What to expect at your first dressage show


Good to know! Thanks for sharing!!!

A Horse and a Half

So I wanted to write this post for Melinda, who is going to her very first dressage show this weekend. I know that some of these things sound silly, but I didn’t start riding dressage all that long ago and I remember all the things I didn’t know my first time around. I hope that this post is helpful and feel free to comment and add if you think of it or ask questions if you want to know something!

1) The classic dressage look is all white and black. You can visit my post on dressage show apparel here. If you are a hunter and already have tall field boots, beige breeches, and a navy coat I would recommend just wearing that your first time out with a white shirt and stock tie. Save your money if you are not sure dressage is the right thing for…

View original post 799 more words


More Spring Around the Farm


The last few days have been BEAUTIFUL around the farm! I mean… despite the mud. Honestly, even the mud isn’t that bad!

Lilac buds against the blue sky!

I have been useless the past few days, except for the part where I’ve run around taking photos of everything in my wake. I had minor surgery on Tuesday (all went well), and have a 10lb lifting restriction until next Tuesday. The first day of doing nothing was a welcome “break”… the last few, however, have been exceptionally boring. Until today 🙂

Today, I tagged along to my friend’s lesson with our trainer, Dorothy. A welcome change of scenery! I soooooooo longed to ride – unfortunately, along with the lifting ban, I’ve also been instructed to not even HANDLE the horses, much less ride them! Ugh. I’m counting the days… THREE left!

Anyhow – here is a picture of my friend’s horse (please excuse his glowing eyes)… check out that beautifully shiny new egg-butt snaffle, and his snappy new bridle! Whoo-hoo! My friend, an experienced equestrian, is transitioning from a life of mostly Western riding and Barrel Racing to my sport of choice – Dressage (an English discipline). Yay! Moose (the horse) was a little upset at being disturbed from his warm, sunshine-drenched slumber… hence the grumpy expression.

Moose and his new tack!

Spring tends to be muddy, but the last few days have been wonderful – the ground was mostly sticky-mud, as opposed to soppy-mud! What is the difference between sticky-mud and soppy-mud? I’ll be glad to educate you!

  • Sticky-Mud
    • Sticks to the soles of your shoes (especially shoes with tread)
    • Has a “play dough” texture
    • Firm enough to stand on, however, if you decide to run about, be prepared – the stopping will likely result in a slippery-sliding-stumbling mess.
  • Soppy-Mud
    • Sucks your whole leg in, up to your knee*
    • Oozes from your boots/pants/legs… or wherever it touches you
    • * = You are likely to loose your boot or shoe… or may even loose your balance and be swallowed whole by the stuff… Uck. Just… uck.

    By the way… those are technical terms, so don’t go throwing them about lightly. 😉

“What do you mean, ‘EWWWWW MUD’? Come out here and give it a roll, it’ll be GREAT, I promise!”

My husband and my horse – an unlikely pair!

Miss Tink caught me sitting down on the job, and came over for a pat.

And, this was the beautiful sunset this evening as my husband brought the horses in! ❤

Spring is (almost) here!


The last few days around the farm have been divine! It has been so warm that I happily wandered about without a coat – a heavy fleece jacket was all I needed! Yay!

Last evening, after my lesson was finished, I decided to rummage around in the flower bed nearest the front entrance… somewhere beneath the strange, alien weeds that grow during the winter (????) is a little section of Muscari (often referrered to as “Miniature Grape Hyacinth”). Guess what! There were beautiful little sprigs of newly sprouting bulbs! SPRING IS HERE!

I don’t believe what any weather man or almanac tells me (they are never right) – my little flowers are clear indicators that Spring is very much on its way in! Not to mention, my husband saw his first Robin yesterday (I didn’t see a Robin, but I did see a nesting pair of Downy Woodpeckers while on the Flint River Trail walking). I’m smiling really big as I type this 🙂

It’s raining today… which is okay. It gives me an opportunity to finish a few inside things that have been neglected since the pretty weather outside hit 🙂 Like, assembling the next-to-the-stove shelf that I decided to build from scratch. Heh.

Enjoy the beginnings of Spring!

Turn on the Forehand


Turn on the Forehand

This diagram demonstrates the movement of the horse’s hindquarters around his front leg while performing a “Turn on the Forehand”.

I’ve executed a “Turn on the Forehand” many times. Halt on the wall, ask the horse to yield to the outside rein and the outside leg and pivot his hindquarters around his front outside leg. I never really considered it as a multi-faceted movement until recently.

My trainer asked us to perform a turn on the forehand. It was sloppy, to say the least. My horse stepped forward, then practically spun in the circle around his front outside leg before I could even blink. Honestly, I don’t even think I completed any cue before he figured out what he thought I was asking.

Well… after a few repeats, attempting to focus on getting specific, controlled responses reflecting the specific aids, my trainer had me dismount. Much of the remainder of my lesson was spent teaching my horse that pressure on his side behind the girth means “move your hind end!!!!”

The ground work… ugh. First of all, A decided he just didn’t like this being pushed around non-sense. He was confused, and was getting frustrated. So, he nipped at my trainer. Multiple times. When she avoided the nips successfully (and warned to wallop him, as biting is definitely a “NO!!!!” in our world), he resorted to ninja-pony-kicking at her.

What is “Ninja-pony-kicking”, you might ask? Many equestrians refer to it as “cow kicking” – horses are able to kick out to the side with their hind legs – not just the typically backwards kick. So, my intelligent horse knew that the irritation of having a flat palm applying steady pressure on his belly was related to the lady standing at his side. So, like he would with any other irritation, he kicked out. He tried this a few times previously when dealing with pressure and things irritating him. We work to avoid it, and eventually, we work that nasty behavior right out him. He is praised profusely when he “gets it right”, and we essentially ignore the naughty behavior. Except the biting.

Anyhow – behavioral issues aside (we got over them), we have been working on the ground with the exercises to get A to be responsive to leg pressure. He finally understood what was being asked of him enough that he stopped with the nasty attitude. SUCCESS! My pony and I completed a few squares in each direction, performing a three-step (90*) Turn on the Forehand at each corner. He was light and responsive, and did not rush to complete the maneuver before being cued! I’m so proud of this silly, trusting and opinionated boy!



One of my friends mentioned the need for goal setting earlier today – specifically relating to getting her horses ready for “show season”. Fun!

I  have shown my horse, Lilah, once. It was great, terrifying fun. We took home a ribbon for 4th place (out of a class of about 20 riders). Not too bad for a first-time show, right? Right! I hope to show my horse A this year! Several months ago, during a lesson with my trainer, she said she thought we’d be ready to show this year if I keep up the good work! I think it was mostly a mini-motivational speech, as it came subsequent to my assertion that in the prior weeks, I’d only ridden a handful of times. :p

So, following my friend’s lead, I think I need to start setting goals for myself with my horses! Sure, each time I work with them, we have a short-term goal for our session, but we need a bigger goal, broken down into parts. That, of course, will likely be remodeled as the training progresses… but, it is a start.

Goal 1? Ride MORE!

I have a video of myself riding A from the Spring of 2011. I believe we have progressed since that point. I think, as part of our training, I should have someone videotape our rides at least once a month or so… just to see where we make progress, where we regress, and what seems stable with regards to each of our training and fitness.