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!