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.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm back!

I have a new motherboard in my computer and I am back in business. I had a good lesson last Tuesday, we got the indoor set up to the proper 20 x 60 regulation size. It was really windy outside, so the indoor was creaking and making a fair bit of noise, which I think worried me more than it worried Werther. We just did walk trot work, but we really focused on making full use of the smaller space of the Dressage ring. We worked on really getting deep in the corners on the ring and putting a lot of bend in the turns. We did some really tiny 8 meter circles at the trot to practice. We also spent a good chunk of the lesson working on the turn up the center line. The goal is turn sooner than you need to and leg yield over, but under no circumstances overshoot the turn, because it makes it much difficult to get back on the center line. We also worked on the halt to trot transitions and the free walk. We worked on the freewalk serpintine in Intro Level Test B. I think that the freewalk is coming along well and the directions Sarah gave me really about where to turn really helped. Werther got a little mini vacation because my Mom and I flew to Chicago on Thursday night to go watch the CDI show at lamplight and to get my para dressage certification. We were able to watch the Prix Saint George in the morning, and I did a little bit of shopping (socks, new shirt, and stock tie pins) and went a did my certification. They did a series of physical therapy tests checking my range of motion, response time, and strength and flexibility. I am  now officially classified as a Grade III para dressage rider. Grade III tests are equivalent to first level dressage. I am also allowed to have certain dispensations, I can salute while still holding the reins (just nodding my head), I can carry a whip in championship level classes, I can tie my left stirrup to the girth and I can use a rubber band to keep my foot on stirrup iron. By the time I was done with my evaluation it started monsooning, and I had to watch the Grand Prix from the snack bar. I braved the outdoors for the para classes, but it was still raining really hard. It was really nice to meet a lot of people involved in the para dressage community, everyone was very nice and I am really excited to get started showing. I talked with Sarah about it in my lesson yesterday and she thinks I will definitely be ready to show first  level next year. I think the show inspired me, I had a really good lesson yesterday. Werther had a few moments of distraction, but we were able to work though it. Sarah gave me some good advice "If he has enough energy to be distracted, he is not working hard enough.". 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mini blog via email computer on deathbed

Last Tuesday- Good lesson worked on halts, free walk, trot streching
circles and canter transitions.

Thursday- really nice weather, hacked outside, a little difficult with
leg yield trot circle, worked on canter tranistions and free walk ran
through both intro level tests.

Friday- rain, rode inside with poles laid out for standard arena.
Werther decided in this slightly smaller space he need to be worlds
slowest horse but very round. Good lateral work a little trouble with
canter transition. Worked on free walk and tests again.

Saturday - cold and windy, took werther over to brightonwood for my
lesson so we could go somewhere before show. Werther was total rock
star, rode even better than home. Went though tests with reader at
show, worked on turning onto centerline and halt.

Today- werther had bad hive reaction to bugs today so Sarah did not
ride, got bath and some dex seemed to help.

Show stuff- Friday going to lamplight cdi show to get evaluated for
paradressage can't wait to watch and shop!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mini Update

Talked to Sarah as I was getting out of work today. She said Werther was pretty tense during most of their ride. I'm not too worried, he was just basically be obnoxious because all of the jumpers are back, and they were wild. Werther is not a huge fan of working when his friends are not working, but he should settle down in a couple of days. I'm getting pretty close to being set with my horse show stuff, I have Intro Level Test B memorized now. Now it is just the nitpicky stuff like:

Return shirts to smartpak and get ones that fit
Get a carry bag for my dressage saddle
Work on my USEF dispensation letter
Get Werther's breed papers into USDF
Get fitted for new tall boots and get new stirrups

Also, my Mom said she would get dressage arena rails for the indoor so we could set up a ring that is the actual regulation size. I'm really excited to have a "proper" ring to practice in!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I had a really good lesson with Sarah this morning. Werther was a little displeased to find himself inside all by himself, especially since all the show horses just got back and the entire barn was outside while he had to work. Werther let out one big whinny then pretty much got over it. I had Mom sit in the viewing area in the indoor, Werther was a little distracted when Maddy and Mom where up there last night, and I wanted to make sure he didn't try and make an issue out of it. We started out worked on getting a forward working trot, Werther had a bit of energy today, so that wasn't too difficult. Werther did want to look out the windows at the far end of the indoor so he could see his friends grazing, so I had to ask him for a little bit of a exaggerated bend so he had something else to think about. We did some 20m circles and leg yields off of the quarter line to the wall, which went well, the leg yields were particularly nice. We worked on our canter transitions, which were much better today, Sarah even let me do some transitions off of the circle and in the corners on the rail. Definitely a step in the right direction, but he still gets a little defensive when I ask for the canter. I have a feeling this is going to take me a long time to get really right, but it will be so worth it when I finally do. We finished up by doing some work with the free walk, coordinating pushing for the big walk while still maintaining a little frame and not getting him too jazzed is challenging. The hardest part is timing the transition back into the working walk and making it look effortless. We finished with walk halt and trot halt transitions, my practice this week helped, but that transition still needs a lot of work. I faxed in my entries for Mason City today, I hope I got everything right! The next set of entries are due on the 19th, my goal is to have them done by the 12th. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Big updates!

I finally got Werther's papers from his old owners! They included his German Hanoverian registration papers, his German passport and his Canadian passport. His registered name is Wenderfalk, which from my internet searching I'm guessing can loosely be translated to "Peregine Falcon". Werther is as I guessed, by the stallion Werther. He is out of a Westphalian mare named Ricca by the stallion Rigoletto. He was imported from Germany to Canada as a eight year old, as a jumper. Which pretty confirms Sarah's theory, that he was trained in Germany up to fourth level and found not to be flashy enough to be competitive at the FEI was sold across the pond as a low level jumper. Aside: Interesting fact on Canadian passport, Werther is 16.0 hands, shorter than I thought. He was in Canada for 3 years before being sold to the girl who owned him before me.  For his previous two owners he was a high children's jumper and equitation horse. Before I got Werther, he was being leased out as a children's hunter and equitation horse. It is really fun to have this history and background, I love being able to fill in the gaps, or at least to further educate my guesses. I've got Werther's papers all organized now, I am sending in my show entries for Mason City at the end of the month tomorrow. Werther was very good in our hacks on Thursday and Friday. Mom came home late last night, she came out the barn with my sister Maddy to watch me ride and we all went out to dinner afterwards. 

Mini Rant - To tell you the truth, as much as I love having my Mom back, it put it a little on edge. I got very used to my solitude over the winter, and having people watch me, made feel rushed and that I had to perform really well. We did perform well, though I had a touch of trouble with my left lead. I was having trouble keeping that bad left leg far enough forward. It didn't help that my sister, a ex-rider, kept saying stuff to the effect of "Oh, I could just hop on right now and do what Ellie's doing, no problem." I had the tack room organized, but Mom was critical, she didn't like how I had it set up. which also stressed me. She gets to spend large portions of her day at the farm, and has her own tack room, (Andre and I share the boarder tack room). She doesn't seem to understand that my time at the farm is very limited, and I need to make things as efficient as possible. Her way is very nice, but it is time I don't have. I would love to have every little thing squared away each time I left the barn, but I work a full 4o hour week, and I only get two hours, four days a week out at the barn, and because I don't drive (long story), I just simply don't have the time to everything every day. 

We now return regular programing - Other news on the horse show front, I am also working on getting my classification grade and USEF dispensation to compete in Para-Dressage classes. The closest classifier is in Michigan, I am going to try and get it done when Mom goes to show in Traverse City in July.