Friday, December 31, 2010

Change is gonna come

52 weeks have come and gone again.

To say it was a quiet year would be an understatement. We didn't compete, just re-focused on what we needed to and handled the extraordinary circumstances that accumulated into a highly successful year.

We not only solidified ourselves for the competitive year ahead, but added a huge amount of depth and expertise to the team. It took 12 months of revamping, schooling, conditioning and re-tooling to be where we are now.

With the weather on the mend we'll see the start of the season soon and a few other things

Horsey Stuff:
  1. Condition and train through I1. Gotta nail them tempi's!
    We conditioned through PSG. She is solid there.
  2. Continue to teach and train Sincere. Make him a responsible citizen.
    More than responsible, he is growing up to be a very nice individual. I want him to grow up FASTER. 
  3. Acquire more farm implements.
    Acquired a trailer and a new truck. Bobcat lends me their Tool Cat. Does that count?
  4. Successfully execute clinics.
    We not only did that but formed the company behind them ( We hosted five, including Edward Gal and Christoph Hess. We'll see more of them next year too.
  5. Save for Embryo Transfer
    Unfortunately no. I tried, but the burden of starting a business, and paying bills on multiple things actually decimated my accounts.

Non Horsey stuff:
  1. Repair credit score, develop more savings
    Repaired, but decimated my savings. My 401k though is doing pretty good.
  2. Go to school
    Attending L program. That should count for something.
  3. Develop more 'me' time.
    Despite busy schedule I did take off a few days here and there to be away from the horses and to be with family and friends. I didn't get to travel much due to double work obligations and the WEG, but it was incredibly special to have all my friends visit all at once. 

  1. Horsey Stuff:
  2. Finish bronze
  3. Go PSG and 4th level
  4. Continue to teach and train Sincere, bring him to shows
  5. Finish first part of L program
  6. Continue to grow the business
  7. Save for 2012 breeding and in general
  8. Improve wardrobe
It's going to be an interesting time... 

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    Amateur Hour

    The winter has given me a bit more time to write and more time to think.

    In the US, horse people over the age of 21 are seperated in to two categories: Professional and Amateur.

    When I turned the magical age, I was no different. I made my decision to stay amateur.

    At the time it wasn't a tough decision.

    I was with a newly minted bachelor's degree, a real job and a number of things that distinctly defined being an amateur.

    As the years went on, I really started to resent my status.

    I disliked the fact I couldn't compensate my time and what time I did have in the saddle was limited. I had to be careful about riding and always constantly aware of my boundaries. Finally, that the game became one of money and not of ability.

    I also thought that having scores at training level actually equated to something and being a newly minted twenty something I also thought I ruled the universe. 
    I was on the verge of burning my card, going pro and making a big mistake.

    Then I woke up and smelled the cupcakes.

    Being an amateur isn't about limitations, it's about opportunity.

    Collectively, there isn't an expectation for amateurs.

    If anything we're expected to pay our dues, take a few lessons, volunteer, go to a couple of shows and potentially progress. If we're lucky we'll get our bronze, a few good scores and great memories.

    Therein lies the joy: no expectations. 

    While a lot of us don't have money, we do have time and choice.

    AA's are in a unique situation. I don't know of any place else in the world where a person can be picky about what they choose to bring through the levels, who to train with, openly making mistakes, taking Pudding Head to a show or responsibilities we would like to take (or not) on.

    I personally do not have to answer to students. I do not have to take on horses that I feel that wouldn't go through the levels or benefit me in some personal way. I don't need to get on a horse that may kill me or was sent to me for a thirty day fix. I don't need to sell my best horses because I need to pay my bills. I'm content staying competitive or non-competitive. I don't need to qualify for anything I don't want to. I can still be an official. I don't have to play too many politics.

    I ride, I train, I clean my stalls, I go home. I have a steady income with insurance.

    In my own amateur way, while it seems like a cop-out, it's not about who got here first. It's how long you can last, and there are many things that I needed (and still needing) before I make a leap into that realm. I can be far more protective about my record, my ponies' records, I can build things up at my pace without too much hassle.

    So while I will not be able to earn individual sponsorship, or be paid, I can still train effectively, still learn from the best, choose my shows wisely and be far more in control of my equine career. 

    It's good to be an amateur, for now. 

    Friday, December 24, 2010

    Lephant in the room

    Even though winter bites (falling on ice in my barn's driveway today is the highlight so far), it has provided a good opportunity to plan and plot for the upcoming months. 

    During my research, I found out about the L program being held in Ohio this year and the next.

    Doing the L program and, ultimately becoming a judge, has been a goal of mine since '09. 

    Normally the program is held in Michigan from winter to spring, and then again in fall. Michigan from Kentucky is roughly a six hour drive, and a pill to fly into during the winter. So, I had applied, late, thinking that all spots were filled.

    Received the call the other day from USDF notifying me that I am an L Judge Candidate.

    This is a step in the direction where I would like to end up with my USEF card. 

    Over the next two years I have to attend all sessions, and test to obtain license. I also have to finish out my score requirements, and by May, I should have most of my sitting hours completed in advance of the 2012 deadline.

    I have to say, I'm really excited, but there is a challenge ahead. I need to compete, and finish out my bronze early in the year (April/May) and then buckle down for the finishing climb to FEI so things are set for the later plans.This helping run 12 clinics, a board position, a young horse to show and a full time job to balance.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Teach me baby

    Ah youth.

    The snow pack has finally stabilized enough in some areas that walking actually feels safe again.

    Sinari is now on two weeks sans turnout (hand walking up and down the aisle everyday) because I nearly busted my butt going up and down the driveway just walking. She's taking it well, but massive bribery has occurred meanwhile

    Sincere though seems to be fairing very well in the recent downturn in weather. Even went out and shot a few photos of the long yearling.

    It's hard to say where he's going somedays. First glance he can easily fit into the hunter mold with a nice sloping shoulder and compact build. If I took him to the line, he wouldn't be terribly out of place. But then he moves and he can move large, and being 1 and 3/4's he's actually really well balanced. Then he gallops across what, to my footing princess eyes deems challenging, without really thinking twice.

    So in the end, he'll decide what he wants to do. Right now, I'm just enjoying him.

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Can't stop thinking about tomorrow

    In the past two weeks, we've managed to work a total of four times.

    This seriously sucks.

    Even though we have an indoor, we still need to trek to it over the ice and tundra. There is the warm up that never really happens, the work that doesn't seem terribly productive and the three days of down time between rides because the temperature drops to single digits.

    Then there is the pesky temperature. While Kentucky has never been known as a sub-tropical winter state, but it is also not known for snow and ice. This year, we have both, in spades. It's making life more difficult.

    Sinari doesn't get turned out in foul weather, Sincere comes inside and I explore my other hobby: baking. The weather makes for jittery ponies and me wishing for a more southern location. 

    But with the down time comes time for planning and plotting.

    My first ultimate goal is to get holiday shopping out of the way. I've been having trouble thinking of things for people this year. 

    After that, first plan is to get Sincere gelded, there is an appointment on the books to do so immediately after holiday. The boy is a little over a year and a half and is now getting the heft of a young stallion. Time for the lower lobotomy. Somedays I still wish he was a filly, but it wouldn't be the same. If not looking too bad he'll be aimed for the Sport Horse Nationals late September.

    Sinari's schedule is trickier. There are a number of shows to aim for, a number of things to do and prove. The plan is to finish scores out at third level and spend the majority of the summer running through PSG. Run through PSG and hit the fall shows.

    As for myself, if the USDF website would cooperate, I need to find the dates for the L program in Ohio. 

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Little boy blue

    I haven't posted too much lately about Sincere, simply because nothing really exciting is happening to him yet. He eat, he sleeps, socializes and does the young horse thing pretty well. 

    It's his second winter here. I remember the blanket Sincere wore last year. It was three sizes too big and the tail flap hung down to his gaskins.

    Not this year. He fits it perfectly. Among other things, he went up a halter size, his tail is way longer, main blonder. His feet are bigger. His head is clunky. Still likes to canter around, but when he trots, he's got a good trot. He's becoming more horse like without loosing the pony aspect of things.

    Now I'm actually hoping he'll reach the 14 hand mark.

    I'm dreaming of a not-so-white Christmas

    Snow came early this year. Really early. So much so that I've become intensely jealous of the riders who post on their Facebook status that they're wintering in sunny Florida.

    I'm still riding and working around the barns, but the weather is making me less enthusiastic about getting out of the house, and more about curling up with a few books. Youtube is also a recent addiction, training videos give me more to work on regularly.

    Sinari is doing incredibly well despite weather swings. We've managed to hold down a consistent schooling schedule. It's also December, which means a recap of goals:

    -Flexion. More permeable on the inside to an adjusting aid.
    Far better. Getting 30 percent more without doing twice the work is feeling great. However keeping it for a full 30 minutes can be hard.

    -Transitions in and out of gaits and between gaits. Reaching more for 8's now instead of 7's.
    Better, but reaction needs to be quicker. 

    -Halt, reinback walk transitions
    Worked on some, but not enough.

    -Fit enough to run through 3-1 or 3-2.
    Ran through 3-1, did well.

    -Snowbird entry.
    Very glad we avoided this one, we had a bad snow storm. 

    Goals December:
    -1/2 Pirouette to full pirouette
    -Quality between-gait transitions
    -Changes on different lines/set ups

    December also means Christmas. Here's my wish list:

    Love Back on Track products. Sinari rides in a Back on Track saddle pad. Seriously goes better because of it. Now I would like five of them, the hock boots and blanket for daily therapy.
    My old schooling pair has finally become that- a schooling pair. I really need a new pair of boots.

    I would like to organize my trailer for next year. Apparently we have a decent show schedule planned.

    Other than the minor stuff (shadbelly, supplies, a million tax free dollars, complete state of the art barn with super footing, serum to make Sincere age about a year, ect), I feel lost as what to ask for this year.

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Sweeter than bounty itself

    2010, like November, is nearly at it's end and there is much to be thankful for.

    The ponies and I lead unusual lives. 

    I am thankful that everyday they lead me on an amazing adventure. I am thankful that when the day is done, and we look back we are doing so together. Without them, I am nothing, and with them, I am everything. 

     I am ever thankful of what we accomplished and the team that was developed behind us. Without them, I would not be on the path that we are taking. 

    I hope the start of the holiday season sees you all in comfortably, and that you may have a warm house, a good meal, and everything that brings you joy.

    Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
    One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
    Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;
    The bounty is its shell,
    For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.
    Abundance alone brings heedlessness,
    Thanksgiving gives birth to alertness.
    The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,
    And you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.
    Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,
    And you will be freed from hunger and begging.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    I don't need a parachute

    Tina Tuner hair, kickin' new blanket.
    The week, like the weather, passed by quickly. There's a lot moving around now, and there are a lot of things that are in the air at the moment. But the one thing that remains consistent is Sinari.

    We spent the week in and out of the arena, with a quick body clip that nearly ended in disaster- the blades flew off as I was finishing up some spots on the left. Hilarity ensued.  Overall she's there, and doing pretty fantastic.

    Monday we pulled an exercise from the Gal clinic about making the gaits adjustable. Went out to a field and worked on compressing the walk.

    I had forgot to do October wrap up and update for November goals. Now that we're about two weeks into the month, and finally able to focus on what we did and where we're going in the final two months of the year.

    October's Goals:
    -Conditioning/get back into a solid four day week schedule.
    Somewhat achieved. Some days my schedule over rode what was going on at the barn, but for the most part we were working four days a week. We did get out in the fields (which softened due to rain).

    -On the aids changes
    Achieved. She is way sharper to the point where she threw good fours in for giggles. She's always been crack about the fun stuff.

    Cleaner, but need to refocus on the quality of transitions- as in not becoming too straight in them.

    -Add more lateral work
    Score. Leg yields and a few other things. She does fantastic shoulder in now, but occasionally looses energy.

    Way better, but she still tires more left than right. But looks like we're on track for a 2011 FEI premier.

    November goals:
    -Flexion. More permeable on the inside to an adjusting aid.
    -Transitions in and out of gaits and between gaits. Reaching more for 8's now instead of 7's.
    -Halt, reinback walk transitions
    -Fit enough to run through 3-1 or 3-2.
    -Snowbird entry.

    Lower lobotomy

    I've been uncharacteristically silent about Sincere lately.

    Aside from a few scratches, more shots than he cares for, and matted burrs in his tail, he's a happy camper.

    The quiet bit has to deal with some contemplation since the GOV made the recommendation to keep him intact until he is two.

    After talking to a number of people, and looking at the market, my current lifestyle and capabilities, it was decided that he should be gelded.

    It isn't a reflection of his behavior or his conformation. It's just that he doesn't have the current requirements to make that career path successful. So, it's off they come for a happier lifestyle.

    Truth be told, there is an incredible amount of ego when it comes to that decision. There were times where I thought he could be a competitive pony stallion. There were times where I thought he go into the books and reproduce successfully. But then I look at what it takes to have a good stallion (from sheer raw gaits/talent to genetics), how much negotiation and promotion goes on. So from a good stallion, he'll be a great gelding.

    Other than that, he's fantastic, if not finally awkward looking.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Get bent

    We're back in the full swing of training, and the weather, time and everything else is cooperating for once.

    Sinari, despite the odd days on and off has come back exceedingly well. With the support team firmly in place, her work has improved. The ground has even softened up to go for a canter or two in the fields.

    We have decidedly gone back for the next few sessions and reaffirm and build a finer base, which she's already benefited from. I haven't worn my spurs in about a month and until recently, worked in the snaffle.

    The joy about Sinari is that she has most of the tricks already programmed. She's always been really crack at the changes, and things like the tempi's are really no issue. 

    It's just now about making sure that they are solid enough to go forward by next summer to the FEI.

    In the meantime, I am aiming for a small winter show at the start of December. Third level.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    7th Heaven.

    I'm not a stranger to verband inspections.

    I've been to about eight to ten in the past five years, mostly the ISR, AWR and GOV inspections. Each time I go as spectator, I pick something up about conformation, movement and presentation.

    While Sinari is registered with AWR as a sport pony, and as Welsh D I wasn't completely happy with the quality of what the book was showing. So, when an opportunity presented itself to show in front of a different book, I took it.

    The Hanover book is one of three German pony books (the other two are Weser- Ems and RPSI) that inspect and represent the sport pony population. Of the three, Weser- Ems and RPSI have American offices, the Hanover people... well, they have email and one inspection in the states per year. In Illinois. And when I breed, to have the foals inspected, I need to ship to Germany. Ouch.

    The German books are notoriously tough, and it's been a while since I presented anything. So I was a little more than nervous. So the day before I spit polished the mare, worked on standing her up.

    The inspector looked her up and down, watched her move (thankfully Sterling was handling I'm not fit to run anymore). She looked amazing for just being pulled back into work. Minus the walk, everything was above board, earning an overall score of 7.3333, .2 shy of being considered in to the premium book. Because I was tired and a bit stressed, I forgot to ask about mare performance testing, and whether or not they would allow me to go forward and do it at the GOV site next September or I would have to earn my scores.

    Overall I'm pretty impressed.

    Next big project is clipping.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Fields O'er Which the Reaper's Hand has Passed

    The ink has barely dried on WEG, and with a minute window of opportunity, I responsibly shunned responsibilities for a weekend and escaped with the boy to a location that had a total of ten stoplights and no cell phone reception.

    I went to the woods to get briefly get away from my life before the winter season and inspection struck and I would be unable to get away. I rode lightly throughout the week, checked in on young one, made a few decisions and then made arrangements to make sure everyone is looked in on.

    It was fantastic. An hour out of Lexington, the world changes. The world slows.

    And being unable to have much contact with the outside world, I did things that weren't among the normal routine.

    I slept in, I took a long bath. I read two books. We watched movies (on cable), we ate... a lot.

    To add to things, fall is a pretty time in Kentucky, and to be in the woods, is to watch the world transition.The fields are empty, the barns are full, and the colors turn bright.

    Most times, fall means clipping the unenviable dread of the following season.

    The reality of my, or any horse person's situation, that vacations or time off is non existent. When you do get it, run with it. Run hard. And never feel guilty about it.

    We came back today, and while already the emails have started piling up, the house needs to be cleaned, the cats needed to be coddled and the week returns to normal tomorrow, It doesn't feel impossible to get through. 

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    From the center

    WEG is over for me and I'm very happy to be able to walk away from the chaos for a little bit. I also didn't realize September has ended and we have slipped into October.

    I'm happier about getting back to riding at an quiet barn, and back to routine. Since Gal's clinic, life has been non stop. At the barn the owner was hosting several reining pairs for the freestyle and people were in and out constantly.

    This past weekend was the first weekend I actually got to sleep in, eat breakfast not at break neck speed and catch up with a few neglected items.

    It also means I'm getting on the pony more and in cold weather, it's been adventurous!

    It's also helped us out a lot. First day back I just stayed out of the way while she went on and did tons of stretch, bend and deep work, followed by the second day of working through transitions. Today she reeled off a set of four time tempi's, the first time in three months. I understand they were probably gimmes, but I'll take them.

    Sinari has come back much stronger, but in the same breath, less fit. Cold weather and more forgiving ground means we actually get to go out galloping.

    With the end of September, it means recap time:

    -Transitions, transitions, transitions.
    yes, yes and yes. These have become much crisper in the past month.

    Yes, much more in front of the leg.

    -Get back to normal.
    Yes, we have been cleared to canter and the majority of work. Even threw in a few changes.

    October's Goals:
    -Conditioning/get back into a solid four day week schedule.
    -On the aids changes
    -Add more lateral work

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Stud Muffin

    When Sincere was born, I was really disappointed that he came out as a colt.

    It wasn't because he was imperfect, quite the contrary, it was because he was a colt. 

    I like fillies. I like competing mares. Mares have more to give, and the lines are far more precious than that of their male counterparts. And like my mother, anything male in the household tends to end up getting neutered at one point or another.

    It also probably doesn't help that the colts I really hadn't really gotten along with for various past reasons. Many of them being that geldings were zero personality pushovers and the stallions I handled weren't the best of individuals and I wish I could put nuticals in place of testicles.

    So when Sincere came out, I pretty much said lower lobotomy please.

    I cannot say what entered my mind when I showed photos to the GOV of him. Perhaps it was because he's going to push pony, or just the sheer fact that I have interest seeing this cross go onto a proper book that would promote him as an athlete instead of a halter reject. When I mentioned that he was going to go under the knife, they advised against until the two-year-old keuring was complete.

    Huh? Since when was sparky a candidate for keeping the appendages? And what are they potentially seeing that I'm not?

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    The world on a string

    I'm slowly waking up. This week was a blur of last minute appointments, hand shakes and clean up.

    It's day five of WEG, and I'm in the thick of it. I'm sitting in the hacienda-styled IALHA booth. I've made a few friends, and caught up with people that I haven't seen in awhile.

    The booth sits across and adjacent to the Parelli and Lyons booths has actually been interesting. Both are very nice individuals, and offer fellow vendors coffee almost every morning. No Kool-Aide yet.

    The horse community is my extended family of sorts, while we may not share the same DNA, we occasionally share the same dysfunctional and addictions.

    Life isn't too bad here.

    The bus (amazingly) runs on time and is a great drop off location. There is a huge variety of people and things do to, daily.  And, yes, while prices are very high (minus the Bit of Britain people who are amazingly cheap), I think the general feeling is a happy one among the visitors.

    The equine village is huge, and the Alltech experience is by far amazing. The only thing I have to really fault is that they need to develop more variety of their already outstanding line of beer.

    The place is literally a candy land for horse people and I'm sorry for those who are missing it, I'm also sorry my time here is short.

    Although short, it's busy.

    I also got to chat to the heads of the GOV, to catch up with breeding news and to ask them their opinions about the ponies in question. We'll be attending inspection next year barring a few items on the agenda. I've talked to potential sponsors, talked to potential clinicians and venue sites. I've also caught up with the current ones to say thanks and to keep them in the loop of things.

    I literally have walked about 15 to 20 miles.

    It also means I haven't seen too much of the ponies lately. I know Sincere is alive and well, Sinari is being ridden infrequently at best. Which, doesn't surprise me (considering schedule) and also disappoints. I was hoping to use the week off from work to bring her back more consistently. We are cleared to canter, we are cleared to go back to quasi-normal work, it's just been a pill as far as scheduling a ride.

    Otherwise, it's been a great adventure so far and I can't wait to continue it.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Grace be with thee

    If you asked me ten years ago what I would be doing in 2010, I would tell you I would be riding, and be in the north east. I would have told you Germany would still be earning gold medals and the US would still be an alright team. I would have told you I would have been a professional something-or-other and an Adult Amateur.

    I would have been fine, if not accepting of this.

    I moved to the south east for university, not expecting to stay, but ended up staying. I ended up working as a staff writer, an editor, a website developer and photographer. I found Amazon to actually pay. I found a pony, and lost the horses. The Dutch team came to power, and has remained there. World breeding has improved, and we now have amazing individuals. There is even a large event in my backyard on occasion.

    With the start of Team EnGaged and the evolution of the 2010, 2011 roster I feel more than blessed with my team, the teachers, the trainers, and the opportunities that have developed for this region. I feel privileged to be one of its stewards to help guide and shape it for coming years. I feel honored to have met, and learn, from the very best.

    While I can give some insightful report to Edward's clinic, I'm going to leave that to the auditors and the pundits. What I will tell you is he is the real deal.

    Above anything else, yesterday, I was reminded grace exists. That community, no matter how battered, still is able to ban together and create new foundation and that the occasional risk does pay off.

    I cannot thank the individuals enough who had made that day special in my mind and others. Let us continue building, and growing. Let us continue to celebrate education, and our accomplishments. Together, we can move forward.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Time is on my side

    Time has been slipping towards the inevitable around here.

    There are less than 14 days to go for WEG, and one week for Edward Gal's clinic. Everything, and I mean everything, has been kicked into high gear.

    Sinari's training has both progressed and taken a step back.

    While we are still at the walk and trot. we've managed to clean up more of the basic work. Transitions are much more clear, there feels like more self carriage and a bigger trot. We've also been working on the extended walk to collected walk and shortening the walk steps. On the side, halt transitions as well.

    We also took a step back from the double and the spurs. We're back in the snaffle and getting her hotter off the leg. Also spent the majority of the week without stirrups to help my position.

    All in all, it's good. But man, I miss lateral work.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Editorial: Universal benefit

    A few days ago I received a flier in my email for a US pony clinic that is regionally taking place and sponsored by the USDF, hosted by the pony maven herself, Lendon Gray.

    How proud I was to read that ponies are finally getting a boost from the national governing body. And how disappointed I was when I read further that it was just for the juniors*.
     I am open that I am an adult pony rider. It's been my primary interest now for the past six plus years. This is despite being aged out of the FEI pony division for over a decade and now being considered an adult amateur.

    I also consider myself very lucky. My primary mount, Sinari, is working FEI, and hopefully Sincere will follow along. I'm also lucky to have exposure to the best in the industry to help facilitate that goal of continuously reaching for FEI.

    Unfortunately there are some hard truths to this path:

    If you are an adult, training/riding FEI on a pony, in the US, you are out of luck with help from your governing body. FEI doesn't recognize adults on vertically challenged equines (can't compete CDI's unless specified pony classes), and unlike Europe, there aren't specific pony awards, strong pony verbands or governing body supported shows that support the production of dressage ponies.

    To add to this conundrum the pony-kid population that does dressage that is qualified for these clinics are low, and sometimes non-existent in some areas. Not to mention the pony population to truly support them is lagging as well.

    It is also been known for sometime that the main population of pony candidates isn't with the juniors, it's with the adult amateur/open population who has the time and financial backing to develop the population. 

    While, this is changing, slowly and for the better, developing ponies with a varied pool of talent, bloodlines and rider capabilities alongside the sheer square footage of the regions is dauntless.

    So, if the idea is to develop ponies the are competitive with Europe, while remain competitive to the FEI levels and boost the population, it would be of benefit to have equal consideration among both adults and juniors to participate in the clinics.

    This would not only give the pony population a national way of being developed to team quality, but begin to develop a market for breeders to showcase their offspring, a start of an end market and the potential creation of a network of pony schoolmasters. This system creates known riders to develop the pool of talent to further the quality, but also allows breeders to produce the future quantities (weeding out and developing bloodlines) to support the upcoming talent.

    But, until a population is developed by the national governing body that is rewarded to its dedication to the ponies, the pony population will remain with the hunters and driving and not dressage.

    *Lendon later disclosed on Facebook that they do accept adults as second tier choices.
    *Ellie Brimmer also mentioned that Para Equestrians are allowed to compete ponies at the international level, despite age and status with their NGB. 

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    I know where you go, is where I want to be

    Fall means burrs and the end of summer slick long yearlings.

    As we enter into the year and a half mark, Sincere has grown up mentally, but not physically. Which makes me a happier than usual person. I think his mother's genes are finally taking over in the phenotype department. His classmates are a full hand taller.

    He's still nice to look at, and hasn't hit the yearling uglies yet. But I think that will change when I put the blanket on him.

    The pumpkin colt has accepted a lot more things in his life. Although his grand adventure to the park never occurred (time schedule was flummoxed), he did manage to do other things in life, among them is begin to be prepared to be gelded.

    For many reasons, we elected not to do a field surgery. I've seen and experienced one too many bad ones and it's not a bad thing to have a 24 hour stay while being watched under sedation.  For this, he's receiving jabs to update and prepare him for the inevitable separation.

    Sincere is also in the stall more frequently and doing more grown up things such as now wearing a saddle pad and having a sursingle flung on him occasionally. He's pretty cool with everything as usual.

    Recapping August's goals:
    -Going to a show
    Prepared, never got to. Which was a dissapointment.


    -Prepare for lower lobotomy.

    September goals:
    Get through the last series
    Get through WEG
    Load in trailer

    Hook me up a new revolution

    I had every intention of writing last week, but frankly, time and energy (lack of) got to me. With the impending WEG and Gal clinic, things are only starting to heat up.

    First, Sinari is doing fantastically. The exercises given to us by Christoph plus the concentrated work at the trot has really come along. But I still miss lateral work and flying changes, not to mention cantering.

    So to pass the time, I've taken away my stirrups. I felt I needed to refine my position a bit and learn to ride the movements with a more uber streich-like hand.

    It's also been a month of experimenting. I've started the SUCCEED digestive conditioning program challenge. For the next 90 days, the pony will be on the sauce. Already, after one week she's more supple behind the saddle, and feels much happier while girthing up.

    She apparently feels so good that when I walk in the barn with the tube in hand she lunges and sucks on it like a lollipop. Thank you SUCCEED for making my pony an addict.

    Any event, recapping August:

    August goals:
    -Pirrouettes/Half Pass:
    Lost out on this one. We weren't allowed on anything smaller than a 20 meter circle, let alone lateral work.

    Lost again. No canter = no changes. But we did work through changes of bend.

     Score! Much more forward through the Kyra K exercise and colder weather.

    -Run through PSG once

    September's goals:
    -Transitions, transitions, transitions.
    -Get back to normal.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    To every season

    I've been silent due to the pick up around here. It's about 30 days to WEG and the pace has dramatically increased around town and at home.

    I'm kinda happy to have light sessions at the barn.

    We've been under saddle for about two weeks now, while we haven't been cleared to canter, we've been cleared to do lots more trot work.

    Which despite the boring nature of straight lines and 20 meter circles, it's actually been a good time to implement what we learned at Christoph Hess' clinic, to go over the finer points of transitions and the scale. We needed to do this, it has helped create more consistency.

    Her walk has improved from the short concentrated work. It feels perky enough where she can start working half steps again after the ban has lifted.

    It's also been a good time to clear up some equitation issues and experiment a little more with the double. 

    But what I miss most is the lateral work. It's second nature at this point to integrate it into the daily work. But since we can't use it at the moment, we've done other exercises to help keep up the suppleness. Serpentine and corners.

    I'm also going to miss much of what I laid out for us in August. I would have liked to run through PSG at least once and perhaps work on the tempi's but, not in the cards.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Go speed racer

    With my partner out and about in the universe, I'm in charge of feeding the boy.

    Since the hot weather hit the region, the grass, and his main caloric intake, has burned off. Enter in concentrates and some one on one time. He's been regularly on this diet now for about two weeks, and caught up with the weight.

    The fun part about feeding time is I get to fuss over him and to try new things.

    Among the list is getting him used to the idea of having a saddle pad on/flung him. I thought the first time was a fluke because he didn't react, the second and third time it was pretty dead on he didn't care. I upped the ante with a sursingle (didn't girth it just placed), I got more reaction out of the fly spray. We also got to lead in tandem through several gaits, the dressage arena and around various farm implements with him being on the right and his travel companion on the left.

    For a yearling, this isn't too bad at all. The last set I handled were pills of the first order and would no sooner mow you down for a blade of grass than mind you.

    Then I decided today was a great day to learn to pony.

    I love ponying. I think it's a fantastic way to let young horses see the world while developing muscles and brains.

    Except one problem, I don't have a pony that ponies.  Nor do I have the equipment to do it with (I like western saddles for this cause).

    What I do have is a golf cart.

    We lead without minor incidence (some stop and stare) but otherwise, he was happy to lead on his off side back to the paddock to see his buddies. Got lots of apple treats and scratches. He's come a long way.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    These boots are made for walking

    We're back under saddle and needless to say I'm a much happier person. It was a long, boring two weeks of cold hosing, hand grazing and adjustments. I think Sincere is officially sick of me.

    The ride itself was nothing spectacular. Just a brief walk around the polo field. She was great.Would have gone and rode today if it wasn't for the 103 degree weather and me sweating standing still. There are times I miss the North East, this is one of them.

    Our return has meant a few more sacrifices, specifically, my right boot. The Mountain Horse zipper finally gave out and went off the track. So I'm tracking down the ye olde boot smithe to fix so I don't look so hillbilly like. It also reminded me that I need to find a pair to go in the public with.

    Fall is definitely approaching quickly, the town meter which had read 800 days till WEG a few years ago has been pushing lower double digits, the weather has become more bi-polar and people are swinging towards championship season. I can't wait for WEG, and the crown of the season for Team EnGaged- Edward Gal's clinic.

    The end of summer and soon the season is the cornerstone of our year out. While she isn't 100 percent now, give it a few weeks and she will be up to snuff to go onto PSG next year. I don't know if we'll reach the goal of running through the PSG once this month, but by September we should be going well enough for one of the Snowbirds.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Rubber ducky, you're the one

    Often times in my travels, the baby is put by the wayside.

    It's a terrible, yet sometimes fortunate thing.

    As much as I want to see, and play everyday, it's sometimes best to let the young horse grow up on his own. I'm afraid if I play with him too much he'll not only forget that he's a horse, but get burned out on attention.

    So for the past two weeks, I haven't seen the kid. I felt guilty and traipsed out there on Sunday and did the girliest thing I could- I bathed him, soap and all.

    He was really unamused by this aspect, now smelling like tea tree oil, cherries and other very feminine flavors. But he did well, standing up on the ties, without calling or any huge flair (and this was with his buddies calling to him). In fact, I think he secretly enjoyed the pony parlor day.

    Sincere, was dare I say, mature for his age.

    So with July gone, our goals:

    -Consistency on the cross ties
    Met and exceeded. Doesn't mean I can wander out of sight and have him stay put. But for the most part, he stands up.

    -Loading and unloading
    Haven't practiced this any.Tomorrow we'll get to see how he rolls.

    -New and different places.
    He goes to different places on the farm, without a fuss as long as there are cookies involved. Sincere has always been  easy going that way. He reminds me of the porgy little mamma's boy who always wants a cookie and is spoiled to death by his aunties. At least with him, food motivation is a good thing. He'll do about anything as long as there are treats involved. Huzzah for the food motivated baby.

    August's goals:
    -Going to a show
    -Prepare for lower lobotomy.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    That's why they call it window pain.

    It's tough sitting at home at the high point of the season. 

    Normally this time of year we have at least two or three shows under our girths and we're well on our way to at least one or two more.

    We're not this year.

    I've had several people ask me this year why I'm not taking the pony to the shows or going to the Pony Cup. Apparently our absence has been felt somewhere.

    I decided back in 2009 that to reach PSG, I needed to take the year to develop the pony up without holding back.This means sitting out from the shows to school up without having to go back and work on the tests that we are showing.

    It also means a substantial investment in equipment, support crew, training and time. All of which come out of the ubiquitous show fund.

    Already this year I've obtained a trailer, put Sinari on Adequan IM and Legends, developed a bevy of support crew (chiro, acupuncture and massage) and are on our way to obtaining a County Saddle. We're training weekly with our coach, and clinicing regularly with great judges.

    It doesn't mean that we're not happy sitting on the sidelines, but it means that we'll be prepared for the next go around and more ambitious goals (Devon anyone?).

    It's also means that we've accomplished the majority of our goals every month, goals such as July's.

    Got it, almost too well. Have to go back to bend and flex.


    transitions in and out of the gaits and between
    Improved, and with some new tricks to help get a better amplification. But as said before need more forwardness.

    Accomplished, but we need more time on these. I like to do them in the outdoor to get the space and timing correct.

    August feels a bit buggered already with time off. So if these come to fruition I'll be very happy.

    August goals:
    -Pirrouettes/Half Pass
    -Run through PSG once.

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    The view from the corner office

    It seems happenstance between Sinari being temporarily off, and my current schedule for scribing has taken over my life.

    I'm three days deep into watching very talented Juniors and Young Riders ride quality horses. Not all rides were great. There were a number in the high 50's, low 60's. On top of this, we broke into the 70's maybe four or five times throughout the week, and these were deserved scores by pairs that had rode ultra-clean and maxed out tests.

    I'm finishing up my hours needed to pursue my L, and by the end of today, I'll have a surplus of hours. Which, in my book is great.

    But the perk isn't just finishing off my required hours, or sitting and watching the FEI arenas with ultra-cool (and very nice) international judges who have been teaching me from everything about where to shop for judge clothes (thank you Ms. Foy) and the finer details of 7's versus 8's, all the while giving me a perspective from a greater standpoint. No, the perk is sitting in the box at the crack of dawn in Kentucky, sipping on coffee waiting for the first ride to come down the concourse, knowing that this is where I feel at home and best serving of a sport that has already provided so much.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Heartbreak warfare

    I've been holding off on this post for a little while now for a few reasons.

    First, and mostly, there's been a lot on the plate. The clinic was a massive success, beyond what I had expected for the results, quality and turnout. Christoph is a clinician worth attending and riding with. Even as organizer, I want to ride with him as many times as I can. We're booking for next year.

    Sinari was beyond cool for this and despite having the screws thrown at her in horribly hot weather and by the end of the first day she was sitting more like an I2 horse than a 3rd pushing PSG. When she got it right, she was truly impressive and I think she showed the glimmer for the future.

    Our clinic was over for us after day one, I came in Sunday when I found Sinari more that just lame. Our theory is that late Saturday, early Sunday she became cast in the stall. While she got herself out of it, she had huge amounts of swelling on the right side. Thankfully nothing broken, nothing strained. In short, shit happens, and occasionally it happens in the least convenient moment.

    A quick call to the vet, lots of reassurances to everyone and multiple things later we were bandaged up and retired out for the day. But admittedly, it was a lonely ride home.

    Fast forward to today, we're almost out of the woods. Sinari has progressed phenomenally. We'll be off the major drugs tomorrow and the standing wraps.

    If we're lucky, should be back in the saddle in the next coming weeks.

    I wish all my pony peeps best of luck at the Pony Cup this year, I heard the fields were pretty light, probably a reflection of the recovering economy. If everything works out this year, we'll be back up there.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Don't make much of it

    The loading series of Legend is over, and we have one more of Adequan to finish off the series.

    The change has been remarkable. Her gaits have amplified, she's gained about 7 to 10 pounds of muscle in all the right, hard to develop places.

    The gaits and more importantly, the level of comfort within the work has notched up as well. Which makes me very happy.

    The last few weeks were dedicated to solidifying the basics for the upcoming Christoph Hess clinic, and it's paid off. The more recent sessions have included working on the fours with the occasional threes, starting quicken the half pass to include rapid changes of bend, more definitive half steps/passage transitions, and the ever elusive pirouettes.

    Ah, pirouettes the bane of my current existence.

    It's not that I dislike the movement, it's just conceptually hard for me to size them correctly.

    Sizes run large and currently entering the next county. It's not that we can't do small ones, it's just we haven't done them, and the concept of space in a 20x60 meter box on a 900 pound pony can be skewed.

    Meanwhile, Sinari, for the most part gets them when I conceptually sort things out. Go figure that the pony read the manual before I did.

    Because the pirouettes are becoming better, everything else (the canter on the spot, and the cousin of the pir, the half pass) is benefiting from the attention to the little topsy movement.

    My current favorite workout exercise is the half pass to centerline to pirouette at the canter to a single or if we're feeling particularly great to a line of fours.

    I think we're prepared as prepared can get for this.

    This upcoming week promises already to be more than active with last minute preparations and moving about. Did I mention my work schedule now runs from 6am to 2:30pm to avoid the heat? I wonder if I'll survive till Thursday.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Some assembly required

    Admittedly, when I saw Sincere with his bumps, bruises and mono-boob lump, I was not surprised.

    Yes, sooner or later the boy needed to burst his bubble wrap, but seriously did he have to do it in a major way?

    One part of me was unamused, accustomed to seeing several horses do several more stupid things. The other part, the mothering part (or what's there for a mothering part) was somewhat concerned over the situation.

    Lesson learned, nothing about Sincere is small.

    For the most part, he's healing up, if not a little sore from his misadventures with whatever he tangled with. His D-cup mono boob has drained to a training bra sized, his bruises have begun to scab over and the bumps, while still tender are going down as well. We collectively decided not to coddle him in this, that being turned out would help the stiffness and keep him from stocking up.

    His boo-boo's have also given me the excuse to coddle him extensively.

    He regularly stands on cross ties to be groomed, takes baths now without fuss (minus being sprayed in the face), he stands for his dousing of fly spray, and dons the pink SWAT with pride. He is easy going, and enjoys his rewards (food motivation is a plus in my book).

    He still needs to wear his fly mask. The flies are atrocious.

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Using your noggin

    Growing up in a family of lawyers, there was always talk of lawsuits. From the usual things about taxes to the bizarre twists of liability laws. I grew up with people, corporations and the legal system doing things that a normal person would seem unfathomable.

    So, it was a natural step when I started riding (at the ripe age of three) that a helmet should be the proper finish to the habit-of-the-day of a Mickey Mouse bathing suit, jods and paddock boots. My parents continuously remind me that my fashion choices remain to be unusual, even to this day.

    While the habit has changed from jods to breeches, from paddocks to tall boots, Mickey Mouse for Ralph Lauren. The helmet, aside from updating, hasn't. 

    And despite a short run for immortality, I have worn my helmet. It has literally saved my life numerous times, and occasionally allowed me to stand up to naughty pony hi-jinks.

    So soon comes the day to don the shadbelly. Over the years the norm has been when you go FEI, you get your top hat and your tails and life goes on.

    Frankly, aside from never quite looking right in a top hat, I've never been comfortable with the idea of going without protection. If Dumbo had his magic feather, I have my helmet to save the most valuable, and best part of me. Bones can mend, tendons can be repaired. Brain damage is something I cannot afford to have.

    With that thought, I made a personal choice not too long ago and forgo social acceptability, and wear my helmet alongside the shad.

    It wasn't a huge leap, some momentous occasion, or even one that deserves to be called courageous or daring, but one that I hope musters some amount of personal thought as to what is covering your most valuable of assets. 

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Lumps and bumps

    Sincere has always categorically been in my book, a jock.

    His handsome, athletic looks really underscore how tough he really is.

    So while I normally dispatch with the normal boy chores of keeping his whites white, his mane and tail free of burrs, and the occasional boo-boo.

    When I got the call today of, you really need to go see the boy. I was not really prepared to see him sporting all sorts of fun new bruises, a lump between his front legs and scratches in various spots.

    The same colt who, at his last place, survived less-than-ideal fencing, rolling under a fence into a strange herd, the stupidity of a working student, an impromptu trailer ride and numerous other things, finally broke his bubble wrap. He is scratched, dented and none worse for wear.

    It doesn't mean, as one of his primary caretakers, I don't get to dress his wounds with care, fret a little bit and decorate him in pink SWAT.

    Sincere will live. 

    He's now being accustomed to a new routine, he gets bathed, regularly (this time without protesting, it's too hot). He's groomed on cross ties and is generally learning about his job in life.

    So, recapping June, we did meet our goals (if not on the fly). He did load into the trailer, he did go someplace. We didn't get to swim, but we have started to condition for next year.

    July's goals:
    -Consistency on the cross ties
    -Loading and unloading
    -New and different places.

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    Chemical romance

    I live in the thoroughbred cradle of the world, and along side it, there is a major equine pharmaceutical industry.

    If you have a problem, there are multiple ways of solving it, among many paths legally, illegally, asinine and old wives way.

    While, as they say in the commercials, results may vary, I've usually taken the approach of ounce of prevention versus pound of cure over the years. Sinari has had regular oral supplements for a few years now and is seen by her chiro/massage lady (in addition to all the regular work).

    But, since the climb officially began for FEI this year, things have changed. The work is intense. The expectation of consistency has risen. The normal back cracking, oral supplementation won't hold up to the rigors of long term, day-in-day-out training and competing. I've added acupuncture.

    And now, I've added pharmaceuticals to the mix in the form of IV delivered Adequan and Legends. We've hit full tilt on the loading stages, and while my wallet feels anorexic, the pony is looking fantastic. She's not PSG due to the inconsistency of work, but already she sits far better, works much easier.

    So recapping June's goals:

    Cleaner, easier, better balanced changes. Now to up the ante to do them dead on straight. Would like to experiment with the tempi's again.

    -Lateral work
    Better, but, lacked focus this year. She had brilliant moments and moments where she felt good to do it all, and then moments where she was scrambling. She offered more pirouette work because we cleaned up a lot of it.

    This mainly had to deal with half halts and going up to the bit and me taking the leg off. When she's tired, she likes to run through.

    transitions in and out of the gaits and between

    A quick note on the photo-- that was Sinari in early 2003, just prior to turning five.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    I cannot grow old in Salem's lot

    I finally got a chance to catch up here.

    It was a whirlwind tour of clinics, photographs and other things that have landed across my desk all at once. Not to mention the regular work, taking care of the ponies and making sure that the laundry (an ongoing battle at my place) is getting done.

    First, the Stephen Bradley clinic went off wonderfully. I met dedicated riders, exquisite facility and fantastic horses. Not to mention the technician himself- Stephen Bradley, the most down to earth individual you'll ever meet. We will be having him back on a quarterly basis. So, if you event, come join us for a good time.

    The photo on the left is from the second day.  But you can check out our facebook page here for more photos and to check out the upcoming events.

    Sinari has been gaining more and more consistency over the past few days. Consistency has always been an elusive for us, some weeks are better than others, and having strings of good ones can be rare sometimes. But we've changed a few things. Acupuncture is a huge part of it but we've started on a new course of stuff that is really making the difference. Can't be happier at the moment. I'll post photos to illustrate the difference soon.

    Sincere too has worked into his new digs and is continuing on in education. But he's standing butt-high at the moment and I'm just trying to ignore the gangling weed in the yard.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    101 Things: Number 92: The written word

    The horse industry is a handshake and nod industry.

    Very little formal papered agreements pass through our hands in regards to employment, obligations and rights. The industry norm is usually based on reputation and the good of one's word within the community.

    In other words, you expect Jim Bob to show up with the monthly delivery of 100 tons of hay for X dollar amount on Tuesday (he also expects a cheque and a beer). Or you expect that barn builder to throw your fence up at X dollar amount per foot and finish the job at hand.

    Because they said they would.

    These are unusual practices to to any industry outsider and is confusing considering the amount of cash, capital and product that flows through our hands.

    On any given day, a collective, well-bred herd with a performance history is worth minimum, $10,000 and even the cheapest

    I remember way back when, even as a working student, that there was no written contractual obligation, just a verbal agreement that I would show up three days a week and clean stalls for a lesson once a week. It wasn't up until recently, that I started putting things in formal writing including keeping track of expenditures and personal labor.

    I would like to think that every handshake and nod deal that I've transacted with has gone fabulously, with the goods delivered in full on both parties ends, but all things said, it's also an industry that you've come to expect the unexpected.

    Getting things in writing (e.g. creating a contractual obligation) is a necessary thing, it clarifies party responsibilities, creates clear boundaries, and protects individuals from, among other things, faulty memories.

    So do yourself a favor, periodically review your boarding contracts, and your transactions. You never know what you might find.

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    All in the family

    I've followed Sinari's family for sometime.

    Her dam, Maid Marion, who is spry at 17, pushed out her newest colt earlier this year. Her full-sister Erin, is also a producing as well. Sinari's sire, Comet has long been gelded (seems to be a trend with horses I've owned). 

    The line, especially the dam lines, have always been of interest to me. They are strong lines, and do well even when crossed with less-than-stellar, if sub-par stallions. I've tried to obtain the dam on a few occasions to produce another half to Sinari, but no dice.

    So, when I saw a two-year-old colt by North Forks Cardi out of her half-sister, Anwylyd, it automatically piqued my interest due to the impending ET with Sinari and this stallion.

    The colt, Fogerty FF, which had recently sold to Maine, was sold to an FEI rider as a dressage prospect and is expected to mature about 16 hands.

    A few quick email exchanges, and then a very long, but great phone call, I got to know the family that much better.

    Her half sister, Anwylyd, who stands 16 hands (whereas Sinari is 14.1), is a black, but similarly marked (two hind socks). She has the same low-tolerance of children, stupidity and shots.  She, like Sinari, is a firecracker undersaddle, good gaits and has the same stop and stare mechanism when spooked.While her under saddle career started later, she showed good talent for the sport.

    From what she told me about the particular nick, it crossed incredibly well (I think it will be a repeat cross) and the sire improved everything that the damline needed improving while improving ability, and not loosing the sensitivity.Watching these horses mature into heavy-hitting performance horses only serves to bolster the proof.

    With glowing recommendations like that, it's making me really impatient to do this cross.

    Speaking of the pony, it's been hot and under saddle work has been regulated to outdoors, and during the evening. We've stuck to the polo field, working on sorting out a few things (namely changes) and some piaffe. This week is shaping up to be busy, work, riding, Stephen Bradley Clinic and a photo shoot with Michael Modecki. Oh yeah, we've been invited to help demo the Welsh breed at the International Equestrian Festival. Anyone know where I can find a shadbelly on the fly?

    Moving on up to the east side

    It has been a long week of planning, packing and moving in the ugliest of hot weather.

    I finally had enough of spending a portion of my weekend traveling out to east of nowhere Kentucky to visit Sincere. It ate up a good portion of my gas and not to mention budget when I had to run out there for only an hours worth of time. Feasibly, it was alright for an in-between, but long-term, to make him a successful candidate for the sport, he needed to be closer to home.

    So we made arrangements to move, and we did so on Thursday.

    I was a little worried about how he would have handled to the travel. The last time he shipped was with his mother, this time he would have to load himself (which we haven't done) and travel about 80 miles back near where Sinari is. The heat too played a huge factor, it was awful out and I wasn't looking forward to moving, let alone having a horse on the road in it.

    Good news is that with a small bit of encouragement from behind he got on with very little issue, traveled the length of the 80 with very little fuss and stepped off into his new world. Ate and drank normally and was no worse for wear.

    It feels great to have him nearby, I've already been out twice to play.

    We kicked off the homecoming with a shower (unamused), a mane combing (unamused) and a walk about away from the herd (really unamused). I'm sure he'll get used to the idea of being in and out of the stalls more, and getting regular baths, especially since the weather is giving me the excuse.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Ready to run

    The hot weather has slowed everyone down, mentally and physically and my normally exuberant boy spends most of his time in the run in shed now.

    I can't say I don't blame him. I wish I could hang out in the shade too, preferably with a box fan or six on me, a tall cool drink of something on the side and my friend around me.

    Reporting on what's been going on with Sincere for May is a bit like reading the Level One readers; basic, with very little effort.

    Truth is, as much as I like working on the upper level stuff, I enjoy the young horse end of it as well. He is enthusiastic about his current job, works well on the triangle and clips. Isn't too sure about the farrier and pulling his mane is a pain (even with drugs), but overall not a bad month of progress.

    For June, I guess working on conditioning, trailer loading. If I have time, I would like to take him for a dunk in the pool, and get him through one of those fun lead trough trail courses. Keep the next few months especially easy for the heat and his upcoming lower-lobotomy.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Shameless self promotion; Saddle for Sale

    Since the decision to go with County, I've decided to lighten my equipment inventory.

    My 18-inch Duett Fidelio is for sale for $850.00.

    The saddle is 36cm wide, smooth-grain black leather, regular flap with long billets, just recently reflocked and checked by a certified saddler and in excellent condition. It's been kept covered, cleaned and conditioned since I bought it.

    This is a great saddle for a wider, more short-backed horses (halfingers, fjords, ect), the panels give plenty of stability and there is extra height on the pommel to give clearance. For rider who needs added security with a medium twist and larger knee rolls (almost thigh blocks).

    I liked the way this saddle fit Sinari, but she's once again outgrown her equipment, and we're going on for a custom.

    For more information, and more photos drop me a line:

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Yesterday won't let go

    I've been bad about updating, but honestly, after last week and this week's continuous high of positive news I was too busy running around like a loon. Between the team obtaining sponsorship, filling clinics and meeting more great people I've had little time to myself. They said leaving the 9-5 track is wonderful, but they forget how much work it is to go corporate off roading.

    Sinari too has been wonderful.

    Recapping May's Goals:

    Four and three time changes (we do them but I'm not counting them):
    check, but left them alone for awhile to sort out a few other things. she's capable, and clean, but they're not 100 percent on the aids.
    Pirouette and half pass.
    check and double check. After the acupuncture, the re-evaluation these cleaned themselves up and improved.
     They're more balanced and amplified. 

    Transitions, transitions and more transitions
    cleaner and more uphill, but still a work in progress. I want more reaction out of them. But they are progressive.
    Holy crap. I thought I'd never get that kind of sit out of her. We worked through a lot of flat pi/pa transitions, but she has more bounce now.

    June's goals:
    -Lateral work

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    To L with it.

    Cross off one of the goals for 2010, I've begun to pursue my USDF L license.

    I've done plenty of scribing over the years, however, it wasn't until this year that I started seriously going after my L. I've always wanted to become a judge since I started riding. This weekend, after sitting between to FEI I judges, it only solidified that feeling.

    The L program is the next logical step in a progression.

    I've finally begun document my scribe hours, starting with the KDA's Annual CDI*.

    I'm about 8 1/2 into it and I'm feeling very positive that it will be completed out in mid-July where I will be scribing at NAJYRC.

    Speaking of the CDI*, the show went fantastically this weekend. It was well-organized with wonderful management behind it. I'm happy to see the KDA expand again, and improve and capitalize on last year's show. While I miss the breed show end of it, I can understand the reason to expand the under saddle classes.

    It was truly wonderful seeing everyone again, and hearing their opinions on the variety of clincians that the Team is bringing in (also all the suggestions for next year). I can't wait to see them at these events.

    But the best part was the visit from County Representative- Sara Ivie. We got to try out and fall in love with a County Connection. I about nearly cried when I felt Sinari's back lift and become instantaneously comfortable in the changes. My riding wasn't the best that day, but damn, I'm on a payment-for-life deal.

    All, in all, a wonderful weekend.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Edward Gal is in my backyard.

    When I was young, on of my online friends and I used to try to guess what we'd be doing if we had the cahones to ride at the top. I said train and work with the best.

    About 10 years later, the cosmic joke is on me.

    I work in and around the very best the industry has to offer. I've worked with super-cool judges, riders and trainers from around the world.

    I've learned a lot while helping others learn as well. While I may not have the best horse of the group, it's helped us all signifigantly.

    In short, it's a sweet gig.

    But nothing was cooler when I got the email from Nicole Werner of Stal Werner-Gal confirming that Gal will be clinicing for Team EnGaged on September 18th.

    This is a limited rider clinic, five rides with some of the best up-and-coming pairs in the nation (the rest will be just down the road at WEG).

    Yes, we are allowing auditors. Get your tickets in fast, I don't imagine that they will stay long when word gets out. For those who can't make it, it will be live webcasted.

    Taking it a step further- we're holding a benefit raffle for the Para Equestrian Team, with sweet schwag from our various sponsors.  Stay tuned for schwag deals.

    I look forward to seeing a few of my blog readers there.

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Mystery Dates

    You all know I've had ambition on reproducing Sinari, the list of sires just got a little longer when they announced Power and Paint was retired to stud.

    This paticular stallion was the anchor for the Dutch pony team for years on end, he taught numerous now-elite riders and was schooled essentially through all of the FEI (FEI pony tests and FEI tests are two different things).

    I initially inquired about him back in 2003, was then unavailable because of training and competition. But he has since then been sold, and retired to Stable Korenbloem. A whopping 450 euro fee.

    I put my inquiry in again, hopefully, things this time will pan out and I'll have my own power pony on a lucky double ovulation.

    To the well once more

    Between ark building exercises (it's rained that much), and acupuncture sessions, the pony is getting to be stronger.

    But still, we've been put on the slow track of every-other-day work for the next two weeks.

    It seems only appropriate considering that the change of weather has marked the start of summer.

    Summer here is one long, slow day after another.

    It's only reflective of plateau and ce la vie attitude that we've adopted.

    It's too hot to do serious work until the mare has adjusted and the schedule has us set up where I don't feel that working beyond the basics is conducive to doing any of the upper level work. So, we've been out of the double and have been working exclusively in the snaffle. 

    This for me sucks.

    I love riding in the double, and she does as well, but physically- it's a demanding piece of equipment and you can do a lot of harm alongside the development aspect. It's not like she goes just as nice in the snaffle as the double, it's just she recycles much better in it. I also like working five to six days consistently.

    So for the week, I've regulated us to the down, round and low; lateral work and transitions. Cleaning up and solidifying what we know while waiting in the wings to get back on track.

    Meanwhile, grass growing season is here. As you can see above, Sinari has begun to take advantage the long, lazy days and making hay while the sun shines.

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Long beautiful hair

     Conformation May 2010

    Movement Shot May 2010

    May 2010

    Movement 2010

    May 2010

    I figured we were due for a photo update with Sincere. It was his first official photoshoot, complete with main pulling, conformation shots and braiding. Lindsey Oaks-Solorzano (Red Letter Eventing) did a fantastic job of braiding and standing him up while I manned the camera.  Honestly, for a yearling- he doesn't look too shabby.