To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Getting out of the arena

Ever since the Lisa Wilcox clinic, Lance and I have stayed in the sandbox (I still need to do a post with all the take-away points we're using from that and the Anna Blake clinic.) The footing has been good and I'm trying to solidify new habits and muscle memory (in me) to help Lance shine. But yesterday I decided it was high time to cross-train, so we walked around the edge of the lot next to us, which gave us a unique perspective of our house,

and then rode back and forth through the vineyard, now nearly devoid of leaves.

Lance found it harder work than arena schooling, and actually got a bit sweaty for a change.

I didn't ride today because I was tired and it got really smoky again. Reasons and photos over on the farm blog; hoping to be back in the saddle again tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ride the horse you want

Implementing what I watched Lisa Wilcox do with the fancy-shmancy warmbloods and their riders has been gratifying. While Lance will never 'boing' with the incredible suspension seen in the clinic videos, we have moments of ballroom magic when I correctly channel what I heard and watched into my riding. As we were circling in a lovely, swinging, springing trot I thought, "Ride the horse you want."

For quite a while now, I've been "riding the horse I have" as I had no other option (plus I love my big red goober and exercise is part of his prescription). But by riding more effectively, Lance becomes the dressage partner I want – who knows; showing might even be in our future again! Most importantly, his foamy mouth tells me he's relaxed and happy in the work:

Monday, November 5, 2018

The feasting season

No, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving. 🍴

After a week of wonderful rides following the Lisa Wilcox clinic, yesterday I had a chance to audit the second day of an Anna Blake clinic! I have followed her blog for years and got to meet her at the World Cup in Omaha a year and a half ago, so when I found out late last week that she was going to be in Oregon I scrambled to find out when, where, and how much. Unfortunately I already had too many commitments in place to do more than audit one day of two two-day clinics, but that alone gave me plenty to chew on and implement at home. Here are some photos from yesterday.

Anna worked with all kinds of horses and their people, some mounted and some not. This clinic was specifically on "Calming Signals" and groundwork (you'll have to read more about those on her blog), although I have to say I got more from her work with riders. Anna is brash and funny and extremely insightful, and except for being cold all day I enjoyed watching her very much.

Feeling so in sync with my dancing partner (more on that in another post) and getting to audit TWO clinics just a week apart is exhilarating. I feel like I'm getting part of myself back, if that makes any sense.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Riding the wave

Tonight I had the third good ride in a row since the Lisa Wilcox clinic. Each time Lance has moved well, felt balanced (no tripping), and ended with a foamy mouth:

So I'm feeling pumped about that, and also about the possibility of another educational/inspirational event in the near future! I just found out about it this morning and don't want to say too much because several things are up in the air, but auditing one day of another clinic looks good and actually participating in it with Lance could happen. I should know soon....

Monday, October 29, 2018


For the first time in a long time, I got to immerse myself in dressage this weekend. I happily hung out with horse friends and enjoyed watching some superb equines, even though it made me wistful for what once was. It seems a lifetime ago when I  advanced my skills with regular clinics and/or lessons, trained and competed with an equine partner, braided mane and wore tall boots, even won awards. Even harder is not knowing if those things will ever be a part of my life again. (I may forever stay one score away from my USDF Silver Medal....)

Saturday night was the Oregon Dressage Society awards banquet and silent auction. I picked up my friend Kate and we joined other members of our local chapter (which kindly paid for our weekend's activities) – and not a whole lot of others! The food was good, the awardees were inspiring (some of them amazingly so), the silent auction provided some great shopping (I got a long-sleeved ODS t-shirt, a fleece ODS vest, a fleece ODS headband, and an ODS magnet for my trailer), and the keynote speaker, Olympian Lisa Wilcox, made me eager to attend the next day's activities.

on the way to Kate's house
So early Sunday morning I picked up Kate again and we headed through beautiful countryside to Whip & Spur Farm, once the home and training facility of Rich Fellers, another Olympian (in Show Jumping). There we got to watch as Lisa taught eight different horse/rider combinations with a consistent message of keeping a correct position and posture while making a million and one transitions – within each gait, not between them. You could tell she was taught by a 29-year veteran of the Spanish Riding School, where students sometimes spend years without reins or stirrups, perfecting their own position in order to be able to properly influence their horse's way of going.
at Whip & Spur

I took photos of all eight horses, but video of only two, so I decided to only keep and share photos of the two I filmed. Both of these horses were poetry in motion, the chestnut a five-year-old filly (ridden by a young trainer Kate won two lessons with in the silent auction), and the other a 12-year-old gelding.

Events like this always inspire me to go home and dance with my own horse – so I did! By the time I got Lance saddled the sun had set, so we walked up the hill to capture this photo before going back to the arena to dance.
 Our schooling session felt good, and Lance ended with a foamy mouth, always a good sign.
Even if we never set foot again in a show arena, we can dance!