Showing posts with label Dressage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dressage. Show all posts

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Siegfried Winkler Clinic

I have a hard time turning down an opportunity to ride in a clinic. I LOVE them! As much as I enjoy showing, clinics are even more fun to me. So, when a friend in my barn was bringing in Siegfried Winkler and needed more spots filled, I decided to sign Summer and I up.

Watching us warm up.

I was worried how Siegfried would feel about a green OTTB, but was assured that he is very kind and gladly works with all levels of horses and riders. My main concern was over-facing Summer and everyone agreed that Siegfried would not do that. With that in mind, I figured that it was only money and my pride at risk, I might as well give it a try
Summer was really excited about it!

Six weeks after his last race, Summer and I participated in our first clinic. Siegfried was amazing! He is kind and patient. He pushes, but not past your and your horse's limits. He points out everything that needs to be fixed, yet let's you know every time you and your horse do something correctly. There were lots of walk breaks in which he made sure that I understood what he was saying and why it was important. One thing that I really loved about him is that he taught everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm, it didn't matter what kind of horse the rider's had or what level they were at. It's very obvious how much he loves horses and his job.

I had only signed up for two of the three days, figuring that three might be too much for where Summer is at mentally and physically. He's still only four and I do my best to remember that. 

Working in the quality of the walk.

The first day of the clinic was fairly easy. We just walked and trotted, as I told Siegfried that we hadn't done a whole lot of canter work yet. Here was the focus on day one:

  • Keeping my lower leg closer to the girth. I ride with my stirrups shorter on Summer, which jams my long legs up into my thigh blocks more, which causes my lower leg to come back too far. I can keep it where it needs to be, but it was something I wasn't even aware I was doing until Siegfried pointed it out. Keeping more weight in my heels and not letting them come up in the transitions was also part of this. He had me do this to help keep Summer more forward (especially when he tries to pull down) and to help with him wanting to drift over a shoulder.
  • Play with the bit and supple, don't hold. Summer steers pretty well, but not great. Sometimes, I use the inside rein a bit too much to get him lined out since he doesn't quite understand the outside rein concept yet. We worked on this a lot with supplying to the left and right.
  • Turning my shoulders to weight my inside seat bone to create bend. I was keeping my outside shoulder back too much, so when I was trying to get Summer to circle left or right, my shoulders were positioned as if we were going straight. #dumbass Between correcting this and the previous two issues, Summer's steering improved immensely.
  • Keeping my shoulders back. I do this well in sitting trot, everything else, not so much. Especially, when I'm riding green horses.
  • Downward transitions when Summer wants to start pulling down.
We worked on these things in the walk and trot, doing lots of transitions and introducing some leg yielding. I had a much improved horse by the end of my ride.


On day two, we worked on pretty much the same things, only we added canter work. Siegfried worked us both A LOT harder. Summer started out even better than he had ended up the day before. Having the time to process everything the evening after my ride really helped. We struggled with picking up the correct lead, especially to the right. Summer would pick it up when we were going to the left, but not when we were going to the right. Siegfried suggested that I should continue on and then change my direction to the right when he picks it up like that, just so Summer starts to associate going to the right with his right lead. I'm not too worried about it. At least he can canter on both leads, it's just a lack of understanding on something that we've barely worked on. My little guy is smart, I have no doubt he'll understand the concept soon. This is a short clip towards the end of our lesson on the second day:

This video makes me want to smack myself, but love Summer all that much more.

Summer was so good as far as behavior. He never set a foot out of place, even when a guy was cracking his whip while free-lunging his horse a hundred miles an hour in the pen next to the arena. He gave me 100% even when he was beginning to get tired on the second day. The improvement he made in two days was incredible.

I am definitely looking forward to riding with Siegfried again in Colorado. I was ecstatic to find a clinician that frequently goes to both cities that I bounce between throughout the year. Riding with him was one of the best investments I've made in my riding education.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Love At First Ride

Summer was trained by my good friend's husband. After the meet at Denver was over last year, his trainer decided to take a short break before Turf Paradise started. Summer had just broken his maiden and his owner didn't want to interrupt his training. The Fiancé and I ended up taking care of Summer for a few days before he was shipped down to Albuquerque to another friend of ours.

The Fiancé had me tack up Summer one day for him to ride. After being on him for a few minutes,  TF  told me to grab my helmet. I had SO much fun riding him! Afterwards, I said that I wanted this horse when he was done running. I didn't expect that would actually happen, or that it would only be a few months later, or that The Fiancé would agree  to another horse (especially since I splurged on a new pony-horse the month before that). The stars aligned and now Summer is mine.

This is a very short video from that day. Summer was three years old. I wasn't planning on riding that day, so please excuse the sloppy tank.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Caution to the Wind

I've been pretty conservative with bringing Indy back from her injury. According to the rehab protocol, we could have started cantering a couple of weeks ago. Giving her an extra month didn't seem like such a horrible idea, so I was going to wait until early February before getting back to any canter work. How silly of me to think that I could stick to anyone's time schedule but Indy's.

What more could I possibly need?

At our lesson the week before, Indy had gone FANTASTIC and my trainer said that if she was going like that again, it probably wouldn't hurt to do a small amount of canter work. You know, because it's the elephant horse and any time she is doing things correctly and willingly, you might as well take the opportunity to do a bit more.

Blurry screenshots because YouTube hates me. I'll edit this with video if it ever uploads.

*Before anyone starts wondering why I'm taking lessons on a horse being rehabbed, you should know that the lessons are aligned with the rehab protocol. They aren't ultra long lessons and have been just walk-trot up to this point. Basically, my trainer is just helping me with managing and getting quality work from Indy through the process of building her up to full work.

A couple of days after my lesson, Indy had a ton of energy. She wasn't doing anything bad, but I could feel her just wanting to go. I'd go as far to say that she was trying really hard to be good, yet was begging to be able to get some of that energy out. I mumbled something to myself about how she damn well better not buck me off and asked her to canter.

She doesn't do resting bitchface anymore!

Much to my surprise, she gave me a gorgeous transition and went on with a lovely, balanced canter. It shocked me so much that I just sat there like a dumbfounded sack of potatoes, being nothing but a passenger, and she STILL cantered around like a pro. On a circle. This mare can canter balanced for days in a straight line, yet 20 meter circles have always been a challenge for her.

I don't know how much I've talked about this, but I've gone through HELL with this horse and her canter work. Seriously, everything. All of it. I've had to make her gallop very FORWARD to get in front of my legs, which wasn't all that fun at the time since her steering wasn't the greatest and if I used too much hand her head would be in my face, which led to having to galloping even more forward. If we weren't forward enough, I had her ears up my nose. Then SHE decided that forward wasn't forward enough and that the thoroughbred side of her needed to be shown off. After that we went through a cantering sideways stage, which involved kicking at my leg every time I tried to get her in front of it. That was followed by drama llama canter transitions. Oh, and let's not forget the stage where she thought charging at other horses would be fun. There's more, but you get the general idea of her masterful evasions. Submission has definitely not come easily with this horse.

Hopefully, I can get some canter pictures soon. Until then you're stuck with boring trot pictures.

Back to the present, Indy gave me three good circles to the left and I asked her for a downward, which she did flawlessly. Obviously, I had to canter her to the right too. The transition was decent enough. She was a little fussy and wanted to drift over her left shoulder. We went back to the trot. I let her settle and reminded myself that I might actually have to ride her instead of just sitting there. I asked again and it was better. It took a circle to get everything togther, then she gave me the same beautiful canter that she had given to the left, which was followed by another beautiful downward. What the holy hell?! 


So we cantered. In a respectable manner. After not cantering for almost eight months. It wasn't 100% under the terms that I had originally wanted, but maybe it was good for me to be reminded that waiting for near perfection isn't always ideal. I would love to say that we're over the hump and we'll continue to get this quality of work that we can really begin to build on. However, it's day by day with horses. With Indy, it can be minute by minute. We'll still have our good and bad days, like anyone. I'm very glad for the good moments I get from her because they bring promise to the worse ones. They remind my of why I've stuck it out with Indy for as long as I have, of why I've always maintained hope for us. And the bad moments; I know we will get through them in time. Stride by stride.

Most importantly, I'm having fun with her.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Blog Hop: Training Excercise of Death

I have one dreaded excercise when it comes to dressage (or riding in general): turns on the forehand.

That moment when you ask for a turn on the forehand and your horse finds attempting to piaffe backwards easier. I can't even blame her, it sounds easier to me too.

Yes, I understand the purpose and how to ride them and how a correctly done turn on the forehand should feel. That doesn't make them any easier or enjoyable to me. I try and do them a lot with in-hand work and Indy understands them from the ground. In the saddle it's a completely different story and absolutely the best way to piss her off. They're getting better and help with the rest of our ride IF we can get them right. I still don't get any enjoyment out of doing them. 

So what are the excercises you would prefer to avoid in your lessons and daily riding? I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spastastic Fun

I was going to write about home, but I'll just give a quick rundown and then get to the hopefully more entertaining  part.

My family and friends are still completely awesome. Obviously. They still love me even if they only get to see me every couple of years. I love the fact that I come from a horse family and have SO much support behind me!

 I thought that people were being overdramatic when they told me how bad Les Bois (the track) has gotten. They said that the racing secretary/office was a pain in the ass, that the track surface is horrible, that the vets aren't very good, and that it basically just isn't a fun place to be anymore. They weren't totally wrong (one vet didn't seem all that bad), It certainly isn't as pleasant as it used to be. On a good note, I had heeded their warnings enough that I didn't have too many high expectations, so at least I wasn't disappointed much. The 105-110 temps that happened the entire time I was there were absolutely miserable. THAT really sucked! I still maintain that Les Bois is one of the best tracks to watch races at and it could still be a fun place to run horses. It just doesn't seem to be right now. There are some really lovely people that I adore there and it was worth the headaches just to get to see them again. The best part is that being there made me appreciate the tracks we are normally at all that much more. Except for The Downs at Hellbuquerque, it takes the cake for shitty tracks to be at.


Other than seeing my family and friends, the best part was getting to take a lesson with my mom's trainer. She is a very sweet person and let me ride her horse, Sasha. Sasha is showing 4th level right now, schooling higher levels.

No I wasn't making her fix my stirrup for me. Though I'm not sure what I was doing....

I was totally exhausted and cooking to death (hot weather is not something I do well with), but I sure wasn't going to miss the opportunity to ride a horse like Sasha! I messed up A LOT, but I had a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

Anyway, here's how my thinking works when  I'm completely exhausted while riding a more advanced horse than I'm used to. *I apologize in advance to those of you that don't like videos. I did edit them down to spare you from the several times I had to go around the arena to get something at least half way right. No need to thank me.

"A double? When was the last time I rode in a double? Like eight years ago?"

"Oh wow! I am being a spaz with these reins."


"Do I need to loosen up on the curb? Agh! Poor girl! I'm sorry, so sorry!"

"I totally want to steal this horse. Do they still hang people for that in Idaho? Eh, it'd probably still be worth....oh crap! What did C just tell me to do?"

"Did she say to half pass or circle? I'll just do a bit of both so that I'm covered either way."

"Oh yeah, she knows pirouettes. I can probably stop riding her like she doesn't now."

"I wish I weren't deaf, because I'm pretty sure I totally just butchered whatever C was trying to tell me to do. Yeah, no. I'm positive I did."

"Why in the hell am I struggling so much with these reins! Ah crap! That was the curb not the snaffle. Damn it!"

"This horse is freaking awesome!"

"I hope I can get Indy to at least this point  one day. This is so much fun! Oops! I almost ran over Mom. Again."

"Holy Hell! It's HOT!!!"

"I should probably just try to stay out of her way on the changes. Obviously she is much better than I am at them."

"Eh, circle/oval. They're basically the same thing. Close enough."

"When was the last time I schooled passage? Let's see, I schooled piaffe like over ten years ago...never passage though. I don't think. What are the aids again? I know that I've read about them at some point."

"I have to bounce more in my seat?! I've been working my entire life to not bounce!"

"I actually got a few steps! How did I do that? Maybe she just got tired of me embarrassing myself and gave me some pity passage. Who cares! That was soooo much fun!"

"I hope that my mom got that on video. You know, just in case it never happens again."

So, there's the general just of it. C has done a very good job with Sasha, it was obvious that she had been built up from a solid foundation, there were no holes. C is also very, very patient because I was having a hard time hearing and focusing. After being able to hear what she said in the video, I understand a lot more what she wanted (it took me five minutes to figure out that C was asking me to try for passage). Hopefully, I get to ride Sasha, or any horse, with C again because I really enjoyed the lesson. Preferably when I'm not delirious from hellish temperatures and long trips.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pinto Power

With the rain gone, I've actually been able to ride! It's a good thing too, because I was going crazy without my saddle time and, I'm assuming, wasn't the most pleasant person to be around.

A racehorse's first time doing dressage. Hopefully, it helps strengthen her long topline.

Anyway, I'll just get to the point. WINN IS SOUND! As in, he feels fantastic! And guys, he's SO amazing to ride!

Blurry screenshots work, right? Also, it probably looks like I'm asking him to lengthen a little here, I'm not. I wouldn't ask him for that when he isn't fit.

I'd forgotten how nice it is to get on a horse and be able to focus on myself, to not constantly have to help the horse. It's not like I can just sit and do nothing, but I don't have to spend the entire ride micromanaging the basics.

What I am most excited about with Winn is how good he is in the hind end. I've ridden him since he was three and he's always been weak in that area. He moved more like a hunter (not saying there's anything wrong with hunter movement) and no matter what me or anyone else did, he never seemed to get enough strength to be able to handle the collection at anything above second level. Now he feels and moves like a dressage horse! I feel like he can get strong enough to go further.

He's not even fit right now and he has twice as much power in the hind end as he ever has.

I think that gelding him helped a lot. He really filled out in the back half of his body since I did and he's gotten lighter in the front. *Bonus- I no longer have to deal with a 17.1 stallion that goes straight up in the air on his weak hind end when he hears a horse a mile away whinny. I'm sad that he won't have more foals, but his ability to reproduce wasn't worth risking both of our lives over. Plus, he's so much happier now.

Feed me, human!

The other thing that helped was L, the lady that does the adjustments and laser in all of our horses, working on him. She adjusted him last Fall and his hind end has been phenomenal since. I can only imagine where he would be if we hadn't had to deal with his feet problems. I know there are quite a few people out there that don't believe in chiropractic for horses. Honestly, even I think that only about 10% out there get effective results that last, but if you had seen the before and after of Winn, it might change your mind. I wish that I'd known her when he was three.

So, I am finally able to completely enjoy my lovely horse! While Winn is at the track, we are taking advantage of the hill and working on getting him even stronger. He seems to really enjoy not being confined to the arena. He's been really well behaved with the exception of the one day he was a little too fresh. I'm not going to hold that against him.

Sandy thinks that doing some dressage work is actually kind of fun even if she is still a racehorse. Talk about a horse that will have no difficulty moving on to a second career.

I still want to find a place to board at, but I'm a little worried about how I'm going to have time to work at the track, ride a couple of horses after the track closes, spend an hour+ of my day driving, ride Winn and Indy, and then do evening chores. I'm already tired and I don't want it to end up that they only get ridden three days a week because I don't have the time and energy to drive out to ride them. I'm still trying to figure that one out, so we'll see. In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy having them here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Worth It

I went out late last night to ride Indy. It was just below 80° with a light breeze when I left for the barn and I figured that it would be a quiet and relaxing time to ride (plus, it was either ride then or not at all). It was an off night for the kiddie lessons and the loudest screaming riding instructor in the world. Yep, it was going to be perfect.

When I pulled up there were cars at the riding school (kiddie lesson) barn. Crap. Whatever. The vocals from the trainer and hyper children are good exposure for Indy.

I get out of the truck and realize that the wind has picked up. A lot. Eh, wind usually doesn't bother her too much.

As I turn Indy out (I like putting her out for about a half hour before I ride her), she is blowing and snorting. When I turn her loose, she takes off tearing around the paddock. No big deal. At least she's getting it out of her system, she'll settle in a bit.

Bringing Indy in, she is still blowing and snorting with her tail straight in the air as she prances next to me. That's fine, the Thermotex blanket usually relaxes her. She'll chill out when I put it on.

She was probably just really looking forward to getting a bath. Because you can see here how much she loves them...

The blanket is pulled off and Indy continues randomly snorting at things. We've spent most of the time the blanket is on helping her remember that she is supposed to stand politely in the cross ties (I don't tolerate my horses wallowing around in them). As I tack her up, I start to think that this could be a VERY ugly exciting ride. My hopes of her being sane quickly diminish. What the hell, if it's bad it's bad. Not the end of the world. She probably won't kill me.

On a happy blanket day.

On the way to the mounting block Indy continues with the snorts. She might not kill me.

I lead her to the mounting block and climb on prepared for her to feel like she's going to blow. I sit in the saddle and....

She drops her head, waits for me to ask her to walk off, and then proceeds with a nice forward and relaxed walk on a loose rein to the arena. Okay, now I'm just confused.

The second I got on, she was all like "Oh, hey human! Where you been? Nice of you to show up. Can we get to work now?"

Um, sure Indy....

We proceeded to have a really nice ride as the kids acted like kids do, the trainer yelled, and the wind blew (creating strange, moving shadows in the dark beyond the lighted arena). My horse was good through all of it. MY HORSE! The one that (literally) will sometimes spook at her own shadow. She lost focus for a couple of seconds here and there, but other than that I couldn't have hoped for better.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, at least not with most horses. Indy is another story.

Not long ago, I would have seen the kid lessons and been pretty convinced that the ride would have sucked. The yelling trainer would have helped prove me right. Add the wind and I would have assumed that the ride would be completely hopeless.

Not long ago, if she'd acted like that going to the mounting block, I would have been wishing that I had my vest (that I wear on the rare occasions that I gallop at the track) on. I would have been wishing this because I would have known that there was absolutely no chance of getting her brain focused.

Not long ago, riding on a night like this would have been Hell.

So, I'm proud of my horse. Indy had lots of excuses to act like an idiot and she didn't. She was just as focused (as Indy gets at her maturity level) with all of that as she is when everything is quiet. When it came to her job, she got right down to business. Dare I say it? Could it be possible that Indy is starting to show signs of professionalism?

She's come a long way since this was taken.

I know that there will still be bad rides ahead of us. She will have those days where she will answer the questions I ask of her with her way of telling me to piss off. That's okay. They're happening less often.

I've pushed myself to be patient, to try not to get frustrated, to just keep trying in general. I've done my best to push, but not force (it wouldn't work anyway), and to make it very clear when she gives the correct response. Sometimes it gets the results I want, sometimes it doesn't.

My other "birthday present", but that's a long story that needs to be told another day...

Indy is beginning to work with me instead of fighting me the whole way. We're FINALLY starting to build that relationship that it takes to be successful in dressage. I've certainly made mistakes along the way, yet learned from them. There is a long ways to go still, but the foundation is becoming sturdier every ride. Brick by damn brick.

Has anyone else's most talented horse also been the most difficult?

*I figured I should mention that Indy's "bad" isn't that bad. It's usually more of a hard-headed "I don't want to" or "I'm going to look for every excuse I can to lose focus and ignore you" type of thing. She's never done anything more than a crow hope and has only had a few major spooks. The difference between when she really spooks and when she is looking for an excuse to spook us pretty obvious. 90% if the time she isn't truly scared if something. Her bad behavior is rarely something that could get me hurt. There were/are times when she feels like a volcano ready to erupt, but she hasn't ever blown.  The things that were a little dangerous were just typical young horse stuff. The misbehaving that I talk about are mental blocks that keep us from progressing as much as I'd like to and take her longer than most horses to get past. Hence, the patience she has tested taught me.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Claes Clinic

I love clinics! As much as I love showing, I may actually love clinics even more.

My friend at the barn was kind enough to come out and snap some pics of Indy and I towards the end of our ride on the second day of the Garitt-Claes Bierenbroodspot clinic. If you ever get the opportunity to ride with him, I would highly recommend it. He's tough, but fair. He works you and your horse hard, but not past the limit and personally, I felt like I got more than my money's worth out of it.

The first day of the clinic, Claes came up to introduce himself and ask about Indy. I'm not much to go into detail about my horse, they don't need a life story, so I basically told him that she's still pretty green and that our warm-up was probably not going to be very pretty, that it takes her a little while to get into working mode. He told me to just start warming up like I normally would.

Indy kind of did her thing, going a little hollow, gawking at stuff here and there. It's just her and I have to work into things somewhat gradually. If I try to force it, our rides can go south pretty fast. I decide where we want to get to, but I do better if I don't try to rush her into it. Claes was very patient while we warmed up, having me send her more forward when she would get fussy or try to come above the bit and then asking even more as she warmed up.The basic theme of both lessons was to pretty much be very aggressive about pushing her really forward and through into a steady contact (my weakness). I mean REALLY forward and through. 

Spastic left wrist.

I realize that this seems like an easy/obvious solution, but it's not that easy. When you try to push a young/green horse really forward and through, they're going to get to that point of "running" (in the gate) and our first instinct is to slow them down, damned what the results may be. To continue to ask for more forward and more through from there until they actually start using themselves, taking slower/longer strides, and going into a correct contact is extremely difficult and not something that is easy for most of us to push ourselves into doing. Combine that with trying to fix your positional flaws, that I have WAY too many of, at the same time along with several other details and it gets really tough. It also gets results.

Anyway, instead of boring you with every detail of my ride and the fact that the left side of my body is seriously not cooperating with me *Oh, hello left leg! You DO serve a purpose!*, I figured you guys might enjoy some quotes (along with hashtags because I was just in that type of mood while writing this) that may or may not be useful to you:

Spastic left leg and needing to sit back more. I'm not going to beat myself up too much.

"You know what you need to do, you just need to trust yourself."
I think he said this within the first fifteen minutes of my ride. Yeah, he had me summed up pretty quick. For example, I'm still not sure I know what I should do, I just know what I FEEL I should do. I guess that's probably the same? #trustyourselfyouidiot #confidenceiseverything

"It's okay if she makes mistakes."
This should be pretty obvious, but the type of people that ride dressage tend to be perfectionists (it's one of the few things in life that I am a perfectionist about) and our horses can easily fall victims to our anal-retentive tendencies. I need to let her make mistakes. As much as I would like Indy to be this mature epitome of professionalism, she isn't yet. That will come, but I can't force it to happen without being unfair to her and probably ending up with a bitter horse that hates her job. #dontbesuchahardass

"It HAS to make sense! If it doesn't make sense there is no point in doing it!"
I have to laugh about this one a bit. I was originally taught by a Swiss guy that you didn't really say much to unless you were asked. You were always welcome to ask questions, but his way of teaching was so clear that there was rarely a need to. So, I pretty much just shut up and rode and that's how I've been since. Anyway, Claes had just finished explaining something to me and then looked at me expectantly after I only responded with nodding. So, I expanded on that with the uber intelligent remark "That makes sense." I don't regret saying it, because he's right. Riders often do things because it was what they were told to do, but they don't understand exactly why or how it helps them get what they are looking for. They don't know the feel that they are aiming towards. It's something worth remembering. #knowledgeiseverything

Note to self: never wear this sweater with a polo under it again. It isn't flattering.

*I can't remember the exact word-for-word quote on this one, so this is the general drift of it
If she breaks gate, send her forward in the gate she chooses. Breaking gate is her way of avoiding work and connection. She needs to know that she is going to keep working no matter what gate she is in.
How many times has your horse broken into the trot when you are trying to get them to walk correctly? And how many times have you asked them to go back down to a half-assed walk only for them to do it again? It doesn't matter if it's breaking from a walk to a trot, trot to canter, or canter down to a trot, the reason for doing this is is most likely going to be the same. I know that I'm super guilty of this. And how often in these instances of breaking gate does your horse stop stepping through, get behind your leg, and lose the contact? Probably a large amount of the time because if they are doing this they are probably green and their whole purpose of doing it is to avoid coming through in that gate. It's not that they are being bad, they're just being horses. This isn't a punishment, just a part of their training that they need to go through.  #younghorseproblems

While Claes pushed us hard, he also gave us lots of walk breaks. There's a difference between avoidance and being too exhausted to do what the rider is asking. I think this area can get very touchy because you have to be fair about it. 

"Did you ride jumpers? Because most dressage people don't know when to send a horse forward like that."
I took this as a compliment. I did get to ride/groom for a large jumper barn a long time ago, but I wasn't a real "rider" (or even close) as in showing at HITS or WEF. I didn't tell him all of this, once again he doesn't need my whole life story, but just said "A long time ago". I'm pretty sure he could tell that I was never a super star in the jumping world. Mostly I rode young horses on the flat and didn't jump anything but smaller stuff or take them through the jumping chute. I didn't really care about jumping that much, dressage was my true love. I loved riding the young horses. One of the "real" riders, who was ABSOLUTLEY amazing, taught me a ton about flat work. He was insistent that I carry my hands and send the horses forward into the contact. Over the years, I've picked up bad habits of trying to get the connection (usually by my hands getting too low) without enough forward, even if I wasn't necessarily heavy handed. This got even worse after I hurt my neck. It was good for me to ride with Claes and get that timing and feel back. Now, I just have to focus on keeping it.  I've always liked taking basic flat lessons from a good jumper trainer and think that they can be very beneficial to all dressage riders. #credittoallyoushowjumpers

"It doesn't matter. If it was too much, you just have to adjust next time."
He said that after I over-corrected Indy and said "Oops. That was probably too much." Just like my horse, I'm allowed to make mistakes. No big deal, learn from it and move on. #learningprocess

"You wouldn't want to push her like this every ride. Some days you have to take less, you have to know when to stop and try again the next day."
It is really easy to have a great ride in a clinic or lesson and then push too hard to try to get the same results again. Trust me, I definitely know. It's hard to recreate that kind of quality when you're by yourself. When you take a lesson or clinic, you're paying to be pushed. You don't have to do it every single ride. What you do have to do is know is your horse's limit for that day. #thegoodridecurse

Collapsing through my left side her. My back felt fantastic the Saturday, but Sunday I woke up with my neck out again. Don't get me wrong, I have a a tendency to make these mistakes in my position anyway, but when my neck goes, it's almost impossible to fix them. I spend so much time, effort, and money into making sure my horses are feeling good, I need to do the same for myself.

After my ride on the first day, Claes had told me "good job" and was walking away when he turned around and said "Nice horse." That may not seem like a big deal, but he isn't the type to say something he doesn't mean just to be nice. He knows his horses (google him if you don't already know of him) and if he says I have I nice horse, I must. Indy was really good for the clinic and handled the larger amount of pressure very well. I was SO proud of her!

I was able to enjoy and learn a lot at this clinic due to Lisa at Diamond L Equine Therapy incredible efforts of getting Indy feeling fantastic and J using the lesson before to prepare Indy and I for what our rides with Claes would be like.

Also, thanks for the pictures Tammy! You may have single handedly saved this post :)

Friday, March 20, 2015


Yeah, life has been super busy. Again. Shocker, I know. Of course, this means I've fallen off of the blogger bandwagon. Again. As much as that fact annoys me, it's really probably a good thing. If you're not busy, you're not making cool dressage stuff money. Right?

Little Miss Blaze Face 
Anyway, I figured doing a quick catch up and, hopefully, a look into some future posts would be good. Even if it takes me a year, I will write these posts DAMN IT!

1. Garrit-Claes Bierenbroodspot clinic.

She can go so nice when she wants....
Loved it! Learned a lot! My friend took a few pictures and hasn't had time to edit them yet, but I will try to get a post up about the clinic soon.

2. Indy

She was absolutely awesome for the clinic and continued to be afterwards.

Getting driven on a day that I couldn't muster the energy to ride.
For a couple of weeks. Then, in typical Indy fashion, she decided that she really doesn't need to work that hard just because I ask her and turned to her efforts to pick a fight so that she has a legitimate excuse to act like a heifer. I've been really good about being patient and fair with any corrections, but I've also spent a lot of my rides with every cuss word in the book quietly coming out of my mouth. Hey, I need to vent and it's a lot better than losing it and going bat shit crazy on her. Whatever works. I have no problem getting after a horse when they need it, but doing it in a fit of rage isn't going to help.

On a good note, her ass is looking fantastic!
J is awesome and understands how frustrating it is. Her lessons help so much and she has been really good about helping me remember that I just have to keep riding Indy through it until the little brat figures that she is just making it harder on herself when she acts like a jack ass. I swear this horse is either going to make me or break me.

3. Winn

The rainbow after the storm. Let's hope it's symbolic.
His feet are still sore, but he is starting to get better and I think I can start riding him again soon. All I want is to be able to ride my sweet (and trained) boy.

4. Racing

We have gotten some new horses in and some of the ones that had a break are starting to get fit again. We've had to sell/are selling some of the lower level horses to have room for the new ones. We're actually down to fourteen horses right now, but have one more coming back in from being turned out along with three two year olds that should be making their way to us soon.

Yeah, my chances of getting a vacation in the near future are pretty much nonexistant. I'm certainly not complaining about the business, but I am so DAMN tired! Like the crawl out of bed and partially collapse a few times type of tired. It's not necessarily the physical work, but the mental aspect on top of it. Constantly thinking about what you need to do, what you need to remember, what you need to get, etc. 24/7 for a barn full of horses for years catches up with a person.  Rarely having more than a few hours away from the track can be brutal. There are no breaks, no vacations, not even a day off, to look forward to. Just more work. Every. Single. Day. For the rest of my life. At least, it is feeling that way right now.

At least Butters gets plenty of rest.

There should be a lull between Denver and Phoenix this year, assuming we don't go to Zia (please God, noooo!). Fingers crossed that we can turn all of the horses out for a couple of weeks and get some time off.

Oops! That one got longer than I intended. Apparently, I needed to rant a bit.

Hirsch knows that I'm a complete sucker for him. Even the fiancé admits how much this horse likes me. After we bathed him before his race, the fiancé was holding him out in the sun and Hirsch kept trying to drag him to me. Love this guy so much!

Anyway, I want to do a post about some of the new horses and the challenges they present. As much as I complain about being tired, I do love my job. It's interesting, challenging, and I love the horses.

5. Projects

Hopefully I don't need either trailer in the next couple of days.

I have been working on an art project and a craft project for a couple of friends. Sorry, Jess. I will get it done eventually :) They should be done and shipped soon. I'll post them when they are. Provided that they don't suck, of course.

6. New Blogger Series

I wouldn't forget about you guys :)
I haven't forgotten about all of you awesome newbies out there. I will be getting in touch soon.

Completely off subject here, but to the idiot that cut half of this horse's forelock off: I do not like you. At all. I've never even met you and you make me crazy. That is all.

That's pretty much the general gist of my life lately. Hopefully I can start finding the time to blog more soon.