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Showing posts from June, 2008

Saddle Box review

I was contacted last week by Saddle Box's owner, Phil, who asked if I would review the product on my blog.  I am happy to do so!  All my opinions are my own and I am in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Saddle Box.   
Saddle Box is a monthly subscription box full of equine related goodies for both rider and horse!  It can contain items such as treats, grooming tools, books, and small tack.  It seems there are a lot of these surprise monthly subscription boxes in a variety of styles these days, and it was only a matter of time until one was made especially for horse folks!

The first box has a 15% off coupon, so it costs $29.71 the first month and $34.95 each month thereafter which includes shipping.  They do ship to Canada for an extra $10 shipping. You can buy a Saddle Box for yourself or give it as a gift.  Once you sign up, it will automatically renew (and charge your credit card) every month unless you indicate for no box that month. There are no returns unless you receive a…

Marshaling at Scarborough Downs 6/29/08

I LOVE to marshal at Scarborough Downs. It is so much fun! Here is what they had on their website:

Sunday, June 29 - Scarborough Downs Anniversary PARTY! Come have a blast with us as we celebrate our 58th year of business! Sponsored by Pepsi. Things kick off at 12:30. Great giveaways. Live National Anthem by 11-year-old Sydney Martin. The Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of Maine will perform demos on the track with some lovely retired race horses - come see the show! Also, Breeders Stake Races: 3 Year Old Colt Pacers race. Live racing post time begins at 1:30 pm. Player Rewards Card holders earn 3 points on Scarborough Downs live races! Admission is FREE.

So one of the lovely retired racehorses was Ms. Dreamy Starlet. :) We did a jumping demo on the track.....I wanted to start with a crossrail and go up to a larger vertical....but after going over the crossrail I felt how hard the track was and decided not to go higher. I thought the track was "wet" enough to provide …

Clinic 6/28/08

Today was my stadium jumping clinic with Steuart Pittman. It was misting on and off, but all in all the weather was fine. Dreamy was fantastic of course. Steuart really liked her. He was amazed at her age and the fact that she has only been under saddle for such a short amount of time. I made a joke about her having a young mind but an old body.....and he said he thought she had a young body (fluidity and range of motion) and an old mind. She was so calm and ready to work.

He also said she was a nice jumper, really used her knees and back, and often really gave each fence a good look. She never rushes, she just takes a good look and listens to me.....so nice compared to the hot Morgans I grew up riding. You had better be hanging on well when you were jumping a Morgan! LOL!

Steuart started all the fences low......the crossrails were probably 18" and the verticals were from 2 feet to 2 foot 6. He even did a spread, which I have never done with her. Oh and we did a rolltop too, which …

Was I Dreaming.....??

Wow, we had a FANTASTIC ride tonight. I wanted to just take it easy and have a nice forward, light and soft in the bridle dressage ride. Because of our upcoming busy weekend, I did not want to work on anything new or have a fitness ride.

Well I'll be darned if I got exactly the kind of ride I wanted....she was forward (of course, usually I have to work to keep her from being too forward) but also light and soft. NO fighting, come-to-Jesus moments, or fussy head fit moments...especially in our trot work after the canter. I was floored. This is the FIRST TIME that has happened since we started canter work....so realistically since last year.

She also trotted well after our canters. There was no fussiness in the connection, no bulging against my inside leg, no running through my aids, no blowing through my half halts. We just trotted.....cantered....and then trotted again. Full field and then 20 m circles. I was worried she would suddenly FREAK out or something....LOL!!!! She was almos…

Just Another Canter.....

Today Dreamy and I did some jumping and I did some work in my half seat in preparation for this weekend's clinic. We are riding with Steuart Pittman, an Advanced level event rider from Maryland. I am SO EXCITED and a teeny bit nervous. :D http://www.dodonfarm.com/

So yeah my legs are a bit sore from the stirrups being SO HIGH compared to when I am in my dressage saddle. And my knees are achy from balancing myself over my center of gravity during my trot half seat intervals.

Dreamy was a good girl. I think overall it was a good ride, actually. She was easy to warm up and then we did our walk/trot/walk transitions from last night's lesson. She was 60/40 on her leaning coming down to the walk and 100 on her upwards. No hopping into the trot! I am sure the leaning is partly my fault, but I also think she has a harder time working here at home compared to the nice flat sand ring where we have our lessons.

I did some canter work before we started jumping. In my mind, I figured I would…

My Inspiration

Recently I was lucky enough to meet a fantastic horsewoman and her Standardbred mare. They are a pair I have looked up to for some time. Melissa has owned Muffin (now 30 years young!) for 25 years. They competed together up through Second Level dressage in the early nineties and earned their USDF Silver Medal.
Not only is that a huge accomplsihment with any horse, it is even more exciting because it was done with a Standardbred. And come to find out, Muffin was NOT able to trot when Melissa got her. That's right folks, a free legged pacer.
So here I am with my inspiration Honest Apprasial aka Muffin. Thank you Muffin and Melissa! :)

Lesson 6/24/08

My lesson tonight was great and this post is very long! LOL! So many things came together well. We started with some walk/halt/walk transitions and then walk/trot/walk on the 20 m circle to improve our connection.

I have found that I brace my arms outward in downward transitions as a way of keeping my body upright when Dreamy lugs on the bit as she slows down. Not pretty. AND on the upward trot transitions she likes to do the STB hop into the trot as though she is pulling a sulky. So not good for dressage. :P And because I am always bringing her right back down and trying again, she has become dead to my leg.....as in the transition does not happen as soon as I apply leg.....it takes her a moment to decide what I mean. Grrr.....so then in that few seconds she gets all flung out on her forehand and the transition stinks.

SO......Judy had me actually doing a step or two of leg yield into both my upward and downward transitions. Ah, now we were onto something. Suddenly we had these smooth …

My Horses' Various Names

OK this always cracks me up. Dreamy's registered name is "Dreamy Starlet" which I think is a whole lot easier than Sparky's registered name, which is "Joydale Sparklerslas". Yup, you guessed it....at shows the announcer would call her Joydale Sparkler's Ass. I hated it when I was younger and now I just think it is funny as all get out.

So I figured Dreamy Starlet was easy! Guess again!

So far she has been:
Dreamy StarlightDreamy ScarletHmmm.....wonder what else we might get???? LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Hidden Brook Farm Show results 6/21/08

Today we competed at Hidden Brook Farm in Norway, ME. This is a MDS/WMDEA show so will not count towards our SMDA year ends, just for state points. To qualify at two levels, I need to do 6 shows (6 tests at each level). Last year I was able to do just the four SMDA shows because I only qualified at one level. Luckily I realized this before it was too late......LOL! Gotta get those year end awards!

Here are our results:
Intro B = 61.5%, fourth place (out of 6)
Training 1 = 57.8261%, second place (out of 4)

HOLY COW!!!! We may just earn a 60% someday at Training level! :D

Dreamy warmed up well, but then tensed up as soon as we entered the ring. The judge was in a horse trailer, which stressed her out. :( Silly girl. So being tense affected our tempo, which made the test rushed and a bit sloppy. I think I am so focused on the Training test that I am "throwing away" my Intro test. It is almost like I am thinking, this is the "easy" test and our "warm-up".....which…

"Jekyll and Hyde" Rides

Sometimes I am amazed at how different two rides can be.

Dreamy had Monday off because of the show on Sunday. It is her typical day off. Then Tuesday afternoon/evening it was thunderstorming and HAILING, so no ride. :(

Last night, Wed. June 18, I had a fantastic ride. We just did flat work, including some lateral work. Dreamy was forward and light in the bridle, she cantered both directions as soon as I asked, and we actually had HALF HALTS after our canters! It was absolutely astounding. I quite honestly think it was one of our best rides yet. Her left canter felt a bit more balanced than usual, which was exciting. I only rode for about 45 mins., seeing as I did not get on until 8PM and it was getting rather dark by 8:45PM! LOL!

THEN....tonight was the exact opposite. I wanted to do some of the movements from my tests this weekend. But forget it. It was an obedience ride. She ran through my aids, no half halts, and could NOT canter to the left. And hell, the second time I asked for …

Standardbreds at the WEG 2010

Hmmm.....I am not sure yet if I should apply. I need a jumping video in order to do so. I am CROSSING FINGERS that I can get a good video of dressage. XC, and stadium at our first event of the year on July 6.Here is the press release from the USTA:Calling all Standardbred Pleasure Horse enthusiastsMonday, May 05, 2008 - by Deveau Zubrod, USTA Advertising DirectorColumbus, OH --- The USTA is now accepting applications for Standardbreds to be included in a breed demonstration to be held at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Sept. 25–Oct. 10, 2010 in Lexington, Ky.The 2010 Games will be the first of its kind held in North America and we need you to be a part of the Standardbred’s representation at this prestigious event.Although the event runs for 16 days, we will only be doing one demo, so it is not necessary to be at the entire event. The demonstration will likely run for 15-20 minutes and will highlight the best of what your horse has to offer in its respective discipline.We are l…

SMDA Show results 6/15/08

Dreamy and I competed in the Southern Maine Dressage Association's second show of the season on June 15, 2008. We had a great (if a bit soggy) day! It was pouring but Dreamy was a trooper. The rings (both warm-up and competition) were a MESS, so her gait was a little "big"....as in she wanted to T-R-O-T over the puddles! LOL! And my breeches were a wee bit wet (um...soaked) so I felt a little slippy. It was like I could not get my body organized. So not at the top of our game.....though I had fun!!!

I am SO PROUD of my Dream Girl. We scored a 61.5% in Intro B.....had a few fishtail moments where she lost her back end and I was not ready for it with my outside rein. :( Needless to say it drove our score down a bit....so we ended up 8th out of 12. Not particularly pleased with that, but hey....she was obedient and forward, what more can a girl ask for??

Then we scored a 54.350% on Training 1. We placed 2nd of of 3 riders! YAY I beat someone! LOL! And I got to bring a ribbon…

Rushing at home :(

So tonight's ride started out well. It was a jumping night. :) We warmed up and Dreamy was really settled into a nice relaxed rhythm. The connection to the bit was good and she was not doing the teeny head toss thing.

I warmed up over a small crossrail. Then we went to an easy gymnastic: 18" vertical, ground pole, 2' crossrail. Each had a stride between. She wants to drift to the left, which is fine, I can correct that. She was a bit sticky, so I did it a couple times each direction. We got a good rhythm and she cantered easily through it.

Then we went to the "big" 2'7" gate. I like this jump. :) She did fine, each direction. Her bascule is such that I get bumped out of the saddle over the fence. I KNOW my leg slips back and I KNOW I need some jumping equitation help! GRRR....it is just like my dressage equitation, as it is all shot to hell from not having had a lesson in 7 years. Oh well, have to fix one thing at a time....

SO, anyway, I then did the comb…

Lesson 6/10/08

My lesson tonight went well. After two nights of the Waterford, I put Dreamy back in the loose ring and she was FINE. Just needs a little reminder now and again not to LUG on me, especially to the left. Plus she always does SOOOOOO much better in a FLAT arena, rather than my hilly uneven field. Ya THINK????

We did a lot of walk trot transitions at first. Then Judy had me do a figure eight...10 m trot circle to a 20 m (or larger if needed) canter circle. We started with trotting to the left and then cantering to the right (her good side). It was UNBELIEVABLE! Soft and round and NO RUSHING or hopping behind! I was pretty happy.

Then we did the trot to the right and canter to the left.....I was not doing a good job getting her straight at X and then changing her bend.....so silly mare kept picking up the wrong lead (her easier lead). That was OK with me as at least she was TRYING and picking up this really nice canter despite the lead! So I finally got my act together and we di…

Difference in Outline

There has been a marked improvement in Dreamy's overall outline and the way she uses her hind end. This was taken August 2006, after only two months of steady work under saddle. Downhill and back legs are WAAY out there. Hook this gal to a sulky! LOL!

And this was taken September 2007. More level, coming up from behind, some acceptance of the bit. Nice Intro/Training outline.
And then this was taken May 2008. Actively engaged hind end/hocks, more acceptance of the bit, is she a little uphill? :) Ahhh, we are slowly becoming a real dressage horse.
Ignore my position....UGG, on the up beat of the trot, PLUS this is what I get for doing dressage in my jumping saddle.

Too Lopsided

Dreamy's canter is coming along quitely nicely....to the right! She is no longer rushing into the canter or afterwards when we transition down to the trot. It is actually becoming quite nice.

But her left lead canter is still awful. It has always been her weaker side, but I am amazed (not in a good way) at how lopsided she now is. She is still running into the left canter, still lugging on me, and still blowing through my aids in the trot work AFTER the canter. UGGG.

I have been conditioned (brainwashed? LOL) to always work my horse equally on each side. So I have to really make a conscious effort to do more work to the left. I know her canter will get stronger as SHE gets stronger. So lots of trotting, transitions, lateral work.....

Still it makes me worried. I was unable to get a lesson in last week, so it has been 3 weeks since I had a lesson. I really hope I can get one this Tuesday. I need help!

Clipping Woes

OK, so I have been full clipping Sparky for the past few years due to her Cushings. This spring, she surprisingly shed out almost all of her wooly coat! I was shocked. Plus we had a cold spring, so while I usually clip her in April, I waited longer this year.

So yesterday it was so hot and humid that I figured it was time. I bathed her first (which makes no sense.....bathe a horse to only then CLIP all the hair OFF!) but I had to because she was so filthy from the rain (read: mud) earlier in the week. My clipper blades would have been dull in about 2.2 seconds.

So she is squeaky clean and I put her out on the back lawn to graze on the nice grass. If I put her in her pasture, she would have rolled. But for some reason the back lawn is ROLL FREE territory. LOL!

When she is dry, I bring her in the barn to clip her. But instead of doing a full clip like I usually do, I figure I ought to leave her legs (I already clipped them last week) and a saddle shaped area. Oh how fancy!

Well the off side…

The Weather Grounds Us

Well, we got unwanted and unexpected time off from riding last week. :( Monday after the SPHO show was Dreamy's day off, of course. But then it rained Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday! UGGG. I got to the point where I was just going to break out the Wintec and ride in the rain. However, the grass was just too slippery to ride. And why soak myself and my horse for a walk ride?

I was starting to go crazy.....kind of like this winter!

And then this weekend it is up into the 90s with pretty heavy humidity! Good grief! Nothing like going from 50-55 degree weather to 90+!!

OK, rant over....

SPHO-ME Spring Fling show 2008

The Dream Girl's knee ended up being fine on Saturday morning. My vet on retainer (aka Judi from RI...LOL) took a look at it on Saturday night and agreed it was fine.

I did decide to NOT do any jumping, barrels, or poles at the show. Why risk it? Why push her? In a way it was also good that she is not quite ready for 3-Gait. I am hoping we can do 3-Gait in August, but if not, then I will be patient....good things come to those who wait right??

So anyway, Dreamy and I had a blast. It was especially fun to show out of side-by-side trailers with Judi, Chris, and Joanne from RI.

We ended up:
Open Showmanship - 1st out of 14
STB in Hand - 1st out of 8
STB 2-Gait Pleasure, Seniors - 4th out of 6
Open 2-Gait Pleasure, Seniors - 1st out of 10
Open 2-Gait Equitation, Seniors - 1st out of 7
Roadster Under Saddle - 3rd out of 4
Open Trail class - 3rd out of 15

The funny part is I almost did not do Showmanship and In Hand....LOL! I am glad I did!

In class 3 (STB 2-Gait Pleasure, Seniors) Dreamy spooked (…

Accident Prone...

Dreamy injured her off knee on Friday, May 30. Just two days before the June 1 SPHO-ME Spring Fling Show! :(

Here is what I wrote on Friday:

Depending on what it looks like in 24 hours, we may not be showing on Sunday. She broke through an electric fence (my fault, not her's, as I moved the fence and she did not realize) and after a couple hours, the outside of her knee was swollen. No heat or lameness, which is good. I am hoping she will be OK to show, but if it does not look completely normal by tomorrow night, she is staying home. Stinks to have to do what is right by your horse. Oh well, there are many other shows for us this year!