high point award in dressage
Clinics & Shows

Year End Award

Valiosa received her first award over the weekend.

Our chapter of CDS (California Dressage Society.) is active and good-sized, even with two other chapters close by.  It’s a good group, and in 2017 I’ll be stepping it up even more with my time and getting involved at board meetings.

At this years Foothills Chapter Year-End Holiday Party and Awards night, Valiosa surprised by nabbing the High Point.

high point award in dressageI somehow ended up competing as Open Division (Gasp!) and felt I needed to return her award.  (Seriously – there’s nothing Pro about the riding, I’m all Adult Amateur.)  But, nope, she keeps the award, and now has this beautiful plaque and soft padded leather halter with nameplate.

year end dressage awardsNever saw that one coming!    (Hands down the most thrilled Chapter Award recipient ever!)

Of the shows I rode her in this year, only two of them were rated through USDF/USEF.  We have limited resources to even get off the property, and I do most of our training on my own.

It’s a very backward set-up to get to play in dressage at all, but we still do it and have fun!

So rewarding to have her recognized for the work we’ve done together.

Just pointing out that it can still happen!

If I can do this – so can you!

Mary Wanless at American Sport Horse
Clinics & Shows

Mary Wanless Clinic

6 hr car round trip to audit your riding biomechanics guru?!  Sure!!!

I was lucky to get to do just that, and spent a day at American Sport Horse, outside Santa Cruz.

Mary Wanless, in just the few hours I was there, did all the magic I knew she could do.  And more.  Here she is with Leslie and her charming little gelding.

Mary Wanless at American Sport Horse

She’ll visit the U.S in just two locations – East Coast, and Watsonville between Capitola and Santa Cruz.  So, you get it that I was excited to attend 🙂

With the Dressage On A Dime budget, her 3-Day clinic is not in the cards for Valiosa and I.  But I’m lucky to have a little help from someone who is trained in the Wanless method, so all may not be lost…

Mary Wanless in California

Question and answer session. Surprise, my hip tweak is a rare one and there’s no quick-fix. There’s never a quick-fix.

While I’m rehabbing my tendon and things are a bit slow, I can still see that you’re checking in on us as much as ever before, which is great! 🙂

I appreciate it, because I worry about all sorts of things.  Will everything get better with my pesky multiple tendon thingies?  Will my horse develop, or are we spiraling down the wrong direction?  Will we still be stuck where we are now, in a few months…

Now, there was this promise of a new Before And After post, back in this post: “Show Me Your Before And Afters!”…

That one was read by so many!  I know you like a good makeover, or simply Before & After horse shots.

It’s time!  Check in on Monday next week – time for a wrap up on 2016!

Because really, just how many pictures do we need of her stupid horse?…

Hey, I heard that!

Dressage On A Dime
Clinics & Shows

Show Warmup Last Weekend

To date, our shortest warmup.

And yes, I think it worked for us this time.  Only 20 minutes, including walking, and she was ready for a great First Level Test.

Dressage On A Dime

dressage show warmupNo bucking or piggy rooting to the first trot aids this time, brownie points to her.  That was a new one.  Someone’s growing up.

grey andalusian cross mare There was plenty of screaming to the baby though.  Remember the newborn filly at this venue in May?  (In Warmup Woes.)

Yeah, she was still there.  Bigger, and even more gorgeous now.  And silky.

foals distracting at showsValiosa is completely infatuated with this one.  NO OTHER horse seemed to care at all, but my mare goes into Super Alert at the sight of  a baby.  We had some seriously distracted spinning around.  And screaming to the fuzzy butt.

Then back to this for a second, before heading out to the show ring.

Elinor Yee

first level dressage test 1
Clinics & Shows

Valiosa – 1st Level Debut

Hands down, she was awesome!

Her very first time out at First Level, she stayed composed, focused, and, most importantly, inside the showring.

So happy with her!

azteca dressageJudge was Melissa Creswick.  I liked her style when auditing at Starr Vaughn earlier this year (Read about it here:  The Adult Amateur Clinic – Is It For You?) and really looked forward to showing for her.  I knew she wouldn’t miss a thing!

dressage show first levelOur First Level Test 1 ride was good enough for a 66.67!  First time out!  If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you know how hard we’ve worked to get to this point.

young horse in dressage testTo make this experience really easy on her, just one test with her this time.  (You’ll still end up paying more than showing 2 tests in a non-rated show, let’s not be silly now, this is drezzoaah.)

And yep, the shortened warmup worked really well for us!  More on the warmup later this week…  With photos.  (Thank you again to the best husband ever for taking pictures!)

first level dressage test 1Still posting the trot throughout.  I’m looking forward to a better connected feel once there’s more strength and she can have her back up for me.  We experiment at home for just a few minutes.  Well, sometimes.

canter lenghtening at first level

first level test 1 dressageNo 8’s this time, but no score below 6.  Absolutely amazed!  (And thrilled, since there was a small playful buck into the second canter transition, right at C.)

square halt unattentive dressageNice square halt.  She got 7.5 on both, even with popping up like this.  Next fall, I bet we’ll have that part all sorted out 🙂

first place blue ribbon on grey horse

At least for 1 day, First Leveling like a boss.

simple stocktie for dressage
Clinics & Shows

You’re Just Jealous Because –

–  You don’t get to wear a neck-diaper in your sport…

simple stocktie for dressage

Yeah.  So there.

Got an even bigger, diaper, to don next time..  With bling on it.  It’ll come out in the next rated show.  Just in case this isn’t poufy enough.

Yesterday’s show at Camelot was the most stress free and enjoyable event with Valiosa to date.  We took three horses and everyone did great!

camelot dressage show

Positively grin-silly right as the whistle blows. How awesome to get to do this and feel like a kid in a candy store again!

Valiosa got 67.5 at Training Level Test 2.  Would have been 69 and change but breaking to canter at the end of a trot diagonal got the original 7.5 marked out and brought down to a 4.  So you know, don’t ride like that 🙂

At Training Level Test 3 she pulled off a 65.5, even with a naughty disobedience at the first canter with a buck and a wrong lead.  Payback for a completely unsophisticated canter aid (she felt done-for-the day to me, thought she’d offer a late transition.).  So, trust your mare and don’t monkey around.

ugly canter at dressage show

Sporting a bit of a Cranky-Arabian Look here.

Very happy with Miss Grey Mare.  The halts on centerline are really coming along, got an 8 on two of them – again, it’s the canter work that needs…. work.

Further Remarks from the judge at the last test:  Very nice pair!  Great potential for moving up soon!

Glad she has faith in us and proud of getting this young horse here.  I know better though.  To play at first level, riders have to add a few more tokens.

schooling show riders

Nancy and I, the very last riders of the day. Vivian, you’re awesome for getting some pictures for us!

dressage show at camelot equestrian park
Clinics & Shows

Best Way To Improve Your Dressage Show Score

Head out to another show, and try it again, of course!

Valiosa did the impossible.  From taking the Show’s Low Point (yes, not kidding, a 48% something with a bolt) at the last show to winning both classes in this next one.  And yes, taking the high point of the show.

OK small show.  Details.

Showing in September is a Sweatfest, but Camelot is simply an awesome show venue!  With shade.  And prices to bring home which was so nice.

Camelot dressage show prices

Score for Training Level Test 2:  69.62

One of the trot diagonals got a 9′ which felt so rewarding.  Stretchy circle got a 5′, because that’s still how we roll at shows in the first test.

Score for Training Level Test 3:  69.78

With a 9′ on the last halt!  Couple of 8’s on the left canter transition and volte – a small wonder as it has been a huge sticking point for Valiosa and I.  (Still is.)

Take home message from this show:  focus on improving her canter.  A lot.  Before ever thinking about 1st level.  The judge didn’t write this in the Further Remarks box, but individual score comments returned to getting more jump and ground cover in the canter, so, there you go.

We took three horses this time, things got busy.  My awesome horse-who-is-fantastic-and-does-not-spook-and-did-great-at-the-show got pulled for a drug test, and I was a test reader for my friend.  So, again no pictures.

dressage show at camelot equestrian park

Just this one of all of us, which sums up the day 🙂


modern dressage at its best
Clinics & Shows

Wow, The Olympics…

Exhausting having to explain our elusive sport of chewing-gum-passage, sticky-asphalt-on-hot-summer-day-piaffe, and-half dead-retriever-dog-with-ball-free walk.

No one understands dressaaghe.  At least not many of my acquaintances.

Now that it’s over, and we’re past the shock of it all, can we at least agree on one thing?

We have a repeat, major badass, lovely Olympic winner and holder of multiple world records!

modern dressage at its best

She has horses with extremely little tension.  I don’t see that exaggerated front leg snappiness that comes from non-stop rollkur for 25 minutes.  Her hands are only forward thinking, and she seems very genuine.

Can we stop wasting time with attention on all the bad sides of Modern Dressage, and just celebrate?!

Forget the never-ending debate on the tight nosebands, blue tongue incidents, horrific news on the direction dressage is taking in Europe.  We have a rider who (at least apparently) is working with a system that actually works correctly.

Focus on the positive!  This is a time to celebrate.  The winner is incomparable to the direction of some other high level riders.  Let’s agree on that!