From Endurance to Dressage
I am back! Sorry for the sudden radio silence. I knew we were going north to visit my dad and stepmom, but I just didn't get around to saying so. And then by time we were back, all sorts of other craziness happened, so I just decided to wait until today to start telling those stories. Here's the first one.
My dad and stepmom live in southern Humboldt County which is a solid 500 miles from Bakersfield. It took us nine hours to get there and ten to get back home. We took the dogs with us, so there were a lot of potty stops.
Humboldt County is very rural, especially where my parents live. Heading south from Humboldt County, the nearest stop light is more than an hour away. Heading north, it's a forty-five minute drive to find a stoplight. There are no stoplights if you go west, and the nearest one to the east is over a mountain range and several hours away.
It had been more than a decade since we'd been to my dad and stepmom's house - long story, so it was fun to see all of the things they've done. My dad is very handy; with some help, he built the house. He felled all of the trees to open up the building site, and he's carved out more and more space over the years.
He has since planted beautiful trees, an orchard, and several gardens. There's a fish pond with a swinging bench, bird feeders, and a beautiful stone wall.
Below the house my dad built a small barn for the chickens and his goats. Since they live in a rainforest, things grow like crazy. He uses the goats to keep the brush under control, and they do a pretty good job of keeping the undergrowth from taking over. On the days that they don't graze on the property, my dad feeds them hay with peanuts in the shell as treats. They LOVE peanuts.
The goats live with a bunch of chickens, and of course they have an excellent watch dog in Rusty, a Heeler mix. Rusty keeps the wild turkeys back as they too have repeatedly tried to take over.
The house is a split level, so on one side it is two stories high, but on the other, the west side, it's three stories. The bottom story houses a garage, root cellar, and my dad's game room. He has a dart board, TV, and a very fancy pool table. While my stepmom is a good sport, she doesn't enjoy being down there as much as my dad does, so to have two new players - my husband and me, was a real treat.
We spent one whole afternoon laughing our butts off as we went head to head in a mini pool tournament. My dad and husband made a team while my stepmom and I banded together. It would seem like an unfair match up, but the boys played according to one set of rules while my stepmom and I were allowed to play slop pool. We won three out of four games, so we held our own. Not that I wanted to lose, boy, do I hate losing, but when we did, we were having so much fun that it didn't really matter.
We had a great visit, and it was certainly over-due. My dad is already asking that we come back for Christmas. If we all lived even just a bit closer, making the drive would be easier, but as it is, I don't think we'll make it back in 2020. If anyone has a plane they'd like to rent out, my parents would be super appreciative. Until then, our next visit will more than likely have to wait until 2021.
More on the rest of the week tomorrow...
As soon as school lets out this afternoon, my husband and I are making the drive to San Fransisco. On a regular day, the drive is a bit hectic. We're really going for crazy though as we'll be entering the Bay Area at about 5:30, the worst time for traffic. And to really sweeten the pot, we're rolling into the city on the Friday evening before Christmas.
We're going to visit with my dad who has had to take care of some personal issues this past month. While the circumstances aren't great, we're excited about the visit. My dad has already created a list of things that he'd like to see. As have we ...
Since I drive Newt, a monster to park even in Bakersfield, and my husband drives a Raptor, not that much smaller, we're planning to park at our hotel, which has limited parking, so fingers crossed. From there, we plan to Uber across the city and walk most of the day. We'll then Uber back as I am not hiking the 8 miles back across the peninsula.
I've been to San Fransisco many times, but it's been a while. It's a beautiful city with more things to do that can be done in two days. I'm looking forward to spending the time with my dad, visiting places we last saw together when I was just a kid. Enjoy your own weekend!
No matter where we travel, I am always on the lookout for a chance to interact with horses. Even my husband has gotten good at spotting foreign ponies for me. This trip was no exception.
We started our visit to Canada with a four-night stay in Quebec City. On the first morning of our visit, I heard that familiar clip clop of hooves on asphalt and the search was on. I am not sure who spotted the carriages first, my husband or me, but a tour of the old city was the first thing we did.
Before we even made it into the carriage though, I met one of the many vets who supervise the horses that pull the carriages. She explained that she examines each horse for wounds or injuries and monitors the number of hours that they work. Veterinarians patrol the carriage routes checking the horses multiple times throughout the day.
The workday for the horses is strictly regulated. They don't work if it's too hot, too cold, or if they have any wounds or are thought to be ill. The driver explained that horses can be sent back to the stable for the slightest nick or wobbly shoe. He went on to say that the carriage horses in Quebec are the most scrutinized in all of Canada.
I am not sure if we just landed a good guide or if ours was particularly friendly because I had horses - we had chatted a bit before our tour began, but we had a very interesting tour of the old city. Throughout our stay, we noticed that most of the drivers were pretty quiet during the ride while the passengers wore an expression of boredom.
It could have also been that we're curious travelers and were very interested in the history of Quebec City. Our driver seemed more than happy to show off his corner of the world, and we were an appreciative audience.
We left Quebec City by train and headed to Montréal for five more nights. The carriages in old Montréal were even more abundant, and my husband asked if I needed another tour. I am sure I would have enjoyed it, but I declined. The city just didn't have the same relaxed vibe that was found in Quebec City.
By about the third day in Montréal, we were tired of the noise and traffic and decided to spend the morning hiking around Parc du Mont-Royal, a 500 acre park within the city. From Chalet du Mont-Royal, we admired the view of downtown Montréal and then followed the trail to the 98-foot-high cross that sits at the top of Mont-Royal.
As we strolled through the forest, we came upon several large manure piles which my husband found strange since all of the carriage horses had worn bags to catch the manure. We wondered if the carriages could be found in the park or if trail riding was allowed. Within a short time, I heard the clip clop of a horse approaching.
To my delight, it turned out to be a female officer who was happy to stop for a chat. Her English was limited - French is the primary language of the province of Quebec, but with a shared love of horses, we were able to communicate just fine.
She explained that her job was to patrol the park, helping tourists who were lost or in some kind of distress. She also watches out for criminal activity. When I asked about a partner, she explained that he was on vacation so she was riding her own assigned horse as well as her partner's to keep him exercised. Unlike the carriage horses, the mounted officers ride in the heat and cold, adding studs to the shoes when it's icy and rump rugs to keep the horses warm.
We had a great time in Quebec and found our Canadian neighbors to be friendly and very welcoming. We're already talking about next summer's vacation. Not sure where we'll go, but I bet they have horses!
First of all, happy Independence Day! As a fifth grade teacher who teaches US history, I love this day. I like to think that most of my students will be talking about some of the stuff they learned this year - like who signed the Declaration of Independence and why. Who can forget Paul Revere's ride - gotta love it when horses are involved! Most of my students agreed King George III was a jerk and that taxation without representation was unfair. Some even thought taxes were unfair altogether - I let them make up their own minds. But what does that have to do with Canada?
There are 195 sovereign states recognized by the United Nations. I'll never hit all 195 of course, and there are a few that I'm not interested in visiting at all (sorry, Somalia, but you need to clean up your act first), but I'd like to see at least 10% (and more would be amazing!) of them before I am too old to hobble around.
So far my list of Been There! includes the Canary Islands (geographically part of the continent of Africa but belonging politically to Spain), mainland Spain, Costa Rica, Ireland, Peru, Canada, England, Scotland, Belize, Guatemala, Portugal, Italy, and Vatican City. That makes 13 (I am counting the USA as one of the countries I've been to) of the 195. In dressage speak, I've earned a 6%, still short of my goal of 10%. That's okay as I'm getting close.
Early tomorrow morning, my husband and I are off to visit Montréal and Quebec City in eastern Canada. We've already been to Canada once before - we visited the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island a few years ago, so this particular trip doesn't get me another mark on my list. Even so, I am excited about the trip. After Paris, Montréal is the second largest French speaking city in the world.
I've ridden horses, or done something with horses, in many of the places we've visited. I've ridden in the Canary Islands, Ireland, Scotland, Belize, and Portugal, and we've done a carriage ride in Italy. I'll be keeping my eye out for an opportunity in Montréal or Quebec City as well. My husband's always game for an equine experience, even if it's just dropping me off while he goes for a beer.
We don't really have a specific itinerary like we usually do, but we plan to visit Notre Dame Basilica and Old Montréal. There's really no end of things to do. We'll be gone for close to two weeks, so you won't hear from me again until the middle of July.
Enjoy your 4th of July festivities!
You might remember that we were gone last week on vacation. Who knew San Diego could get so hot? Our plan was to leave the valley's heat and chill out on California's coast. Nope. The whole week was in the upper 70s with 79% humidity. Even so, we had a great time.
If you ever visit California, I'd recommend a stay in San Diego. While I was there one time while in college, I stayed with a friend and didn't really see much besides La Jolla. This time I was there as a "tourist," and I was delighted with the city. It was clean, pedestrian friendly, and quite charming. The restaurants were amazing, and there was no end of things to do. I am not surprised though; California's just a great state!
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%: