Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hold it in.

Its been an active two or three weeks out of the saddle and I'm happy to see it passed by quickly.

I've been exhausted. Sixty hour work weeks where I have only one day off. It isn't fun. I became so sleep deprived that by Christmas eve, I fell asleep over dinner. I'm finally recovered, I went to a concert yesterday and outlasted most of everyone (which felt good being normal!). Sleeping for ten hours for four days straight does that.

The last two years have been like this due to work. Well, working for the world's largest retailer isn't exactly a cakewalk around the holiday and I'm trying to change that via a new employer. It's just a slow go. I'm sorely tempted by becoming a working student and just eating out of a can of beans.

The three weeks out of the saddle, while doing my body a world of no good, has allowed me to get some work done on the new websites for Anthelois and Gage, Deer Haven Farm and a friend. Deer Haven's is coming the quickest, complete with 500 gigs of goodness involving photographs. Among them, which I didn't realise , are these sets from the Poulin clinic. Sinari looks brilliant to the point where I cried looking at them. I look weird. But still, I see so much. Bella will come along as well.

The out of saddle hiatus is coming to a close- the saddle is ordered (34" Duett Fidelio) and should be here in time for the new year. Sinari has been conditioning since yesterday, just lunge work due to the crappy muddy weather. She broke out her road trot yesterday and gave me some brilliant extentsion that caught the eye of onlookers.

Speaking of the new year its time to review goals.

Horsey stuff:

  1. Four scores of 60 percent (or better) at first and second to earn bronze (finished first level haven't accomplished second)
  2. Dover Medal? (not even close)
  3. Compete at all scheduled shows (yep)
  4. Condition Sinari to fourth level. (yep)
  5. Successfully breed May (yep)
  1. Complete second 1/2 marathon (no, ran out of time)
  2. Put cash towards savings/continue financial stability. Budget. Repair credit. (yep)
  3. Law school entry and exams (did so, but unsuccessfully and am trying a different route)
  4. Pick up more German. (yep)
2009 holds so much more. In addition to the following, I may be expanding the team to add a new member (pony), finding a new job, returning to education and a bunch of other things but here's the rundown:

Horsey Stuff
  1. Final four scores for bronze
  2. Foaling/ Find home for May
  3. Fourth level/PSG schooling
  4. More education
  5. Begin L program
  6. Attend all scheduled shows/inspections
  7. Expand team and promote ponies
  8. Successful NDPC show (and expand to three rings)
  1. 70 mile bike
  2. Start school
  3. Smile more
  4. Better job.

I have a long way to go and miles to go beore I sleep.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I proudly say I'm a dressage queen.

DQ status usually comes as a negative connotation. We've all heard of the evil narcissistic DQ who hogs the cathedral-silent arena with perfect footing, excessively places demands, hates anything different and generally is just... evil.

But I believe there are good DQs out there. The ones who, while are fussy, are doing things for a larger persepective.

I'm not your typical queen. I ride ponies, I do my own chores and try to remain as nice as possible (most of the time). I can, in theory, only afford one lesson a week, and the other three come from a unique exchange. I ride with reiners, and go gallop out.

Being a DQ I can't resist the larger horses somedays and was contendedly planning a breeding program around them.

But since my eventual ascent to co-director status for the National Dressage Pony Cup, numerous conversations about ponies popping up, I've come to realise that I was on the right path to begin with (and what I was more comfortabling dealing with to start).

I've begun to realise the breadth and depth of my commitment to ponies, to the point where starting over seems not only foolish, but detrimental. Breeding and training elite ponies is no small task.

Training wise, the community is fractured. Mares are sent in to be breeding stock past the age of four. Stallions are breeding actively and breeders usually can't afford to send them off to be promoted. Geldings are just sold. There isn't a link between breeders and rides. There isn't a huge effort to track bloodlines as a larger whole.

So finding quality stock that is semi-broke and not breaking my wallet is incredibly tough. Finding siblings or patterns is even harder.

Finding mares that have not only competed above 4th level, but have excellent minds and pedigree are hard to find, if not damn rare. I have one of those coming up and people are clamoring for carbon copies.

So, the formula is clear. Find the very best mares, who have records/high rideability, compete them, breed them (via ET) and see what occurs.

Time will tell if the formula will work, but meanwhile, I'm gathering force.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weathering the storms

Tis the season to be...

ah bah humbug.

The holidays are here. The saddle is sold, and my search is still going.

Because of lack of equipment and the odd work schedule, it's breaktime at the barns. One of the rare times I take off and catch up with the rest of the world. It's also regroup time for one of the show's I'm apart of. We're in the middle of a capital campaign and need to raise some serious funds this year. Also moved forward with the judges, and we have several new ideas going forward.

The pony has officially been off for two weeks now. She's had a massage, two apples and a number of other things done in between. I'm aching to get back to it, but with the current schedule at work, its better this way. Bella has been touch go for the past month due to several odd happenstances.

It has given me time to spend time with my mother-to-be. She's enjoying regular massages, grooming and treats. She's gained 100 pounds and waddles when she trots. Her blankets are maxed out to the ends of their straps.

And I'm hitting the end of mine. I look like a whale. I need to either step back into the saddle or cut back on the odd calorie intake.

Speaking of ponies, I think I have my breeding priorities wrong. I've always had the idea that I would end up breeding a couple baroque mares (PRE/Lusitano), but in reality, my programs have always been geared towards ponies. There's a huge demand for dressage-trained ponies. Dressage bloodlines and performance bloodlines.

I think I need to concentrate on something that I've always been concentrating on.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black, white and green all over

How is it that a week leading up to the holiday and including the holiday, is the laziest two week period?

I've barely worked the ponies. The fact I've broke out the side reins and lunge lines seems to be an indication of my short time/sheer laziness. The green beans (the pinto colt, Bella) were lunged to keep them remotely fit. Sinari was worked to keep her going over her back. Tomorrow we'll all get back to it.

And I looks like I haven't been working out too. I've lost a little tone, plus with the holiday eating, I'm fairly thankful for the baggy sweatshirts.

But I did manage to get my stuff entered for Snowbird that's a week from Saturday. The freestyle is nowhere near completion and decided to ditch until I have changes down. Although I did attempt to get a holiday freestyle together, I just didn't really have the time to create something truly fluid for last minute.

Probably won't break out all my whites for this one, just casual, but neat clinic wear.

Also finally(!) sold the saddle, need to measure for the new one. Hooray! Began also redesigning a few websites in the next couple of weeks.

Other than that, nothing terribly new or exciting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Going for the trifecta

The glutton for punishment is talking to me again.

You know that little voice inside that says one more can't hurt? I have one that is extremely amplified when it comes to horses, riding and competing.

To me, more is merrier. I currently ride two. Handle 3.75. I always feel like I can get on another, train another, work more, achieve more.

Then I forget, I have a life outside the sport and the barn. One that involves a full job (plus a few on the sides, picked up two more clients on Friday), a chair position on National Pony Cup, a significant other and a few friends that would like to see me more in jeans than breeches.

Then there are actual time constraints. I forget how much time it takes to ride second level and up, how much time it takes to actually get on a green horse who doesn't always want to thirty minutes. What goals I have. How much training goes into reaching them, and well... cash also plays a factor (economists call it opportunity cost).

It's also not like I haven't had a few free rides land across my lap and a few offers to throw a leg over.

So when a nice, albeit green pony comes in at an extremely attractive price I can't help but look.

But I have to ask myself, with a baby on the way, with Sinari competing, with Bella training, and my goals to reach, what will a green horse add?

I think if I had to add an extra horse to the roster, I would like to at least have the opportunity to school up the levels (and I think I will have the opportunity to do). Still though, I can't help but ask.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Smart buy

I like doing things myself for my horses.

Every day, I muck stalls, change blankets, wraps, haul hay, feed, water, shavings, give various meds when warranted, do my own shopping, hauling... you get the idea. My life is one never ending chore.

Lately though getting to the feed store has been a hassle, despite working down the road from KBC International, a local tack shop and living about a mile away from Southern States, it just seems like another stop on the uber list of stops I have to make.

In addition to a jaunt out of the way, I just sometimes don't don't make it there on time.

They don't always have everything in one shot either, which means extra trips to the extra stores.

I eventually set up an account with the various stores to drop the appropriate amount of feed (have that down to a time frame too) at the barn and charge my debit. I avoid a delivery charge and I get what I want.

However, they don't always have the supplements.

While May gets her M-30 and Mare Plus (an easy buy anywhere), Sinari gets Glanzen 3, an energy supplement, a Joint Supplement and Fish and/or Corn oil. I can't tell you how many hours I spent sacking a 30 day supply so I wouldn't have to throw it together last minute.

It was irritating and messy as hell.

So with 3.75 horses, I can't run hither and yon anymore.

I finally broke down and went with the flow. I bought in to Smart Paks.

They arrived today and already the OCD rider in me is really impressed. Not only did they arrive what I thought to be early, but they arrived with full directions, next delivery dates (for the next four months), change dates, copy of the nutrition information, a sterilite container for the supplements and a few other bonuses.

I can't wait to test these bad boys out on the road.

Personally, it just saved me a hole lot of hassle, time and from my calculator lots of green.

So, I'm pimping the pak. Well worth it and an idea I wish I had long ago.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ride a painted pony

It's almost winter and things are slowing down out here.

The season officially ended at the end of October and with it come the flurry of bills and renewals that have to be done in preparation for the next.

Among the renewals is KDA, USDF and USEF. That's about 100 bucks.

I'm also trying out for the Gifted Scholarship and the new KDA Scholarship.

I finally keeled in and bought into Smart Pak. I figure it would be worth it because I don't always have time to get to the feed store and they don't always have the supplements. It costs about the same (joint and energy supplement).

We're also due for dentist, shots, coggins, Iron Pony (car) checkup and a slew of other things in the upcoming month(s).

There goes my pay.

Can we also say holidays? I work at a holiday-centric factory and the upper ups are rubbing their hands and dusting off the coffers in anticipation of a sizable holiday (apparently they didn't get the memo on the economy).

Gifts are going to be mild this year.

I figure most people will get a bottle of wine out of me (support crew), close friends will get some version of artwork (Liz Pizzo's Painted Ponies), books, loved ones I haven't quite figured out yet.

For me, I could stand supplies as gifts. Or software (hint hint), since I started doing web content and design. (Shameless promotion:

It's been hit or miss with riding lately.

Bella's rides are subjective to the weather, I'm stuck with just an outdoor with her. Sinari's is due to time constraints at the moment. The week has been super busy (between plans), but the one who isn't lacking attention is the uber pregnant mare.

She's getting a spa day with the massage therapist and is sporting a new (well not really new) binky. She's waddling worse than a quintuplet carrying woman. I need to get her registration in order.

For what we've accomplished under saddle, I feel happy, Sinari getting much better through the neck and back and by the time Snowbird II rolls around she's going to be in good form. I just want to tinker with the saddle. My current one is on the market and hopefully will be sold soon. Thinking about a Duett Fidelio. She too is getting a visit from the magic fingers lady.

Bella is doing mostly first level work now at the trot, however, the canter is still coming slowly. But it's coming along. She's anticipating it more now, which is nice, but I don't want her launching herself into it.

For now I'm ready to go back to bed until spring.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dream on

It's getting cold, and the days are growing shorter, and I'm retreating back into my indoor more and more these days with the odd gallop out on the crisp, indian summer afternoons.

The season is over and I'm breathing a temporary sigh of relief until December when we begin all over again. This temporary sigh includes remastering the freestyle, redoing a few websites and getting through second level.

Not to mention catering to my "real life". You know, significant other, potentially going back to school and J-O-B.

No one said being an amateur was easy, no one said the sport was a cake walk either.

Don't get me wrong, I love to compete. It brings something different to the table every year. But by Regionals time though, I'm ready to call it a done deal. This year wasn't any exception. I competed two under saddle for the first time, next year I might have three to four at various levels.

It also leads me to re-assess my goals. Everyone has a laundry list of stuff that they would like to accomplish short and long term, and I'm no exception.

Next year:
  • I would like to earn my final scores towards bronze (just four away!). Be schooling/showing fourth level.
  • I would like Bella to be confirmed first level.
  • I would like May's foal to be going to the MSEDA breed show (preferably beating up on all the warmbloods;-)).

Long term:
  • Confirm piaffe, passage, changes with Sinari.
  • Condition Bella for second level.
  • Qualify for the two year old jack pot with May's baby.

Then there are the lofty, perhaps unattainable, such as going after the Brentina Cup. Yes. I said it. I have the odd ambition to qualify for the Young Adult class. I know, I have sucker for punishment written all over me.

Unfortunately, due to rules, I can't qualify with the pony (no ponies or mules allowed) and I don't have a Grand Prix (or I2) horse. So I have a stick horse's chance in a fire so far.

Compounding the problem: you need to qualify via three (3) competitions with an average of 62 percent or better, and I think they need to be CIC* or larger. Luckily, there are two in my area, Paxton and Kentucky Dressage Association. The third international would be in Lamplight, a solid EIGHT HOURS away.

Like I said, it's a huge reach, but for some reason my crazy ambitions have a way of turning out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dressage Pony 2.0

I'm a geek.

Actually a huge one and I'm fairly particular about what I use. You see, I wrote in my Xanga account for YEARS (almost four I believe), and I've recently come to really not like the layout, formatting and the beyond basic services.

So I'm making a switch over to blogger.

My name is Kelly Gage, I'm an Editor, a writer, a web designer/content developer, Head of Marketing and above all-- a dressage rider.

Despite riding ala Amateur status, I'm pretty damn serious and my ponies. I ride six days a week, rain, sleet, snow or shine. I train with some pretty cool people and have the support of some of the best and brightest in their world.

And the ponies? Far from typical too.

There's Sinari, who is a '99 model welsh cob mare (pictured above), who I've been owned by since she was four. Extremely clever, handy and intelligent, she's my top horse at 14.1 hands. She's schooling straight through third, with fourth thrown in there. Recently showed second with the goal towards earning bronze by next year. Currently learning piaffe, passage and cleaning up the changes.

Then there's Bella, a silver-rated haflinger mare standing at 15.0 hands (owned by Deer Haven Farm). She's a willful tank of blond fluff, just starting her career and lucky to have the ride on her. But despite being green-- she's moving fast and tries extremely hard. She's a solid training level right now with learning first. Super comfortable mare. She should be debuing in spring.

Finally there's May- arabian broodmare and .5 (yet-to-be-born foal).

Together we make a team, and this blog is about their progression.