Thursday, October 8, 2009

Last Thursday's hack and Friday's mini lesson

I just did a really quick hack with Werther on Thursday. The extra training rides seem to really be helping Werther. He was much more responsive and round. The only thing I struggled with was the canter, it seemed flat to me and I just could not get the uphill quality I wanted. Sarah just found out on Thursday that she had a spot in the clinic, so with only one week until the clinic she wanted to put in some extra rides on Werther to get him a little stronger in his collecting muscles and a little more sensitive to the aids to do the 4th/ prix saint george work. Sarah came out on Friday, I groomed Werther. She got on and put him though all the movements you would see in a 4-3 or the PSG tests. She said he was a little stiff in the canter half passes, and she was having some issues with her rhythm in the tempi changes but not too bad, for a horse who has basically had a eight year break from upper level dressage. I got on him for a few minutes after Sarah was done and she gave me a mini-lesson. He definitely had more self carriage after Sarah rode him, but Werther was still a long way away from being hot. We got to start to play with lengthening and collection at the trot, and Sarah let me try the flying changes again, which were still a little late, but better than last time. The really cool thing about Werther is that most horses would be really hot to the aids after that kind of work, he never overreacted to anything I did, he was still very calm. It was a short ride for me, but very fun.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Exciting events on the horizon!

I had a mini vacation this weekend, I went to New York City to visit some friends. I saw Jude Law in Hamlet, a excellent production, I recommend it to any theatre junkies. Sarah worked with Werther while I was gone. She is going to be working with him a little bit more in the near future, Sarah's mare Sabrina is hurt, which really sucks. Since Sarah can't ride Sabrina in some clinic she was going to participate in, Sarah is going to take Werther, he is the only one of her regular rides that has the level of training to match Sabrina. The next one coming up is the Conrad Schumacher Symposium. She is definitely going to ride on Friday, and depending on if Conrad thinks he is a good demo horse, he will go back on Sunday. I'm really excited, it should be really cool to get feedback from such a well known trainer. I'm going to ride Werther in two three day Janet Foy clinics in October and November. I'm also going to attend (and hopefully riding a borrowed horse) a para-clinic in Maine at the end of October with Paulien Alberts. If Sabrina is still out of commission Sarah may also ride Werther in a Betsy Steiner clinic in November. I had a lesson on Tuesday, Sarah got on Werther again first. We were able to dive right in because I had the impulsion and roundness right off the bat. After a weekend off it took me a little bit to get into the rhythm of things but I felt like it was a pretty good lesson. We spent quite a bit of time practicing leg yields, it has been awhile since I have done those, I had a hard time finding a happy medium between being to restrictive with my hand, and still having enough contact to keep Werther round. I'll have to put these in regular rotation in my hacks, so I can get better.

New Strategies

I keep meaning to do a big post on my last show, but I have to get the photos from my Mom. I had a lesson on Tuesday after the show. Sarah and I are trying a new strategy, she got on Werther first, and work with him for about 15 minutes. The plan is that she gets him really jazzed up and listening, so I don't have to spend half the lesson establishing impulsion and I can have a better feel of where Werther needs to be all the time. It really helped, because Werther was going forward I was able to make smaller corrections. When Sarah rode Werther one of the last things she did was some two tempis. Sarah let me try some flying changes on Werther in the lesson which was just a blast. I've done flying changes on Werther before, but this was different because I had been doing changes the hunter/jumper way. using opposing leg and hand. With the dressage change you ask with your leg and your hand on the same side. It is going to take a lot to get my muscle memory switched over! Thursday's hack also had some change in strategy, but nothing that was planned. I decided to ride Werther outside, and as I was getting on I dropped my whip. Now if I were to get off and get back on again, it would probably take me awhile depending on how cooperative Werther would be about standing. So I decided to try riding without my whip and see how it would go. Werther was really lazy without it. I did coax him into a canter, and got up to two point and got into the worlds slowest hand gallop in an effort to get Werther jazzed up. I went back down to the trot, and it was much better. I took advantage of some ground poles someone had left out and trotted and cantered Werther over them in a little course. Werther hasn't been jumped in a long time but he had a lot of fun with the ground poles, especially when I took a longer line, he really got his eye on the poles and got excited. While it wasn't my planned ride, it was a good lesson in how to work with what you have.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Last Tuesday's Lesson and Last Thursday's Hack

Last Tuesday was kind of odd, I was on too early for my lesson and Sarah was late because of a issue in the lesson prior to mine, so Werther and I walked for a long time before we got started. When Sarah got to the barn we rolled up our sleeves and got right to work. We started out with the trot, working on getting it really energetic. The main theme of the lesson was "quick feet". We don't necessarily need to be really fast, but the steps need to keep coming very quickly. We worked on this concept at the trot and canter, as well as using it for the free walk, really pushing to make him come through and over his back. After our break we ran through both Training Level Test 2 and Test 4. We talked about the four things I need to do in my tests: short reins, impulsion, connection, and quick feet. The tests went really well, the canter transitions have really come along nicely, I am still struggling with the serpentines though. On Thursday, I did a lot of transitions in my warm up to get Werther sensitive and then ran through my two tests again. I really liked the energy and impulsion of the tests, but I had trouble with the free walk and the stretchy circle. I just could not get him to come down to me. The stretch is always a challenge for Werther, but I have been making a lot progress on it lately, it is frustrating to have a set back.

One Year with Werther!

Shows always get me a little behind on this blog and regular programing will resume soon but I just wanted to take some time out today for my one year anniversy with Werther. It has been a wild (metaphorically speaking) ride. In one year I got a new horse, changed disciplines, and changed trainers. This past weekend was the last show of my first dressage season, and while I wasn't high in the ribbons, we had a blast and it was a great way to end out the year. I'm excited for the off season of the fall and winter, getting to work hard and a chance to educate myself more on dressage theory. First Level and Para-FEI are still in my sights for next year, but now I have a better understanding of how hard I will have to work to get there. Werther is just great, he has been a excellent teacher for me. He is always demanding precision, but not getting mad when I get it wrong. They say it takes a year just to get used to a new horse, now that we have had a year together getting to know each other, I think things can only go up from here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It is really nice when you finally get something in a lesson. The big thing for me in my lesson on Saturday was the 10m turn onto the center line. Werther was good all through the lesson, we did our transition work and did our trot and canter work before finishing with our centerline turns. It was hot and humid on saturday so Werther lacked some of the impulsion that he had on Thursday and Friday, but he was nicely round. Sarah had me do a exercise to practice the turn on the centerline which was to pick up the trot, and as you are approaching the long side of the area, make a 10m circle at every letter. Doing those little circles, so quickly back to back, you realize right away that you cannot make those turns with just reins alone. The posting, steering, and using your leg at the same time was hard in that tight situation, so I eliminated the posting. That helped the situation immediately. Then I was able to shift my weight onto my inside seat bone and Werther turned very easily underneath me, in fact at times I got circle too small. after practicing those 10m circles down the long side we went back to the centerlines which were significantly improved. The last thing we worked on was making sure to give a little half halt while turning onto the centerline so the horse can finished the turn in smooth and balanced manner instead of fish tailing with his hind end. I was really happy with how things finished out, I've gotten 8s on my centerlines before, I hope to see some more of those this weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Osteopath, Thursday and Friday's Hacks

Dr. Audrey came out and adjusted Werther on Wednesday. She was really pleased with his progress from a month ago, and thinks he can be adjusted on a as needed basis now. Audrey's a beliver in getting them moving pretty quickly after a adjustment, so Werther had Wednesday off and I rode him on Thursday. Werther felt awesome, his impulsion was a lot better, however now that I have my impulsion I need to work on my connection, it was not as consistent as I would like it to be. I started out the ride doing walk/halt, walk/trot, and trot/halt transition. Werther is getting better about moving forward right away, but still wants to come above the bit as he moves off. I practiced a couple of serpintines and those were great, I could really feel Werther wrapping his rib cage around my leg. I picked up the canter, we didn't do anything fancy, just went around the ring with a few circles thrown in, practicing our jump, connection, and my geometry. I took a break went out of the ring, and warmed up like I would for a test, getting a good walk, a forward trot really asking Werther to lengthen, and then picked up a canter, and really asked him to climb up and extend (not a real extension, I'm not that good yet) went back to the trot half way down the long side, and entered the ring. I rode Test-4, which went really well, especially with the upward transitions. I finished by practicing a few turns from the left and on to the centerline which I am still struggling with. Friday, I didn't have as much time but I did a condensed version of what I worked on Thursday. He was better connected Friday, but I lost a little bit of the impulsion and flexibility that I had on Thursday. I did test 2 instead of test 4, I was happy with it, I felt it had good accuracy. I finished by doing some 10m circles and then turning on to the centerline. The turns still are not were I want them to be, but they did seem a little bit improved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Today I sent in my check to audit a Betsy Stiner Clinic. I hope I get a spot, they are only allowing 25 auditors a day. I had a lesson tonight, Werther had a big hive on the side of his hip he did not have yesterday, it is almost as big as my hand. It didn't have any heat though, and wasn't in a place were the tack would bug him which is good. The barn was toasty tonight even with the fans on, it was warm out and the farrier was there shoeing horses. We started out the ride with me encouraging Werther to have a vigorous walk. Sarah and I have talked a lot lately about how I can't let my focus go at all with this horse, and I have to demand quality work from him the whole ride, because once I loose some ground with Werther especially with impulsion, I have to spend a long time gaining it back. After we got the walk established we did some walk trot transitions and did some trot work. We focused on getting that initial impulsion in the upward transition to the trot and insisting that Werther stay round at the same time. In the trot we also spent time on impulsion and roundness. Getting that initial impulsion is getting better, but he is still getting too strung out on me, I need to figure out how to make him do both at once, a little walking and chewing bubble gum. We did a little bit of canter work to warm up, working on improving the jump and connection. I had some really good moments but nothing consistent. We finished with a stretching circle at the trot, which are getting so much better now that Werther has had his hocks done. We took a long walk break, and we went in a rode test 4. Sarah had me go outside the ring, and develop a really foreword trot and she had me do some canter with some lengthenings down the long side to get him ready to go into ring. We had to practice the turn on to center line a few times before Sarah deemed us fit to continue. She also had us repeat the serpentine, I'm still working on perfecting that movement, I tend to get too much neck bend or Werther leg yields over, but it is getting much better, especially over the last week. The canter on the long sides and in the circles was pretty good, as was the trot diagonal. Free walk and medium walk is a challenge, but my tactics we good. We had a very nice stretching circle, but my turn on to center line was utter fail. I just could not get my brain to make the connection to get my body to do what Sarah was telling me I needed to do. You can bet I will be working on that this week, no riding on Thursday though, Werther is seeing the osteopath tomorrow to get adjusted.

Sarah's Ride Yesterday

I got to go out to the barn and watch Sarah ride my Werther yesterday. It was fascinating. She was able to talk me through a lot of what she was doing and why. This isn't a exact blow by blow of the session, but these are the exercises that really stood out to me.
1. Early in the ride, after warming up she did a lot of shoulder in at the trot down the long side of the ring, stopping at the short side to do some turn on the forehand, the going back down the long side and doing renvers. She did this exercise several times to loosen him up and get him jazzed up about the ride.
2. The second highlight of the ride for me was something new she just started doing with Werther today. She had him to eight meter leg yield circles at the trot, kind of coiling him up like spring, and then made him give a really good quality trot across the diagonal, so he has more air time at the trot and gets stronger and already improves upon a already very good gait.
3. Sarah's rides are a little like circuit training for people, after doing that bit of strength training, she made sure to do more stretching exercises at the trot and gave him a walk break. After this she did some schooling canter pirouettes intermixed with some extended canter. I haven't seen Werther do pirouettes before, so even though they were not show ring pirouettes, they were still fun to watch.
4. Lastly she rode Werther through training level test 4 for me. It was really good opportunity for me to see how she would ride the test. It helped me to understand the serpentines a lot better, the bend is actually a lot more understated that I thought it was when I have been riding them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quick August Post

A very quick recap of August so I can move on to current events.
  • At home I've been working on impulsion, a more consistent connection, and suppleness, I fell of once at home doing no stirrups work and scrapped up my nose, but was no worse for ware. I've also been able to sneak in a few trail rides which have been really nice.
  • I've been to two horse shows, the first show I got some pretty good scores in the low 60s on T-3 and T-4 from Betsey Berrey and Kristi Wysocki. I really liked Betsey Berrey, every time I halted at "G" she had something nice to say about Werther. The second show was tough, 3 out 4 of my classes Ulf Wadeborn who seemed like a nice guy but was very tough, I got my lowest scores yet from him, but I did get some helpful comments. My one T-4 that was with Sue Madden Madras. I got a 60.8, straight 6s through the whole test, except for a 7 on Werther's gaits.
  • We have been doing some matinence work with Werther, we had a really good osteopath Dr. Audrey come out and work on him, and Dr. Sarah did hock injections.
  • I recently read "Principals of Riding" by The German National Equestrian Federation, excellent read for newbies as well as experienced horseman, I would recommend it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I'm back!

Sorry I have been away for so long. I got very busy finishing up an internship and studying for the GRE so I can hopefully get into grad school, as well as horse showing and summer activities with the family. I'm planning on doing a recap of August, and I want to add a new feature of horse related book and DVD reviews. Thanks for being so patient with me!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Last Friday's Hack

I'm trying to get everything up to speed before I head out to Mason City on Friday. I rode in the indoor on Friday so I could practice in the dressage arena again. I made him march right away from the mounting block and he actually had really nice impulsion for me the whole ride. Probably still not as much as I need, but a much better start. When I went to canter he swapped going to the right and had an epiphany, or more accurately, a "duh moment". I thought to myself, why is it I don't have as much trouble with this when I go to the horses shows either in the warm up ring or riding the test. I figured out that when I am riding alone, I am focusing on making sure his neck is straight, and looking down, instead of looking at where I am going, like I am supposed to. We did Werther's neck stretches and turn on the forehand steps, then finished up by riding Training Level Test 3. The circles in the figure 8 and the half circles were a little wonky, but I was happy with the rest of it. The stretching circle we finished on was particularly nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

PIC-SPAM: Photos from Alpine

EDIT: Blogger cropped images, click on picture to see the full thing. Second time training level over fourth of July weekend. My position is cringe worthy, Werther looks great as per usual.


Here are the videos from the Stillwater show in June. I should be getting the training level dvds and will put those up when I get a chance.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I started out today in Werther's stall doing carrot stretches. He is getting much better at the side to stretches, but he still has a hard time holding the low stretch. It was really nice tonight so I rode Werther in the outdoor. I got on and thought about making Werther march off right away, like he did after Sarah got on him in my lesson on Tuesday. Werther didn't respond to my calf, so I tapped him with my whip and he broke into the trot, I brought him back down to the walk and he lost about half of the energy we had gained. I spent some time trying to get a really forward walk and maintain the longer frame we worked on in my lesson. Again I struggled with the either or, I kept getting my frame or the impulsion. Rather than have both be poor quality the whole ride, I decided to focus on the impulsion. If I can just establish the impulsion I need and have Werther keep it, then I won't have to work as hard. Once I got a decent walk, I moved on the the trot work. He was especially resistant to maintaining impulsion in my circles, he really wanted to use them as an excuse to die out on me. By the end of my trot work I was getting some quality impulsion with a nice frame, but it took way to long to get there. In the canter transition I really focused on keeping my outside hand down and I had some nice transitions. I started out the right and I had a swap while I was playing with my rein contact, figuring out what I need. Werther's canter to the right felt very put together and his neck felt pretty straight, but I struggled to get the amount jump I needed. When I switched to the left lead I had the opposite problem. Werther had awesome impulsion but I was really struggling to package him. I felt like I could get each rein to work independently, but I was struggling to get them to work in sync. I feel that I was relying too much on my inside rein to steer, which should not be happening. Then when I softened that rein, I wasn't sitting deep enough to back up my outside rein with my inside leg, so I struggled with my steering. I finished up by letting Werther walk and catch his breath, then I did his neck stretches, and some steps of turn on the forehand to stretch out his hips. His turn on the forehand was really good today, even with my left leg. Werther is such a smart horse, I think he is really starting to understand what I want, even with my weaker leg. It gives me hope for the impulsion issue, if he can understand my left leg when I want a turn on the forehand, he can certainly understand when I want him to go forward. I have to be more vigilant about not letting him get away with being lazy, ever. He is to learn that it is not on option in his playbook.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It was so nice to see Sarah after our missed lesson on Saturday, we both felt like we had not seen each other in an age. We rode inside today because the weather was being a touch unpredictable, and I need to use the dressage ring to get back into test riding mode. Sarah came out on Monday and rode Werther. She said Werther felt more supple, and she spent some time in a slightly longer and lower frame to stretch his top line muscles. We started by developing energy at the walk, a little squeeze with the calf and then loose legs. When we had a good level of impulsion, Sarah had me take a feel of the bit and frame Werther up but encourage him to keep the length in his neck and not curl up. Once we had the impulsion and the contact at the walk established, we moved on to the trot work. This is where I started to struggle, Werther was really testing me, trying to be either round or forward and not both. I was getting moments of correctness, but nothing consistent, and Werther kept ending up behind my leg. Sarah had me jump off and she hopped on Werther. One look at Werther and you could tell what he was thinking, "Just joking guys, give me back the other lady, she doesn't make me work as hard". Sarah started with Werther like I had, making him give her a really good walk before moving into the trot. She made Werther give a nice trot, and did a few trot canter transitions before handing the reins back to me. she couldn't have ridden him for more than five minutes but the difference was marked. Right away moving off of the mounting block I gave a little squeeze with my calves and he marched off for me. We repeated our initial exercise of establishing the walk and the trot. Once we had a good trot going we moved up to the canter. Here I struggled a little. I wasn't clear enough in my transition aids, and Werther kept offering extended trot rather than canter. Sarah said part of that was Werther, he was feeling really good today, very loose and swinging in his back, so he offered the extended trot instead because he is really good at it, and it was less of an effort for him to give a really good extended trot than a quality canter. Sarah said something really interesting that people often had the impression that horses should be working their back muscles all the time, but the back should never be tense. Instead the back should be loose and swinging and the strength should come from the horse engaging his core abdominal muscles. I kept trying to sit back and keep a good contact with my outside rein but when Werther wouldn't pick up the canter right away I would get out of balance and lean forward and throw my reins away, which unbalanced Werther, so it was all very cyclical. I got a little bit of really good canter, but in a effort to keep up my connection I would balance too much with my hand and not back it up enough with my leg and Werther would break. By the time we finished I felt I was getting comfortable using more leg, and really dressage subtle leg, not cowboy leg. We finished on a stretching trot circle, I had a totally had a brain lapse when we first started, but our second attempt was better. I getting the hang of keeping contact on the outside rein even when it is super long.

New Blog Award!

Thanks to Overanxious Horse Owner and few others who gave me this award:

I think this award is very appropriate for me. My main reason for blogging is that it keeps me honest. Outside of shows, I never get to watch any other dressage riders so it can be a challenge to keep my progress or set backs in perspective. By blogging, I force myself to reflect on every single ride. What was my plan? Did I achieve my goals? What is my strategy for the next ride? I'm really happy to have such a nice group of readers who give me encouragement and support.

5 things about me
1. I'm interning at a research library for a multi-national corporation and I'm studying for the GRE so I can get my masters in library sciences.
2. In addition to riding four days a week, I go to the gym three days a week. Yesterday, I did 100 pounds on the squat machine.
3. Next three movies in my Netflix queue: Reprise, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation and The Order of Myths
4. I was in a very old riding secret society in college.
5. My family travels a lot, the most interesting place I have been is Antarctica.

Passing it on to five blogs:
1. SRG is a new blogger, and also a para dressage rider.
2. New weight loss blog of long time reader Rebecca.
3. Heather is currently going through some challenges with her horse, but is handling it really well.
4. Because I am a big Dr. Who geek.
5. Design blog, sometimes a little too modern for me, but has some really neat ideas.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


A small brag, I'm really happy. I found out the other day that I have all of the scores I need for the USDF Training Level Rider Performance Award. I have only showed training level over 3 shows, two one day shows over one weekend and one weekend long show. The scores scores I used:
65.375% Training 2 Judge: Fatima Kranz
63.929% Training 2 Judge: Marlene Schneider
62.609% Training 1 Judge: Janet Hannon
60.000% Training 1 Judge: Dinah Babcock

Friday and Saturday's rides

Woot! Finally catching up. I couldn't get out the barn on Thursday so Werther had a extra day off. I started out by grabbing some horse treats and we did Werther's carrot stretches in his stall. He was very excited about the treats, so it was hard to get him to wait and hold the stretch. I did some warming up, and then did the stretching exercises from my lesson on Tuesday. The neck ones were fine, but the turn on the forehand steps are a challenge. I spent the rest of the ride working on our frame and connection, finding that sweet spot where the head falls from the shoulder, and I have Werther forward enough that I can allow the trot to come through and just enjoy the ride. At the canter I'm just working on keeping the neck straight and suppling, so the connection isn't stiff. I ended on doing stretching trot circles, which were OK. I'm better when I have someone watching me and telling me when I need more bend, energy or stretch. Saturday, Sarah was away so I just hacked. I did all of Werther's stretches then I rode though Training Level Test 3 and Test 4, which we are showing next weekend. I still had them memorized fairly well, but made one wrong turn in T-3. Werther's impulsion was much better in the trot and canter, but I need to work on his walk and I need to work on my figure 8 and the half circles in T-3.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tuesday's Lesson

Sarah rode Werther on Monday and she said he was particularly tight in his back. The main goal of the lesson on Tuesday was to get me used to doing some exercises that will help Werther with his suppleness. We did a little walk trot canter to get Werther warmed up first, the Sarah had me come into the middle of the ring to do some suppling exercises. We started by doing a series of small circles with almost no outside rein contact, asking him with a soft inside to bring his neck over by my knee, but not for too long, think about as long as you would hold a stretch doing yoga. Then we did some steps of turn on the forehand each direction to help stretch his hip muscles. Going to the left was very hard for me in the turn on the forehand, Werther is not particularly sensitive to leg to begin with and the turn on the forehand has to basically come entirely from the leg, and that is my weaker side. We went back to trot and canter work, which was much better after doing those stretches and then ended by doing quite a few stretching circles. It was really hard work, you can't let up at all in that movement yet for him, you have to keep on asking, but it kept getting better and better.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saturday's Lesson

Saturday we started out by working on stretching Werther's back. It was a nice day so we were in the outdoor ring. Sarah set up a grid of poles to walk though. My job was to make sure Werther kept his energy though the poles and stayed in a frame. It is really weird maintaining contact through poles like that, even over ground poles my first instinct is to release. The rest of the lesson we spent working on impulsion. We started out by getting Werther to the correct level of impulsion then I have to go into "neutral" with my body, soft following hand and no leg whatsoever. As soon as Werther starts to loose energy I squeeze once with my calves and if he does not respond come with the whip, but as soon as he starts to carry himself again I go immediately into neutral position. Werther's reward for doing his share of the work is that I will leave him alone. We did that exercise at the walk, trot, and canter. I think I am starting to get it, it really helps my position to be able to have effective smaller corrections at my disposal and Werther feels more balanced, especially at the right lead canter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thursday's Trail Ride and Friday's Hack

Thursday we went on hack with my Mom on Stoli, and my Aunt Karen who was in town visiting on Tryst. It was really fun to have Karen meet Werther in person, she follows my blog, and was nice enough to give me her dressage tack for Werther. We took the boys out for a nice leasurely walk around the property, the gnats were bad in some places but other than that the boys gorged themselves on the pretty purple alfalfa blooms. I cut the ride a little short and went in the outdoor ring and practiced some transitions. Mom bought Werther a grazing muzzle, to help combat him wrecking the fence with his cribbing, Werther was pretty displeased. Friday I hacked outside and spent some more time on transitions from sitting to two point and loose legs. I definitely need to shorten my stirrups until I get the hang of this new balance.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lesson last tuesday

We rode outside on Tuesday. The main goal of the lesson was to work on getting me to use my calf more and Werther to respond to my calf pressure. Once I got a a foreword moving reaction from him, I have immediately go to "loose legs", Werther's reward for going foreword is that I leave him alone. With my disability I tend to find my thigh a more stable point of balance, but that isn't going to work if I want to move up the levels. We spent a lot of time transitioning between two point and sitting or posting. I could get plenty of weight in my heels when I was in two point, but I found myself loosing my balance in the posting trot. This is definitely a long term project, it will be a lot of work but worth it in the long run.

Alpine Recap

I thought I rode well, but this was a really tough show and the judges were scoring everyone very conservatively. Particularly the judge I had for 3 out of 4 of my tests. Sarah also told me she is partial to very hot horses, which is definitely not Werther's wheelhouse. On the bright side, Werther had his own fan club by the end of the show, the ladies working the rings loved him, and a couple trainers even came up to Sarah to tell her what a nice horse her client has. (:

Training Level Test 1 Judge: D. Babcock
1. 6 Balanced halt, right of center line after
2. 6 Little unsteady, maintains energy
3. 6 Transition should be clearer
4. 6 Needs better balance
5. 5 Crooked off rail
6. 6 Should maintain more energy
7. 5 Must develop more stretch and energy
8. 6 A little unsteady
9. 6 Could have better balance
10. 6 Needs better balance
11. 6 Needs better balance
12. 6 Little unsteady
13. 7

Gaits 7
Impulsion 6
Submission 6
Rider 6 underline effect of aids a little unsteady

60%, 4th place

Further remarks: Try to sit up straighter to develop better balance, from seat and leg - talented pair with lots of potential.

Training Level Test 3 Judge D. Babcock ( first time showing this test)

1. 6 not straight
2. 5 too much bend, unsteady, small
3. 6 needs better balance
4. 6 hollow
5. 5 behind riders leg, sluggish
6. 4, turned at E not 1/2 circle
7. 5, lateral tendency
8. 4, must develop more stretch and longer frame
9. 6, needs more activity
10. 7
11. 6, a little hollow, needs jump
12. 5, half circle unbalanced
13. 6, needs more release and consistent cadence
14. 6, needs energy

Gaits 7
Impulsion 6
Submission 5 circled attention, confidence, ease of movements, and acceptance of bridle
Rider 6 circled effect of aids

Horse a bit less energetic in this test, also you are falling in on half circles.
56.4% 3rd place

Training Level Test 4 Judge: D. Babcock
1. 6 needs more energy
2. 6 could show more suppleness
3. 6 a little crooked
4. 6 a little labored
5. 5 becoming unbalanced and ___ corner
6. 5 sluggish
7. 5 very tight in back, needs stretch
8. 6 bending well, but needs energy
9. 6 a little labored
10. 6 needs energy
11. 7 better balance
12. 6 unsteady
13. 6 stretch OK some resistance into contact
14. 6 little unsteady

Gaits 6 lateral walk
Impulsion 5 desire to move foreword, elasticity of steps, suppleness
Submission 5 a little behind the leg and should bend better
rider 6 effect of aids
57.2% 6th place

Training level test 2 Judge M. Schneider
1. 6, straight fairly round resistant proceed
2. 7, round & steady
3. 6, straight & steady but ___ corner
4. 7, fairly balanced
5. 6, steady pace, unsteady lead
6. 6, on shoulder at transition
7. 7, fluid transition, fairly good accuracy
8. 6, needs more activity and stretch
9. 6, needs rounder
10. 6, resisted transition at C
11. 7, round and steady
12. 7, straight and steady
13. 7, prompt and balanced (our problem lead!)
14. 6, steady pace, unsteady lead, needs to return to track at B
15. 6, against hand
16. 7, straight, round

Gaits 7
Impulsion 7 (whoo!)
Submission 6
Rider 6

Remarks: Nice gaits! Needs quieter connection! Nice coping by rider!
63.929% 2nd place

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Catching up!

This last week was crazy after going to Mason City and prepping for Alpine. So I'm going to do a quick recap to get everybody caught up. Werther had the day off on Monday and I had a lesson on Tuesday. We worked on energy, position, and circle size. We did a lot of transitions to work on getting Werther to move more off of the leg. We also switched my whip to my right hand, even though my left leg is weaker, Sarah thinks it will be more effective if I am using the whip in my stronger hand. For my position, it is just a matter of sitting up and back, not dropping my left shoulder and keeping my hands down and following at the walk and canter and allowing Werther's energy to go forward. We practiced getting Werther to go forward, shaping with the leg, and then the hand. It is also important that while he is moving quickly, it always feels like he should be able to give you one notch more of energy. For the circles, we just worked in the dressage court and practiced cantering a lot of circles, making sure I hit the track exactly were I need to. I went though Training 4 with Sarah, it went fairly well. Werther had the day off on Wednesday and I went though both tests 3 and 4 when I hacked him on Thursday. We really need to get the RSVP letters for the ring at home, I was having a lot of trouble doing the figure 8 in test 3 without them. I also had a little trouble with the half circles, and the turn to X to halt at G.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Horse Show Recap

Busy week with family in town so I am playing catch up. I survived my first time riding training level, I ended up with two seconds on Saturday and a third and a fourth on Sunday. I didn't have any swaps which I was worried about, but I did have one break from canter to trot in two tests but I was able to correct it. I'm just going to write the scores and comments, you can look at the tests here.

Saturday Training Level Test I (Judge: Fatima Kranz)

1. 7, nice entrance
2. 7, center >
3. 6, > jump
4. 5, broke, corrected
5. 6, fell into trot
6. 6, early
7. 5, > energy
8. 7
9. 7, center (something illegible, better I think)
10. 5, labored
11. 6, > energy
12. 7, steady
13. 8, nice turn, nice halt

Collective marks
Gaits, 7
Impulsion, 6, lacks at times
Submission, 6, circled lightness on forehand wrote needs more bend
Rider, 7,

Judge drew a smiley face and wrote fairly steady

Total 63.478%

Saturday Training Level Test 2 (Judge: Fatima Kranz)

1. 8
2. 7, steady
3. 7, steady
4. 6, > forward
5. 6, could be bigger circle
6. 6, came off track
7. 7
8. 7 ( first time getting a 7 at freewalk definitely his max at the walk, I was really excited!)
9. 7
10. 7
11.7, steady
12. 7
13. 6, > forward
14. 6, small circle
15. 7, straight
16. 7

Collective Marks
Gaits 7
Impulsion 6 could be more at times
Submission 6 not always steady in ...?
Rider 6 circle sizes

Judge drew smiley face

Total 65.357%

Sunday Training Level Test I (Judge: Dolly Hannon, tough judge and painfully accurate)

1. 7, straight, try to keep hands quieter to trot
2. 7, good energy, fill out circle with his leg
3. 6, sit up and back for better balance
4. 6, rider needs balance in canter and less rein
5. 6, willing horse, needs better balance
6. 6, too strong in reins and walk loses rhythm
7. 5, walk looses rhythm and needs more strech
8. 7, fairly willing
9. 7, good energy, try to keep hands quieter
10. 6, feel your leads don't look
11. 6, tends to drift in on circle but fairly willing
12. 7, fairly smooth
13. 7, not quite straight but well maintained

Collective marks
Gaits, 6, walk varies
Impulsion, 6, underlined suppleness in back, wrote walk needs suppleness
Submission, 7
Rider, 6

"What a nice horse! Try to keep your hands steadier & sit up, look up + feel your canter leads - when you look down it effects his balance"

I'm not gonna lie, I beat myself up pretty hard when I got this test sheet back. This is all stuff I am working on, sometimes I feel like I have too nice a horse for my riding ability.

Total score 62.609%

Sunday Training Level Test 2 (Judge: Fatima Kranz)

1. 7, nice halt
2. 7, center more
3. 7, steady
4. 7
5. 6, not centered
6. 7, straight
7. 6, lost jump
8. 6, needs more
9. 6
10. 7
11.7, center more
12. 7
13. 5, more jump, broke (my left hand crept up and I lost my steering, wanted to avoid taking out the wall)
14. 6, not centered
15. 6, needs more jump, fell into trot
16. 8

Collective Marks
Gaits 7
Impulsion 6 needs to stay more foreword for higher scores
Submission 6
Rider 6

Judge drew smiley face
Total 63.929%

I was a little disappointed after this show, but it is a new show this week, and i've been working on impulsion, circle work and position, so hopefully I can up my game a little for some slightly higher scores.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Last Hack before Mason City

I stopped in Stone Ridge Equestrian before my ride to get a few last minute things before the show. My favorite purchase black tall boot socks with purple flames. I rode in the indoor so I could get a chance to ride in our dressage ring again. I started out doing a lot of transitions which went well. I'm still having trouble with the right lead, when I try to take a feel of the outside rein to straighten Werther's neck he swaps. I think I may have too much inside rein. I have to remember when I am riding the outside rein controls the bend and the inside rein controls the frame. I went though both tests, I think it went fairly well. I'm still not 100% confident, but I will just have to fake it, and hopefully everything will come together. I certainly don't think I'm going to have an embarrassing ride, I just want it to be better than I think it is right now. Wish me luck, I'll let you know how things went on Sunday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Amazing news!

You heard it here first! My Mom and I were bidding on Debbie McDonald's clinic and we won! The item was set up by PVDA Ride for Life, and 100% goes to Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Research. Special shout out to Bob McDonald, thanks for peer pressuring Mom into bidding more. (: There are 6 time slots after one for me and Werther and one for Sarah and her mare Sabrina. I'm going to try and get para dressage riders in those spots if I can, I think it will be amazing! Also, I've got to say I love my Mom for be amazing and so enthusiastic about my dressage endeavors. My hands are still shaking a little, my adrenaline is going strong!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Last lesson before Mason City and training level! My reader/hero Leslie came out and read for me again. The canter work was much better, I only had two swaps, one because I was working on the circle and took one hand off my reins to reach back to my cantle to remind me how deep I need to be sitting. The second time Sarah wanted me to go across the diagonal and hold the right lead and I am so used to doing lead changes across the diagonal I totally forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I did it again though and I was able to hold the lead. Now I just need to be able to do lengthenings at the canter and I will at least be able to do all the first level movements at home, which means I will be closer to doing first level and FEI para grade III next year. We did a lot of transitions, I felt like we were going to reach the 127 that Sarah threatened on Saturday. The indoor was very cool, even though we had a heat index of 100+ today, so we were able to keep working hard. The transitions really help get Werther out in front of my leg, which is something I struggle with. I rode beth tests, they went really well, and I was able to hold my right lead. My only complaint is that Werther was a little resistant to coming as round as I wanted him today, but he kept on improving as our ride continued. When I show I need to remember:

*really really tight turn to the center lines
*show clear bend in all corners
*open hip angle, shoulders back, and sit up tall, especially at the canter
* go forward
* following hand
*keep a right bend in the right lead canter

Sunday, June 21, 2009


The countdown to show time continues, and I had my second to last lesson before Mason City. My amazing reader Leslie came over with Sarah so we could ride though training level 1 and 2 before going to the show. I got on a little early and walked Werther outside and when Sarah and Leslie got the barn we went into the indoor. We did some work at the trot pushing Werther forward and building the trot, then we went into the canter and spent a lot of time on that. I'm still working on the connection and bend. I had trouble again with the right lead. We did a lot of canter transitions to help me, and stretch out Werther's back. Sarah said I should do "127" canter trot transitions in my warm up so Werther is really prepared and knows we can canter at any moment. One of the great things about Werther is that we can do something like canter transitions over and over again, which are easy for him and he does not get bothered or mad about it. Now if it were a canter zig zag 127 times we might have another story. We rode though each test once, I was terrible riding training level 1, it took me a while to get back into test riding mode, and planning 3 or 4 steps ahead, and Werther was really behind my leg. The second test was much better, but Werther got a little too curled in his neck and I really had to focus on lightening my hands and pushing him foreword. I am afraid that I am really going to suck at training level but I did so well at Intro that it doesn't really have a challenge any more and I am capable of executing all the movements, I just have to make sure I don't give Werther the wrong signals. Sarah is riding Werther on Monday, Leslie is coming over again on my lesson on Tuesday to read for me, Werther has the day off on Wednesday and Thursday is last hacking day before the show. I think i'll take the risk of over riding test and practice them again on Thursday. I would rather have to Werther over anticipate than me be under prepared.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lunging and lightening

I rode outside on Friday, our head groom Ramon was nice enough to meet me out at the barn at he helped me on the lunge line. I worked for about 20 minutes doing trot and canter work on the lunge line. I think it really helped. I did some exercises grabbing the cantle, hands on hips, and straight out. I took back my stirrups and did some more canter work, and it still was not perfect, but I felt like I was starting out sitting deeper, but I found myself creeping forward with my body, so I would get a swap. I'm also struggling with how much of a feel to take with the outside rein, I also get myself into trouble when I take too firm a grip with the outside rein when I try and straighten out his neck, because right now he is over-bent to the right when I am trying to keep him on the correct lead. The most frustrating thing of all is that is all my fault. When I rode hunters most of the horses I rode needed very little direction. Werther is so trained that he thinks he is doing the right thing. I'm not used to having to give so many directions, I'm used to riding very minimal and sometimes I have a tendency to overdo it. As I was finishing riding these dark grey low clouds started to roll in. The next time I looked up, the sky was absolutely purple and there were flashes of lightening in-between the clouds. I was at the far end of the ring, so I trotted to the near end of the ring, jumped off, ran up the stirrups. Right after I jumped off the wind started to kick up, so we half jogged to the barn. I got into the barn, threw Werther into his stall, and peeled off the bridle. The heavens opened up then and it was starting to rain sideways into the barn though the screen doors. I ran around and shut all six garage doors. I looked at the app on my iphone and it was calling for hail, so I called the guys at the farmhouse, and got them to come down at pull the truck and trailer in the indoor and put away the rest of the vehicles, a rather exciting ending to such a quiet ride. I didn't end up hailing, but the storm came up so quickly, better safe than sorry. It seemed a little to me like tornado weather, and that is what really worried me.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I rode outside today, we have a tornado watch going on, so the weather is really humid, so Werther was pretty lazy. I started out working on walk trot transitions to try and get Werther more sensitive to the leg. Then after some trot work with good connection I went into the canter work. The canter work was a mix bag, the transitions to the canter were pretty good, but I had a hard time getting a of jump out of him. Werther did flying changes a number of times to the right, but I felt like I could really feel what I was doing wrong, so I could try and fix it. I felt like I started to sit down more, but I know I wasn't as far back as I need to be. I'm still working at the connection at the canter, but he didn't feel strung out, which is another point in the good column. After a good walk break, I ran though training level test 3 once, which I have memorized but I haven't ridden before. I think test 3 is going to be way harder than test 4. It was hard to remember all the transition spots without the letters in the outdoor, but I got the gist of it. Canter work to the right was bad, I was getting really tired and had a big moment of being too passive, which allowed Werther to swap. Werther and I were both sweaty and tired by the end of the ride, and well I don't think things went great, I feel like I accomplished something.

Tuesday's Lesson

We started out on Tuesday working on the following hand again. We were in the indoor because of bad weather, so we circled by the big bank of mirrors so I could look at my hands. I found for me, me hands actually were quieter if I moved my hands slightly out with the motion of the horse, instead of foreword which is what I had been trying to do before. The big part of the lesson was the canter, we just spent a long time trying to get me in the right position with Werther having good energy and jump to his canter and trying to get me into the right position. We worked really hard, but it is hard to see the progress right now. Sarah is working on having me sit further back, and I really struggle with that, I am so used to cantering in half seat. My left hand kept creeping up on me too, this is caused by my CP. I try hard to keep it down, but sometimes the brain and the body signals don't sync up and it is really frustrating. My homework is to have Sarah tell me in my next lesson I am sitting too far back and my left hand is too low. Ride times for Mason City have been posted, Sarah and I are almost always riding at the same time, so I will have to do most of my warm ups independently, which is really a pain. I would really like to have the extra support, especially since it is my first time showing training level.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


It was really nice outside today and I had my lesson in the outdoor ring. We worked on getting my hands quieter by having my elbows open and close more, it is really hard! My arms are short and I have a big chest to work around. I also am used to riding hunters were they told us not to flap our arms around like chicken wings. I'm also having a hard time getting a feel for the timing, I feel like it is one of those things were you have to have it click just once to make your body get what your are supposed to do, and it hasn't happened for me yet, though Sarah assured me I was improving. We did a lot of canter transitions to, if Werther did not respond to me asking politely with my leg, I had to give him a tap with my whip, and he kicked out quite a few times, but he started to respond to the lighter aids later in the lesson. Getting Werther lighter to the aids is one of our long term goals with Werther. We worked on my position in the canter transition as well, I have a tendency to want to throw my body forward, I'm used to getting up in a half seat at the canter, I really have to put in a lot of mental work to tell my body to stay back and in the tack. I the canter we worked at making it have more "jump" and asking him to come round. It is still challenging for me to get him to come round at the canter, but I have to remind myself that when I first started taking lessons with Sarah I had a hard time at the walk and the trot too, but now I can get it done without even thinking. Right now Werther wants to be slow and round or fast and flat, I need to find a happy medium. I was happy Werther didn't swap leads on me at all today, I picked up the wrong lead once, but it was my fault. I did not organize Werther well enough. We finished up the lesson by doing some walt trot transitions to get Werther lighter to the aids and some trot stretching circles.

Thursday and Friday

I got out of work early on Thursday because they were remodeling our workspace, it was nice to got out to the barn early. I was not able to ride outside however, the guys were working on the footing in the outdoor ring. Our outdoor is a sand rubber mix and we have been having issues with it being over crowned since it was built. The guys used the compactor on the ring and then watered it heavily, and it needed to wait until Friday to be dragged. I worked inside and Werther was very good. The right lead canter is getting much better, I only had one swap and it was because I made a bad turn. I memorized training level test 2 and I ran though both 1 and 2 once, which I will be riding at Mason City. It went well, I think the canter trot transition and the quick turn on to the final center line in test two will be a challenge. I rode in the outdoor on Friday, the footing felt pretty good, although it was much firmer out there than I am used to. It was a little chilly, so Werther was really moving nicely foreword. Again, I just had one swap, this time when I was shortening my reins, it must have caused my position to go out of wack. I still wasn't quite confident that I had the tests down, so I ran through them one last time. Werther started to anticipate a little bit, so I will have to take a break from practicing the tests for awhile. It was odd doing the tests in the outdoor which is much larger than a regulation size dressage ring, I felt like I was going around for miles. At one point I miss judged the size of canter circle I needed to make to get him back on the rail and ended up at about the quarter line. I just asked him to move over like I would in a leg yield and he took some really nice lateral steps, which was a cool bonus for my ride.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Two Weeks to Training Level!

Werther got the day off on Monday and I had a lesson with Sarah on Tuesday. It was lightly sprinkling, and the last thing I wanted was to get wet after this weekend, so we rode inside. We spent the majority of our time working on the canter, which is going to be our biggest challenge for Mason City. We also worked on developing more of a following hand at the walk and canter, which is challenging, with hunters you get yelled at for having chicken wings if you move your arms too much. Near the end of our canter work I was able to get him pretty round, Werther is still trying his best to convince me he cannot be round and foreword, my job is to convince him it is not the case. The biggest breakthrough was we figured out what is triggering Werther to swap from his right to left lead. Basically what is happening is that I'm falling in on my weaker left side at the canter which causes my right leg to slip back, which makes Werther think (and rightly so) that I am cueing for a lead change. What I have to do is be really conscious about pushing my right leg foreword and my right shoulder back. I really like the way Sarah is framing me fixing my position in the context of my right side, when a lot of trainers would just yell at me about my left side. I also am asking for a slight bend at the right lead to help prevent a swap. We finished up by going though training level test one which  I have memorized, it went really well for the first time running through it, we didn't have any swaps. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Horse Show Recap

I'm sufficently recovered from Stillwater so I'm posting now! The stalls and prizes were nice, and it was nice to go to a horse show close to home. However, the footing was too deep for my liking, and there was virtually no warm up area for my ring, just the grass or a 20m circle of sand and the grass was too hard and slick to be riding in. It was pouring rain on saturday so I didn't even try for pictures, and Sunday my classes we too close together, I didn't even think of handing off my camera to someone. There person who was supposed to go in my Intro A classes scratched so I won those by default, and on Saturday the girl who was supposed to be riding in my B test got bucked off by her pony. My best test was my Intro B, I got a 68.5% and I thought it was a better test than my 70.5%. Someone who was not entered on Saturday got a 73% however, so I was second in that class. The judge on Saturday was really tough, I got a 65% on test A (got the same score on Sunday) and I got a 64% on test B.

Comments Saturday Test A

7's in first three movements "fairly straight; fluid; well balanced"
8 on my trot circle "well balanced"
8 scratched out to 7 medium walk "fluid transition, some rhythm changes" 
6 free walk "needs more stretch down"
5 trot transition "needs more straightness and clarity"
6s on last two movements "falling in, not quite on C line"
7 on gaits and submission
6 on impulsion and riders position


"Lovely pair with potential, overall test could have had a bit more energy for higher scores".

Comments Sunday Test A

7s on first four movements "straight halt; active walk; smooth transition; round circle"
6s on two walk movements "should be move active"
7s on last three movements "smooth transition; round circle; straight halt"
7 on gaits
6 on impulsion, submission, and riders position


"Nice horse; keep your heels down". Ellie in- Heels down comment kind of ticked me off, did he not see the para form?!

Intro Test B Saturday

6 enter halt salute "not quite immobile" 
7 track right at c "fairly smooth"
6 circle "should be rounder 1st half"
7 change rein and medium walk "fairly steady"
5 free walk "needs more energy and stretch"
7s last three movements "steady, more energy; straight, needs more energy; fairly straight"
7s on gaits and submission
6s on impulsion and position

"very nicely presented test, could be more energetically ridden, lots of potential"

Intro Test B Sunday

6 on enter and halt "not straight"
7s on next four movements "round circle; straight; smooth transition"
6 on free walk "should stretch more foreword"
7s on last three movements "round circle; straight; straight and halt"
7s on all collective marks

"nice test"

I'm glad I survived! looking at the test and seeing the progression, I think I fixed a lot of things I needed to. Next show, on to training level! 

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Just got back from Stillwater, too tired for full post but here are the Mason City videos.

hmmph... can't get them to embedded into the post here are the links.

Friday, June 5, 2009

: Kicks Youtube :

I was delaying posting because I got my video from Mason City and I was trying to upload it to youtube so I could post it here. I had to convert the files, and now youtube is taking forever. Anyway, I had a lesson on Tuesday, it went well. Sarah had me do a mock warm up for the show without her coaching, (well, as much as she could help herself). I did well, I just need to remember to throw in a bit more walk work and some halt transitions. The canter was really good, we didn't have any problems with the right lead at all. Sarah had me work on getting him to "jump forward" in the canter. We finished with some turns on to centerline which were OK, I need to remember in my test to turn much tighter than I think I need to. I hacked yesterday, and I practiced warming up like I would warm up for a show, but again, I think I did alright with my amount of walk work, but I should have done some more halt trot transitions. When I started my canter work I had some issues with him swapping off the right lead again, and rather than get in a big fight about it, I switched and practiced my tests. I did Intro Test A twice, the first time was a little shaky, he cantered in the second circle, and I was late on one trot transition, and I was wide on my final turn to centerline. The second time around was much better, but he tried to die on me a  little early going on up centerline to halt. I only had to do Test B once, Werther felt really good. By the time I finished test B I made up my mind that I was going to fix this canter issue, I did not want to end on a bad note before my show. I made him pick up the canter off of the walk from centerline, and I had Werther go around the outside of the dressage ring while I practiced sitting back and deep and keeping the canter energetic. He was able to go around the outside of the dressage ring just fine, but when I moved in, he swapped again. I reorganized Werther while still staying in the ring and thought about doing a shoulder fore while going around the ring, it was a little exaggerated though, because I don't have the fine tuning at the canter yet that I do at the trot. It did the trick though, he went around the dressage ring without swapping off. The good news is, I can now do the canter transition without really thinking about it, I just have to work out this bug. I'm off to the horse show today, wish me luck! 

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I had a really nice lesson outside this morning. Two of our babies, Curly and Orvis were turned out in the paddock next to the outdoor ring, and they were so cute, they watched my whole lesson, occasionally seeing in they could bite Werther as I walked by. Werther is totally recovered from his shots now, he was able to come round right away today. Sarah and I talked about show logistics, we decided that I am going to stay at Intro level for one more show. Sarah and my ride times are very close together for this next show, so Sarah will be able to help me some, but I am going to have to be responsible for the bulk of my warm up. I think it will be a good exercise, a little test of my abilities to see if I can find the right balance between too much and not enough. At the Mason City show after Stillwater I am going to do training level 1 and 2 both days.  I won't qualify for regionals, but it is my first year showing Dressage, so I am not really worried about it. Werther was really good at the trot today, Sarah I decided if he is that good at Stillwater I might have to exaggerate my limp so people don't think I'm riding at too low a level!  I got to do a extended trot on Werther today, it was really exciting. He has the best extensions, he doesn't go any faster at all, he just has a lot more air time with his trot step, Sarah says that elasticity is what puts his trot at a 8 or 9. The canter work also had some significant improvement. Sarah had me think about really sitting down on his butt and making him ball up underneath me. We also worked on getting the canter more forward, but without going faster, just having more energy at that same pace if that makes sense. He didn't swap leads at all today, and we only picked up the wrong lead going to right once. The left is still way better than the right but I was really happy with our progress today. Sarah says it is going to be like when I started to work on framing him up at the trot, which used to be such a challenge for me but now I hardly even have to think about it. We finished out the ride with some stretching circles at the trot which are also getting much better, he is getting really toned in his back muscles and really helps his stretch. Sarah also liked what tying the left stirrup did for my position, so we are going to keep doing it for now. 

Friday, May 29, 2009


Werther got his shots and worming on Wednesday. I rode him outside on Thursday and he was really good, though understandably a little stiff. He still started out a little stiff today, but was nice a supple by the time I finished my ride. I spent both days working on forward energy, doing stretching circles at the trot and  working free walk, and lastly the canter. I used a leather spur strap to tie my left stirrup to the girth, which is one of my allowed dispensations with my para classification. It helped me a lot, with my leg more stable I felt like I was able to get easier canter transitions, and it allowed me to sit deeper in the saddle. I'm pretty happy with my canter transitions now but now I am having trouble with the actual canter work. I've gotten to the point in my dressage riding where I am finally at the point where I can start to put Werther in a working frame at the canter. I'm having trouble with Werther swapping leads on me, which has not been a problem with him before. I could not really pin point in yesterday riding outside, but today we had high winds and a storm moving in so I rode in the dressage ring set up in the indoor. I found that he was more prone to swap leads on the right lead to the left, on the straight line after corners M and K. Try as I might, I could not get him around the ring to the right without swapping. I think I am getting him over bent to the outside, but I can't figure out how to fix it on my own, so I am going to ask Sarah tomorrow. Sarah said in my lesson on Tuesday that she is going to start working with Werther on his canter transitions, especially that counter canter, so he has to be really clear which lead we are asking for and hold it, instead of taking matters into his own hands. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back to work!

Thanks everyone for the well wishes, I had a great time and I am glad I could share it with all of you. On Monday Mom, Maddy and I went on a family trail ride. We just walked in a circuit around our property and Werther tried his darndest to cram as much food as possible in his mouth with a bit in. Werther had good energy on the trail and I did work on asking him to come on the bit, so I could work on harnessing the energy I need for my tests.  I had a lesson today, and we spent most of the time working at energy at the walk and canter. I have not decided if I am going to change my entries to training level for the Stillwater show in two weeks, Sarah and I are going to decide next week. The canter transitions are getting much better, but still not consistently good enough for the show ring yet. We also worked on getting him really connected and bending at the canter which I had some difficulty with. My left side got really tight, and I kept twisting my body. I worked with the grab strap and that helped, but with the longer rein Werther would cut in and switch his bend, so he would do a flying change. I would say about 20% of the time I had a really nice package and my position was OK. I need to bring that number up. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Horse Show!

The horse show was awesome! I schooled Werther at home on Thursday, and he was really good. We got the show on Friday afternoon. The Brightonwood ladies had a great setup and were really helpful in getting our stalls organized. My Mom brought her coming three year old with to camp out. It was raining out, and I went to get on, Werther turned as I got on, and I had one foot in the stirrup and I didn't have my balance yet, and I fell off the other side. Werther was really tense when I rode him, but he didn't do anything really bad. Sarah got after I got a chance to go into both of the rings I would be showing in. Sarah did a lot of lateral work, bending, and transitions just getting him to focus on her. Saturday, it was pouring rain  with thunder and lightening, so the TD came by, and they decided to delay the show for one hour. As you can see from my pictures, it was still pouring when I went in for my first class. I was really happy to just have survived the whole thing and I was elated to get a score of 63%! Comments for that test : "Well matched pair - overall a pleasant test. Work on energy in the walk." Sarah and I had decided since I rode a conservative, but accurate test earlier for test B we would really work on pushing Werther forward and getting more activity. He got really tired half way though, and I really had to work to keep up the energy, my hunter training came in handy and I was able to downplay my use of the whip. I got a 67% percent with very similar comments from the first test. I was really happy with the further comments section she said: "A very nice horse and you're doing a good job, especially at the trot. Keep working on the walk energy." For Intro Test A on Sunday, it was my one test in ring three with the same judge from yesterday. I had the same plan as yesterday, to just keep pushing the energy. Sarah said if Werther broke into the canter in any of my tests she would throw me a parade. My test was a 7:36 in the morning, so it was still a little chilly, which was much to my advantage. I was really happy with my test, while I didn't break into the canter, I felt I had better  energy and improved on the day before. This is the test I am probably most proud of. I got a 8 for the turn on center line and halt, with the comment "balanced!" and  for the final turn on center line I also got an 8 and the comment "good turn at A and balanced halt". This is something Sarah and I spent a long time working on. Her further remarks "You and your horse present a harmonious picture. It was a nice test with improvement in the walk, good job." Our total score was a 69.5%. My last test, we had the same game plan, worst case, my best score is a 69.5% which I think just about anybody would be  happy with. I really pushed him in the second intro B class, and almost got a canter step in the corner as I turned to go onto the diagonal. I backed off, after that and was a little frazzled because I thought I was going to get a low score for that movement. My other mistake was in preparing for the free walk across the two diagonals, I started to let my reins out in the corner, before I remembered that I could not do that before I turned off the wall. Werther only took a step or two though, and I was able to repackage him, but I was so distracted by my mistake I didn't push him hard enough in the free walk. What I thought was my worst test turned out to be best score wise. I got an 8 on my second diagonal, and only one 6 on this test for the free walk. I got a  8 on Werther's submission, which made me happy because that score is doubled in FEI para tests. The total was a 70.5%! Even though I didn't have anyone in my division, my score was the best of the day! 

Horse Show Photos Part II

Again, blogger cut off some images, click on the picture to see the whole thing.

Horse Show Photos Part I

Blogger cropped some of the photos click on the image to see the full thing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All In The Family

Just for fun! I put Werther's pedigree though the All Breed Pedigree Query. He has quite a bit more Thoroughbred in him than I expected, and it is neat to look at his Westphalian breeding on his dam line. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Today I had my last lesson before the show this weekend. We basically worked on what we will do at the horse show. We started out with some forward walk and trot work, focusing on getting Werther's back swinging. The Sarah had me gather Werther up into a frame and we worked on bending and using the corners to improve connection on the bit. Then we did some canter transitions so I could get Werther into the nice forward working trot I need for my tests. We took a walk break and we talked a little bit about how everything is going to go. Werther has a tendency to have a lateral walk so that is at 5 or a 6 if I am lucky, but he has an excellent trot and if I can get him forward and going well he could get a 8 or 9. I'm not showing at the canter at this show, but Sarah thinks it is about a 7. For the second half of the tests we worked on the trot outside the ring, establishing the impulsion and rhythm I need to have a really excellent test. 
Some of the little details we work on while I rode my tests: 

under turning to center line, and not cutting my turn at C
Sitting really heavy for the halt while still keeping leg on, and getting right at X
really riding the corners
keeping a slight shoulder fore around the ring to get a smooth bend in the turns
making sure I hit E and B in the 20 m circle and really showing my bend in the circle 
pushing the free walk forward and down
correctly using the space across the diagonal and in the serpentine
Keep a firm outside rein 

They also just posted the ride times and schedule for my show are I'm the only one in my division! I am kind of excited about it because it really takes the pressure off, I can just treat it like a clinic where I get a blue ribbon for not falling off or throwing up. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

My First Blog Award!

Thanks to Solitaremare for giving me this cute award!

According to Solitaremare's post:

7 of my favorite things:

1. Getting sucked into a good story, book, tv series, movie, a piece of artwork, play, song, what have you.

2. Travel, the best place i've been is Antarctica!

3. Food, gourmet or street food, I love it all. 

4. Spending time with friends, I went to boarding school and college on the east coast, so I don't get to see my friends very often, so I really appreciate the time I get to spend with them.

5. Learning, I'm a total liberal arts geek and I think there is nothing better than a really good lecture. 

6. All of my horses! Wesley and Werther are my two bad boys, Fiona is my little princess pony, and Twinkie is the best.

7. Technology, I heart my macbook pro, ipod, kindle and tivo.

Passing it on to 7 blogs:

1. Diary of the Overanxious Horse Owner - We got our horses at the same time, it has been fun following Juniors progress! 

2. Viva Volte- She has been so helpful as I have been switching over to dressage.

3. Over The Hills and Far Away- Awesome pictures!

4.  Adventures with Super Sam- Another rider with a new horse, i've just started following her recently.

5. Peonies and Paper- My sisters blog, fun design ideas.

6. Riding Aside- It has been really fun following her as she ventures into the sidesaddle world. 

7. Tacky Tack of the Day- The name says it all.