Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just a quick post today. Today is Turkey Day, I just wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on everything that I have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my amazing family and friends. They have supported me through everything, helping me out and just being there.

I am thankful for my best friend who knows me better than I know myself.

I am thankful for an awesome BO/trainer who takes wonderful care of my horsechild. And let's me ride her horses whenever I want.

I am thankful for my amazing horses. X-Tra, who loves me unconditionally (as long as I keep the food coming) Kaye, who gives me 210% every single ride.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


Dangerous Riding

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sparked by a post on the Chronicle of the Horse forums regarding dangerous riding. IN that particular thread a video was linked and the question put forth was if that particular ride would be considered dangerous riding. Here's the video in question: Annette Lewis at the 1986 Hickstead Derby

Many people on the forum picked on her bad leg position, the extreme swinging back over every fence. I certainly don't like her leg and body position, but more worrisome to me is the way she cranks his head back. And her lack of control. I'd like present a second video for consideration, the same event, with the same horse two years later: Hickstead Derby 1988 Watch carefully and notice the bit she has in that horses mouth: double twisted wire. A very harsh bit, and the whole course she is fighting with him and sawing on his mouth. She keeps such a strangle hold on him that he has no chance to use his head and neck properly over a fence. And then right about 3:15 she yanks and yanks on him so much that her rein breaks. And she has no control over the horse. Someone tries to stop the horse and he runs the guy over. And yet people don't think this is dangerous. He just has an unconventional jumping style. He was excited and that's why he wouldn't stop. It's called training. Annette has done nothing but hang on that horse's mouth, all he wants to do is get away from her hands.

So let's throw up some other examples. How about this photo of the winner of Poplar Place CCI**. Dangerous riding? Look at the rider's position, straight up and down, and sitting on the horse's back over a solid cross country obstacle. Look at the horse's jumping style, head up in the air, hollow back. To me that's a pair waiting for an accident. Yet she won the event. Now how about this photo. That's Hilda Hick Donahue who was just eliminated at Pau, three fences from the end of cross country for dangerous riding, because of the way her horse jumps. Jumping style looks pretty much the same to me. So how is one dangerous riding, but the other wins an event?

Consistency in judging is obviously not there. Unfortunately dangerous riding is subjective as many things in our sport are. And it's something that can be misused. How about this video? Watch closely at :58. Someone tried to call dangerous riding. That the horse had been chested into the jump. However the horse had pulled both front shoes earlier in the course and he slid downhill. I'd like to know how he could have been chested into the jump when the rider was sitting back and slowing him down.

How about this? Right on the horse' s back over the middle of the jump, hands in her lap and the horse's chin tucked to his chest. If I felt like searching I could find more at other events to prove it's not a one time bad photo.

I'm sure I could find many more examples of dangerous riding. I just found it very interesting how people refused to see the obviously dangerous riding of the video. However I know that some of the people involved are of the run and jump mentality in eventing. The people that think dressage is just that thing you have to suffer through. I'm sure they will change their tune when they hurt themselves or their horse in the future.


2010 Eventing Dressage Tests

Monday, November 23, 2009

So the new 2010 Dressage tests for Eventing came out earlier this month. I didn't really have a chance to look at them until just this past week. And I have to say so far I am not a fan. Beginner Novice Test A has the goofy center line from the Young Event Horse Tests. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now. It's just awkward to ride. Plus the two changes in bend are rather difficult in that amount of space with either a green horse or an inexperienced rider. I don't really get the reasoning behind the change. I've heard it's because making the 10 meter half circle off the center line at C is too difficult. Well that argument is lost because you have to do 10 meter half circle to the center line at the end of the test. Others say it's because riding straight down to a trailer (where many judges sit in lower level HTs) is scary to a green horse. Again you have to ride down that center line at the end of the test. And my thought is this. You know that judges sit in trailers. Park your trailer in the ring and ride your horse up to it like you would in a test. Have someone else sit in the trailer, jump up and down in it, generally make lots of noise. I bet if you do that at home your horse won't bat an eye at an event. The USDF Introductory Tests have regular center lines and I haven't heard any problems. Beginner Novice Test B, well I don't really get why we can't do a full circle at the canter. I mean half of a 20 meter circle at the canter, that's hardly any time to show the gait. Oh and suddenly in Test B green horses can ride proper center lines? They don't need to veer off to the rail because a 10 meter half circle is too difficult?

By the time you get to Novice Test A the horse most have really gotten over that whole center line thing as you do two center lines right at the beginning of the test. I actually don't mind Novice A all that much. The canter work is different. Half circle E-B, picking up the canter as your approach B. But at least you still do a full circle at the canter. Novice Test B doesn't bother me until you get to the end. Dressage tests should be symmetrical, and so the walk should split up the trot and canter work. Not in Novice B, the walk doesn't come until the very end of the test. C medium walk. MXK free walk. K medium walk, A turn down center line, D working trot. G halt and salute. I don't like the fact the you begin your center line at the walk. By the time you ask for the trot, you are pretty much immediately stopping him again.

Training Test A isn't a bad test. I've never particulary cared for the stretching circles, but that's just me. Starts to ask for the lengthening at the trot, and even a little at the canter. Overall not a bad test for the level. Now on the other hand, Training Test B I have some issues with. Mainly the fact that it asks for a stretching circle just strides after you have done canter work!

I haven't looked to closely at the Prelim, Intermediate and Advanced tests. And I will mention that I haven't riden any of the tests completely yet. That will happen this weekend after we clear jump standards out of the arena so I can set up the dressage ring. But just from looking at the tests and my own personal knowledge of dressage moevements I have to say I think I prefered the old 2006 tests.


Dressage is striving for the equation 1+1=One -Author Unknown

Some personal news to share. I went to look at a house this week! It's small, just three rooms and a bathroom. But since it's just me and the cat I don't need a lot of space. It's in pretty good shape structurally, it just needs some updating. So, we're working on the financing stuff and hopefully I'll be putting an offer on the place. Keep your fingers crossed!

Had some good ride this weekend. Both Taryn and I took lunge lessons on X Saturday morning. Of course he had to decide to be a bit of a jerk at first. But he settled down after a few laps. First lunge lesson since before my surgery, and I'll admit I was a little sore afterwards. Need to do lots more lunging, I'm out of shape now! Then it was Taryn's turn, and I was just cracking up. She kept saying that her outside arm (not even the one she was holding on with) was tired. I was just waiting for her to do the YMCA the way she was waving her arms all over the place!

Taryn had to leave early so I rode with Rachel on Airy. Now Airy had kicked Kaye the day before in the hock, so we were taking it a bit easy on her. The two of us had a fun dressage lesson. Worked on leg yields and half-passes. And then moved on to shoulder in and haunches in. Bonnie had us coming out of the corner and doing a shoulder in for half a dozen strides, then a small circle and shoulder in again. Rachel was having some trouble with that, Airy's not the easiest to do laterals with, so they stopped there. Then Bonnie had me try doing a shoulder in from the corner, small circle and then haunches in, which is a movement in the Intermediate dressage test.

Sunday, Bonnie and I worked on cleaning stalls all morning. I was waiting around to see if Taryn was going to come so I could ride with her. After a while though I tacked up Kaye and we had another dressage lesson. Started out working on center lines. And then Bonnie had me try riding the center line in the new beginner novice test A. Which is AXMC. I have to say it's very awkward to ride. I don't know if it's just because I'm used to riding a straight center line. We rode that a few times first going to the right and then to the left. Finally we finished with some canter work. Good lesson.


Crazy times

Friday, November 13, 2009

Well, it's been insane lately. On my first day back to work after my medical leave, I was rear-ended on my way to Pittsburgh. About $1000 to fix the back of my car. Then two weeks later, on a Friday night I was on my way to Pittsburgh with Mattykins and Joni for a night of dancing at Pegs. And we hit a fucking deer on 60. Almost $5000 worth of damage to the front of my car. I just can't win! So now I'm stuck driving the CRV while my car is currently in pieces at Cartek.

Good news is, the riding has been going pretty well. I've been working a lot on my dressage with Kaye. I've been riding with Taryn, working on laterals and things like that. Had fun the one day doing a half pass left to the rail and then half pass right to the centerline. We also did a fun counter canter exercise the one day. Three loop serpentine at the canter with no lead change. Of course now that Kaye has learned how to do a flying change, she wanted to change leads. I had to work to keep her on the counter canter.

Last week was a gorgeous weekend for November in Western PA. So X and I loaded up in the trailer and went trail riding with Tom and Dalal at Crooked Creek. I had a good time, not sure how much X enjoyed it. I figure we rode about 20 miles or so between the two days. It was unlike anything my pony had ever seen before. We were going up and down hills, through creek beds. All over the place. X was a bit unsure at first, but after a while he settle in and he was actually pretty good. We'll probably do some more trail riding next year, it was nice to get out of the ring a little.