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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspiration for the coming year(s)

Recently I learned about Fynn (click on his name to read a Chronicle of the Horse article on him) on one of the horse blogs I follow. Fynn's accomplishments are impressive in and of themselves; the backstory makes them the stuff of fairy tales! Here are some year-old videos of Fynn on YouTube:

I think he looks remarkably like Lance; they are even the same height. (Interestingly, several people have said they think Lance looks like a draft cross, which Fynn is; personally, I don't see it in Lance.) I would be thrilled to dance at that level one day with Lance; one can't dream much higher than competing successfully at Grand Prix!

Or can one? I've always said I want to keep riding until I die; that's an even more important goal to me than competing at Grand Prix. So I was thrilled to read that Carey Evans was honored at the 2013 Oregon Dressage Society Awards Banquet. In 2006, 84-year-old Carey was the first woman from the Northwest to qualify for the Dressage Foundation's prestigious "Century Club," winning her class on her homebred 16-year-old Hanoverian/TB mare. Now 91 years old, Carey still rides. Here, here!


Lance and I had a great schooling session today. We repeated the exercises Julie had us do yesterday, and must have done them correctly because we both worked up a sweat and got good results. Then we walked down the lane to get the mail and cool out. I don't know if we'll be able to go to the beach to ride tomorrow, but we WILL ride. :-)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pre-New Year's lesson

I had a lesson with Julie today. Lance and I both tired quickly, which tells me I've been taking it too easy in our schooling sessions at home. Still, Julie remarked on our progress, and challenged me to step up my expectations a notch in order to help Lance improve even more. I was not aware that I was allowing Lance to be so crooked, especially in canter and canter departs. When I get his shoulders lined up with his hindquarters, his gaits improve and his frame opens dramatically, demonstrating why straightness is so important.

I was going to wear these,
a Christmas present from my sweet husband (I helped him shop eBay for a really good deal), but it was too damp and chilly to forego my fleecy winter breeches.

I took these photos yesterday after Rick graded our arena; it's been foggy like this for a week! Oh well, the sand isn't frozen hard or sloppy wet and I have warm riding clothes, so Lance and I can keep working on our dance routines. ;-)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Post-Christmas pea soup

No, not to eat; we're talking the thickest fog I've ever seen! I went out to ride this afternoon, and Brian decided to ride, too. He took Breezy down the road to get the mail, and Lance and Oliver were beside themselves with her departure. I decided to tie up the reins and turn Lance loose rather than deal with it under saddle.

I think I made a wise choice, don't you? ;-)

Once Lance told me he was ready, we had a very nice ride. Not quite as fantastic as our Christmas Eve ride; his canter departs that day were the most willing and easy he's ever given me. Guess it was my Christmas present from Lance. What a boy; I am so blessed!

Monday, December 23, 2013


Yesterday my dressage mustang got to be a cow pony! It was my husband's idea after I suggested we go for a family ride; he likes to play with cows on horseback even though he no longer has his cutting horse. I'm all for giving horses new experiences and schooling in new settings (all my horses have been exposed to working cattle thanks to my husband's interest), so off we hauled to a friend's little indoor arena.

This was only the second time Lance has seen cattle, and the first time for him to be in close quarters with one. Approaching them was okay; having one advance on him was another story entirely! He never lost his head completely, though, and in the end he learned that he could make the steer move, a great first lesson for a young horse. Then we cooled our horses out on a lovely little trail ride through the woods on our friend's property.

This makes the second family horseback outing in as many months; if Rick agrees to go to the beach again on New Year's Day, that will make it three for three. I say; why not make it a monthly habit!?!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Naughty and nice; checking my list

I've gotten in three good schooling sessions since going to the beach, and am really pleased with my big red goober (lately labeled Lancy-Pants Fancy-Pants). Yesterday he did attempt to cop an attitude while I was getting him ready, which was v-e-r-y ill-advised of him considering the morning I had had with my son. (Sometimes Lance makes ugly faces – or worse – when I start grooming him; I suspect he learned he could intimidate his breeder with such behavior.) I roared, loud enough for neighbors to hear, "Don't EVEN go there with me; I don't tolerate that kind of attitude from Brian and I will NOT tolerate it from you!!!" Lance straightened right up; if only my son could be corrected as easily....

Besides schooling, I've been doing other things necessary to be ready for the 2014 show season. My Oregon Dressage Society membership has been renewed, I've upgraded my USDF membership to Participating for the first time in several years, Lance now has his USDF Lifetime Horse Registration, and his USDF All-Breed Awards Declaration Form is on file. Whew; I'm letting my checkbook recover awhile before I re-up my long-lapsed USEF membership! Plus, I don't want to spend all my money on paperwork; I want to take some lessons. But lessons will probably have to wait until after the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, I'm trying to talk Rick into another family ride on the beach on New Year's Day. As I've mentioned before, I do everything within my power to start each new year on horseback; horseback on the beach with my family would be AWESOME!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Old friends, new partners

YES! We made it to the beach yesterday, Kate and me and our young equine partners! We went to Bob Straub State Park (a first for both of us), which had a huge parking lot, restroom, and a scenic trail to the beach through forest and dune.
It was a foggy, gray day, but the temperature was comfortable, the wind was calm, and we had the beach mostly to ourselves – in other words, it was just about perfect. As were our horses! Kate has only had her filly for two weeks, but Dinah wa a good as gold. She handled all the new things she encountered with aplomb, only acting a bit nervous about a big sign, and a jogger who came up from behind us. And what a nice walk and trot she has! Kate has definitely found herself a treasure in this Welsh Cob x Trakehner.

I was proud of my boy, too. Lance was less worried about the surf this time, although we still didn't make it into the water. (A little wave did lap at his heels, which alarmed him but he survived. ;-) Logs were no biggy; foam was defeated; wet sand was accepted; and all three gaits were practiced.

Haystack Rock is barely visible on the right side through the fog
Bonus: Kate got some photos of us!

It's a good thing we didn't attempt our trip last Sunday. After our ride we stopped for soup and pastries at The Grateful Bread (great name AND food!), and the lady there said last Sunday it was 12 degrees with snow on the ground – on the Oregon Coast!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weather watch

We're still frozen here, although it's supposed to thaw some time this week. Interestingly enough, Lance has calmed down, and no longer seems in danger of self-combusting. I'm spending the time I would be riding doing extra chores, stoking the woodstove, making airport runs, and prepping for Christmas. (I should be using some of it to work out off the holiday goodies I've been eating!) I'll be back in the saddle just as soon as I can . . . say, on Sunday? On the beach? My friend and I are hoping!

Yesterday morning I noticed that Breezy was quite lame in her right hind. I did a little palpating, cleaned out her foot, and gave her a couple grams of Bute. Last night she looked normal so I held off on the meds; this morning she was lame again so she's on a gram twice a day. Her vet returns home tomorrow night, so hopefully he can check her out shortly thereafter.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Guess who!

Do you recognize this nose?
Hint: It's not Lance
Last night when I went to a church ladies' Christmas party, I slipped out to the frigid barn for a tryst with an old flame.
Hey, Muscle Man! How have you been?

The party was held where Russell lives now. I haven't seen my old dancing partner since he left nearly two years ago – shortly after making contact with his now-owner at the same place and occasion as last night. Last year I avoided visiting Russell for fear it would be too painful, not having my own horse to fill his stall. Now that I have Lance, I could do it. How thankful I am that Russell has this perfect retirement home at which to live out his days, enjoying turn-out on pasture every day, and the (very) occasional short trail ride! I gave him a couple apple slices and a good rub before bidding him good-bye.

There was no beach ride for me or this guy today, and believe me, he needed it!*

I could have gotten down our hill okay, but wasn't sure what Highway 18 over the coast range would be like. Since the temperatures weren't supposed to be significantly warmer at the beach, Kate and I decided to postpone our date for more comfortable weather  – maybe next Sunday.

*In the comments on my last post, a couple of you suggested I just turn Lance out on pasture to deal with his pent-up energy. Sorry; that's way too risky for my blood – or should I say my heart. Orthopedic trauma surgeons don't let their kids on trampolines because they see the kinds of injuries that can occur. As the wife of a equine veterinarian specializing in lameness, I've seen what horses can do to themselves in turn-out – especially on hard, frozen, slick, sloped ground. On top of that, I spent three or four years dealing with Russell's round-robin lamenesses from assorted suspensory injuries in all four legs, and then watched him run by a tree, catching his hip with a glancing blow that fractured his left tuber coxae. Turn out old Breezy? I'm sure she'd be fine. Turn out young, fit, frustrated Lance? With my luck he'd break a leg.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Watching with baited – and frosty – breath

I got in another good ride on Tuesday afternoon before our world froze up again. Then I started fretting. Lance is young and fit and needs an active outlet – something I can't safely give him right now. So he's been enlarging the "window" in his stall (mind you he has an attached paddock that is open on three sides):

Yesterday afternoon my MIL was here helping my son construct his birthday cake, so I decided to get Lance out for at least a careful walk. After a few laps around the arena, we went down the lane to get the mail. We did a wee bit of trotting on the road, including some trot/halt/trot transitions, along with lots of little leg yields and shoulder-fore at the walk. It really wasn't much of a ride and Lance was left with energy and attitude to burn, so I was pleased to see a foamy mouth when we got back to the barn:

Unfortunately, THIS greeted us this morning:

(Yes, it was dark; my DH and I were up early to get chores done before I had to take him to the airport.) Yesterday the friend with whom I've planned a beach ride on Sunday emailed me expressing anticipation. I've been eagerly looking forward to it, too, and have child care worked out and everything. But there's no way I'm attempting to navigate our slick hill towing a horse trailer, and I don't see things changing in the next 36 hours. At least not the weather or road conditions. My horse's P&V quotient? That's bound to ramp up a lot over the next few days!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rodeos, fiascos, and windows

With meeting my friend's new horse and all the other stuff that had to be done on Friday, I didn't get to ride that day or the next. I did turn everyone out in the arena Saturday afternoon to burn off some steam, and boy, did they! (I took some video, but deemed it "not that exciting." Sure was fun to watch them run and buck and roll and rear, though!)

Yesterday's gloomy gray clouds kept threatening rain, but didn't do more than spit occasionally. We were able to harvest a surprisingly dry Christmas tree from our neighbor's lot, then my MIL came out to help us decorate it and eat lunch. After she left, I realized the time and weather were cooperating to give me a window in which to ride. Whee! But before I could get out the door our Christmas tree crashed to the floor (see my other blog), and dealing with THAT huge mess ended all thoughts of riding (except for pining over lost opportunity).

Today was supposed to be a soaker, so when I woke up and saw some breaks in the clouds, I donned breeches for morning chores. Lance and I got sprinkled on just a little bit, but we managed to get in a good school. There have been other breaks in the weather since (between rain and hail showers) when it's been tempting to ride again, since it's supposed to get cold tonight and stay that way (read: "concrete" arena footing again) the rest of the week. Alas, I have other responsibilities, so one ride today will be all Lance gets!