Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dressage Reboot

I’m sure this is obvious by now from my several months of posts and training recaps, but a few months I went back to the not so warm embrace of dressage.

Phyllis Stein pin <3
I can’t say that there was one thing that brought me back to it.  Mostly, it just felt nice to work on it.  In some ways, dressage can be addictive.  There are few things that bring me the satisfaction of a really smooth canter transition or a really forward, but relaxed trot or canter that your horse is stretching into.  That may sound insane and likely pretty boring to most of you, but it’s true for me.

This has brought about a few different not so nice feelings in me. 

For one, it makes me feel a bit guilty.  My bff and horse-riding buddy is a skilled and talented rider (a more effective and patient rider than I’ve ever been), but she’s just not all that enthused by dressage.  She’s noticed my lack of desire to jump and I think it bums her out, which bums me out. 

I also feel like a bit of an asshole.  Ever since my first training session on a cross-country course I kinda knew deep down that what I really liked about riding in the great outdoors isn’t jumping things – it’s just cantering along at a brisk, but controlled pace.  Now – if there was such a sport that just required outdoor controlled-cantering, I’d be like “SIGN ME UP!”, but that’s not eventing. 
Random puppy picture to break up word garbarge
As for stadium – well, I still like it, but only at small fence heights.  As my friend’s horse became more confident in his abilities to jump (and boy, does he have some ability!) the jumps slowly crept up in size.  They’re at a place that I just don’t enjoy jumping at (2’6”).  I’m happy to jump around at 2 feet, but I’m not happy jumping 2’3” – 2’6” courses.  It drives me nuts and embarrasses me that it scares me, but it does.  I have to pep talk myself over that fence height, and pep talking oneself and ones horse through an entire ride isn’t what I consider fun.  So I don’t do it very often.

I am absolutely all about pushing myself and my riding abilities, but what I’m not into is pushing myself into areas that make me nervous every single ride.  It seemed like a natural fit to start working on dressage again and I feel like I came back to it fresh and inspired.

Anyways… I haven’t said all this before, because as I mentioned above – it doesn’t give me the greatest feels, but I felt that an explanation was in order before I have a post on what is about to occur *cough* dressage saddle shopping *cough*.  J
Top - December, Bottom - November - I'm seeing progress!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from me and Gav.  :)  I hope everyone gets to spend today doing exactly as they please with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December Goals

Goals for December (ignore the horrible formatting!)


Goals for December
1.        Soft elbows (as soft as I want his jaw to be)
2.        Praise more often at smaller tries (especially around others)!
3.        1 lesson (December 8th)
4.        Research whether it is required in 2018 to ride in dressage saddle at 1st level (I heard this change was made, but I want to confirm before I freak out about how poor I’m about to be)
5.        Register with: WPCSA, RMDS, and send in breed paperwork to USDF

1.        Continue growing out mane
2.        Research skin/coat supplements
3.        Stick Gavin
4.        Confirmation pics on second Saturday

1.        Transitions – trot-walk-trot, trot-canter-trot, walk-canter
2.        Lateral work
a.       Leg yields from the quarter line – 2 strides with lateral, 2 strides forward, 2 strides lateral, etc.
b.       Shoulder in on the circle
c.        Shoulder-in down the rail
                                       i.      Walk
                                     ii.      Trot
1.       Use 10 m circle to go into shoulder in
3.        Have someone video the lateral work (specifically shoulder-in as I have a hard time knowing if my angle is right)

Monday, December 4, 2017

November Goals Recap

Goals for November


Goals for November Recap


1.        Soft elbows (as soft as I want his jaw to be) – huh… I kinda forgot about this one.  Continue into November.

2.        Track length of ride with length of warm-up, intervals, down-time, etc – Successful.  Rides tend to be 45 – 55 minutes with a  pretty standard 20 minutes devoted on warming-up/loosening-up

3.        Don’t forget to give breaks – Successful.  Tracking the length of my rides, intervals, etc helped significantly with this. 

4.        Praise more often at smaller tries – I’d call this somewhat successful.  I’m good at this when I’m alone.  I need to be better when others are riding around me.

5.        2 lessons (scheduled for November 10th, November 24th) – Successful!  Trailered alone for both and he was a good boy for both of them.


1.        Continue growing out mane – Successful.  It’s mostly flopping over now, but still has some length to go.  Will continue this goal.  Will likely add in a skin/coat supplement as well to help with the dandruff.

2.        Get session for bodywork – with new half-pad, change in footing and size of arena, Gavin is moving like a champ.  Holding off on any chiro/acupuncture.

3.        Stick Gavin to determine if he can compete as a pony in 2018 dressage classes – per new dressage trainer – Unsuccessful.  Have a date to stick him at my next lesson (December 8th)

4.        Weight tape Gav with Confirmation pics (do this monthly going forward) – per saddle fitter – Mehhhh – sorta successful.  Didn’t get a weight tape, but did take confirmation pics.  Will take confirmation pics every second Saturday of the month going forward.


1.        Transitions

a.       Trot to walk (a stride) to trot

                                                               i.      Somewhat successful.  A very helpful exercise.  I’m focusing more on him staying relaxed through his back and jaw and going forward into both upward and downward transitions rather than how many strides of walk or trot are involved.  He’s getting it, but I have to stay loose and play with the bit lightly to keep him from locking up.  Will continue into November.

b.       Trot to canter to trot

                                                               i.      This has been a very helpful exercise for us.  His trot to canter transitions are much improved and this also helps with walk-to-canter.  Will continue into November.

c.        Walk to canter with no trot in the transition

                                                               i.      Successful…sometimes.  He likes to throw a stride of trot in, but if I prep him with some solid trot-to-canter transitions he picks it up beautifully.  This might always be a work in progress.  Canter is hard for him.

2.        Walk squares

a.       Somewhat successful.  I have a hard time keeping him loose during these.  Makes sense – he kinda sucks back on the turns.  It’s a useful exercise, and I think it’s helping the shoulder bulge.   Just gotta keep him thinking forward.

3.        Lateral work

a.       Leg yield along wall (walk)

                                                               i.      Total success.  He’s figured this one out!  And I think it’s really helped him understand how to move laterally.

b.       Leg yield from quarter line (trot)

                                                               i.      Somewhat successful, but like the square turns – he gets a bit sucked back.  Trainer has suggested two strides sideways then forward, two strides sideways, forward, etc.  She says this is mostly him not understanding that we want both forward AND sideways.  Lots of leg yield will help.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

The last time I wrote, I let my goal to get my bronze medal with Gavin out into the universe.  After confessing my plans here, I went out and told my riding buddy (who I think is a little bummed since she's not super into dressage), my husband, my mom, and finally my trainer.

Surely if we can cross this water without rolling in it, we can do anything... AMIRITE!?!

Here is what you need to obtain your bronze medal per the USDF website (usdf.org):

1.       Rider must:

a.       Have a USDF Participating Membership (PM) or Group Membership (GM) when scores are earned

b.       Horse must have a USDF Horse Identification Number or a USDF Lifetime Horse Registration at the time the scores are earned

c.       Horse shall be registered with USDF in the name of the owner under which it is exhibited

d.       Scores may be earned on one or more horses

2.       Must have six scores of 60 percent or higher:

a.       Two at First Level from two different judges and two different rides

b.       Two at Second Level from two different judges and two different rides

c.       Two at Third Level from two different judges and two different rides

Hammin' it up for cookies

Once I started looking around the USDF website, I realized that with a little extra effort and money, Gavin and I could compete for Breed Awards (Welsh Cob), USDF Year-End Adult Amateur Awards and possibly Pony Awards (waiting to get his official measurement – he’s right on the edge).  Here is what you need to be eligible to compete for these awards per the USDF website (usdf.org):

1.       Rider must

a.       Have a USDF Participating Membership or Business Membership (regional group membership won’t suffice) and be in good standing

b.       Confirm you are listed as an adult amateur by September 30th of the award year.

c.       Meet the USEF dressage definition of adult (22).

d.       Birth date must be on file with USDF by September 30th of the award year.

e.       Horse must have a USDF lifetime horse registration when scores are earned

f.        Specific for all-breeds awards:

                                                               i.      Must be declared for a participating organization (Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America)

                                                             ii.      Must meet all requirements of the participating organization (whatever those may be)

2.       Training, First, Second, Third, or Fourth Level awards

a.       Must have a minimum of eight scores:

                                                               i.      Four different judges

                                                             ii.      Four different USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized competitions

                                                           iii.      Including two at 60 percent or higher from the highest test of the level

                                                           iv.      Median score of 60 percent or higher to qualify

There are similar awards offered by my regional dressage club (Rocky Mountain Dressage Society) and the qualifying classes all overlap.  To qualify for RMDS championships (held at the Colorado Horse Park) per the RMDS website (RMDS.org):

1.       Horse/owner/rider must be current RMDS members

2.       Horse/rider combination must receive two qualifying scores from RMDS recognized competitions at the level of the championship class they they wish to qualify to ride in the current RMDS show year; one of the tests must be the highest test at that level

3.       Scores must be from two different shows and two different judges

a.       Scores must be a minimum of 60% for Adult Amateur

So… what does registering for all of these *wonderful* memberships cost?

1.       USDF Lifetime Horse Registration - $95

2.       Annual USDF Participating Membership - $90

3.       Annual USEF Membership - $90

4.       Annual RMDS Membership - $90

That’s right – just to compete for these awards, I’ll be spending nearly $400 purely in membership fees.  I’ve already purchased both USDF memberships and will be buying the remaining two when I can stomach it.  I'm planning on competing at training and 1st level.
It’s exciting and nauseating all at the same time.

Bro Time

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why not me, why not now?

Nothing makes me miss my pony more than being stuck out of town all week at a work conference, especially when we're making such awesome progress! (More on that when I have more than just an iPad to write with).  And nothing makes me go crazy about goals like a good motivational speaker.  Put the two together and you get some intense pony goals.

The speaker said something, and though it's a saying I've heard countless times, this time it struck a chord with me.  Why not me? Why not now?  

So, I'm going to put it out into the universe. I want to get my bronze medal. And I want to achieve that with my athletic, plucky, sometimes fancy, sometimes pokey little pony.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Work-to-Ride, Tailored Sportsman Mid-Rise Side Zip

I harbor a bitter resentment to slacks and most work clothes in general.  It bothers me that they're not comfortable, not particularly attractive, and not something I want to wear outside of the office.  A little over a year ago, I swore off buying slacks.  I vowed to find a different path. 

Ultimately, I decided that my goal would be to buy clothes acceptable in both the working and riding world.  For some, this might be easy (if the work environment is laid back or if you work with horses), and for others, this may be impossible (true business dress required at work). 

To give you background on what I do and where I work - I work as a senior accountant in an environment that is firmly business casual, which lends itself to a degree of wardrobe leniency.  I do meet with higher-ups and sit on committees with directors, but my day-in/day-out is pretty much just interacting with Finance peeps

I thought it might be beneficial to other office ladies to review some of my picks and how they've worked out as work-to-ride.

Without further ado - let the first review begin!

Brand: Tailored Sportsman
Model: Mid-Rise Side Zip
Color: Charcoal
Size: 28R
Price: $189.99
Least attractive photo available
Pockets and belt loops
Side zip (notice slight wearing at the bottom.. hmmm)

Made in the USA! 
Hook closures so you don't bust outta the zipper

Workability: I'd give these an 8/10 on the wear-to-work scale.  There are several factors that work to their advantage for presenting themselves well in the work environment.  They're a dark color and the knee patches blend in (very helpful in passing them off as professional).  I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the side zip, and generally I'd say it's a bit of a pain in the ass (compared to a regular, centered zipper), but for work purposes I actually like it.  It makes the pants seem like a modern pair of fitted slacks.  The Velcro ankle closure is subtle enough to not be noticeable when wearing with slacks, but they aren't as "finished" looking as the ankle closures on the Le Fash breeches.

Velcro closure ankle, inside
Velcro closure ankle, outside

I tend to pair these with flats (either in tan or black).  Believe me, I've considered buying a pair of brown tall boots and just breaking them in for a couple of years at the office, but I think that may be pushing it a bit too far.  We'll see.  Sweaters work well with these breeches, as would a button-up.

Rideability: I'd give these an 8/10 on the wear-to-ride scale.  They're comfortable to ride in with a good amount of stretch, while still retaining some structure so you can't see every lump and bump under the breeches (a problem I have with the Sarafina breeches).  The dark color helps at the barn for minimizing any stains while grooming/riding/doing other dirty horse stuff.  The side zip still annoys me, but since the front zip Tailoreds sometimes catch my stomach with their clip/hook closures, I actually prefer these.  Velcro isn't super fun under boots, but there isn't a ton of extra fabric on these, and I've had no problem zipping up my boots.  I would wear these for everyday rides, lessons, and clinics (not that I have any money to do the latter).

Summary: I would definitely recommend these breeches as an option if you're trying to go incognito equestrian at work.  These breeches are easy to take care of (machine wash, and either hang to dry or tumble dry low) and seem to last forever with very little wear and tear.  They also come in a huge range of colors, some of which I definitely have my eye on for work-to-ride (Boysenberry, black, maaaaybe the moody blue).