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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Man in black

Cooler temps and a bit of rain have started to green things up.
Without his ear bonnet, Lance would blend right into the leaves!
We ride through a Xmas tree lot on our way back up the hill.
Last night I took Lance out for a ride. We said good-bye to daylight together, which was lovely and peaceful and perfectly terrible for photos. Good thing I took some photos of our new accoutrements before we left, when there was a bit more light!

Recently I took advantage of a SmartPak sale and got a "fly veil." Much better to keep out bothersome gnats with a barrier than with poison, in my opinion.

I also picked up a new saddle pad on eBay. We have trouble with pad slippage, so when Debbie extolled the virtues of her Success Equestrian saddle pad at the show, I took a closer look. It has no-slip material in a half-pad shape on top, and under the entire saddle area next to the horse. It also has extra padding under the saddle, an excellent contoured shape, and individual slots for the billets. She got hers for 75% off at a local farm store, but that was apparently an inventory close-out because they no longer carry them. I went to the website and got a tremendous jolt from sticker shock. Ebay was my next stop, where I not only found one for Lance, I found a second one for Debbie (at her request). Hers are mediums; I bought a large which is really generous. I will keep my eyes open for another deal, hopefully in a medium.

With these two purchases and my wonderful browband on order, I had no need (or money!) to shop at the USDF Region 6 Championships. That turns out to be a good thing, as I would have had to go today . . . and it's raining!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Watched pots and other hazards

The state fair horse show photographer is slower than slugs; it is driving me to distraction waiting for our photos to get uploaded.

I am also waiting on our fancy browband now that the designs of the two strands are finalized. As responsive as DarkJewelDesigns has been, I'll probably get the browband before the photos!

Now that I have a dressage show in our sights, my dances with Lance have taken on new purpose – and less pleasantness. Instead of just enjoying my saddle time, I am asking specific questions and expecting specific answers from Lance . . . and finding my expectations oft unmet. Much of that is me, I know; I need to find time to take a lesson with Julie so she can whip ME back into shape. I also need to continue our trail rides through the woods to just enjoy my boy. I hope to do that late this afternoon.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy Horton update!

I don't know how I missed this on friend Sylvia's Facebook page until today (well, I DO know how; you actually have to visit FB more than I do), but here is a video of Horton (see "Cohort" in my labels at right) with his new owner, doing his new job. Happy endings are the best!

And the award for best half-halt grunt while cross country schooling goes to... Megan!
Posted by Compass Sport Horses LLC on Monday, August 3, 2015

The silver lining

As Emma said in the comments to my last post, "What a bummer about the dirty wrong-sized [browband]." BUT! There is a silver lining to this story . . . or should I say a crystal embellishment? ;-)

When I bought the used browband on eBay, I thought it would look nice on Lance, but equally important, it didn't break the bank. In my internet searches I had seen lots of head-turning browbands . . . with stomach-turning price points (at least for this frugal horsewoman). So I chose the affordable option, while continuing to casually search to enable a friend who wanted some "bling" for her horse. That's how I stumbled upon DarkJewelDesigns on Etsy. Not only were her designs fancy AND affordable (you get two interchangeable bling strands with each browband), they were available on "EXTRA-Over Sized" (18") browbands, the size that fits my big-brained mustang best. When the eBay sale turned bust, I decided to spring for special. Amelia is wonderful to work with, and quickly came up with some designs based on my preferred colors and materials.

It may only be an ODS League show, but Lance is going to have some stuff to strut come November 8!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Rain dance

Lance and I did slip out for a short ride as daylight faded yesterday. A few raindrops fell as we headed home; it was fun to think we were doing a raindance that was working.

Look what we woke up to this morning!

That translates to a nicely watered arena,

so Lance and I got to dance in the ballroom for a change.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

State of the union address

I'm still waiting for the State Fair photographer to upload his photos.

The browband I bought off eBay arrived yesterday. Not only was it dirty, it was not 17" long as advertised, and won't fit Lance. (The seller says she will refund my money if I return it, so back it goes unless one of you wants it for $30 plus $2.54 shipping.)

I am not handling my life very well right now. So thankful for my mental health mustang; don't know what I'd do without that safety valve! Yesterday afternoon we escaped into the woods for a ride. Winter breeches felt cozy; poison oak added a splash of fall color; a doe who thought she was invisible added comic relief.

I love this view over a hidden valley; we turn around here because the path becomes choked with poison oak and blackberries. Of course, those red ears add to the view immensely. :-)

I was counting on the rain in today's forecast to water the arena and wash away the RoundUp dust and residue (HATE IT when my husband resorts to chemical warfare!), but it hasn't come. Maybe I'll be able to slip out for a short ride in the woods before sundown this evening....

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fun in the sun

Today I drove up to DevonWood (where my header photo was shot). My primary purpose was to watch Julie compete on Debbie's Thoroughbred mare Ivy for her third USDF Bronze Medal score, which she earned handily, along with second place in the Third Level Test 2 class. I was able to get some good photos of them in the warm-up as well as the show ring; I'm going to burn them on disks for both Debbie and Julie. Here is a small sampling:

My second objective was shopping, but there were no vendors. :-(  For that I'll have to return in two weeks for the USDF Region 6 Championship Show, but I did get to admire some lovely horseflesh and chat with some old friends. Then I specifically watched some First and Second Level rides with Julie, figuring out what to enter if we go to the Dressage Can Be Fun show next month. We decided on First Level Test 3 as a warm-up, followed by Second Level Test 2; Julie is confident that we can polish up our simple changes for the latter by then. We just need some rain to be able to school in our home arena, and a couple lessons with Julie. After watching the competition at a recognized show, I don't think we'll be out of our element in a League show at all!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


In case you weren't following along in the comments of my last post, the first browband pictured first garnered the most votes – but the auction ended before I acted. I thought someone exercised the "Buy It Now" option, but yesterday I saw it relisted, so perhaps the auction just timed out. ANYway, it was relisted at 2/3rds the price – such a deal! – so I snatched it up immediately. Hopefully it will be long enough; it is an inch shorter than the browband on our schooling bridle, but an inch longer than the ones that are too snug. I'm anxious to see how it looks on my big red goober (shown below with the little red goober, Ollie); you know I'll show you, too!

I'm also anxious to see how the State Fair photos turned out. The show photographer has finally put up pages for the various days, which means the photos should soon follow. Until then, here are a couple photos I took at the fair for friends Laura and Debbie:

Laura owns the lovely Tang, a Belgian/QH cross, and Debbie just brought home Yakima (Baby Girl), a three-year-old Percheron she purchased from a Holsteiner breeder after she was used as a recipient mare.

You know what they say: Ride a draft; it makes your rump look small! ;-)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Serendipity, and a solicitation

Showing Lance at the State Fair required a bit of "musical bridles" (we always use the same bit). I love the silver-leather-accented bridle we school in, gifted to me by blogpal Theresa, but it has been broken and repaired and isn't show-appropriate anymore. So I used a russet leather bridle I got years ago (shown in the previous post's photos) for our trail and English Pleasure classes, and switched over to Russell's old bridle (shown in the header photo above) for our "dressage" classes. That bridle was a bit too big for Lance when I brought him home but he's grown into it – and has outgrown the brow band. It has some other issues, too, making me dream of a new show bridle. Can't really justify that, though, since we've had to table showing . . . although I am thinking about entering an ODS League show in October.

Heading to the barn to school Lance yesterday, I remembered a black bridle I stumbled across in a bridle bag I never use. I have no memory of when or how it was acquired, so didn't know its size or style; would it work for Lance?

Why yes, it does! The details: black leather, regular cavesson, square-raised accents on brow band and noseband, padded crown and jawstrap, hook ends, silver buckles (the reins belong to Russell's bridle; the reins that belong to this bridle have hook ends). The brow band, again, is a bit short; he needs one an inch longer. That got me searching eBay; no luck finding a coordinating square-raised one. Hmmm; if I can't match the nose band, how about going in an entirely different direction – like bling?

This is where you come in. I found four different fancy brow bands that I thought would work with Lance's coloring, the soft gold color of his Aurigan eggbutt snaffle, and the silver buckles. I'm not sure about the U-shaped ones; as you can see, Lance's white markings aren't centered or symmetrical. What do you think? Which of the following would you vote for?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mustang Show photos and videos

Lance was interested in his handsome daddy, the copper dun next to him:

But when Lance got impertinent, Dino did squeal at him:
A still shot from the trail class by Kate:

My friends Debbie and Sylvia both took video of our third trail class, where we finally mastered backing through the "L," even though it took a bit to get lined up for it:

And here's a photo of our ribbons and tumblers laid out in more orderly fashion than in my previous photo.

When the show photographer gets his State Fair photos up, I'll see if he got any good ones of us. It looks like his prices are pretty reasonable!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A pile o' placings

I'm bushed; I can't imagine how Lance feels! We haven't ridden that much in one day, especially at the canter, in I don't know how long. So thankful for the cool, cloudy weather, and for a ground crew of three fantastic friends who were there for us all day.

We started the day off with three trail obstacle classes, and got three 4th place ribbons (white). Lance got better each time, so I was really pleased with him.

After a short break, we headed back into the ring for the first of three English Pleasure classes. Lance had a scary stumble in front of the judge, and we placed 5th/last (pink). In the next class I worked to keep him more uphill, and had a stumble-free go. When the announcer called our number for first place (blue, plus a glass tumbler), I about fell off! I felt we did equally well in our third class, but placed 3rd (yellow).

Our first place earned us a spot in the English Pleasure Championship class, so back in we went – for a Reserve Champion rosette (red)!

Lance got another short break to eat and drink while we changed out bridles and clothes for the "dressage" classes. We were the only ones who didn't scratch them (I think everyone was tired; my friends thought they all saw how good we were and gave up – ha!), so we got two more blue ribbons (plastic tumbler and glass tumbler) for showing up and showing off.

I saw our competition for the Liberty class in the warm-up arena and realized that there could be a lot more to the class than the horse running around and looking pretty to music. The gal had trained her pretty mustang mare to kneel, lay down and rear on command – all off-lead. Oh well; Lance showed all three gaits nicely if not with a lot of flair to earn 2nd/last place (red) and well-deserved rest.

The only horse show photo I got (above) was taken after I got home. But my friends shot photos and video with their smartphones; I'll share when they do!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ready or not, we're gonna have fun!

Tack is cleaned and loaded, as are show clothes. A hay bag is filled and ready to hang. Lance is bathed and wearing a sheet to (hopefully) stay clean. I did manage to flood the trailer tack room while filling the water tank in there; I need to take a plastic trash bag to stand on when I change. :-/

The cool weather will be a huge blessing; rain during the day would be less so, but we won't melt.

Rick called me this evening to toss me a curve ball. One of his draft horse clients (not the one for which Brian is driving Thursday night) needed me to drive for the Ladies Cart class at 1:00. I tried to deflect that ball to Debbie since she's going to be there with me; after all, she drove hitches for Budweiser for three years! When I couldn't talk her into it, I suggested Kate. She caught the ball and is going to run with it, so we'll get to watch her compete in the horse show tomorrow as well!