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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I focus, and Lance delivers

I had a really good ride late this afternoon. It wasn't long; a lot of my rides lately have been pretty short. I'm trying to go for quality over quantity (of minutes per ride), and I think we nailed it today. Lance responded so well; he was more consistent in his frame and contact throughout our ride than he's ever been.

These were my three main foci:

  1. Stay tall and vertical in the saddle, especially when posting the trot.
  2. Don't 'take' or pull with the reins. Maintain a steady hand position and push Lance forward into the contact; push my hands forward in downward transitions.
  3. Keep my outside hand closed firmly on the rein; squeeze the sponge with my inside hand for softness, lateral and longitudinal bend.
That last point really seemed key to Lance's consistency.


I did mail off our entry for "DevonWood in the Spring" today, after thinking of some easy things to sell and determining to resist spending money on anything else in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, that probably includes lessons. How many more shows I can swing remains to be seen!

American icon or American Idol?

Today's post over at Behind the Bit was great. I will never have an American Idol winner (or even a runner-up!), but I can have an American icon – or a least a delightful friend and dancing partner, which is, really, what counts most.


My show entry is sitting on the counter, ready to mail but for the check. The amount due is sobering; entry fees for USEF/USDF recognized shows have gone up since the last time I entered one. And when I times that amount by four – to earn the eight scores needed for USDF All-Breeds awards – my stomach churns. That is a LOT of money – for me – to spend on non-essentials. I've already invested a good chunk in getting all my memberships up-to-date to be able to compete at this level, all for naught if I don't show. But is showing just throwing good money after bad?

Feeling extremely uneasy here, which sometimes indicates the answer I am seeking….

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Taxes can wait...

…at least until the afternoon!
I got in a 20-minute ride Wednesday just before the skies opened up
Friday morning
I thought it was supposed to be sunny and beautiful all weekend, but it's clouding up and tells me it may rain this afternoon. Guess I'd better get out there before I lose my "weather window"!

Before I rode on Friday I turned Lance loose to run and roll. He was crusty and smelly from laying in his pee spot, and I thought rolling in the sand might help. Wrong. The downpour on Wednesday floated all the organic matter to the top of the arena footing and Lance ended up plastered with sandy muck. The only thing to do was hose it off of him, and wait a couple hours while he (somewhat) dried.
A somewhat cleaner pony post-shower

The opening date for our first show of the year is this week, so I need to get my entry ready to mail on opening day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

When you can't ride, spend money!

Ha! Actually I did get to ride today, but I also spent money updating the last of my necessary memberships (USEF) to be able to show this year. Now I just need to save money for entry fees . . . and lessons. The first show in my sights is not yet "live" (DevonWood in the Spring, April 13), so my checking account can catch its breath for a little while at least.

It has not yet rained today like the weatherman said it would, and my son left to go swimming with my neighbor and her grandkids. Whee; that means I got to ride! Lance had some really good moments – and a few bad ones. I'm keeping in mind that our schooling sessions haven't been as regular as usual these past few weeks. It didn't help that the peanut gallery (Ollie and Breezy in their paddocks overlooking the arena) were antsy, wanting a chance to get out and stretch their legs, too. So when I was done riding, I turned all three loose to roll and play. It's a testament to Lance's good character that he saved most of his shenanigans for after our ride!

Oh, and spring is officially on its way – Lance is starting to shed his blaze! Yay!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hit and miss

I guess that's just the way it is when I have an outdoor arena and no blocks of time big enough to haul somewhere.

The week before last I got in three rides in three days (including our 'mud bath' trail ride) before our big snow fell. Last week I got in three rides in three days after the snow melted. Yesterday it poured, and today I was on the road for 5 1/2 hours and couldn't get a ride shoehorned in before or after. Right now the wind is whipping the trees around, and the rest of the week looks like this:

Looks like I might be giving Lance swimming lessons rather than schooling sessions!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ready to rumble

My saddle is clean.

My horse is not; another snow bath or two would probably help. (You should have seen the grungy spot he left in the slush!) The white stuff is melting fast, though, and tomorrow's predicted rain may wash it all away. Maybe I'll let him out to roll again during chores tonight….
Can't wait to get back on this pretty pony again soon!
The above shot is SOOC (straight out of camera). Weird, huh? I thought it might look better – and more natural – in black and white.
Which do you prefer?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Twice spared

Oh dear. Last night when Rick went out to clean Lance's paddock, he found the scattered remains of a totally annihilated floating stock tank de-icer. We knew it could be a temptation for my big red goober so Rick had installed it on Breezy's side of the stock tank. Lance still managed to reach it, pull it out, unplug it, and destroy it. Thankfully, he didn't get electrocuted – or clobbered by my husband!

I don't know if Lance did the dirty deed before or after I turned him out to play in the snow since I didn't go out in his paddock at the time. I figured I'd better let him burn off some steam again today before he found something else to dismantle, but he didn't find the snow to his liking. It was deeper, and had a hard crust from the freezing rain this afternoon. He pawed for awhile and walked about gingerly for a bit, then came over and asked to go back to the barn.

There's quite a snow load on the barn roof, and the freezing rain is adding more weight to it. I hope the thaw comes soon – both for the roof's sake and my horse's sanity!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Lance's first "big" snow – in pictures

I think he likes it! (But he was ready to come in sooner rather than later.  ;-)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waiting out the weather

That hoof print might as well be cast in concrete. NW Oregon has become a deep freeze, and it's going to get colder – and snowy! – before it gets warmer again. I'm glad I got rides in the first three days of this week….

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekend excitement, part II

Before the weekend my friend Kate and I made tentative plans to ride at Willamette Mission State Park today. The weather and our families cooperated, so this afternoon off we went, leaving the Super Bowl to those who cared.
(What do you mean, "we're on a boat"???)

This time we took the ferry, because the park is only 7 1/2 miles from my home that way. I'm too chicken to attempt the steep on and off ramps with a truck and trailer, but Kate was game and she was driving. It did save a lot of travel time – which meant more time for riding!

We had the park almost entirely to ourselves, just as we hoped. One other rig pulled in after we arrived, and left before we did. Pedestrians and bicyclists were scarce and distant.
The only other riders there on this beautiful day

Many of the trails were muddy, but our youngsters picked their way through the muck admirably. When we came to puddles, Lance willingly walked right through them – although he did pause and paw once. He did it again when we got to a nice, dry, soft and sandy spot on the trail; a good roll was obviously on his mind. Yeah, right; walk on, big boy!

At one point the trail was completely submerged under a long trough of water. I started to ride off through the grassy meadow to the side when I saw Kate asking a reluctant Dinah to walk through the water. Wanting to be supportive, I directed Lance back to the water to lead the way for Dinah. No problem; he was happy to help. Or was he just happy to have another chance at the water? He stopped; I tapped him with my dressage whip. He started pawing; I whacked him with my dressage whip. His knees started buckling; I thrashed him with the dressage whip! It was no use; he was determined. Onto his side he rolled; off and out of the way I stepped. Fortunately he popped right back up rather than trying to roll completely over on my saddle; as it was one side got completely soaked. There was really nothing to do at that point but laugh – and get back on for the rest of the ride, mud and all!

There's our waiting taxi, straight ahead between Lance's ears

He was pretty full of himself for awhile after his stunt, looking for any excuse to cut loose. But like yesterday, he finally leveled out and relaxed, once again becoming the horse I'm used to.

Back at the trailer, the late-day sun burnished his clean side with a fiery glow before we loaded up,

and drove off into a beautiful sunset toward home.

I'll face the monstrous tack-cleaning job tomorrow.

Weekend excitement, part I

Well, well, well; my "solid citizen" revealed another side this weekend! All's well that ends well, but both rides served as good reminders that one must always be awake, aware and ready to deal with whatever comes.

On Saturday afternoon I stayed home when my husband took our son to youth group. I hadn't been able to ride Lance on Friday, so I strapped on his Renegade front boots and headed down the lane. I don't do arena work on Saturday (since the Sabbath is supposed to be a rest day for man and beast), but it was a beautiful day for a walkabout on the hill.
Mt. Hood on the horizon with its peak in the clouds

I headed down through the vineyards pictured. Lance was alert and had his llama-neck on, stopping occasionally to get a good look/listen before proceeding. About halfway through the vineyard, he stopped longer than usual and stared intently at a vineyard laborer's vehicle parked downhill from us. I decided to turn him in a small circle to get his focus back on me, but as soon as I got his head turned he spun the rest of the way and bolted back up the hill! The footing wasn't great and there was no room to execute a one-rein stop, but fortunately he didn't go far before I was able to slow him down and get him turned around again. Still not wanting to proceed he thought about bucking, but just hopped a bit. About that time the laborers returned to their vehicle which seemed to help Lance realize that it was safe to approach. The rest of the ride was less eventful, although it took quite awhile before Lance actually relaxed. All that tension, plus climbing the hill to get home, had him practically dragging his nose by the time we got to our lane again!
Pretty sweaty for just walking