2015 NEDA Fall Festival and GAIG/USDF

On September 16th, we loaded up Karma (La Habanara), Schando, DeJure, and All That ‘N More (Andy) and headed down on the seven-hour trip to Saugerties, New York for the NEDA Fall Festival.

I competed both DJ, in the championships, and Andy, at Training Level. This was my second time showing Andy, including the previous Saugerties show, with mixed results. This time, however, the rides went much better, and we even managed 4th High Point of the Show for Traning Level.

Saturday was DJ and my’s regional championship ride at First Level. Leading up to the show, she had been feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, we did not have the warmup time that we’d planned on, and therefore rode too conservitively to score higher than a 67.426%, which was still fabulous, and placing 6th overall. I was super proud of our jumps from when I first started riding DJ, rockin’ Introductory Level only three years ago!



Okay, I know I said that I would write about what I’ve been up to in the last few months, but first, some exciting news about what’s to happen in the not-so-distant future!


Woo-hoo! Yea!

No, I’m not showing 😦 but I will be doing the next best thing… grooming for two of my favorite ponies in the barn (okay, they’re all my favorite, but that’s besides the point)… Schando the Brilliant and Ms. La Habanara (aka Karma). Schando had the achievement of winning his I-2 Adult Ammy class at the Region 8 Championships while Karma received a wild card for Third Level.

I am super excited to be traveling all the way down to Kentucky, on a plane (I LOVE FLYING), to the famous Kentucky Horse Park, home of the beautiful pictures at the bottom of the page.

I have been doing my homework, both from school and reading prohorsegrooms.com, and I feel prepared for this task. After all, it’s just another horse show, right?


Catching Up!


It’s been a super busy time getting back into the school year (gack), but I’ve still managed to spend an adequate time at the barn (or in horsey settings, at least). Since I last posted (the Bear Spot experience), here is what I’ve been up to:

As I write posts on each of these events, I will turn these bullet points into blue links, so you can click on them to see an entire post on the specifics of the event!

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”

EDAP via D4K

Don’t let the multiple acronyms scare you off….

The EDAP (Emerging Dressage Athlete Program) was founded by Lendon Gray and D4K (Dressage 4 Kids). The program was designed “for dedicated, determined young dressage riders of all levels. The goal of the program is to find, to help to educate, and to develop talented youth to become the international riders and trainers of the future.” (dressage4kids.org).

I have been selected as one of the lucky few into this program, and will be riding in the upcoming clinic at Pineland Farms’ Equestrian Center (http://www.pinelandfarms.org/equestrian-center/). I briefly audited the same clinic next year, which makes me even more excited to experience it from a whole new angle.

On June 11th and 12th, I will trailer Atara in for my lesson, braided (ack!) and ready to go. We will also attend lectures (the people, not the horses) and attend lunch at noon, concluding at around 3 in the afternoon. I cannot wait for this wonderful learning experience! Thank you, D4K!!! IMG_2365