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.