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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

You know what New Year's Day means, right?

Come hell or high water, I'll be on the back of my horse!
In our case the high water is subsiding and hell froze over. ;-)  Our weather has turned clear and cold, which means my arena footing has turned to concrete. Tuesday night's freeze was the first, so my arena was still usable and Lance and I were able to school in it yesterday.

But things don't thaw on the north side of the trees, so last night's freeze was cumulative (as tonight's will be). By today the footing was much too hard to be safe even if I had had time to ride (which I didn't). That means tomorrow's ride will have to be out and about, with my friend Kate if we can manage it, or maybe just my little loop through the woods. Anywhere is good, as long as I have some time on my horse.

By the way, I am really enjoying my Christmas cavaletti – and Rick has #4 almost done! Woot!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Last (but not least) lesson of 2015

Had a great lesson with Julie today, in spite of the rain and "wintery mix" that fell steadily. She would have gone hoarse trying to make herself heard over the din on the metal roof, but her mother's hostess gift at our dressage party was one of those cordless intercom/two-way radio headset thingies. Man, that set-up is slick! It would also work at treat at horse shows.

Anyway, I got all the help I was hoping for without taxing Lance at all. We worked on strengthening his lower back by changing frame rather than loading his hindquarters, making sure to keep him in front of the bit and tracking straight. The struggle to keep him off my right leg disappeared as soon as Julie corrected ME; I just need to keep my right shoulder down and back (tracking right) and my right elbow down by my hip (tracking left).

Julie didn't see any big problems in our partnership; she thinks getting him legged up and ready for a show at the end of February is a reasonable goal. Second Level, here we come! (She says hopefully. ;-)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Christmas surprise

In spite of getting knocked off balance by Tuesday's sad news, we had a lovely, quiet Christmas. My husband acquiesced to my family's European tradition and we opened gifts Christmas Eve. However, one of my gifts was too big to fit under the tree; in fact it still needed a bit of assembly and wasn't even on the property! So on Christmas day he drove to his clinic to pick up the poles and supports of the cavaletti he built for me and we put them together with lag screws. It was dark by the time we got home from a potluck Christmas dinner with church friends, but I just had to try them out by the light of the full Christmas moon.
They are just perfect. Lance is transformed by cavaletti, and seems to like them, too. I've been using some miscellaneous PVC pipe pieces that move too easily; as soon as he checked these out he knew they were the real deal and picked his feet up accordingly. Rick might make me one more; I never would have complained about getting only three, but he did ask if three was the right number.... ;-)

Tomorrow I'm hauling up to Julie's for a lesson; heehaw! Lance is obviously still legging up from his suspensory strain, so we will take it easy. Still excited, though!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sadness and joy

It's been a tough 24 hours or so. When I got home from work yesterday, there was an email waiting in my inbox. One of our dressage chapter members was killed in a head-on crash Monday (news report here), just 10 miles from here. She was to retire this week; her husband had just retired on Saturday, and they were looking forward to retirement together. Eight days earlier we were at a Christmas party together, having a lovely time; now she is gone. It's been weighing heavy on my heart, my head; my coping skills are shot.

Blessed with a dry day, I took Lance out for a Christmas Eve ride. We warmed up in the arena, then went down the gravel lane. I thought about Kristy and her two horses, about how unpredictable life is. I look forward to heaven, but feel the loss here and now nonetheless.

“So you must match time's swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.”
—Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thankful for Friday

I managed to get another ride in then, and I'm so glad I did. We were gone all day Saturday and Sunday, and today the weather is wild. Strong winds and stronger gusts are whipping the big firs around and sometimes shooting raindrops like little darts. Even if I could get away from homeschooling supervision long enough to do something with Lance, riding would be foolhardy and I think even lunging would be asking for too much self-control on his part. Maybe tonight, after this storm blows through....

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sly, dry dog

Last night, after a discouraging morning homeschooling and a looong drive through heavy traffic to take my MIL to the airport, I needed saddle time. It was dark but it wasn't raining (much) and my guys weren't home, so I had a window of opportunity. I put on my breeches and went to the barn.

I had just placed the saddle on Lance's back and was walking around him to check the pad and girth when he slithered out the mostly open stall door – then crashed past the mostly closed barn door, dropping my saddle in the mud and knocking the lightswitch/outlet box loose! Turkey. I thought some choice hay in front of him (I always give him a snack while grooming and tacking up) would be enough to hold his attention; NOT. Once he realized that it was dark and any green grass along the driveway was covered with leaves, he trotted back in the now-open barn door and back into his stall. I tacked him back up and out to the dark arena we went. I have to admit I kept the reins a little shorter and immediately asked for lateral work at the walk to give him plenty to think about, just in case he still had any wild hairs, but he was a gentleman and we had a good ride.

By bedtime last night the rain was pouring down, and is supposed to continue for days. Good thing we got a ride in when we did!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sometimes everything falls into place

This morning I managed to squeeze in a nice schooling ride on Lance after getting Brian started on an overdue school assignment. As soon as we got back in the barn to untack, the sky opened up and filled the hoofprints Lance had just left in the sand. Talk about good timing!
After showering and getting Brian through a make-up violin practice, I prepared the dishes I planned to take to the dressage chapter Christmas party – whole roasted cauliflower and chocolate-dipped fresh cranberries (rave reviews on both). Again, my timing worked out just right; everything was ready to go when my friends arrived to carpool.

The party was great in every way,  and I was home again in time to help my guys with chores.

I'm looking forward to taking a lesson with Julie sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year. Nothing too strenuous yet; I just want to make sure we stay correct and on track as we gradually return to full work and, hopefully, a League show at the end of February!

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Thanks to Sylvia's input, I decided to exchange the 84" turnout sheet for an 81". But before I had acted on that decision, SmartPak advertised an even bigger discount on their ultimate turnouts than I had taken advantage of. So I ordered an 81" at the lower price and returned the 84" for a refund – $20 saved is $20 saved!
The 81" arrived today, and I put it on Lance tonight. It is still plenty roomy, so is definitely the better size for him.

Don't know when the weather and my life will cooperate for another ride, but I'm looking forward to our Oregon Dressage Society chapter Christmas party this Sunday. Two good friends are going to carpool with me, so we'll have a great time coming and going, as well as at the party!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Just what the psychiatrist ordered

We've changed from cold and clear to warm and WET. I emptied three inches from our rain gauge on Sunday, and it's collected four more inches since then. The weather and family obligations have kept me from riding for the past week, and my stress levels have been rising. This morning I watched the weather impatiently; the dry spells between showers didn't last long enough to get Lance tacked up, much less ride. But after lunch the clouds parted and the sun smiled weakly, raising my hopes. I left Brian to finish his last subject and headed out.
I put Lance's Renegade boots on the front and stuck to the gravel lane; all the rain we've had makes the arena footing too soupy and any other footing slicker 'n' snot.

 No, this isn't the Olympic rain forest, but does resemble it in places!

Lance got a little squirrelly in one spot when he spotted an ATV parked in the woods, but mostly he just plodded along. Sometimes I wish he was a higher-energy horse, but there's a lot to be said for "solid."

Thankful for a dose of sun, scenic beauty, and my sanity-saving steed!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Covering and cantering

It's been chilly here, the dampness making it feel even colder than it is. Lance has been wearing Russell's old stable blanket; maybe he won't get quite so woolly that way. I know he can keep himself warm, protected from the rain as he is by his covered quarters, but I'd rather he spend his calories rebuilding his physique than generating heat. He hasn't been messing with the blanket at all, so I think he must appreciate it for now.

The number of blanket and sheet repairs I've paid for, Alanna's positive review, and an internet special prompted me to purchase a turnout sheet from SmartPak that has a 10-year guarantee against damage. It arrived yesterday, and I tried it on Lance today. I got an 84" because I have an 81" that is a bit too small for Lance, but I'm thinking an 81" in this brand would fit him better. What do you think?
It seems to be very well made, with excellent features. I'm hoping the high neck will keep Lance from rubbing out his mane!

As for me, Polarfleece breeches and wool socks keep me warm during our rides; that, and something to cover my ears. We tootled around in the arena this afternoon; I asked for a couple canter departs each direction just as a reminder to us both, and was pleased with Lance's response. But mostly we walk, and it is enough for now.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Meeting neighbors

This afternoon I rode Lance awhile in the arena (even trotted a bit with the vet's okay!) and then headed out for a little road ride. I could hear a chainsaw to the south and wanted to see what was happening, and figured a little hill work and a change of scenery would do Lance good.

Off in the distance we saw a couple walking toward us around a bend in the gravel road. When they stopped and looked back like they were calling something, I expected to see a dog, but instead two fluffy pygora goats ran up to them! Lance snorted explosively, then marched towards them – until the blond goat started walking toward US. Ha! Eventually we gathered in a loose group to introduce ourselves. I didn't think to take pictures until after saying good-bye, so I doubled back to rectify that –just for you. ;-)
Lance has one ear toward the wife on our right.

It's always nice to meet fellow animal lovers! They will be bringing their granddaughter up for a "pony ride" over the Christmas holidays....

Dance like no one's watching

We got almost 6 inches of rain last week, but there were still opportunities to walk my fine steed around on our hill. I've been staying out of the arena because of the leaves, but Friday Brian wanted a job so I set him to it:
He did a GREAT job, too, raking most of them by hand when they proved too wet and heavy for the sweeper to collect. Now Lance and I have a good place to dance even in the dark. And now I have just the outfit for dancing in the dark....

I am blessed with an extremely generous blogpal, who always seems to think of me when she's clearing out her tackroom. Recently she asked me if I would be interested in a Cashel bareback pad. I replied, "Yes!" (I've been wanting a bareback pad for awhile, but not badly enough to go shopping.) It arrived on Thursday, so Thursday night I had to try it out. Very comfortable! Brian wanted to try it, too, which gave me a chance to snap a poor photo (LOOK at those long legs!):

But this wonderful pad was accompanied by other goodies, too. I was totally blown away by this gorgeous pair of breeches with full deerskin seat,

– and this crazy pair of fringed riding tights!
Oh my goodness; they are hilarious! I'm NOT a flamboyant person, so my guys may be the only people to see me in these, but who knows? Maybe someday I'll design a musical freestyle or costume class ride around them. Maybe to this song?

I think I need to find a black Sleezy for Lance, and stitch a big blue "S" on the chest!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Back on back

As I posted on Instagram and Facebook yesterday, it's wonderful to be back on Lance's back! Even if it is just for a short walk. He is being marvelous, BTW; totally a solid citizen, even when walking by the neighboring lot with felled trees, strange vehicles, and buzzing chainsaws. Love him!

I'm thinking I'd better get out there if I want to get another ride in before the big weather hits....

Monday, November 9, 2015

Looking forward and back

Rick treated Lance with shockwave for the third and final time tonight. He said I can start walking him under saddle now; woohoo! Now I can work on my own core strength while continuing his easy exercise.

I recently updated my Facebook profile with this photo of Lance from the State Fair:

I like that photo so much I've ordered a print. :-)  Below are some other good shots from the State Fair photographer's website. Looking forward to showing in our "new" bridle – with fancy browband – next year!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Good medicine

I've been walking Lance, which is oh, so hard for him. He constantly wants to grab something – grass, leaves, my arm(!) – and when I scold him, he sometimes uses it as an excuse to try cavorting. But I'm glad to see him feelin' fine, and can't wait to ride him through the woods again. Now I can (almost) say I have doctor's orders to do it!

My SI joints have been cranky ever since Lance tripped and fell with me last summer. I tried the chiropractor next door to where I work, who didn't help, so I finally went to see the physical therapist who did so much for my frozen shoulder and bad knee. That gave me 36 pain-free hours; then I got sick, Lance got hurt, a few weeks passed and I was uncomfortable again. I went in for another session on Tuesday, and the PT decided to try traction. BAD idea; traction hurt, and left me barely able to function. Back I went this morning; based on the bad outcome from Tuesday, the PT said he suspects arthritis rather than a disk problem. After treatment, he gave me some stretches to do and instructed me to keep riding, since dressage, properly ridden, is core-strengthening. Now that's a prescription I can appreciate!

Monday, October 26, 2015

One step forward, no steps back

Today a friend posted a link to these "micro lessons with Charlotte Dujardin." I'm hot-linking it here so I remember them when my dance partner is back in the swing of things. That is one step closer; Rick gave Lance his second shock-wave treatment yesterday. He said I could start hand-walking Lance 15-20 minutes daily, but I didn't have time today. Hopefully tomorrow; Lance is getting frisky and could use something to do. He's getting fuzzy, and is filling out again. Although when his supper was delayed while the effects of the standing anesthesia wore off last night, he seemed to be fretting that we might be putting him back on starvation rations! Ha!

Friday, October 23, 2015

On my wishlist

No, not a Finnhorse (although I probably wouldn't turn one down). A GoPro!

Thanks to Haynet, I just learned about the existence of finnhorses, and am now following this blog . . . where I found another, even more wonderful, video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I'll do better later, I promise!

But my browband arrived yesterday, so last night I had to try it on Lance, even if on an incomplete bridle with a different bit than his, in a dark and dusty barn. ;-)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Getting happier!

The browband has reached Portland!

The State Fair photos are finally getting uploaded!
I have a coffee date today with the first horsey friend I met when we moved to Oregon 26 years ago!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Getting happy

For me, happiness is being on the back of my horse. For Lance, happiness is eating. Happy, happy!




It's been three days and my browband has traveled even farther away from Oregon? How does that make sense, USPS?

I'm going down to the barn to feed Lance his lunch and sit on his bare back for a bit while he eats.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

All the king's horses

I was so happy to have Lance treated Monday that I forgot my promise to post Perrydale Trails pictures. Sorry!

Kate brought Lance's girlfriend and a very green five-year-old Quarter Horse she bought as a project for her daughter. I have a feeling Lance might be torn between his "best girl" Dinah and this new girl once he meets her; his dam is palomino.  ;-)

Here's Welsh Cob/Trakehner Dinah modeling the green fly veil I got her when I bought Lance's.

Amber (the palomino) did incredibly well!

This couple from our Christian trail-riding club came to ride with our dressage chapter. The red roan is a Tennessee Walking Horse and the little bay is a Paso Fino.

There were a LOT of other riders at Perrydale Trails Sunday mounted on horses of all colors, sizes, and breeds. I admired this couple's mounts; he's leading on an Appaloosa and she is following on her Lipizzan.

This is the oldest member in our dressage chapter; JoAnn is in her 80s and still going strong. I hope I can sit a horse so well in another 30 years!