June 12, 2012

Slo-Mo Video

Not much to talk about.  But I wanted to upload our slo-mo trial.  Not bad considering he's free lunging.  Is it just me or does my boy have a short neck?  Can't wait to use this more.... now I just need a videographer....

May 21, 2012

Sunday Sunday

I had a lesson yesterday!  My first lesson in almost a year.  It was great.  Dexter was awesome, he is so focused in our lessons and tries so hard.  The best part was we didn't loose as much as I thought over the hiatus.  Dexter's back is still there, his contact is better than ever, and his canter is still relaxed.  I need more work than Dexter at this point.  My trainer seemed super happy with where we were at and I'm so glad.  I've been riding for about 5 months now and was worried we were going down the wrong path.  I thought we felt good but I wasn't sure.  Its great to have a expert set of eyes give me that re-assurance.  The best feedback we got was that Dexter's trot work was at a First & Second Level connection, his canter needs some work to get up to First.  But woohoo Dexter! Way to rock the trot! (Sorry that means more canter work).

Also I recently got a camera that does slow motion video.... I am so going to have fun with that.  Look for some video in the future.

May 2, 2012

Test Calling

When I started showing again last year one thing I noticed was that almost everyone had a test caller.  Even when I went to go see my trainer ride, she had someone calling out the test to her.  When did this become the norm?

When I first started showing (10+) years ago, you almost never saw a reader outside of Training Level, and even then it was for the younger riders. 

For me, I've never shown with a reader.  And its a personal preference to be sure, I find when people are yelling out the next movement its very distracting.  In my head I get disrupted and think "I know I've already planned to turn right at C, thanks."

The way I was trained was that learning your test is part of your preparation and training.  Not necessarily to run the test in the ground, but to practice it in your head, on paper, in your living room, whatever worked.  How can you prepare for a movement if you don't know its coming? 

I get it, there is a lot going on, and with nerves its very easy to forget your next movement.  I know, I have forgotten a test a time or two. And to know you have someone to help you remember the test so you can concentrate on your riding certainly seems like a good compromise, but a compromise none-the-less.

OK.... super honesty time here... I'm trying to be impartial here and see both sides, but to be truly honest, I don't like it.  I think if you are going to show you should know your test.  If you don't know your test, you aren't ready to show.  Show jumpers and eventers have to remember the course, reiners have to remember their pattern and they only learn those moments before they show.  Why are dressage riders different?  We have weeks-months to practice and drill the pattern into our sub-conscious.

Yes, there are nerves.  Yes, its easy to panic and forget the test mid-way.  But its still part of the experience.  Part of learning to show and ride dressage is learning how to focus, tuning out the nerves and just riding your horse.  Having someone yelling at you every 30 seconds doesn't create the serene concentration I associate with dressage. 

I'm not talking about whether or not it's fair that those who remember their test get judged the same as those how didn't.  That's not the issue, that's the same as the sitting vs posting trot in 1st level.  You have the choice of either so you get judged the same, its your choice.  I'm just talking about the professionalism of it.  I guess I'm a perfectionist and unwilling to compromise and I feel that having a test reader compromises the picture I'm trying to create.  And even though it doesn't count against you I can't imagine that it isn't distracting to the judge.

Have I taken hits because I didn't use a reader and forgot my test?  Absolutely.  Is it possible I'll change my mind as the tests I ride get harder? Maybe.  But for now, I just don't get how and why this has become a part of dressage shows.  We strive to be perfect in our movement, training and riding, why muddy the waters because we can't remember 20 movements?

May 1, 2012

Horses and Cars - Same Thing Right?

Let me start by warning you this post actually has nothing to do with horses, but instead it deals with another 4 "legged" member of my family - My 2003 Mini Cooper.  But I'm finding my feelings for my Cooper are just as strong as my bonds to my horses so I deemed it appropriate for the blog.

I bought my Cooper brand new, actually ordered it from the factory.  And I picked it up on my birthday.  It was my first new car, designed exactly how I want it, bought with 100% of my money.... it was MY car.

In the last nine years of owning the Cooper we have lived in 3 states, worked 3 jobs with 2 different companies, bought 2 horses, married one man, moved an entire dining room set and hauled many other things no one would ever think a Mini could handle.  When I get upset, or bored, and I don't have a horse to ride, I often drive.  So during my equestrian hiatuses, me and Mini explored a lot of Missouri and Texas.  We've even made it up the Colorado mountains in the winter for a ski weekend. 

There have been a few bumps in the road, during a particularly nasty storm in Texas I underestimated a puddle and we ended up with a new engine.  And after a long 12 hr shift I unfortunately dazed off and rear-ended a van resulting in a cracked bumper.  The point being we have been through a lot together.

But, sadly, as of yesterday, my Mini is no longer mine....  As much fun as it was to drive and as great as it was on gas, 2-door Compact cars and rear-facing child restraints don't mix.  There is just no room in the back seat, and if there was there would be no way to get Alex in, so as he outgrew his infant seat, we outgrew the Mini.  And I am having a seriously hard time with this. 

I know its just a car, but people say its just a horse too, right?  This car had a lot of personality, it was cute, small, but tough and efficient.  Maybe I'm having a hard time because the only other thing I've ever owned for that long is my cat (lets not even think about what will happen when she leaves me).  Or maybe because I bought the Mini when I was single amdjust moved to a strange city all by myself so it was me and Mini against the world.  Or maybe the act of having to get rid of my "single" car for a "family" car is reminding me once again how much Alex is erasing my old life. 

I'm guessing a combination of all.  And no resentment towards Alex, its not his fault.  But as I try to cling onto the woman I was before I became a mom, getting rid of one of my possessions that I've used to define me for so long was a big blow.  I'm not a Mini owner anymore.... I'm a sedan owner (no hate against sedans). 

I'm not afraid to admit I get a little teary when I think about it.  It really does feel like I sold my horse (maybe not quite as bad, but close).  I've given a dear friend to a relative stranger and can only hope they will treat him as well as I have.  But unlike horses people would think you are crazy to call and check up on your old car.  Plus I traded it in, so who knows who will end up with it.

But, what am I so upset about.... its only a car right?

March 15, 2012

Not Much

Sorry Blogs have been few and far between.  Sadly, me and Dexter don't get a whole lot of time together.  And if I'm too busy to ride, then I'm too busy to write, as if I have any spare time I rush out to the barn, not the computer.  But here's some pictures of Alex's third time meeting Dexter.  His first 2 he was pretty young and didn't really know what was going on.  I can already tell they are going to be the best of friends!

Ooooh, so soft!

Dad and Alex. No sure why Alex looks petrified.

March 9, 2012


In the words of Jim Davis.... AAARRRGGGHH!

Last weekend it was finally warm enough and dry enough to ride.  My sister in law was in town so she and my husband were baby-sitting Alex so I could go ride.  I get to the barn and as soon as I get on the owners light a trash fire right next to the arena.... thanks.

Dexter isn't a fan of fire and I'm totally fine with that.  I want him to have a healthy fear so if his barn/pasture starts a-blazing, he's smart enough to run the other way.  Ok so we can handle this, we decided to just stay on the other side of the arena.  Dexter wasn't super happy but he's listened for the most part.  We just had to cancel any canter work we were planning.  Probably for the best as neither of us are in all that great of shape.

So then the owner comes out to work her horse, sees the fire and says "Oh Sh**, there are spray cans in there."  Really? Really?!?  You have go to be kidding me.  Who does that??  So I ask how many (so I know what I'm up against).  She says 3, (I looked later, it was more like 6.)

As soon as she says that, one goes off.  I don't know how many of you have been around exploding spray cans (I'll assume not many,because, who burns spray cans?) but it sounds like a shotgun going off.  Dexter jumps ans spins but doesn't take off.  He does pretty well actually, but isn't going to calm down for the rest of the ride.  "Some thing's burning and now someone is shooting at us and you want me to practice bending to the left? No thanks mom." 

So our first ride in almost 3 weeks is cut short.  The owner's husband went and raked the remaining cans out of the fire, but the damage was done.  I was pretty irritated because its irresponsible regardless who's riding, but its not my decision to make. I was called a "chicken" for getting off and not riding through it.  Oh well, I rather be a chicken in one piece than a broken hero.

Its starting to warm up so maybe I'll have more drama-free opportunities to ride now... let's hope.

January 10, 2012

Dear Dexter - Revisited


I just wrote a raving review about how great you are being and how patient you are with your limited rides... and now you are making me look like a liar.  Whats the deal?

I know the weather makes you feel good and you have a lot of energy built up, so I understand a little buck hear and there.  But the bolting every time we go a certain direction and the rearing you did this weekend are really unnecessary.  Can't we use the energy in a more productive way?  You look so good when you get round and elevated, lets do that (without the buck).

I really don't want to lunge you before every ride, I unfortunately don't have the time and I know you hate it.  Plus you are so out of shape by the time you get into a good rhythm on the line you are pooped.  I'm not sure what we can do but we need to figure something out that works for both of us.  I know you don't hate our rides  You seem to enjoy getting out and getting some exercise, we just need to find a way for you to blow off steam between rides.  My time with you is supposed to be fun and calming, but when I feel like I'm on a shaken can of soda ready to pop, its a little unnerving.  I'd love to half lease you out, but there just isn't anyone around interested in dressage. 

For now I will have to do my best to carve out some time during our rides and between to get you some additional exercise, sorry to say it will probably be on the lunge line.  But anytime you want to settle down and get to work you let me know.  In the mean time, I will work with the horse I have and hold on.