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.