My Amazing Experiences at the 2017 Courtney King-Dye Horsemastership Clinic

See the official publication of this article in the Dressage Today website.

As soon as I knew I could make it work, I emailed Lendon Grey (president of Dressage4Kids), asking if I could take part in her widely-renowned clinic. Soon after…

Continue reading “My Amazing Experiences at the 2017 Courtney King-Dye Horsemastership Clinic”


Bear Spot Farm: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: On August 1st, we trailered all the way down to Concord, Massachusetts, to compete at the Bear Spot Farm dressage show. Taking DeJure, we braided up and headed for their gorgeous indoor/warmup. We had a simple warmup, with a small scare of lameness that went away as we went along, then climbed the trail up to the outdoor’s plateau. In the said ring, DJ and I completed our very first Second Level test!!!! We were judged by ‘r’-level judge Merrilyn Griffin, and achieved a score of 67.727%, placing us 3rd.

The Bad: Unfortunately, DJ came out of her stall lame later that night, and we decided to scratch the second day. She seemed pleased with herself, however, that she got to show off at least a little bit of more fancy work; no more of this silly First Level!

The Ugly: On Monday, we trailered Atara down to ride in the Gary Rockwell clinic. We had been given the opportunity to ride for him in December of 2014 (see older post here), but had to cancel due to lameness. So we decided to bring the redhead instead.

I would like to say that it all went very well, that Atara was amazing, that I learned so much in my ride, and that everyone had a fantastic time. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Even though it could have been worse (much worse), I did not feel that t was terribly productive. It was 100 degrees with no wind, high humidity, after a long show and week, and I was on the red rocket (I say with love). We did not have enough time in our warm up, and I think that we focused on the opposite of what I think would have been a better idea. Instead of working on lateral work and canter transitions, I would have preferred to have gotten a warmed up and connected trot, and then went on to work. With Atara, I have found that if you try to work on more complicated exercises before getting an established regularity and relaxation in the walk and trot, it only becomes worse, and once she “leaves the building”, it is near impossible to fix it.

However, over these two short years, I have become very comfortable with the idea that not all experiences have to be good for you to learn a lot. I can take out just as much (and often more) of a “bad” experience than a “good” one. In good experience, everything  goes according to plan. It’s when things don’t go according to plan when you can learn to plan and (mentally and physically) prepare for hardships; this is what you carry with you for the long run.

My First EDAP Clinic (Focusing on the Ride) — DAY TWO

On Day Two of the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program (EDAP) clinic, I was able to find Atara’s “special trot” in our warm-up. The “special trot” is the trot I call that I can easily sit, stop, walk, and canter from, adjust within, and perform any lateral movement. Because I found it so quickly, we were able to work on more stuff in my lesson.

During the warm-up (before my lesson started), I walked her around and let her look at anything she wanted to. My only say was to not run off and to avoid the other horses; the rest was up to her. Once she settled, I took up a contact and asked her to be a little deep, keeping my hands quiet. This helped her pay more attention to my seat, and I made sure I could stop, slow down or speed up from it alone. I also asked her to yield off each of my legs on a medium-sized circle (about 15 meters, maybe a bit smaller). Once she was loose, licking the bit and bending easily off my legs, we went to trot. I looked for the same thing in the trot as I asked for in the walk, with more straight lines. We did lots of bending exercises: leg yield from the track in and to the track, serpentines, and also some halt/rein-back. As Sue Williams once told me in a clinic, I looked for the feeling that the bit was a piece of gum in the horse’s mouth, creating the feeling that she gently chews the bit. I found that this image really helps find a supple connection. Another image I kept in my head was from Tanya, who says to loosen your wrists as if you were ringing a tea bell.

Once Lendon came out, and I had found out special trot, we asked for the canter a couple of times. We were more successful than the first day but decided to leave it at a good place. She said she felt content that I have some new tools to try out, and that practice will mainly help find a good canter. Instead of further pursuing it, we continued various trot lateral work.

We kept Atara’s trot active and attentive while keeping forwardness and control. We did lots of shoulder-in to volte to half-pass, as well as renvers, travers, and transitions within each (while in shoulder-in, trot to walk back to trot). We also performed my first half-pass zig-zag, which went pretty well. Lendon talked about the importance of setting up the changes of bend to the audience. She also explained how a half-pass is simply a diagonal line in travers, or a shoulder-in on a diagonal line (which was funny, because when I first learned how to do a half-pass, Tanya told me to go on a diagonal line, then asked me to do a haunches-in. “Congratulations, you’ve just done your first half-pass,”, she’d said). Lendon also emphasized not to allow the haunches to lead in the half-pass. She said that it was a very sloppy rider mistake, and can easily be avoided.

My First EDAP Clinic (Focusing on the Ride) — DAY ONE

This past Thursday/Friday, at Pineland Farms’ Equestrian Center, I attended and rode in my first (of hopefully many) EDAP clinic with Lendon Gray. It was a fantastic experience to bring Atara somewhere new and to see how we did with a fresh pair of eyes.

Continue reading “My First EDAP Clinic (Focusing on the Ride) — DAY ONE”

Dressage 4 Kids: 13th Weekend Educational Program

We (my dad and I) are on our way home from the 13th annual D4K WEP. Being my first D4K-related event, I came not knowing what to expect, in any way. Overall, it was a very interesting and fun experience!! I encourage all riders of any age to sign up for these events, as everyone- from 8 to 60+ years old- got something out of it. I certainly did! Even though all of the classes and speakers were interesting, I especially enjoyed Laura Graves, Ayden Uhlir, Rob Postleb, Donna Decker, and Steve Karus. Here’s why: Continue reading “Dressage 4 Kids: 13th Weekend Educational Program”

Pineland Farms’ 5 Star Symposium

A few weeks ago, DeJure and I were selected to be demonstration riders in Pineland Farms’ Five Star Symposium, featuring Stephan Clarke and Gary Rockwell.  Other selected riders included Michael Poulin, Gwyneth McPherson, Heather Blitz, Jutta Lee, David Collins, and Laura Noyes. It was such an incredible honor just to be selected.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our riding in the clinic, due to DeJure coming up lame. Even though I didn’t ride in the clinic, I still got the pleasure of auditing the clinic, which may have benefitted me in a way, since I got to watch all of the upper level riders preform, instead of tending to my horse behind the scenes.

All of the riders were incredible to watch, and I truly hope to ride in their next clinic!

Dressage Dreams’ 1st Annual Summer Youth Camp

I just got back from the first annual Dressage Dreams camp today, and I already can’t wait to go back next year!! Since we were the ones who created it, my barn friends and I were the first ones to test it out…

On Tuesday (day one), we arrived at Bear Spot Farm and Foundation 9:00 a.m. We unloaded our horses and unpacked the trailer. Immediately after, we proceeded to the outdoor arena, where Jane Karol was demonstrating upper level dressage movements on a beautiful Lusitano stallion. Sue Williams narrated what Jane was preforming, and how it was correct/incorrect. 
After that, we all went to tack up our horses and each get a 45 minute private lesson: 3 from Sue, 3 from Jane. After a celebratory dinner at the stables, we headed to our on-ground camper to wait for the next day…

On Wednesday (our last day) we woke at 6 in the morning to feed, water, and care for our horses. We continued this until the first lesson (me!) at 8:30. We broke up the lesson times for two demonstrations: horse massage therapy and horse handling. Both were extremely educational and very entertaining!