Monday, June 30, 2008

Quitting My Job

Well, I've decided to quit my job at Volte Equestrian (pictured above). I informed Val and Larry yesterday. I know that this may seem abrupt on my blog, but it was a long time coming. For the sake of sparing dignities, I do not want to share details on the situation. But I would like to say that working there has been a wonderful, eye opening, door opening experience. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything else, both the good and the bad. I have learned so much there!! If not for that job I would not be where I am today with my riding. My life has been richly blessed because of it.
I will be working until the end of July. At that point I will begin work as a certified tutor at my college. I also hope to find some other riding opportunities. (We'll see!!) I believe I have some potential work lined up. This will be good because I will still be able to ridemore horses than just my own. It's a big step for me and nothing is written in stone, but I am looking forward to the experience.
I will still be taking lessons from Val. That is really important. I will be bringing Grady home, we're upgrading and fixing up our facility this month. I think it will work out nicely. I will also be able to show freely, and I will be making more money per hour. I truly think this is the best thing I can be doing right now as far as horses are concerned. I think I will be able to make greater progress. Isn't that ironic?
I will continue with my dressage, continue with my jumping, do my Pony Club ratings. My hope is that after I get my C2 or C3 rating I can apply for jobs at dressage barns with good riders. Great riders! I'd love to work for an Olympian. It's a tall order, and unfortunatly I lack upper level experience that many young riders have. But I will do my best. I hope that if I can get a job working for someone that I will be able to ride a more advanced horse so that I can regain my feel for more advanced movements. Then I will be able to work with young horses to develop that feel in them. That's my ultimate goal. Maybe I will even be able to compete in Young Riders. We shall see.
In other news... This coming month of July I have two shows AND I am signed up for my D3 Pony Club rating!! I think I will pass with flying colors. I am so excited, I am finally making visible progress again. I *think* I might even be able to get my C1 rating late this fall. That would be so wonderful! So three out of my four weekends this month are tied up in horse stuff. It's great!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Great Quote

"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Frustrating Day

This might be my first offical vent, and it has to do with showing and my coach. The dynamics of our relationship is different because she's not only my coach, but also my employer. This can lead to some problems, mostly because there are not enough employees at the barn (just coach, her husband, and me) so it makes it very difficult to work out traveling, showing, and doing chores at home. My coach also tends to have a more abrasive personality.

I made it very clear this early spring that I intended to show alot this summer. I knew that my coach would not be able to come to many of the shows because of her judging schedule, but that doesn't bother me so much. I like her along when it works out, but I'm not going to not show because she isn't with. Anyways, I explained that I would be showing alot this year because I have a quality horse that is worth investing in. The reality is that the only reason I even own Grady is because I bought him with the intention of showing him. Grady isn't a fun enough ride just to own "for the fun of it", and I can't afford to pay his bills if I'm not doing what we're supposed to be doing: showing!

I've told my coach all of this. I thought it was pretty clear. I said "I will be showing alot this summer."

The dynamic of being an employee makes things interesting though. They want me to work on weekends. I understand this, but I also made it clear that I was going to be showing alot. The situation HAS changed this year. I want to take every opportunity I can to show. I'm not going to be around as much. I thought I made this clear, but when I talk about going to a show the response I get back is, "oh, so that's ANOTHER weekend you wont be here." Yes it is another weekend I wont be here, but I warned them with plenty of time. The situation has changed. I have encouraged them to try and find someone else who can also help out at the barn. When I am at the barn I work my hardest. It's frustrating because I was hoping that since my coach played a big hand in my aquirement of Grady that she would understand the necessity of showing. THERE IS NO POINT IN ME OWNING OR RIDING THIS HORSE IF I CAN'T SHOW HIM!!!!

What makes me sad is how she reacts in such a discouraging way. As a coach I would think she'd WANT her students to show. I would think she'd be excited that we are getting out there. It seems like that's the way most trainers are. I see trainers at shows that have 8 kids with them, all competing. That would be nice, but I understand that my coach has other things going on too. It would be so nice to just hear some encouragment from her. Some recognition of my attempts at success. I feel really sad and discouraged about this. Why is she teaching me how to ride, why do I own Grady, what is the POINT of everything she has helped me learn if I do not go and show??

And like I said before, being an employee does change the dynamics a bit. But I gave fair warning, I said that I would be showing alot. Since they are aware of that they should either get over it and encourage me to reach my goals, and/or find someone else to help out on the weekends I'm not there.

I would love to tell her how I feel about this. I would love her to know how burdened I feel over it. I don't know what she would say if I try though. She really doesn't do well with "heart to hearts", she tends to get defensive.

Saying this to the public takes some guts on my part. But it is my goal to be open and honest about my situation. I refuse to make things look like they're going well if they're not. This is my situation, I am struggling with it. I just want a coach that acts like a coach, not someone who makes discouraging comments when I talk about going to shows, not a coach that harps on my not being there on weekends.

Mark my words, if and when I'm a coach I will encourage my students to show. I want them to show. Showing will be my top priority. I don't care if they will be working for me or not, I will be excited and happy that my students are going to shows.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hard Work

Ugh, long day. Quick recap: I rode Isis this morning. She was pretty good. Then I went over to Val's and cleaned all the pens. Val was hauling horses for someone so Larry and I rode after I was done with the pens. I rode a horse I have never ridden before. He's a 17 hand colored warmblood, a dutch/something cross named Czar. He was alright to ride. Very big and maybe a little clunky feeling. He's not very far along in his training, and he was a little lazy at first. Figuring out his canter cue was also a bit tricky. I had to "sit down" mentally and invision going into the canter, and once I did I could get the canter. After riding I cleaned the stalls and then went for a trail ride on Grady. After the trail ride Larry and I stacked hay. Then I had a riding lesson, also on Grady. We worked on leg yields. I have a difficult time teaching leg yields off my right leg. If I am riding a horse that KNOWS how to leg yield I can leg yield as long as you'd like. When I was riding Holly, who was trained to 3rd Level and was training me at 3rd Level, my leg yields were flawless. There are many other horses that I can leg yield without a second thought. But TEACHING the leg yield off my right leg is SO HARD for me. Both Isis and Grady leg yield like super horses off my left leg. Off my right it's like, oof, ugh, ergh, SO not pretty. I know it's my fault, because I have the same problem on both horses. Isis leg yields alright, but it's quite difficult on Grady. Val got on Grady to see how he felt, and even she had difficulty getting him to cross. Even at the end he wasn't consistent, but better.

The fact that I can't teach the leg yield off my right leg seriously annoys me. I WANT to, I WANT to!! My summer goal is to teach my horses to leg yield nicely off my right leg. AAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Alrighty, here is the news on the show this past weekend. Grady and I competed in the Sundance Dressage Show on Friday and Saturday. I entered him into Training 2 and 4. It was just me and my parents that went. Val was unable to go. It was long and stressful, and unfortunatly I wasn't feeling 100% so that added an extra element. Thursday evening mom and I gave Grady his bath and clipped him. We then did most of our packing that evening and loaded up the truck and trailor Friday morning. I also braided on Friday morning before we left. (It was SO nice to not have super early ride times!!)

We arrived around 11:30 and got Grady settled in. Then we ate a picnic lunch and watched some of the other tests. My first ride was at 2:38 and since I like to have ample warm up time I started to get ready a little after one. I was then on Grady about 50 minutes ahead of my first class. The warm up went really, really well. He was relaxed and worked quite nicely. Then came the test.

We were riding Training 4 first that day. That test was to be in the main ring, the nicest but also busiest ring. Walking into my test Grady spooked several times. The judge rang the bell, but I was still attempting just to get him together. He then saw the tent next to the ring and that was it. He bolted and started pitching. He actually bolted INTO the arena. Needless to say, it was nothing I could stay with. I fell off, but held onto the reins with my right arm. Grady dragged me half way across the arena!! The judge came out and asked if I was alright. I was, and I asked her if I should leave the arena or if I could try again. She gave me this surprised look and said, "you WANT to try again?!" When I said I did she let me try again. I got back on Grady at A, re-entered the arena and rode an accurate, but tense test. We got 59% and 6th place.

It was quite a way to start out the show. My whites (breeches) had dirt ground into them all along my right leg. I was quite a mess. I was able to ride the test with a smile on my face, but afterwards the shock hit and I had a few teary moments. It was frustrating, but only to a point. I know that this happens to everyone at some time in their riding career. I refused to take it out on Grady, I exited the arena on a loose rein, rubbing Grady and encouraging him. I HATE it when people jerk on the reins or get mad at their horse. Needless to say, it was quite a grand entrance. Like I said, it was frustrating, but I think it's just going to take lots of time and showing so that he learns it's ok to go into the arena and work. He doesn't have confidence yet, so it's my job to help him get there. In the warm up ring you can walk around for 10 minutes before you get to work, but in the show ring you have to go right in and pull it off. It's hard on green horses, so I really can't get upset with him.

My next test was at 3:29. I had just enough time to try and get cleaned up a little bit and get to my next test. The second test was in a different ring, so I knew he'd have to get used to that one too. He warmed up all right for that test. He was still just as tense going in, we got 60% and 3rd place.

After the test I settled Grady back into his stall and we made a trip into town to go to the laundry mat and try to wash my breeches. They were the only pair I'd brought, which was foolish and something I will never do again. The dirt really didn't come out of the breeches, so we bought some Borax and laundry detergent and went back to the show grounds to put my breeches in a bucket of water to soak. After checking on Grady again we went back into town to eat supper (Burger King!) and do some shopping at Fleet Farm.

We tented it at the grounds, something alot of people don't do, but I'm fine with it. I wouldn't sleep any better at a hotel, and I don't feel comfortable leaving my horse anyways. That evening while we were showering and brushing our teeth a trainer from Duluth named Deb came in to shower too. We got aquainted and told our show tales of the day. It was such a blessing to meet her, when she found out that I didn't have a pair of clean breeches she let me use one of hers, they fit very nicely! I am so thankful to Deb from Duluth!!

We got up at 7 and I went and did chores in my jammys. Grady drank TONS of water while we were there, I re-filled his bucket probably once every two hours. After Grady was completely taken care of (food, water, clean stall) we ate breakfast. Then I took Grady out for a walk and washed his sock off because he had a poop stain on it. We spent about an hour relaxing and watching tests, then it was back into the grind for me. I got Grady all prettied up again, and headed out. Neither of the tests were in the main ring, something I was actually kind of thankful for.

Warm up started out AWFUL. Just awful. But I had Val's voice in my ear saying "just ride forward, don't pull, just ride forward." As I warmed up he got it together and he was actually feeling quite nice by the time it was time for our test. The test wasn't great either, we got 62.5% and fifth place.

We had time off between tests, so we watched one of Deb's 3rd Level rides, which was quite nicely done.

Warm up for the last test was AWESOME. By far the best. I was feeling so confident about the test. Going into the arena he was forward, powerful, and amazing feeling. We powered down centerline and had an amazing halt and salute. Then we powered forward again and Grady completely lost it. I could feel him tensing the closer we got to C. The entire test was probably the worst test I have ever ridden. And it WAS the worst score I've ever gotten on any horse. Grady was so hot and bothered I was basically trying to fudge through the entire test. What can you do? All you can do is ride forward and do your best. We got 53% and 5th place.

Even though the show wasn't great over all, I'm still proud of myself and my horse. I was gutsy and strong, and he's still trying to figure out what it means to be a show horse. I am so excited for the next show now. I can't wait to see if he'll be better!!

After we got our scores we packed up and had a safe journey home. It was a stressful weekend, but I'm happy I did it.

Here are a few pictuers. One of them is from the test right after my first test. I'm still in my dirty breeches! The rest are from the next day with Deb's breeches. Thanks again Deb!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

1st XC lesson

Hey, check it out... There's a picture of Grady and I on the St. Croix Saddlery web site! There is also a picture of Val's husband Larry on Gecko. This was from a schooling show earlier in the year. I'm the one titled "A Happy Dressage Pair." Here's the link:

Today I had my first cross country jumping lesson. It was awesome!! Rocky, (jumping coach), her niece Audrey, and I all tacked up and cantered out to the XC field. It was a little shocking to be walking along and then have Rocky yell "LET'S GO!!" and then take off! It was tons and tons of fun. We worked on banks and trotting through water. Rocky pointed out various combinations for me to try, such as galloping over a log, trotting through water, galloping down and through a path to a roll top. We then did some combinations over different jumps in the woods, then went back out into another field where we jumped tires and coops. It was really exhilirating. It was so much fun just to feel the wind on my face and book it across the fields. I did really well too, I'm really happy with how I was able to find distances. Rocky taught me how to count strides going up to the jump. If I count "one-two, one-two" with each canter stride it's really easy to find the distance. When I am unable to add in another one or two in front of a jump, it's time to jump! It makes it amazingly easy. I think Sackett thought he'd died and gone to heaven - he hasn't done XC in over a year. He really enjoys it too, he was so worked up and excited. It's really hard to describe the feeling of speeding across the country side on the back of a horse, launching over jumps. It's something you have to experience to understand. I jumped beginner novice fences with a few novice fences thrown in. It was so much fun! Thank you Rocky!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Deaths, Parties, Shows, and Departures

Weeeeell....... My hope is to start posting consistently now. I think the weird, super busy time in my life has (hopefully) blown over. I will do a quick recap of what has happened and then pick up a more consistent posting habit here after.

On June 14 I had my high school graduation party. It was alot of fun! I had two other friend's parties to go to as well so it was a very busy day. We had my party at a park since our drive way is long and narrow. It is hard to have an open house if people run into eachother getting in and out. The weather was lovely, there were no bugs, and it was fun to have a gathering of all my friends.

On tuesday my sister left for the army. Good luck to her!! My parents have taken it quite a bit harder than I have. I think they really miss her. I didn't see her much (I work days, she worked nights), so it's not much different, but it is kind of weird to have her go.

The rest of the week has been hard riding and ALOT of hay stacking. (Such a necessary evil!)

This past friday and saturday I took Grady to his first rated show. It was - interesting. More details on the show tomorrow!! Here are some pictures from my grad party. Enjoy!

My sister and I
Family and friends looking at pics

My grandmas Dorothy and Dorothy. (yes, same name)

My best friend Rebekah and her dad

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Death in the Family

Friday morning we recieved a phone call that my aunt, Leslie Crevier, died at 5:45 in the morning. Leslie was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago and fought a remarkable fight that ended that morning. Leslie was my brightest, spunkiest aunt and she always made family get togethers and activities more fun. She was a hair dresser who had done my hair my entire life. She lived in Brookings, SD so whenever she would come to MN to visit she would have all sorts of clients come to my grandma's house and cut hair. Most of my memories of her are in Grandma's kitchen, listening to her tell story after story. I will miss her very much. She was survived by her husband Marc, and three adult daughters, Kelly, Wendy, and Kari.

Here is a Link to her Obituary and a picture:
The reviewal was on sunday and the funeral was on monday. We drove down sunday morning. It's about a five hour drive from where we live. The drive was very pleasent and I enjoyed sizing up the different equine facilities that we passed. We arrived at the funeral home around 3 pm for a private, open casket viewing for the family. I had not seen her for over a year. She was so thin and gaunt, it didn't even look like her. My mom is a nurse, and she had gone down and spent alot of time helping take care of her, so she knew how Leslie looked near the time of her death, but it always comes as a shock for someone like me.

We stayed through the entire closed casket reviewal as friends came to offer their support. Many tears were shed and there were alot of hugs that went around. After the reviewal the family went to eat at the HyVee, an interesting buffet at a grocery store. Kind of an interesting place to eat.... My Uncle Marc said it is where they often went on dates.

Afterwards we went to Marc and Leslie's home. Leslie had designed gardens for around their home and Mark maintains them maticulously. The garden is a beautiful place with ponds, bridges, walking paths, statues, etc. It was a beautiful and somber experience.

After our garden tour we went to Marc's sister's (Karen) house, where they had remodeled a barn into a bunk house. Our entire family stayed either in the bunk house or in Karen's home. Then we went back to Marc's house where we sat around a campfire, talking and laughing, enjoying our time together as a family. Our entire extended family all get along quite well, so it was a very special occasion.

We slept in the bunk house (Eric snored!!) and the next morning went to Perkins for breakfast, where we met up with other relatives that could not make it until monday. Then we went to the funeral, a lovely service in which Leslie's life was celebrated. Our entire family are strong Christians, so we celebrate that we will someday see Leslie again.

The drive to the burial site was made special because we drove through the gardens Leslie had designed. It was one last reminder of the beauty she was capable of creating. The wind was blowing strong at the cemetary, but the sun was shining. Tears flowed freely. As a family we embraced and held eachother. It was a sad, but beautiful experience. I can't describe what it is like for a family going through this kind of situation, when everyone loves eachother so much, and the person who has died is loved so much.

We had a meal at the church afterwards and then left. It was a beautiful, sad time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Busy Life

My summer schedule has really taken off. I've been so busy! My hope is to post every day, but it wont happen for a few more weeks. My sister joined the army and will be leaving for boot camp soon. My evenings have been taken up with doing various family activities before she leaves. I expect that once she is gone I will have more open evenings. Good luck to her!

Monday morning I had another jumping lesson. I did the "circle exercise." Basically, four jumps on a 20 meter circle. I had to try to get the same striding between each jump. It was REALLY hard!! I've been told that jumping is dressage with speed bumps. That may be true, but no one told me how hard it is to do dressage with speed bumps!

I've started working full days at the library (summer schedule), so both monday and tuesday I worked full days. I had my lesson monday morning, and rode Isis tuesday evening. So today was my first day back at the barn all day. I rode a horse I've never ridden before. A teeny weeny, 3 year old, dun paint mare with blue eyes. Her name is Boots. (Reminds me of Dora the Explorer) Val does some western training, and this horse is a western horse all the way. This little horse's owner is a 13/14 year old guy, kind of chunky. Anyways, he thinks he's a western cowboy - and it shows. Unfortunatly, it doesn't go over well with Boots. If I rode her with a loose rein and just let her work she was really good. I couldn't get nit picky on her. Val told me not to worry about bend or correctness, but to be happy if I could get her to walk/trot/canter where I want, when I want. This normally goes against my horse training nature, but considering who will be riding her, I'm not sure there's much point in frustrating the poor thing. She actually was quite nice.

Other than that, life has been fairly normal. I rode a couple horses this morning, went on another trail ride this afternoon with Grady, worked, worked, worked, and rode Isis this evening.

I hope to put a more detailed update on soon.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Horse Show Today

I had my second show of the season today. It was a schooling show - Grady's first Class A show EVER is in a few weekends. The judge is a Class A judge though, so the the scores are the same as what you'd get at a Class A. Anyways, the show last weekend was not that great. Grady was on edge through the tests. But today's show went much better. Yesterday was my worst preperation day ever. I had a riding lesson which wasn't too bad, but bathing/braiding etc. was not so good. Grady is boarded in a paddock with a shed 24/7, but I usually put him in a stall the night before a show. I was told that there wasn't a stall open for him last night, so when I put him back out he rolled and took half his braids out. Then I'm told that there IS a stall for me. *sigh* Anyways.

This morning my dad and I trailored and Val followed a little later. I drove the truck... I've only hauled once before. (I've only had my license for a little over a year) I'm proud to say that I did very well. No jerky stops or anything.

I rode Training Level 1 and 2. My goal is to show Training level all this season and hopefully qualify for regionals. I'm hoping to show him at each level per season and work our way up as far as he's willing to go.

Anyways, so he actually warmed up really really nicely. The warm up is a big open grass area and his gaits were light and springy. It rained alot yesterday so there was a HUGE puddle right at A. You had to go through it to get into the arena. Grady did not want to go through it. Grady spooked, reared, and ran backwards. But we got in, and the test was *ok*. All the work that we did on the 3/4ths of the arena that wasen't under water was good. But the work at A was, well, not so good. He spooked and jumped out of the arena, so we got eliminated. But the judge told me to finish my test and they still gave me my score. We ended up with a pretty meager score of 59.595%. What's even more, well, kind of pathetic, is that if I placed I would have gotten 4th place!

The second test went REALLY well though. Even as I was riding I thought "this feels good." And it was pretty good... We got 68.595% and first place! I was very very pleased with him. My hope is that we can get our scores into the 70%s within the next couple shows. Woo hoo!

We got home from the show around 4 pm so I took Isis for a trail ride. I sang the whole ride. Then I pulled up the mats in the trailor and cleaned out the whole thing so it would be nice and clean for next time.

So I picked out some of my favorite pictures. Here they are, but they got out of order in the posting process.

Picture 1: Right lead canter. Grady has a tendency to switch his hinds in his right lead. Val told me to make sure to keep my leg back and drive him forward, and you can tell that's what I'm doing. He didn't switch his hinds once. We've been working on his balance and straightness in the right lead, so it's improving.
Picture 2: Our first halt and salute. (The bad test) His front legs are a little off.
Picture 3:Left lead canter.
Picture 4: Free walk
Picture 5: Trotting
Picture 6: More trotting