to be in a learning phase as opposed to just trying to survive.
Now that Izzy's tummy is feeling better, he's back to being a bit of a jerk. I told Chemaine that it was almost funny that while his tummy was upset, he worked a lot better. Now that he's not thinking about his tummy so much, he's thinking about how hard his job is. I liked him better when he was feeling a bit puny. Sheesh.
Now that he's once again resisting the idea of being supple, I needed Chemaine to jump in with yet a new suppling exercise. I've been doing tons of shoulder-in and haunches in, particularly on the circle, and I've even been playing around with shoulder-in and haunches in to the outside of the circle. Essentially, I am just focusing on getting the different parts of his body to move and loosen up.
Like she seems to do, Chemaine came up with a variation on the exercises I've already been doing. How she does this on the spot, I'll never know. Using the quarterline again, she had me ride Izzy in a haunches in. Every time he resisted the outside rein, she wanted me to halt. No just do a half halt, but to really and truly halt. And while halting, she wanted my leg on and for Izzy to stay in the haunches in.
It sounds easy, but when you have 400 pounds in your hands, it's not. Instead of keeping his hind end underneath himself, he insisted on dropping his back and flinging his head up. It is my tendency to try to make things easier for him, so Chemaine had to insist that I insist that he halt. Not just shorten his stride, but to HALT, DAMMIT!
Initially, I didn't really understand the purpose of the full halt. As we continued trotting up one quarterline and down another in haunches in, Chemaine helped me see that by insisting on a full halt every time he resisted the outside rein, Izzy started to anticipate the full halt which helped him to understand the half halt. And that's why she's the trainer.
As I started to understand the purpose of the full halt, I was able to be more exacting in my riding. Haunches in for bend and to put him on the outside rein, full halt when he resisted. Repeat, repeat, repeat, Change direction. The point was to show him that once he gives, he gets to go on again. When things are crystal clear, Izzy learns so much better. The more clear and consistent I was, the more supple he was willing to be.
Then we did it at the canter. And once again, I tried to make it "easier" for him, but really, I was trying to make it easier on myself. Instead of coming to a full halt every time he resisted, I tried to cheat and just collect him super short. But as usual, Chemaine saw right through me and explained that the full halt made it much more clear to him that resistance is futile. When he resisted, he had to halt with his hind legs underneath him which is much harder than just being more supple through his neck and back.
As we worked, Chemaine asked for more. More what I asked? Her response was more half halt. She wanted me to make him earn the release by using more compression in the haunches in. Eventually, we used the 10-meter circle, something we're struggling with to the right, as a reward. When he was soft in the haunches in on the quarterline (but compressed), I turned it into a 10-meter circle and gave him more room to stretch forward. As soon as he braced, I collected the canter making the last half of the 10-meter circle much harder.
This exercise, trotting or cantering the quarterline with haunches in, is an excellent way to set up lots of other movements like the 10-meter circles, simple changes, and especially the canter half pass. Near the end of the lesson, Izzy was so soft on the left lead that I left the quarterline and floated across an imaginary diagonal line in a lovely canter half pass. For about three strides, and then it was less lovely, but still pretty nice.
Show season is on its way. We're not ready, but we never are. Each week though things get less ugly, and there are actually whole minutes where things are pretty. Not just moments, but strings of moments. As we worked on Sunday, I actually heard myself say, "Do you remember when he couldn't canter on the right lead?"
And now, he has a very pretty right lead canter. The left's not too shabby either.
While Izzy is getting a day or three to rest up, I've been watching a Pivo video I shot on Sunday. There are a few things I saw that gave me pause - some good, and some not so good.
The first is that it does look as though I am at least occasionally restricting his neck. While I am riding though, it doesn't feel like it. If I give him more rein, his head shoots up or he runs off. When he's trying to run through my rein or be a giraffe, I flex him to the inside and push him sideways until he relaxes his neck and carries himself. It's easier to "talk" to him on a circle. It's much more difficult on the straight ahead moments, especially the medium trot. I am so eager to give him the rein that I hold them so lightly that he occasionally jerks them free. This is definitely something that I need to figure out: how to give him more room without riding a giraffe.
Besides the restricting thing, there are lots of things that I am really pleased with, and they all have to do with the walk. It was in the walk that we lost a lot of points at our last show. When Izzy is tense and bouncing off the walls, he jigs. Riding him is so different from riding Speedy who LOVES to walk. He always saw the free and extended walks as an opportunity to stretch his neck and catch his breath. Izzy hasn't quite figured that out yet.
Over the past week, I've been focusing on the walk. When he jigs, I compress the walk until he almost halts, and then I let him back out. Collect and lengthen, collect and lengthen ... just like you would do at the trot or canter. I am also focusing on the cues for the free walk. I want him to know that the free walk is a "thing." As we come through the corner, I straighten him by aligning his hips and shoulders, and then I purposefully send him forward with a squeeze from both legs as I let the reins slide through my fingers. We'll see if it helps this weekend.
Another movement that is hugely improved is the rein-back. Two months ago, he couldn't do one. He would scramble backwards with his head in the air and his back hollow. It took a few rides, but he quickly learned what I wanted. I started with asking for only one step and then praising him hugely when he gave it. We did that for several days until he would take one crisp step backwards and halt squarely. Then I added a second step and a third and a fourth. He now backs very purposefully, but his back has been tight. This past week, I worked on getting him really soft and round and then maintaining that during the rein-back. I am learning that with Izzy, the smaller my cue, the happier he is, so now I am asking for the rein-back with the littlest bit of rein possible.
Along with the free walk and rein-back, his turns on the haunches are also getting so much better. For a while, he was just stuck and couldn't move. During that clinic I did with Amelia Newcomb, I showed her what I meant by getting stuck, and she "fixed" the problem in less than 30 seconds. I had been focusing on the hind end, when what I should have been doing was bringing his shoulders around. With Speedy, I had to really keep control of his haunches, or I lost them as they would shoot out to the side. So that's how I learned to ride a turn on the haunches.
Izzy doesn't have the problem of wayward haunches in this movement, so I was unintentionally planting his feet so he couldn't move. Amelia had me think about bringing the shoulders around with an open inside rein. Immediately, he swung around his haunches like a pro. Over the past week, I've been building on that new learning and helping him to bring his shoulders around with a soft neck and loose back.
I just keep reminding myself that we only need to make everything just one point better. It doesn't have to be perfect.
One point is all we need.
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 …
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 (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
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