Thursday, November 17, 2016

TBT - I can't afford it all!

I wrote this a few years ago, some things have changed, some have not,......

"I can’t afford it.” “I don’t have the money.” How come those sentences are so hard to say? Sometimes I think people have a harder time with that than saying “sorry” in a heartfelt apology. We lie, we distract, we dissemble, we do just about anything not to have to say that we just cannot afford to go to the show (the fees can be outrageous), buy a new saddle or get a massage for our horses.
Well, I am coming out of the closet on this on; I cannot afford it all. I have a job with decent wages, but I have to make choices all the time. I have one used saddle that is way too small, the knee blocks are useless for me, and it is what it is for right now. My girth is an old English girth because my billets are too short for a dressage girth, which doesn’t matter because I don’t own a dressage girth. I have two bridles, only one of them is a Dressage bridle even though that is my discipline. The Dressage bridle is my show bridle, but I don’t really show because I can’t afford a truck to take me to shows. In my yard sits the used trailer that was supposed to be step one in hauling myself, but step two (the truck) is just not on the horizon. Pippi’s blanket was bought used, and has, in its second season with me, several tears in the cover. She does not get supplements, a massage (other than by me), regular chiropractic care, or aromatherapy treatments. (Okay, that was snarky)

It’s hard this balancing act that we do. And it’s really hard to see others that seemingly do have it all. “How do they do it?” we ask ourselves and quietly with our best and most trusted friend. “She must get her Visa bill delivered in a box!” You know you have said worse things!
Sure, that feeling of envy is useless and negative, but so very human.  Life isn’t fair, and no matter how many times we stamp our feet like little three year olds, it’s not about to change any time soon. I admit I get jealous, envious, and I wish so much to win the lottery (I bet buying a ticket would help).

There is a feeling, for me at least, that as equestrians we are expected to be willing to make every sacrifice available for the betterment of our horses and our sport. The horse comes first, and the pressure to get the latest tack innovation and best care can get intense. “If I had to live in a tent to keep my horse, I totally would!” Really? Well, I can’t do that! What I wouldn’t do for a saddle that fit and a Toyota Tundra! I know that I am just a few lost paychecks from having to make very hard decisions about the future of Pippi, and even scarier I am not ready for a medical emergency. Sure, we are supposed to have funds put away for that sort of thing, but realistically how many of us are financially prepared?

I had this, but never got to use it...... sold!

Pippi is my dessert in life, but I have to have real food and so does my family. And even if you are ever so willing to make a lot of sacrifices, as I am, how do you ask your partner and family to do the same? I realize that my love for Pippi is not shared by my husband. He sees it as my passion, and would never dream of asking me to make sacrifices for his work outs (one of his passions). Time is one thing, but serious changes in our lives so that I can keep a horse is asking a lot from the poor fella. As I stated in an earlier blog, a horse can cause divorce. Relationships can be difficult when different sets of priorities enter the picture. The pressures we put on ourselves, the shame/ jealousy/envy (of which we ourselves should take responsibility) we may feel at times, are understandable as we make choices based on our funds. Few of us are in position to not have to think “money” when we think ”horses.”  We work hard, we don’t have the time we would like to spend with our horses, the horses don’t always get everything we would like them to have, and we make the best of it. The next time you can’t go to the show, replace broken tack or put off vaccinations because you don’t have the funds for it, please know your boat is filled with equestrians doing the same. When I feel a little “jelly belly” it is not that I don’t want that other rider to have what they have, I just long for a day when I can have the same without feeling very stressed about it financially. 

I’m jealous, but I own it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Apply your outrage locally!

This past weekend at Fair Hill International a rider was allowed to finish the XC portion even though blood was clearly visible in the mouth of the horse as early as fence 10( according to pictures and reports from those present). This has caused quite the ruckus, as it should in my opinion. I have read opinions and great blogs questioning the blood rule, and decisions made by the officials, fears that this type of PR will hurt equestrian sport, and just pure outrage regarding all kinds of things connected to this event. Borrowing from political journalists I say we call this whole thing "Bloodgate." And "bloodgate" sure is getting people fired up, and I think that's good! Get fired up! State your opinion! Sign that petition and take a stand.

But you know what? I'm going to ask you to stay with that feeling of outrage and activism for a while, and try to apply it to your local equestrian community. Quite often equestrians at local levels "get away with murder", or more likely, negligent homicide. (Negligent homicide is the killing of another person (horse) through gross negligence or without malice). We all talk about "those people"at the local level: that have malnourished horses. Old school horses who can no longer carry little bouncy kids in lessons and instead of being given the sweet retirement (after earning money for their owner carrying one bouncy ass after another) in a field of clover, are dumped at meat auctions (I for one would rather the vet come out and give them a pain free end).
 How about the ones who have one freakish "accident" after another, when everyone knows it's caused by mis-management (if one is being kind and not just calling a spade a spade). Horses are getting hurt by people who cut corners knowingly every day. Horses are hurt because repairs were not done, and then not given the care and consideration they need to heal.
Old horses that have given their lives to their sport, are drugged and competed way too long, and everyone who sees it shakes their heads and whisper. "Can you believe she is still running that horse? How old is it now? 26?"
Crimes happen and people talk, but no one presses charges because they don't want any more drama, and just want the offender off their property so "they can move on." And they do, they move on to do it again to someone else.

These things go on in every community, and I could go on and on..........

So what do I want you to do? Make a big stink? Raise your voices? grab your pitchforks and run the bastards out of town? (YES!) No! You do not have to go that far.... You know what I'd like? I'd like to see the offenders we know about, (because we saw it, and there is no doubt) not be supported by people in the community. I'd like those that whisper and spread the rumors, shake their heads and "just feel awful" to put their actions where their mouths are.
You don't have to take a big public stand and yell from the mountain top that "so and so" did "this and that!" You can just NOT support them by action or word. Don't help them earn money, and don't give them your money! Stop going to that barn! Stop taking lessons from that trainer! Stop attending clinics/events at that boarding place! Stop recommending that person! Stop "liking and sharing" their events and results on social media! Just stop!
You can do that very quietly and without drama. You don't even have to tell others not to support that person, or even why you are not. If asked, just make a bland excuse and move on. Just distance yourself and leave it at that!  If you see the person, be polite, but don't invite them into your social equestrian circle. The best part is you do not have to spread the rumors, or be involved in the drama in any way. All you have to do is walk away! Retreat! And shut up! Easy peasy!

As equestrians we have a responsibility to stand for the horse, and sometimes the best way to do that is to do just that; just stand! Take that stand personally, and support horse people whose actions you agree with. Make sure those you recommend really are equestrians you recommend without reservations. Give your funds to people who you feel care for and treat horses ethically. Spread the word about trainers and barns that treat horses well. Support their events, and cheer them on.
 And apply the Thumper rule liberally:

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all!" But let's amend that a little: If you can't say something nice, don't talk crap about them, and then support that person in other ways.
...................... Just sayin'...................

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Learning Buffet

In my quest to becoming a better horse owner, and trainer, I am always looking around for pearls of wisdom. There are lots of venues to learn, great trainers, and I also find that I learn an incredible amount from "ammie" riders just like me. I read everything I can find, watch videos, read blogs and books, and peruse facebook groups. Basically I am obsessed!

Once in awhile I come across a type of person that I will call "the Cult Disciple." They are so convinced, and may I say "brainwashed," to their leader's way of training and riding that they are defensive right off the bat. And also often arrogant and self righteous. "So and so" uses only "this and that" method, and "no Gadgets," and anything else is "cruel," "abusive" and "unjust" and at best is a total "waste of time"and it will make you horse "fractious." This is a quick way to make me leave your school of thought behind. Nothing turns me off quicker than a hard sale, and the words "this is the only way...."

You know why? Cause there are 100s of ways to Rome. I will never become convinced that it is a good idea to swallow one training method, line hook and sinker, to get the best result with yourself and your horse. And the good news is that I don't have to do that; I can approach learning and training the same way I approach The Golden Corral Buffet. I can walk in, grab a plate, and fill it whatever I want. Maybe a little clicker training, with a bowl of BioMechanics and side of cowboy sauce. I don't enjoy the real crunchy Parelli stuff, and the Modern Dressage can be a little undercooked and tough, but boy I do love me some Classical Dressage. I eat that a lot, and have tried recipes from a variety of old chefs. But as I grow and mature, so does my taste buds, so I try new things, and if I still don't like it, I will just put it aside, and perhaps come back to it later on. 

The most important thing for me is to stay open minded, and ready to listen and learn. The only thing I try to judge is how the training method affects my horse, and if I am getting the desired results without causing pain or undue stress to my horse or myself. When something works I could care less if I heard it from Monty, Jane, Buck, Karen, George, Charlotte, Will, or Carl, read it in a blog, or heard it from a friend. Good Dessert is just good, no matter who first came up with the recipe. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Selling my Lorenzini Evo Action Stirrups

"The Royal Rider Evo-Action Stirrups include a spring and coil system at the stirrup leather placement that is designed to adjust to the weight of the rider. The shock and tension of impact are absorbed and smoothly distributed through the body of the stirrup, through the natural flexibility and strength of the stirrup’s techno-polymer components. These durable, lightweight stirrups are made to ensure maximum shock absorption, providing cushioning relief from stress of impact and jostling movements upon the your joints."

I only tried these for a few rides, and they still look brand new. Great for bad knees. I really liked them but my ankle prefers the stirrups that drops to a 70% angle.
FREE shipping inside continental USA

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Not knowing shit might be a good thing!

Have you seen the pictures of the Grand Prix riders in the Falsterbo warm up ring wrestling their horses? These are Grand Prix riders, the top of our sport, the riders that know how to passage and piaffe and who should be some the best our sport has to offer. They should be the elite, the ones "in the know." The Masters, the Professionals.....

I, on the other hand, am a student, not a teacher, or trainer or master. And I know that I don't know shit about horses or dressage. But knowing that I don't know, and truly recognizing that might just be the most important thing that I DO know. Because I am open, a sponge soaking in horse and dressage knowledge from any source I can find. I study the true teachers; Podhajsky, Lundqvist, Klimke, Savoie, Morris and the like. I watch western trainers like Brannaman, and learn how to listen and hear my partner. I watch videos from the Olympics in the 60s and 70s looking for softer and more relaxed movements.
I peruse Dressage Facebook pages, and read the advice to issues Pippi and I don't have (right now), and file it away for "some day." For what I reject today, I may use tomorrow. And I reject a lot! A LOT! And then a new issue comes up, and I flip through my mental rolodex and come upon some tidbit or advice, or recall someone I saw and either try it or reject it again. Often I try, and then reject only to perhaps revisit it again. And I ask everyone I know for anything they can tell me. And when they speak I listen, quietly, and sort through what I just heard and decide if this knowledge is for now or later.
I study the USEF rulebook by reading the The Snaffle Squads "one rule per day" at noon every day. Those rules are the perimeters and there is a lot to learn in them. I want to know what the rules actually say, and I want to know the goal of each step.

So when thinking about those riders in the warm up ring I have to wonder if they forgot a lot, or just think that they know. Did they get to such a high level technically that they no longer hear their horses? Did their knowledge drown out their hearts? Do they hear the concerns of the masses, that may not be able to piaffe, or do they just "know" that they know better. They are the best after all, so why should they still have to learn? Just because they know how to make a horse pirouette, do they know how to ask a horse to pirouette? A gaggle of riders, at the highest level, warming up together, do they show off to one another and feed off each other, and let their ambitions get the better of them? Are they honest with themselves, or do they know better than the rest of us "what it takes" for the horse to work at that level?
I am just happy that I don't know shit. It makes me question everything, search for answers and it makes me curious. The greatest barrier to learning and growing as a rider is thinking that I already know. I mean.... even I know that!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dressage Stock-tie for $3.73!

Who here has no financial concerns whatsoever? You are excused, please go back to your charmed life, while the rest of us try to squeeze the last drop out of every last penny. It is Vet season, as in shots/coggins season, membership renewal season and show season, so my pennies are on fire.

As I am going to my first rated show, cue the applause, I need to look the part, which requires a Dressage Stock tie. You can find those quite inexpensively online, even Amazon has a few decent ones, but that is still too rich for my blood. Plus I didn't want to be all white and boring, and I have an imagination and a sewing machine with passable skills. So I puzzled and puzzled 'till my puzzler was sore, and went to find cheap material. The best place to find scrap material may not be your local fabric store, but instead your local Goodwill, where found exactly what I had in mind; white with a little color and a little sparkle with some great details already done for me:
White with blue and silver stripes.

I know the silver is not really showing in the pic, it is quite subtle, so perfect for Dressage. And since the front had all that detailed pleating, I decided to use that in some way. 
Just to be clear; I don't have a pattern for a stock tie, I just went for it. First I decided to make the collar part, and I looked at the collars of shirts and thought, whoa that's not easy to trace..... Come on Google, and lo and behold the interwebs had just what I needed; a Shirt Collar Pattern. So I printed that off and I was off and running. This shirt was made with wide interfacing at the front, the part that is sewed back from the buttons. The picture doesn't show it, but right below where the pic ends so does the pleating. I used that doubled up, folded back part with the interfacing for the collar, cutting one side for the collar on each side if the shirt. After finishing that, I played around a bit, and came of with this:
Upside down front portion of shirt

After cutting off the bottom of that, and sewing all the sides neatly, I ended up with a nice rectangle for bottom of my Stock tie. I then went and found one of my husbands old wider ties, and used that as a guide for cutting the tie part. I made two sides and then sewed them together. Then I attached the tie part to the collar and the rectangle on top and:

I think it turned out just fine. I added a few crystals for some bling on the buttons, and plan on adding a Stock pin of some sort to hold it together and keep it from flying up as I ride; a dressage NO!

And the final price was just right for this cash strapped Dressage rider:

Hope that gave you some ideas........

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Name that Disorder!

It is almost that time of year again in my neck of the woods; FLY time. Oh, you know it well, it is the time of year when you spend untold amounts of cash on fly spray and other fly related products, you ask others for advice about what they do, complain about just how many flies/ticks there are this year, and swear that it is worse than ever. You know you said that last year too, right? You Google and read all about adding garlic to your horses diet, and ponder whether any of the supplements on offer that claims to help actually do.

Meanwhile in the barn, your equine is suffering. Not from the bites, or the stings, or even the heat, oh no, something totally over looked by human companions (as far as this rider has ever heard or seen).

 Here is a Hint:
Now, what could it be?

What ailment and discomfort are you totally overlooking? You, who put your equines needs before your own? Who sends half your paycheck to SmartPak, and the other half to a top notch boarding facility?

Well, let me tell you:      SEASONAL TAIL FATIGUE!!! (I coined the term.)

If your horse has a tail, and I bet it does, even if it is not the heavy, thick variety, I bet that horse gets some rear end soreness this time a year. I know Pippi does. But then again, did you take a look at that tail? It weighs a ton!!
Even from a distance like this, you can see that we have a lot of junk in that trunk. 

So imagine......all winter she stands around, tail hanging like a useless appendage, unless a super cute, short and fat pony gelding comes around that is. (Pippi is a Chubby Chaser!) 
Then Spring comes, and then in early summer the flies start to swarm. And the tail goes to work, relentlessly swinging and swooshing attempting to ward off the attacks. It is completely ruled by instinct, but with each swoosh the muscles that make it happen groan. Especially for those who are endowed with a thick, flowy tail, but even for those with a scragglier rear. Its got to get sore. 

I can tell that it does for Pippi. She carries her tail bone a bit lifted, and her rump is just stiff and movements are just not as smooth. So what do I do? Massage!! I rub that rump! (There is a rapsong in that line.) I gently gather the hair in my hand, and pull on the tail, bending slightly to each side. I lift the hind legs and stretch them forward, and a massage that entire rump. Pippi seems to enjoy a deep tissue massage using the heel of my hand. Really get in there, rub the entire area surrounding the tail.

Make sure you keep an eye on your horse, and make sure they actually like what you are doing. Pippi will sidestep when I get to a particularly sore spot, and that tells me to soften a bit. I also use my thumbs and press them into two spots of the muscles. This forces the muscle to contract, which breaks up the Lactic Acid, and flushes it out of the muscle. You should feel the muscle contract, release pressure when it stops shaking under our thumb. With Pippi this often accompanies a deep sigh. 
WARNING: be careful with muscle ointments this time of year, as the sun might cause them to burn. Only use when you are sure the horse will be inside, and rinse off before horse enters the open sun. 

I hope this post helps a few sore tails out there, and that we may help our equines suffering from Seasonal Tail Fatigue. (Clever name huh? Just remember, I coined that phrase!! )  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My most valuable asset - Time!

Do you know what is equal for all things on earth? We all get 24 hours per day! Rich or poor, short or tall, punctual or late; 24 hours per day. I have no idea just how many of those 24 hour days I will get in my lifetime, and a large percentage of that time will be spent in pursuits I may not very much enjoy. 40 Hours per week I will be behind a desk, earning my living for the hours I can spend at my leasure. Let's call that portion "my life."

Here is my work week breakdown of "my life" when I am not working, driving to and from work or sleeping:

                          Monday-        6.5 hours of my life
Tuesday -       6.5
Wednesday -  6.5
 Thursday-     6.5
Friday-           6.5
Total:           32.5

I will defend "my life" from any encroachment on any level. As I age I find myself more and more annoyed at anything that wastes my time or energy. My kids are grown, and I relish in having this time to spend not beholden to anyone. That being said I very much enjoy spending my time with friends and loved ones, and I value and cherish the time they spend with me. Making sure I am available and punctual is very important to me, out of respect for them, and I ask the same back. 

Since I have had some early losses in my life, I am extra sensitive to the passage of time and the value of it. We have no idea how much sand is left in our hour glasses and so it is imperative to use it wisely. Don't waste your sand on pursuits you don't enjoy, or on things that waste your hours. And most importantly don't allow anyone else to steal your time. They have their own 24 hours, let them throw their own portion away. 

The Horse for the horse's sake

I think as we ride and train, and make plans for the show season, and day dream about perfect canter departs and smiles all around, it is important to remember that the horse doesn't give a hoot about ribbons or any of that crap!

A few years ago I came across a great documentary, and just this morning as I was watching the video of that rider punishing her horse for stumbling ,I remembered it. And I thought I would watch the documentary again to remind myself of the magic, of the horse and of my responsibility to my horse. I don't agree with everything mentioned, but after watching it I can't help but feel humbled.

Pippi doesn't care about ribbons, or first place, or Regionals, or where her head is placed, or how long her stride is. She does it all for me. Because she is kind, and caring, she does all these things that she doesn't understand, doesn't see the value in, and/or finds annoying. She does it not because I force her, but because I ask. Isn't that just amazing? How long would your best friend (the human ones) do something they saw no value in, for you? How long would you do it for them? A few minutes? A day or two? 3-4 days a week? and then sacrifice weekends when all you really wanted was to hang out and chill? When all you really want is green grass, sunshine and a friend or two dozing in a warm breeze? Would you give up a trip to the beach to exercise for hours in the heat after a long and cramped journey, for your friend?

Clearly I am over simplifying here, but I just think we need to be reminded often of the magic gift our horses give to us. Go hug your horse and say thank you, today and every day!

Here is the Video:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Riding is about "time", so take it!

“Time – take it” I say to myself when I wonder when (will it happen), how soon (until we get it), how long (will it take) and how many (times do we have to do this). The answer is, of course, “who the heck knows!” It’s going take the time it’s going to take. Few things with horses can be rushed, and anyone who has tried to rush a horse has found that it’s kind of like rushing a man or a child; you just slow yourself down more. (My apologies to the opposite gender, but you do tend to put the brakes on whenever we try to get you to hurry. You don’t even wear make-up or do your hair, why are we the ones waiting at the door?) .

Are we there yet?

The most important tool to use in conjunction with anything else you are doing is time. Take the time, because it is going to take some time. A former Trainer, a very wise woman, told me often that “there is no substitute for time in the saddle.” For anyone who started riding as an adult this statement really hits home. I see a comfort level in riders that started young, a balance and certain comfort in the saddle that only comes with experience. The Trainer also meant that no matter how the ride went, you were riding and the horse was ridden and so there is value there. When I prepare for a ride, or a lesson, I think about what I want to work on, but I quickly remind myself not to put pressure on whether it will work out. I have goals, a timeline, but not a deadline.

When are you starting your young horse? When are you starting over fences? Does your horse have a flying lead change yet? When do you think you will move up to 2nd level? Are you going rated yet? These questions are really all about time. We determine our success based on where we are on our goals list, while our horses only know when you were supposed to feed them! Pippi learns things at her own pace, and all I can do is look for clues as to what she is ready for. I learn at my own pace, and all Pippi can do is hope that I catch up to her at some point. She doesn’t put too much pressure on me, and I appreciate that. She sure is happy when I pick up a new skill, and gives me lots of praise, but she has yet to stomp away from a ride disappointed that it didn’t live up to expectations. She gives me all the time I need, and I do the same for her.
One of our first real rides a long time ago.....

What are your goals ? Mine is to keep riding, maybe show if the opportunity arrives, and to enjoy my time riding. Riding is my “Me-time” after all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Enabling your horse/Queen of the horse world?

I think it is important to know your horses limitations and which battles to avoid with your horse. There are things that you may chose to avoid confronting with your horse, due to a variety of issues that may not come under the heading of enabling.
For example, Pippi does not get clipped. We tried for a year to desensitize her to clippers, and made some headway on her legs, but a bridle path or her face was out of the question. When she had some teeth work done, we decided to take advantage of her drugged state and try to clip her bridle path and muzzle. She walked two people out of her stall, and just about came unglued. It was at that point that I said "enough!" We can use scissors, and bikini shavers and I was no longer willing to fight this battle, potentially hurting her and us. I could go into all the ways that we tried to work with her on this, suffice it so say we tried it all (daily) for over a year. (No doubt some well meaning person will still offer advice, and let me just tell you now: this ship has sailed!)
Shows are busy places!

What I mean when using the term "enabling," is when someone allows their horse to not handle routine things. Things that they should, and quite frankly has to handle, in order to be a safe horse,  but their human shelter them from. Pippi not clipping does not affect anyone but her and I, and it puts no one in danger, nor should it annoy anyone (but I am sure it does).
When you take your horse to a show, or a clinic, trail ride, whatever, there are certain things that your horse should be able to handle. Routine things like another horse being lunged (with a lunge whip), trucks and trailers being moved around, horses coming out of those trailers, music, announcements, horses being worked in arenas or running in a field, people yelling and making noises, horses being hosed off, water buckets being filled and dumped, wheel barrows, etc etc. This is all routine horse show stuff. If you have a young horse, they will be nervous and perhaps a jumpy mess, but sheltering them does not help in the long run. Instead, it is important to stay calm, and let your horse get used to it.


If you go on a trail ride, your horse must cross water more than likely, so if you don't want to tackle that, don't go.

When it rains the arena will be sloppy, make your horse deal with it, or go home. Do not ask that the clinic/show/whatever be moved inside because your horse doesn't like to get dirty. (Pippi is a Princess, so this could be a battle for me)

They will announce you at a show, deal with it! Do not ask the show not to announce you and your horse because it bothers the horse, you are not the Queen of the Universe, and your horse will never get over it unless you deal. Stand close to speakers leading up to your ride, and your horse will get the drift. Or not, either way, you decided to go to a show and they announce stuff there.

Do not ask other riders to stop clipping their horse in their stall next to yours because your horse (Pippi) is afraid of the sound. Instead, ask that they stop for just a moment so that you can remove your horse. Go for a walk perhaps? It is your horse that has a problem, so your horse has to go, not theirs.

If your horse kicks out at other horses when they come close, put a BIG red ribbon on its tail. Sure, people should always keep their distance, but since your horse is the "aggressor", how about you give a reminder to the other riders? It doesn't mean that your horse is mean, it means you are a considerate and responsible equestrian. I am considering one even though Pippi has not kicked out (she pins her ears a bit), just because I think people ride too close and I would hate to get anyone hurt.

Do not expect horses stalled near you not to be fed whenever. Sure, your horse may have a conniption because their neighbor is eating. Throw yours some hay and teach your horse to deal.

Other people will lunge their horse with a whip, and they may even crack that whip. I don't mean, Indiana Jones style, whipping it around like a lunatic, or hurting their horse, but just your every day average lunge whip style. You know: Trot! 1-2-3 and Swoosh/crack whip, to get desired reaction from horse. Your horse is out in public, and should be able to handle seeing another horse being lunged with the accompanying whip. If it doesn't, you need to go home and desensitize this. Another option is to ask the other rider to stop "cracking their whip," which will at some point or another result in you pissing off a person who has shown admirable skill with a whip. I wouldn't advice it!

By not insisting that your horse deal with these type of things, you are enabling your horse to not learn and grow. Dealing with these issues is not just better for you, but it helps grow your horse's self confidence. A horse needs to learn to do its job regardless of what average stuff is happening around them.
Pippi, for example, needs to stay on the bit even when a fly is buzzing around her face. She needs to learn to keep her attention on me, even when a trailer is being unloaded directly beside the arena (with great parking nearby I might add - aaargghhh). She needs to pick up her cues, even when a horse is running at a gallop on a lunge line in the next arena.

 And if I for some reason chose to enable my horse, like with the clipping, it is MY problem. You should NEVER EVER EVER ask another rider to help you enable your horse by asking them to cease doing their normal behavior. You are in fact not the Queen of the Universe, and the world does not revolve around you and your horse. If your horse can't play ball, or needs the rules changed to accommodate issues, go home and start your own league. Or go home, work on your issues, and try again another day. "Bomb proof" horses became "bomb proof" (there is no such horse) not by running for shelter, or asking the bomber to stop, but by learning that the sound was not in fact an explosion.

Just sayin'......

Monday, February 15, 2016

17.5 Verhan Maximum & 16.5 Keiffer Munchen saddles for sale.

I am selling the Verhan Maximum Saddle that I love so much! As I am long legged on a short barreled horse, this saddle, as awesome as it is, is just not a good fit. For someone with horse all the way to their heel this is a great saddle. But since I have to draw up my leg to get my heel on Pippi it just doesn't work. The excellent thigh block which keeps me in perfect position at all times, makes it hard to get out of position to reach my horse, if that makes sense.

I have used the saddle for less than a year, and taken excellent care of it.
Here are a few pics:

Verhan Maximum 17.5 inch Dressage

Soft and awesome thing blocks to keep you in perfect position. 

5" +, it fit my wide Paint mare just fine, and she takes a WM+

Maroon Accent Piping
Action shot :)

I was fortunate to find a Niedersuss saddle, and hope to recoup my purchase of this saddle . ( and go see my family back home yay!) If you want more pics or video please let me know.

I am asking $2,500. (don't be afraid to make reasonable offers). If you are not interested please share the info with others. Thank you!


Kieffer Munchen 16.5 Dressage saddle

I also have my first saddle for sale. It is a 16.5 Kieffer Munchen, with a medium tree. Best suited for narrow withers. I am asking $400 OBO

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Back to basics, back to the classics, BACK TO STUDYING!

Yesterday I posted a blog about "the one legged trot", and it really started me thinking....

 What is it that I am trying to do with my Pippi?

What are my goals, and more importantly, what are my parameters?

I see videos, and I read articles, and mostly I think, "no, I'm not doing that!" I hear terms like "uphill movement" and I cringe, and when I watch the upper level horses I don't feel as though we are in the same sport at all. Maybe it is because I ride a Quarter/Paint but it just seems like an alien thing to me to watch Valegro or NipTuck. I actually prefer to watch the dressage portions of higher level eventing as my mentors. Those horses are fit, and strong, and their movements are more "horsey." And obviously their movements are not of the same level, and I get that. But when I see dressage from back in the day, I am in awe. Watch this video from the 1964 Olympics:

I like to scroll to the 25 minute mark and watch the grey horse. I adore this horse, and wish I knew who it was and who the rider was. Anyone know? Everything is done with power and grace. The horses carry themselves, there is not "uphill" stuff, just great horses doing beautiful dressage. After watching this I feel inspired, and I think "damn I want to do that!" I want Pippi and I to get as close to that as possible. 

And so today I ordered the book that my first trainer had me read. She had a signed copy, but let me borrow it, and I think it was the building blocks to my ideas about dressage. I need my own copy, and now I will have one: The Practical Dressage Manual, by Colonel Bengt Ljungquist
I can't find footage of the US riders from the 1976 Olympics, where Ljungquist coached the team to a Bronze medal, but here is Canadian Lorraine Stubbs and True North. 

Anyway; I am going to learn from the riders of that era. No more fancy high kicking front ends for me, I will concentrate on true and correct form and balance. 

If you know of videos and books that might be great please comment. Thank you

Monday, February 1, 2016

Diagonal Advanced Placement (DAP)- Desireable trait or Gait Fault?

A video by Barbara Schulte has been making the rounds showing stills from the Dressage Breeding stallions at the trot, and showing clearly a One Legged Trot. Here is the video: has a long, but very worthwhile, article explaining the gait and its possible consequences for the movement and the discipline of dressage: "DAP for Beginners:Where to Land" 

After reading and watching and thinking about it; no wonder my little Paint mare looks so different at the trot than these horses. Here is a Picture of Pippi mid stride: 

I would never compare Pippi to a Dressage Stallion, but the thing is; if the dressage ideal (thereby what the judges look for) is set after a gait that is not a two beat trot, I feel better about falling short of that ideal. It's not just that they are built different, and have more lift, they are landing on one leg! In other words; we are not at fault! Carry on Non-Traditional, yet traditional trotting, breeds, Carry ON! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Whoa- that's a lot of money!

2016 is supposed to be a banner year for Pippi and I as we head into our first full show season, and I am very excited. Well, I was very excited! Until I started to add up the costs of getting us fully registered.
Here is the break down:

USEF for rider: $55
USEF for Horse: $200 (lifetime) or $75 (annual)

USDF for rider: $75
USDF for Horse: $95

and the local club: $45 (the only fee I find super reasonable since they actual put on a show for me) 

So that is a total of $470.00!!

And keep in mind that I would like to renew our APHA Registration and PAC points as well, which from what I gather would be another $80.

These fees from USEF and USDF are pretty steep, and not very Amateur friendly at all, but it turns out they are Professional, in that Pro riders pay the same fees! And that is when my hackles rose a bit. As an amateur I have to pay those fees personally, and can not have a sponsor to help offset fees like these. Does that seem fair then that I pay the same?

 And let's break it down further, are all pros the same? There are pros who spend all their time riding, training and living horses, and then there are the pros that give a few lessons to offset the cost of riding and are now in the same category as a Laura Graves and Steffen Peters.

Simple question: should I, the Training level rider,first time at the shows, pay the same registrations fees as Steffen Peters? What say you Ammies?

I could register for the show season? ;) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I may need a "Stage Mom Intervention!"

As a Mom, I was never one to live through my children. Their accomplishments made me proud, and I have often been in awe of them as they are awesome people. But...... Their accomplishments belonged to them. I have always stated that I am proud of their hard work, their diligence, their willingness to stick their necks out, their back bone and their ethics and morals. But the actual result had always been less important. The applause and praise belongs to them. Fail or succeed I am proud of effort. So when they took center stage I was happy for them, but it was for them, and I never needed them to do a particular activity to feel like mother of the year. I was not a stage mom.

Enter Pippi.
 I can not tell you the pride I feel with every new thing she learns and does. When told that she is pretty I beam as though I have complete ownership of that. As though I personally created her beauty out of clay. Her intelligence? Brilliant! Her silly nature? Funniest horse ever! I regale people with example after example of the special horse that I have. That I HAVE!!! It's obnoxious, and I know it, but I can't stop!!

When I meet people I think "I can't wait to introduce you to Pippi." My bestie lives in Florida, and before she met Pip, and I was dying for her to come up. In large part because "she just must meet Pippi."
I am the worst stage mom, ever!!
 Once one of Miranda's friends was rude to Pippi, telling her "get away from me Pippi, I don't like you" and waving her off when she wandered over. I was livid. And to this day I just can't stand that little snot. To the point of "dark alley, no witnesses, watch out little girl." Okay, not really, but.................That's insane!!

To be fair to myself, I don't care whether Pippi wins any ribbons, whether we show well or not. I don't think I would be the kind to blame a judge, or ever truly be disappointed in Pippi. I just love showing her off, and everything she does is just so adorable, it's disgusting. If we go to a show and she has a complete melt down, I can assure you that I will have a totally plausible excuse for that. Probably blaming myself for lack of preparation, for not reading her cues right, for not taking my time, for whatever....

So am I really sick in the head? Do I need medication? With this post I hope to hear that this is normal behaviors and feelings, but since you are mostly horse people I fear that you may be a bit subjective. But I'll take it! Oh, and by the way, don't you think Pippi is just awesome, and the greatest equine ever?
Glamour shot!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Snaffle Squad!

"I had an idea" is a statement friends of mine hear a lot. I mean a lot! Most of my ideas are crap, or completely ridiculous, but that never stops me. There is no fear of hating my ideas as I will just have another in about three seconds.
This time the idea was a Facebook page with links to dressage blogs written by every day, amateur riders. Kind of a clearing house for bloggers to get exposure and share their lives, lessons learned and a way to connect with each other. There will not be any editorial oversight, so bloggers are free to write about whatever they wish (Dressage related of course), whenever they wish, and the content will remain theirs. On the Facebook page will just be a snippet of the blog, and a link to the individual host site.
As I want the page to be positive and empowering I decided to call it "The Snaffle Squad." The snaffle being the one bit that unites all dressage riders. I hope we can create a unity and a sense of community for Dressage riders. Share our successes, our lows, our lessons learned, cheer each other and hopefully share a chuckle or two. Thank you Paul for the great cover art - it turned out better than I even dreamed!
I hope you follow along.... Welcome to The Snaffle Squad!

From Hunter Jumper "fail" to Dressage Diva in 4 short years!

Dressage is an exercise in patience and diligence. It is not for those that require immediate results as it takes time, planning and loads and loads of patience. The training scale shows us exactly what we should concentrate on, and the levels and tests give us detailed instructions. But learning for both horse and rider takes time. Getting the muscle memory takes time, and even building those muscles take time. Getting that “upside down neck” on your horse fixed takes months and months of work. So it’s no wonder that at times we can feel a bit boggled down, and wondering if progress is even happening. Ride after ride of asking for a staccato beat of hooves, and bend, bend, Bend, BEND! And lower that head, and relax that jaw but don’t slow down, and forward and sit up, and lower those hands, look ahead and don’t clench your knees, and drop the heels, and relax, be forceful and assertive, but soft and giving, but don’t let your horse think she is in charge….. and on and on…. Am I getting anywhere? Are we progressing at all?
I was looking for a fun video I recall having of Pippi cavorting in the snow, and came across the video of my first and only Hunter Jumper show. If you recall that is the discipline Pippi was doing until she bowed that tendon, and became a dressage diva. I had been a superb passenger on Pippi from time to time, but had decided it was time I learned to ride. So Miranda, my daughter, gave me a handful of lessons, and at her next show I was signed up for ground poles and cross-rails. This is the video:

Notice anything? It was such an exciting course to watch right? Thrilling I know! If you didn’t watch the whole thing I don’t blame you. Snoozefest! But at the time I was so excited and nervous I think I went to the bathroom about 80 times. I had a bunch of friends on the sidelines watching and cheering me on, for that! Doing that class, the cross rails class and a flat class was a big deal for me. Pippi kept trying to walk out of the arena each time we passed the gate, and during the flat class she was totally non-compliant. We were all over the place, and I ended up making her work after the others lined up for placings just to make her listen to me. At that point I decided “Oh we are gonna do this little mare!” I learned a lot that day. However one thing that becomes abundantly clear after watching this, is how far we have come, and that Dressage was clearly more suited for me. Could I sit any more straight? It looks like a tin soldier that stumbles over ground pole, only to sit rod straight again. It looks like a future dressage rider with a lot, and I mean a lot, to learn. And with Dressage I have learned that the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. And the more I realize that I love that so very much. I will never stop learning, and progressing, even if it is in unmeasurable ways. Last year we had our first show, and I halted and saluted for the first time. This year we are an official Training level team, and so what if it is 4 years after that ground poles class. Dressage is essentially a competition against your-self, and from where I am sitting, I am kicking butt!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Royal Rider Evo Action - a game changer!

I was the lucky winner of the Royal Rider Stirrups during the “12 days of Christmas” with Horse Junkies and Dressage Hub. The moment I saw the stirrups I was intrigued, and after checking out the Royal Rider website I really wanted them. So I was super excited when I found out that I had won. Thank you Dressage Hub, Horse Junkies and Royal Rider for the great contest!
My old stirrups are over three years old, and were just as good now as when they were new. They are the Korsteel Flex II, and they flex to 70 degrees which has been great for my right knee. I have no real complaints about them, but I was excited to try the new technology.
Royal Rider Evo Action stirrups on the right
Royal Rider Evo Action stirrups on the right
The box arrived in the mail, and I was shocked, and wondered if they had put an empty box in there. It weighed near nothing, and as I took them out the lack of weight was frankly shocking. I actually thought they would be terrible, and was a bit discouraged. I had read about the “lightweight ultra shock absorbing stirrup which provides cushioning relief from rider joint stress,” (Royal Rider Evo Action) but now my excitement waned. They were so light weight that I just couldn’t imagine them being any good at all.
So I took them to the barn, tacked up and swapped out the stirrups. They are very different with the way the leather goes down through, under a flexible pin, and then back up that I wasn’t sure how to hang them up during longing. I did what I normally, and after just a few steps they fell down. Pippi is not a fan, as I imagine few horses are, of stirrups slapping at her flanks as she is longed, but I noticed something odd. They just sort hung there, not flapping at all, and not swinging around with her movement. I wasn’t sure whether this was a good sign or not.
The leathers go down through the top, under a flexible pin, and back up again
The leathers go down through the top, under a flexible pin, and back up again
After longing I mounted up, and searched around with my right foot for the stirrup and had a harder time than usual finding it. Again I wondered about these newfangled things….
But then we were off, and even during the walk I knew; these things are named wrong! They should be called the “Royal Rider Game changer stirrups!” With huge letters and exclamation points.
The stirrups lack of weight made the lower leg a lot more stable, and kept the stirrup from swinging the leg in a pendulum motion. I had not noticed the added weight to my lower leg before, nor had it bothered me, but I love how riding in the “Royal Rider Evo Action” stirrups feel.
I couldn’t wait to see what Sheri, the BO, would say. I refused to let her check out the new stirrups, and instead just asked her to ride Pippi. She mounted and her reaction was much like mine; she loved it. We discussed how they felt, and agree that they feel like hover board stirrups. They follow your leg, instead of adding weight to you lower leg, so your leg is overall more quiet. It’s almost as though the stirrups are built into your horse, in that the motion of your leg follows the horse seamlessly.
If you have a Christmas wish list add the Royal Rider stirrups to the top as this is the one gift that will thrill you and truly be a game changer. I cannot recommend them enough! I took my perfectly fine old stirrups home, and I will be a lightweight rider from now on.