Friday, May 30, 2008

Wow.... This has been a crazy last couple of days. I was going to post yesterday but there was a thunderstorm and our power went out. So this post will be a little longer, but I'll try to keep it down. My posts always look so much longer on my blog than they do here where I'm typing them.

Yesterday was one of those humbling sort of days. It started out dark, dreary, and rainy. I had a jumping lesson in the morning, so I drove down to the eventing barn I take lessons at. I'm leasing a jumping horse there, Sackett. He is actually a very small (15 hand) Quarter horse. He is unbelievably skilled for his size and breed. He is a pretty decent dressage horse, and can jump unbelievably high for his size. Luckily I only need to jump a maximum of 3 feet for my PC ratings.

The geldings are out on a large pasture, probably 20 acres. Sackett has usually been in the front or middle of the pastue, so I'd never been all the way to the back before. I didn't know that there is a shallow pond that goes all the way across the pasture. I was in my riding boots. Sackett is at the very back of the pasture. What choice did I have? I slogged through the pond, soaking my riding boots. Then whatta ya know... Sackett runs away from me. There are few things that annoy me more than a horse that runs away. He runs through the pond, aaaall the way back to the other side of the pasture. So I slog back through and walk another 8 minutes back to catch him. And then he just stands there, looking at me. And I put the halter on. Chasing a horse is a humiliating experience. It makes me feel like I did something wrong...

The lesson was excellent though. We rode in the indoor since it was raining, and we first worked on flying changes on the flat while doing serpentines. She then built up jumps where the lead changes would be for the serpentine and I worked on my lead changes over the jumps. Everything fell together quite smoothly after the first ten minutes. It was very excellent.

I took pictures of Sackett after our lesson. You can tell he's sweaty. They aren't good pictures either, but it gives you an idea of what he looks like. No one else came with me so I don't have pictures of my riding, but atleast you get to see Sackett. Unfortunatly the first one shows up dark.

That afternoon I was having pictures done by Avalon Photography, so I needed to get my horses ready. I decided to have the pictures taken over at the barn since it is so buggy at my house. So I trailored Isis over and braided Grady. It was still raining and we were crossing our fingers, hoping for a window of time to take pictures. There was... About 45 minutes. But it was extremely windy and damp. The photo session was fast and furious, but it went pretty well. Grady was being pretty beastly about the whole ordeal, he wasen't too happy. But atleast we got the pictures taken.
So after the pictures we went to load Isis again. Wouldn't load. Would not. Now, I am not one to try and force a horse into a trailor. I don't think it makes sense and I think it's dangerous. So I worked with her for probably 45 minutes. But the entire time was (somewhat) relaxed and she eventually loaded. It was frustrating that she didn't load, but I am pleased that I was able to take my time to slowly work with her rather than get angry and try to force her in. I knew that sort of attitude wouldn't work with her anyways.
It was a long, exhausting day... One of many!!
This morning we drove down to the studio to pick the pictures we liked. There were so many beautiful pictures. It was amazing because the pictures looked so tranquil and serene, no one would guess that the wind was blowing and that Grady was throwing hissy fits the whole time. Truly beautiful pictures. I asked if I could have some of the pictures e mailed to me so that I could put them on this blog, so hopefully I will be getting those soon.
I worked at the barn for the afternoon and then rode Grady and Isis in the evening. They were both lovely. It's so nice to have a day when they are both right on form!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Good rides, Trail rides, and Spiffing up Isis

I work at a library as well. Part time of course. It offers more money than horses do right now. I am a library aid, which means I'm trained for both reference and circulation. Yesterday I worked a full day and then rode Grady in the evening. This past weekend we were at a show (he did ok) so he had monday off and I rode him last night. He was amazing. Simply amazing. Grady is a very very difficult horse and he is coming around so nicely. I am so excited to see how he will do this year.

I spent the day today at the barn. Riding horses in the morning, cleaning paddocks, water tanks, and automatic waterers in the afternoon. The riding went well and I do like the physical work.

This afternoon I also went on a trail ride on Grady. He's a great trail horse, he doesn't spook at anything. I went with Val, Linda, and Katrina. The weather was beautiful, cool air with a warm breeze, the sun shining brightly. It would have been a perfect ride if the misquitos hadn't swarmed when we went through wooded areas. I brought the camera because I thought it would be fun to take pictures, but then forgot to bring it along the actual ride. Oh well, I will the next time out. This has been such a cool spring, we're just now starting to catch glimpses of summer. The flowers are out, the air smells sweet, and life can be so good.

Tomorrow Avalon Photography is coming out to take pictures of me with my horses. So, rather than riding Isis, this evening I worked on spiffing her up. Actually we practiced trailor loading first. Isis is used to loading into three horse slant loads, but our new trailor is a two horse straight load. She isn't very comfortable with it. So we worked on loading, she probably loaded 20 times this evening. She was quite good. If I take it slow and easy with her she will oblige - you can't force her into anything. So then I pulled her mane, clipped her face and legs, trimmed her tail, and gave her a bath. Dad took pictures of her after her bath. Such a pretty girl.

Monday, May 26, 2008

My First Blog

Hi, my name is Kristie. My profile does a pretty good job of describing who I am and what I'm about. I LOVE dressage and it's more or less what I live and breathe. I wanted to create a blog so that others could follow my journey and watch my adventures unfold. And believe me, I have many adventures!! My hope is that each blog I post will unfold more and more information about me and my goals and dreams. I also hope to cover the day to day ups, downs, and plateaus of my experiences. But since this is my first blog, I will take the time to fill you in on who I am, why I'm here doing what I'm doing today, and what my goals are.

I am 17 years old and I am currently employed at a dressage barn called Volte Equestrian. Val, my employer and trainer, has successfully competed through Intermediare I and has ridden all Grand Prix movements. She has also earned her United States Dressage Federation (USDF) silver medal. I ride horses and (of course) clean stalls and paddocks. I own two horses of my own, Isis and Grattitude.

Isis is 6 or 7 and I’m not sure what breed she is. I bought her as a 2 or 3 year old and trained her myself.

She gave me a big run for my money to start, but is an excellent horse now. She is currently a solid First Level horse and is schooling Second Level. Her hunky chunky quarter horse build and my (at that time) lack of training talent is the reason that her training had progressed so slowly to start. I used the Parelli Natural Horsemanship method with her and graduated Level 1. I gleaned many excellent insights from the Parelli programs and have learned to implement these insights into work with dressage horses. Val has also used Isis for lessons when she’s been in a pinch.

My other horse is a Swedish Warmblood named Grattitude, aka Grady.

Grady was sold to me for an excellent price because of his difficult personality. Actually, Grady had been to several trainers, all of whom declared that they would not ride him anymore and kicked him out of their barns. His owners were to the point where they were considering putting him down. He came to me instead, and has led me on an extremely interesting adventure. Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe him, but he is beautiful and I hope that with continued, dedicated work he will come around the rest of the way.

I have been successful in the local show ring with both Isis and Grady. This year I will be showing Grady in Training Level and intend to bring him to as many shows as possible with the hopes of qualifying for (and doing well in) the USDF and Central States Dressage and Eventing Association (CSDEA) regionals. Last fall Grady went to only a couple small shows ,so this will be his first year showing in the big time. It will be very exciting.

I am also currently leasing a jumping horse at Birchbury Farm so that I can achieve my ratings in the United States Pony Club. (USPC) Until now I have been a member but haven’t achieved my ratings because I haven’t done much jumping. I am currently rated at D2. I have been taking lessons for about a month and a half and am already comfortably jumping 2’7”. I am now well on my way to achieving my pony club goals. My hope is to achieve my D3 through C2 ratings and then do my C3 through A ratings with a concentration on dressage.

I also rode one of Val’s horses and worked on my Second and Third Level dressage skills. Unfortunately the horse is older and now suffers from respiratory issues so I can’t rider her much anymore.

My parents have no interest in horses although they have supported me as much as they are able to. We are a middle class family, so there isn’t much money to spare for my dressage. I support my efforts largely on my own.

Although I am perhaps just an intermediate rider, I have excellent feel and I learn quickly. My dedication to learning makes up for any skills I currently lack. I ride every day, my own two horses as well as several others. Val has told me that I have an instinctive feel for riding and that what I need is to simply continue to develop it. The more I ride, the more inadequate I feel because I realize how much more I need to learn. But my answer to these feelings of inadequacy is simple: Ride More.

I am also currently attending college and have done very, very well. I intend to stick around here for another school year while I work on getting my Pony Club ratings. Then I plan on starting to search for other working student positions so that I can expand my knowledge as well as my dressage network. At the same time I will continue working on my Pony Club ratings and hopefully continue up the dressage levels.

My biggest road block and frustration is that I do not have an upper level horse to ride. I need a horse like this so that I can achieve feeling for the upper levels. Right now I am limited to Second Level because this is about as far as my solid training has gone. I know that if I were only able to ride a more advanced horse I could progress so quickly and I would also be a better rider for Grady. This is my biggest heart ache and desire. I do think that if I were able to ride an upper level horse I would be able to successfully compete in Young Rider competition. I would love to compete in Young Riders. Since I cannot afford an upper level horse of my own, I have asked several people if they would allow me to ride their horses - but have had no luck. When I say that I want to ride an upper level horse, I’m not just sitting around hoping one will drop in my lap. I have even gone so far as to call complete strangers and ask if they have a horse I could ride. If nothing else, I hope to find a working student position where I can ride an upper level horse.

The frustration I have suffered has only increased my desire to succeed. And if I do succeed, my goal is to shepherd other young, dedicated riders to success. I want to be able to provide them with the horses and help they need. I don’t want others to have to go through what I am going through. Although I want to have success in dressage, my desire for success is coupled with my desire to further our sport by helping others with lots of talent but lack of means. I am very passionate about this goal.

And so I invite you to come along and experience the journey. I may or may not succeed, but I want the world to know that I have at least done my best.