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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking for winter... the looks of that winter coat!

Yesterday after our short schooling session, I clipped Lance's bridle path. Yeah, we're really high maintenance around here. ;-)

I miss my summer-slick boy, but he'll be back next year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sun and Sunshine Award

It's gotten colder, but aside from a few showers on Sunday it continues to be dry and beautiful here. The horses are enjoying pasture time, and I am enjoying the good riding weather.

Today Alanna at Pony Express nominated me for a Sunshine Award. (Thanks, Alanna!)

The Sunshine Award is for people who ‘positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.’ The nominee of this award must do the following: thank the person who nominated them, nominate 10 bloggers of their own, answer the 10 questions given to you in a post, and add the Sunshine Award button to their blog.

I can see why Alanna was nominated; she has battled cancer at a young age with grace and good humor, continued riding, and is fulfilling her dream of owning a Welsh Cob sired by North Forks Cardi. She is definitely inspiring! Me, well, I don't think I'm in that league. It's mostly just me and my horse, learning to dance together far from the bright lights and big-name judges. And I don't even know 10 more horse bloggers I could nominate! So I'll just answer the questions, and mentally thank all the horse friends and teachers who have encouraged and inspired me over the years, but don't have blogs (like Kate, Val, Carmen, Estelle, Holly, Sylvia, Suzan, Debbie, and Julie).

So here are the questions:
1. Mares or geldings? Geldings. I've had mares, but geldings are more fun, less drama.

2. English or Western? English – dressage, to be exact. But me and my dressage partner, we're good trail buddies, too. ;-)

3. Do you prefer younger or older horses? I like to get them young and train them myself, then enjoy a long relationship.

4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero? Yes, for myself and others.

5. Do you prefer riding or ground work? I start every horse with lots of ground work, but there's nothing as wonderful as those times in the saddle when my horse and I feel in perfect sync.

6. Do you board or keep your horse at home? Be it ever so humble....

7. Do you use all natural things or just commercial stuff (the products you use)? I don't use a lot of "product," but I purchase what I use.

8. All tacked up or bareback? As a teenager I spent most of my time on the bare back of my horse; now I think my horse and I are both more comfortable with a well-fitting saddle.

9. Equestrian role model? Debbie McDonald, Jane Savoie.

10. What's your one main goal while being in the horse world? To enjoy riding until I die! (Long before that I'd like to earn the final score needed for my USDF Silver Medal, and eventually join the Century Club.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Riding through

I can't remember how I made my way to Anna Blake's blog, but I am enjoying following her. She recently had a post on on the change of seasons and remembering beloved horses long gone. Close to the end she exhorted: "Reward your horse for last summer by sticking with him in the winter, by riding through. Because that's how we survive, too. We ride through it." Love this! I don't know if I've thought of riding through the winter as rewarding my horse, I just think it's better for all of us to stay in shape/condition. And since we don't keep our horses out on pasture year-round (we wouldn't have any pasture left if we did!), I really do think my horse (all of them over the years) has appreciated getting out and moving as opposed to being relatively cooped up each winter (actually each fall/winter/spring, otherwise known as our rainy season).

October has made it easy to "ride through it." We have had such glorious weather! Today I took Lance out and about on our hill again, this time at a leisurely walk since we don't school on Sabbath. I plan to school tomorrow and every other day this coming week that I can fit in a ride; it's our last week of Daylight Savings Time and dry weather. Next Sunday we have a clinic with Julie, rain or shine!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A colorful ride

Yesterday afternoon I had some time at home alone, so of course I rode. ;-)  And since I didn't have to worry about being onsite for my son, and it was another gorgeous day of Indian Summer, I decided ride out and about. On Sunday Rick mentioned that Dr. Heuschmann talked about the benefits of hill work, especially trotting downhill and cantering uphill. So I put on Lance's Renegade front boots and headed out.
We headed down this path to the right of the vineyard
Peach orchard in foreground

The small peach orchard nearby is nicely tilled around the perimeter, so it was the perfect spot for our hill work. We trotted down the left side and cantered up the right side – with a little encouragement. Lance wasn't sure he wanted to work that hard! Then we took a long walk break around a cherry orchard before coming back to trot down the right side and up the left. This time, for some reason, Lance had plenty of energy in both gaits. He felt like he wanted to break to the canter going downhill, and as we rounded the corner to go uphill, he tried to bolt! I got his attention (and the correct lead again), but he didn't lose any of his energy.

It was warm enough that I was comfortable in a light short-sleeved shirt; hairy Lance worked up a good sweat (for him) but was mostly dry by the time we got home. As I was grooming him afterwards, I noticed that his rear legs, just above his fetlocks, felt slightly puffy. I had some Absorbine Vet Liniment Gel I received in a gift pack some time back; this seemed a good time to try it.

Last night after chores I asked Rick if he would feel Lance's back legs. There still seemed to be a bit of filling, so this morning Rick gave Lance a shot of Legend (bless him). I think I'll leave off the hill work for awhile and stick to the arena!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


My husband (the dirty dog ;-) took off early this morning for a symposium on “The Biomechanics of Soundness” by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann. I would have loved to attend as well, but we had no care options for our son. Since it was another beautiful, sunny day and Brian needed something useful to do to keep him out of trouble, I tortured him enlisted his help in getting the garden weeded. We spent hours with hoes, shovel and rake, leaving it looking the best it ever has at this time of year – but, oh, the drama! (I finally warned Brian that any further wailing and gnashing of teeth would result in losing any chance of calling a buddy for a play date when we finished; just another chapter in the volume "Parenting is Not For Wimps"....)

It was hard work. When we finished this afternoon, Brian pedaled off to play with a neighbor boy and I collapsed in a chair for awhile, too pooped to party. But when I have the time and weather to ride, I know better than to squander it, so I finally drug my sore, sorry self down to the barn.

As is so often the case, a good dose of horse (temporarily) cured what ailed me, and we had a good ride. Rick got home while I was still schooling and came down to the arena. I asked him about the symposium, and then invited him to critique us. Why not get some benefit from the day, right? So he gave me some input, encouraging me to let go of Lance's face and let him carry himself more, while reviewing what Dr. Hueschmann did with the demo riders. It was actually very helpful, and I'm going to try implementing what he told me in every ride from now on.

Now that I'm back in my chair, my body is griping at me as much as Brian was earlier. If I can make myself get up again, I think a couple naproxen would be a very good idea....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Still kickin' – and stylin'!

I haven't been on the computer much the last couple weeks so I could enjoy my visiting family, but I have been riding. Right now we're experiencing that most precious and fleeting of seasons – Indian Summer – so I'm "making hay while the sun shines"!

Tuesday I took a lesson from Julie, and she thought Lance has made a LOT of progress since she last saw us. We worked in shoulder fore quite a bit to get Lance straighter, and, as always, on keeping Lance's energy up. Julie kindly calls Lance an "energy-conserver." ;-) We have another lesson scheduled in two weeks; hopefully we'll show another goodly amount of progress then!

Yesterday evening, Lance had great energy. He was feeling pretty foxy to start with; perhaps he was pleased with the stunt he pulled off earlier. (Maybe he didn't like stinky sheep as next-stall neighbors!) He also seemed to enjoy a little "herding work" – my son mouthed off and was refusing to go do something I had told him to, so I took out after him on horseback. That got both my son and Lance in gear! ha

Recently I really scored on eBay. I have been keeping my eyes peeled for a pair of Ariat paddock boots to replace the pair I'm wearing out, and in doing so, ran across these –
– a new-in-box pair of Ariat Westchester zip dress boots. When I won the auction for $139 (including shipping), I practically flipped; the retail price on these is over $400! I have wanted a pair of zippered Ariat dress boots for two decades (seriously), but settled for a pair of used Cavallos that have served me well. These Ariats should last me the rest of my competitive life – and do so in boot-jack-free comfort and style!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quote of the day

Absent a correct diagnosis,
medicine is poison, surgery is trauma,
and alternative therapy is witchcraft.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Happy to have gotten in four rides this week. Amazed at how fast Lance is getting fuzzy. Amused by the quirky cowlick in the mane that's growing back at the rubbed spot. Invigorated by fall!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunshine and satisfaction

I had a great ride on Lance today; it really couldn't have been any better. I was home alone, so no distractions other than the occasional fly, the weather was perfection, and my handsome Lance did everything I asked for quite nicely – including all his canter departs! What made this particularly exciting is that I used my Marvel saddle. I stopped using it when Lance developed a bit of an attitude over right lead canter departs for fear that it wasn't fitting him well. At our last lesson, Julie thought Lance's attitude was just that of a typical five-year-old, and instructed me on how to keep his trot work more honest in order to get good canter departs. He's been getting better and better at them ever since, and switching from the old Wintec back to the Marvel was a non-issue. I actually rode in it last Wednesday, too.

When we finished, Lance had foam on his lips and sweat on his neck. I had a smile on my face and anticipation in my heart for our next lesson with Julie on the 15th!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The three musketeers

I managed to squeeze in a ride late Wednesday, and that was it for this week. But I turned Lance out in the arena for a couple hours yesterday evening, and all three horses got to play today.

We thought it prudent to let them get their ya-yas out where the footing is safer, so out into the arena they went.
After that they all got what they really wanted, which was some GREENS. There's not much growth in the sacrifice area, but they were happy hunting for blades.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another lovely day; then the rain returns. Tomorrow I ride.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pleasantly surprised!

I was able to get the boy out to stretch his legs for a bit yesterday, although he was much more interested in eating weeds than romping and rolling at first:
Basking in a rare moment of sunshine
(He was covered with wet sand when I brought him in, however.)

This afternoon the sun broke through again, and this time I was able to shoehorn in a ride. In spite of how ornery he's been acting in his stall, Lance was very good under saddle.

It's probably too much to hope for time to ride tomorrow; I have a long to-do list and a short morning before heading into town for the afternoon. Thursday I'll be gone all morning on an airport run, but maybe, just maybe, we can fill our dance card Thursday afternoon. It sure improves both our attitudes to do so!