Wednesday, August 25, 2010

National Standardbred Show 2010

This past weekend, August 22, 2010, was the National Standardbred Show at the Horse Park of New Jersey.  It was the third time Dreamy and I made the trip down all the way from Maine to compete.  I love this show, I love being a member of the group who puts it on (SPHO-NJ), and I love spending time with my NJ friends.  :)  Overall it was a very fun weekend.

Dreamy and I rolled out of here on Saturday morning.  I was proud to make the trip from Maine to New Jersey on my own.  My mare and I are two peas in a pod....she is a great traveler and I love our road trips!  The traffic was not that bad until we hit the George Washington bridge...and the whole trip through New Jersey was heavy traffic.  The normal seven hour drive took just over eight hours.  I was tired from driving, but it was all forgotten when Dreamy and I arrived.  Setting up the stall, reconnecting with my friends, hanging out at the stalls, having dinner at the 'Burg that night........SO WORTH IT!  LOL!  :D  I stayed at the lovely "Gregory Inn" again...LOL!  My friend Helene is my "long lost big sister", and it is always fun to stay with her.  ;-D  Even when I drag her out for Chinese food and to check on my pony late in the evening, talking her ears off....she loves me! 

There is nothing like the excitement of showing to me.  And I don't just mean being in the ring.  Dreamy and I have done numerous dressage shows this year, from here in Maine, to New Hampshire, down to Massachusetts, and even out in Vermont (which I somehow forgot to write about...duh).  And dressage shows are fun, don't get me wrong.  But we are always alone at dressage shows.  Yes, I have dressage acquaintances who I see and chat with once I am there, but it is not the same.  Showing in the three hunter shows here in Maine with the MHA and then going down to Nationals, it is more of a big fun party with friends.  And overnight shows are so much more fun to me anyway...we eat together, get ready together, support and encourage each other.....I have a great group in Maine and another in New Jersey to do this with at the hunter shows.  Dressage shows are more of "me time", I guess.  

Anyway, Dreamy was all prettied up on Saturday night.  A professional braider did her mane and tail, which was a silly splurge but I wanted her to look nice.  I can braid, I do everything myself from mucking, grooming, feeding, etc. but it was my birthday present to myself to hire a braider!  LOL!  And it was so much less stress for me!

The show day was overcast and gray, with some showers and lots of Clouds of Doom.  LOL!  It kept looking like it was going to pour, maybe even thunderstorm, with the winds picking up and all that.  But it never really did much besides sprinkle.  

I am super happy with how my mare did.  She was quiet and well mannered for most of our classes.  We started the day with Mares In Hand, which I hate.  I have never done in hand at the National, but for some reason I let myself get talked into it this year.  We did not place out of the 15 mares and I was not surprised.  Judges either love her or hate her for her non-STB looking confirmation or hate her because of it.  Perfect evidence is the double judged DEC Show this year where we pinned 1st and 5th in STB In Hand.  LOL!  We can win in a class of 22 (this year's UMaine Spring Fling) but then not place in a class of five (last year's DEC).  So me thinks our days of in hand are done.  LOL!

Next we had to tack up for western.  Yup, you read that right!  I decided on a whim that I wanted to try Dreamy western this year.  I have wanted to do it for a while in the back of my mind, since I really would LOVE LOVE LOVE to try team penning one day.  So I rode her a few times this year, maybe 10-12 western "training rides" total, and found she liked the lack of contact (not surprised!) and had an OK western jog.  It is more of a slow dressage sitting trot, but a friend of mine who shows western assured me that was OK.  Dressage and western share a lot of similarities.  I know that if I keep practicing I could slow that slow trot down to a real jog, but for now, it was not that bad.  Her lope was not existent, but oh well.  This was for FUN!

We placed well in our western classes.  In the mid Atlantic states you are allowed to cross enter 2 gait and 3 gait, which is not always the case here in New England.  So we did both 2 and 3 gait western pleasure and horsemanship, so we could do the entire division.  She ended up one point shy of the Reserve Champion of the WP division!  LOL!  Pretty good for a whim.....a friend remarked that a good horse is a good horse and Dreamy proved that I suppose!  We went in what they call a "dog bone" bit, which is essentially a western french link.  Dreamy goes in a loose ring french link snaffle (it is a KK Ultra) and does OK with the western bit.  Anyway, she was having NONE of the slow trot idea in warm up, so I made the last second decision to ride her with two hands.  I knew the judge could excuse me, and I was fine with that (she did not).   A friend of mine did the same thing.  I was more concerned with having a productive training ride than a show ride....and did not want to allow her to buzz around at a regular trot with her western tack on.  But the judge did not seem to care about how I held the reins and still placed us!  LOL!  Not my fault she did so!  No one said anything to the steward, though I know some people were all mad about it, so the judge's placings were final!

We did Trail after the western pleasure division.  I wanted to do it for fun, and it was cool.  We had to knock a pole off two barrels, then trot over it to a mailbox.  No problem.  Then the mailbox door was stuck shut, so as I pulled it, it started to lean over towards Dreamy (it was on a jump standard thing).  She moved away, of course, so I had to move her back over.  That was our only flaw.  Then on to a box made of poles......stop and do a 270 turn.  No problem, we did a turn on the haunches.  Then we had to open a "gate" which was two jump standards with a rope between as the gate.  We have NEVER EVER practiced this, so I had no idea what to expect.  No problem.  LOL!!!!!!!  Then we had to move a coat from one jump standard to problem.  Then we trotted over four grounds poles, halted between two, backed out, and trotted away.  No problems with those maneuvers and we earned a 5th out of 10 riders.  :D

Next came the dressage tack.  She was a complete poop in the dressage but that is OK.  LOL!  We warmed up pretty well but then she completely had a meltdown just before we were to enter at "A".  All I can attribute it to was the wind picking up with the onset of the Clouds of Doom, my friend Helene's horse leaving so she was totally alone up there, and seeing bits and peices of horses and people through the trees down into the lower show rings.  The dressage ring is set up on a hill, so it is away from everything.  Maybe it was none of those reasons...I have no idea.  For whatever reason, Dreamy tried to bolt numerous times (the photographer got some pics of me hanging on for dear life.....really nice....NOT) and leaped into the air as well.  WOW!  So our Training 1 test was um.......REALLY BAD.  LOL!  Nothing like getting a 2 or 4 on a movement when there was more leaping than dressaging going on.  Training 1 was a 53.9%....such a low score!  But we still ended up 3rd out of five riders, maybe six.  So at least our VERY BAD was still better than some. 

I worked her pants off after that, thinking I could work her out of her snit.  Another horse came up to the ring and she seemed to relax.  I was able to get her to keep her feet on the ground but she was revved up.  The more I worked her, the more revved she got.  Oh well.  You have to ride the horse you have underneath you!  They were calling my first hunter class of the day as well so I HAD TO RIDE ASAP!  LOL!  While Training 2 had lots of leaping and bolting, Training 2 just had severe tenseness.  Like terrible awful tenseness.  I was mortified at my horse, but the judge was sympathetic.  She told me she saw brilliance (her word, not mine) in our work, but that the nervous energy got in the way.  She could tell I was upset.....she asked how she normally was at dressage shows.  I told her relaxed and happy!  LOL!  And it is true!  But I explained that when Dreamy got something in her mind, she could not always be ridden out of it.  She asked me what level I normally show at (USDF Training 1, 2, 4 this year) and she asked when I planned to move up to First Level.  LOL!  I told her when it felt I planned to try a First 1 test next year at some point.  She was just a really nice judge, with great feedback.  She told me the scores reflected Dreamy's nerves and tenseness, that she really felt we were capable of better scores (I know....we earned this them year already!  LOL)  So our Training 2 was a 59.3%, which I thought was incredible considering how bad she was.  And being only about 6 minutes ater the first test, I was pleased.  And somehow, again, our VERY BAD was better than most....we got a first place ribbon in Training 2 and ended up being Reserve Champion Training level dressage of the day!  LOL!  That just completely cracks me up. 

We literally trotted out of the dressage ring, straight to the stall, while my friend Christie (Bless her heart, I love this girl!) got Dreamy untacked and retacked in her hunter duds).  I meanwhile, quickly changed my clothing.  I grabbed my jumping bat and off we went to do Hunter Over Crossrails!  LOL!  I had a moment to memorize the course, watch two riders go, and then we jumped.  I was worried she would be a poop, try to buck, like she was doing in dressage but she was fine.  It was a big class......not exactly sure how many but we were the last to go.  We ended up third! 

We went right into our hunter under saddle classes and did the entire division of 2 and 3 gait.  Next was pleasure and I just did the 3-gait because we never place well in pleasure so I did not want to ride her into the ground by doing the entire senior division (senior horse division, which is not for the horses age but because she has won over 12 blue ribbons).  And last was the adult equitation, which I had planned to do the entire division but chose not to (more on why below).  It was a weird day....the classes were I thought we did well in I either placed low or not at all.  The classes where I thought I bombed we did well against more horses!  SO WEIRD!  I am usually pretty good at knowing how our ride went, but this was an odd day.  Not bad, just odd.  I am happy with our placings, of course.  She was a good girl, I had a blast, and it was good to see my friends Helene and Laura place very well.  Those are the things that matter!

In the first of my three adult equitation classes, I began to get light headed.  Suddenly I realized in the line up that I had not eaten LUNCH!  Holy cow.  I had been so busy running around changing tack and outfits that I had not eaten.  I was supposed to have two more classes in a row, then a young rider ("JS", the same girl who did Nervous Novice with Dreamy in 2009) was to ride her in two junior  equitation classes right afterwards.  

I made a quick decision to scratch my last two eq classes, which gave me time to get something to eat and allow JS to ride Dreamy.  Who cares about finishing the division!  LOL!  JS is a good little rider, I think she is 12 this year, and literally rode Dreamy for 15 minutes last year and pulled a 2nd place out of four riders in her first ever show!  :D  It was cool!  So I wanted her to have at least a few minutes to ride Dreamy again.  She has only ever ridden her that one time at the National show last year....she lives in NJ and I was asked in 2009 if she could ride Dreamy because the president of SPHO-NJ was looking for a sane horse for her to ride.  

It worked out perfectly.  It was a bummer to scratch, but the right thing to do for JS AND for me.  I wolfed down a banana and some crackers.  JS and Dreamy had a nice warm up and while she did not pin in her first eq class, she earned a 3rd place in the second one!  She got her diagonals correct in both classes, did a nice pattern in the second class including sitting trot which she had never really done before we warmed up, and Dreamy was a perfect packer pony.  I was so pleased and proud.....especially since it was essentially a "catch ride" for JS and all the other kids in the ring OWNED their horses and rode all the time!  :D

So here is the rundown!

Reserve Champion - Training Level dressage division
1st Training test 2
2nd Western Pleasure 3-Gait
3rd Training test 1
3rd Western Horsemanship 2-gait with pattern
3rd Hunter over Crossrails
4th Hunter under saddle 2-gait
5th Western Pleasure 2-Gait
5th Senior Horse Pleasure 3-Gait
5th Trail Class

Somehow I never got my Trail ribbon!  :(  After I did my Trail pattern, I asked to be excused so I could go do dressage.  I heard them announce the placings, but never had a chance to get the ribbon.  Oh well.  I have too many of them as it is!

Sadly at the end of the show, a woman from New England felt the need to be very unsportsmanlike towards me.  No need for details.....I have too much CLASS to write about things like that on my blog!!!!!!!  ;-D  But I will says it was a shame, since it reflected badly not just on her as a person, but the club of which she is president up here.  But not everyone knows how to have class or lose gracefully or even have self control!  

Instead, I will share my opinions about general unsportsmanlike behavior at shows.  :D  Horse shows are breeding grounds for small minded people to conduct themselves in small minded ways.  It is sickening.  I cannot understand why some people feel the need to be so inappropriate at shows (we have ALL seen/heard them!) and then later on forums and blogs.  Do I complain at times?  Of course!  We all do!  And I do so with my best friend, on the phone or on the ride home from the show.  NOT IN PUBLIC!  LOL!  And if I truly had an issue, I would go to the steward or the show committee, which I have in the past.  Instead of being the agent of change, people just want to yell and throw tantrums, and be rude!  :O 

OH the drama!  LOL!  ;-p  Afterward, all I could do was shake my head and laugh.  It always cracks me up when someone old enough to be my grandmother acts younger than my six year old child.  I see it at horse shows, at work, everywhere!  You have to take the bad with the good, and people like this might think what they do is right, but I can assure you, dear readers, that being that rude and unsportsmanlike in public is never a good idea.  Whoo boy!  LOL!  When the competition is tough, and someone cannot measure up, they feel the need to lash out.  The best we can do it rise above it all.  Let the haters have their hate crushes.  Let them write lies on their blogs.  :)  I know I am a good person, and I have poise, sportsmanship and class.  I was not sure I would share this little story (and there is A LOT MORE I could share, but there is no reason to be so vulgar), but I do feel it is important for anyone reading this to know that there are always going to be "those crazy people" at horse shows.  And all you can do is rise above.....move on and be thankful you are sane and happy.  :D

So I would say the 2010 National Standardbred show is one for the books.  It was a fun weekend and I am glad I went down.  I got everything packed up that afternoon, and Dreamy and I left for home early on Monday morning.  It was a long drive home, with lots of traffic so the drive was nine hours!  WOW I was sore!  LOL!  Dreamy traveled very well and was happy to be home.  Thank you SPHO-NJ for being a great group of friends and putting on a great show.  :) :) :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another good lesson

I have been taking as many lessons as I can lately, as school is starting again soon and my time will obviously be spent teaching English all day rather than playing horses.  :(  I am very sad....and NOT ready to go back yet!  I have had an AMAZING summer!  Usually I try to take two lessons a month, every other week, but I have had them pretty much weekly this summer.  Once school begins, I will try to take at least two a month on the weekends...I hope!

Anyway, I had a lesson on this past Tuesday.  We started out with canter work, after I had warmed Dreamy up.  At this point, I really need to improve my seat at the canter in order to help Dreamy improve her canter beyond the first 5-6 strides.  She has an excellent and balanced transition and a great 5-6 strides, but then it begins to fall apart a bit.  Though it is NOT as bad as it once was, I MUST improve my balance for her balance to improve.

It is sooooooo frustrating to know exactly what I need to do in my brain, but be unable to actually make my body do it.  At 31 years young (today is my birthday! yay!) I am very fit and physically able; to actually have to fight my body when I canter is stressful.  I have no idea WHY I roach my lower back and lose my leg when we canter, or WHY I cannot correct it, but I have been fighting it forever it seems.

SO....Judy gave me (more) techniques to try to find my balance and strengthen my core.  (Last week she teased me and told me to imagine I had a $100 bill under my seat and if it stayed there I could keep it!  :D  It worked OK but then I started bracing my seat to stay down.....which braced my elbows.....and did not work out as well as it should have.)  She told me to try to imagine that my lower legs are wrapping around her barrel and that I want my heels to touch (which of course, cannot is just a visualization).  Her thought was that if she could get my leg to be a teeny bit forward, then perhaps it would help me sit up.  My poor instructor; it seems that she constantly has to invent visualizations to help me ride my horse!  LOL!

First we began on the larger circle, and then once we established a decent canter we went smaller.  I would say we averaged about 17 meters...a few times we actually hit the 15 m. circle at the canter!  And it was GOOD!

For whatever reason, that visual of "touching my heels underneath her belly" totally helped.  It helped make me sit straight in the saddle and my butt actually stayed firm in the saddle instead of the slight lift and then bump that happens when things get all unbalanced.  Of course, I still had to think about keeping my elbows soft and following and maintaining her bend with my outside aids AND maintaining the actual canter....LOL!  But suddenly she slowed down, stayed on the small circle, maintained a three beat canter, maintained some lift in the gait, and we actually made it around a full circle before I had her come back to the trot!  It was awesome!  :D  We BOTH stayed balanced!

We had success in both directions...and I did not want to stop!  It is SO nice to have really great work that feels SO right and correct.  It is always fun to ride my horse, but when we are totally in sync and riding correctly, it is more than fun!  It is addictive!!!  LOL!  I hope we can continue to strengthen her canter, because it is coming along so well!  :D :D :D

It was a good plan to start with the canter work.  Last week we did a lot of trot work and lengthenings first,  so I think she was pretty tuckered out when we finally did the small canter circles.  And while last week she was not 100% sure what the heck I was asking, and therefore the canter was only OK, this week it was like it all clicked.  Yay!  :) 

At the end, Judy had me do more leg yielding/shoulder in along the rail and then some lengthenings across the short diagnols.   The lateral work was decent, but the lengthenings did not have quite as much impulsion as last week....again, it was the end after lots of canter work and she was tired.  But that was OK.  It was still good trot work and I was pleased.  When I play around with this stuff at home, I will be cognizant to only do one or the other....if I do small canter circles I would not ask for lengthenings and vice versa.  :)  But in a lesson, it is nice to get the help, support, and feedback so I am prepared to practice on my own.

I kind of wish I could get some video and/or photos of my lessons, because we usually have some really nice moments.  But it is rather hard since I go alone...I need a personal photographer!  LOL!!!

Next lesson is set for next Tuesday....  :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just another day on the farm...

This past Sunday my husband had to fix my barn floor.  It is made of wood (not by is 200 years old so that is what I have...for now!) which is not the best equine flooring in my opinion.  Yes, it looks pretty and is fairly cushiony, but it is a pain in the butt to maintain.  I am careful about airing the urine spots on the stall floors, I use more bedding (shavings) than I probably need to, and all that.  But still, there are rot spots from time to time.

There has been a soft spot at the back of the barn for a while now.  It is underneath the mats, so I was not too worried.  When it rained EVERY SINGLE DAY last summer, I was never able to get the back 6-10" of the floor to dry out completely, hence the soft spot of rot in the boards.

Well, Reva accidentally stepped on it that morning and CRACK! Yup, it finally gave out.  Thankfully, there were no issues except for the noise...and of course, my sensible filly just kept walking out!  LOL!

So anyway, while the boys fixed it up, I took some photos. 

Here they husband cut out the spot with his chainsaw (gotta love a woodsman who plays carpenter...LOL) so that he could easily piece in more wood.  I did not have my camera for the chainsaw part.  :(  ha ha ha

Here is one of the barn cats, Mac, taking a drink from a horse water tub.

Reva!  :)

 Best buddies!  :)

More of Mac...he was feral but is now the sweetest kitty!

Sparky looks great for age 28!  :)

Two of my girls!  Dreamy was off grazing in her pasture on the other side of the barn, which I could not see from where I was sitting. 

Mac is trying to "help"....LOL!

Such a cutie!  :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fun Freebies!

I love getting free things, especially when I forget that I ordered them!  LOL!  Today I received a fun gift from Stubben, after I signed up for an introductory care package on their website.  I did it back in the beginning of July when I got my new Juventus (the letter from them with the care package is dated July 19!) and kind of forgot about it.  It was free and sent parcel post, so I figured it would take a few weeks.  :)

The letter said I was given Stubben Care Brush On (for my horse's coat) and Stubben Hamanol (leather conditioner).  I admit I was a little bummed, since I wanted the matching leather soap.   But, hey, it is free so how can I possibly complain??  They both retail for $13.95! And I got a cute little cloth bag with the Stubben logo...not sure what I will do with that yet, but I am sure I will find a use for it. 

Good thing I checked the is indeed the Hamanol but the "Care Brush On" is actually the leather soap!  LOL!  I am pretty sure my horses' coats would not have a "real show sheen" as the letter promised had I applied the leather soap to them.  ;-D

Thanks Stubben!!!  :D  I am loving this company and loving my saddle!!!  After I use them, I will post a Product Review!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Our work gets harder....

I have spent the summer interspersing lessons and harder dressage training rides at home with trail riding and western pleasure work.  Dreamy has been mentally happy and well conditioned.  Sadly, last week when I went out on the trail, there was a small dead deer right next to the dirt road!  I could smell something dead, then suddenly I heard the flies and then saw it........YUCK!  So I have not done any trail riding this week (I guess it has actually been a week from Sunday, so more like 10 days.)  There is no way to get to the trails without going past this spot, so we have done more dressage and ring work this week because I have not wanted to see the dead deer.  :(

Anyway, between my last NEDA Flextime lesson and my lesson yesterday with my regular instructor, we have started to increase the rate of difficulty in our work.  This is good, of course, but does feel frustrating since I am pretty used to our "routine" of what we work on this year.  Now instead of just perfecting what we already know how to do, we are starting to introduce harder concepts.  Dreamy is stepping up to the plate well.  I just have to stop worrying that things are not "perfectly right" and allow us the learning curve we need.  :)

We started the lesson with lateral work and then some trot lengthening across the short diagonal.  Judy had me begin by spiraling in and out on a 20ishm. circle.  It may have gotten as large as 25 m. since her ring is a little wider than a regulation size ring.  Dreamy is stiffer in her left stifle, so spiraling out tracking left was hard.  I had to sit at times so I could really use my left leg to MOVE her over.  

Then we did leg yielding on the long sides. Tracking left, for example, we would yield to the left with her head pointed towards the rail.   So she was bent to the right, tracking left.  On the short sides, Judy had me shoulder-in.  After coming around each long side once, Judy had me ask for a lengthening across the short diagonal.  It helped to ride deep into the corner beforehand, as Judy explained it put more weight into her inside hind, so we were able to have more power and engagement for the lengthening.  She had me give a little more with the reins for now.  And Dreamy did GREAT!  She really likes the lengthening, I think.  And I love how it is not actually a faster trot, but a BIG trot with lots of power and energy.  SO FUN.  :)  Judy said that while she is a little longer in her frame than we will eventually want, it was a great start and right where we should be.  Eventually, I will NOT give as much with my reins, and instead Dreamy will engage her hind end more and LIFT in the front.  All in good time......  :D

Lots of walk breaks in between each exercise, since it was pretty hot.  Not nearly as humid as Monday and Tuesday, but still quite sunny without much breeze.  

Then we worked on the hardest part of the lesson....15 m. canter circles!  This is not something we have ever really worked on, so I was pleased with what I did get.  We started with her right lead, which tends to be the "worst".  But we actually got a nicer small canter circle to the right than to the left.....again with the left stifle.  (She is NOT lame, just stiff in that side.  She is on a joint supplement, but now I think might be the time to try the product called Surpass.  Neither of my vets think she is ready for anything like Adequan, but thought the "next step" would be the Surpass.  I think I might try it now (2 times on the joint for up to 10 days) and then if it seems to work, I can use it as needed next year.  I am hoping to avoid joint injections, even IM, until or unless she really shows a need.)

It was harder to keep her on the small circle at the canter, as she rather go large and preserve her balance.  I had to really think about using my outside aids more than I normally do.  I ended up doing more sitting trot work in between, as it was easier to keep her straight.  So, while I am sure Dreamy was tired at the end of the lesson too, upon dismounting my legs were unhappy with the amount of sitting work I did!  LOL!  And it was not even as though Judy made me do it, which is kind of funny.  I did it to myself!  :P

Overall, great lesson and lots of homework.  Though I have to remember not to overdo the lengthenings (because they are fun!) or small circle work (because I want to "perfect" it).  :)  I am feeling sad thinking about my summer vacation coming to an is much harder to have regular lessons once I am back to teaching, but I HOPE I can make it work! 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

USDF Rider Performance Award

Yay!  Our first award for 2010!  Yay Dreamy!  I wonder how many other Standardbreds have earned this honor??  :D

Yes, I blocked out my address on the letter above.  Sure, you can probably find me easily enough if you wanted to, but publishing my address doesn't seem smart.  :)

Any ideas on where to put the patch?  LOL!  I do not currently own any jackets that would match the red and blue.....maybe I should get a new fleece coat?  XD  Putting it on a saddle pad seems odd.  Hmmmmm......maybe I will just leave it here in my office, next to my husband's "Biggest Bucks in Maine Club" patch......ROFLMAO!  :D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NEDA Flextime Lesson #2

I had my second NEDA Flextime lesson with Gwyneth McPherson at Pineland Farm last week.  I rode with her last August as well.  It was nice to see her again and ride at Pineland again, which is an amazing facility.  That is where I rode in the Heather Blitz clinic this past May.

Anyway, Gwyneth watched me warm up for a bit.  She noted that Dreamy had improved from last year and even from this past May when she watched me ride with Heather Blitz.  We came to the conclusion that I would work on some movements from Training 4 and then of course, work on her canter.

We did some work on 10 m. circles, as I sometimes have issues with overshooting my centerline on my last movement.  Funny enough, we did just fine each time we tried a centerline.  LOL! I guess I am improving without really noticing it.  But because it is technically a half 10m. circle movement, and we really ought to be schooling more First Level movements as Gwyneth reminded me, we did some 10m. trot circles in the corners.  It is hard for me to visualize a 10m. circle, so some of them started off as 12m. and then 8m. but finally I figured it out.  Now at home, without a dressage ring set up to ride in, I am having a harder time.  But I think a few well placed cones might help with that, as I decided in this evening's ride.  LOL!

We also worked on the stretchy trot circle, which appears at the end of the test.  Often Dreamy will reach her head and neck down but not poke her nose out enough.  Technically she is not following the bit far enough down.  Gwyneth had me let her out slowly, just an "inch" at a time, while making SURE I did not lose the contact.  We got out a little, then she would have us come back to full contact and try again a few strides later.  It worked well, and there was one point where she FINALLY stretched waaaaay down and maintained the contact.  It was awesome!  And I was pleased to feel it correctly for once!  LOL!

At the end we worked on the canter, which went well.  Gwyneth reminded me that "perfect practice makes perfect" so she advised that I not allow her to canter after she "falls apart."  So to the right we only got 3-4 strides before we came back to the trot.  To the left we got 6-7 and once even 8.  :D  It really helped to be reminded that I need to only allow her to canter correctly.  Having been so focused on showing, which requires a full 20m. canter circle and some into each corner, I have been trying to push through her moments of unbalance.  And of course, her canter transitions are great now and most of the canter is pretty good.  But to the right she is still not where I want her to be.  (Funny enough, it used to be that her RIGHT was good and the LEFT was bad....funny how that changed in about 18 months.  ???)

I was so happy to find that it worked well.  At first we had to trot for 6 strides or so (about half the 20m. circle)  to rebalance and get ready to try the canter again.   But the more we practiced, the less strides of trot were needed!  YES!  So it was canter for as many strides as needed, trot for maybe 2 strides, then canter again.  Her canter felt so good, balanced, uphill, and I was not all discombobulated!  When Dreamy loses her balance, I seem to lose my ability to canter correctly too.  Gwyneth, as did Jen, recommended I take some lessons on a schoolmaster to regain my "cantering muscles" so I can better support Dreamy when she gets off balance.  Not a bad thought and something I think I will pursue this winter.  :D

Overall, it was a great lesson.  Even though I do not work with Gwyneth on a regular basis, I feel as though I got a good solid lesson and some exercises to try at home.  I enjoy her quiet but firm teaching style.  She reminds me of my regular instructor, which is why I think I like riding with her so much.  :)

So thank you Gwyneth and NEDA for offering me such a great lesson!  :)  I hope to do it again next year!  :D

Saturday, August 7, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: SSG All Weather Riding Gloves

I completely adore the SSG All Weather gloves.  I use them for both schooling and showing.  They are inexpensive enough that you don't feel bad when they wear out, but at the same time they are well made and certainly nice enough for the show ring.  I have worn them at rated USDF shows, "A" rated hunter shows, and "AA" rated Morgan breed shows.

Now, I think leather gloves are best for showing, because I am a purist.  :)  But I actually HATE the feeling of leather gloves.  They drive me nuts.  And I have very small hands....I am only 5 feet tall and my hands are broad but short.  Most glove fingers are too long and I cannot wear them.  

But I have found the SSG All Weather gloves to fit me quite well for whatever reason.  I have the leopard print for schooling (LOL), and three pairs for showing: white (dressage), black (hunter), and brown (driving).  Actually I have two pairs of black I found a pair on sale once and could not pass them up.

I love the Aquasuede palm, which is soft and easy on the hands.  They are not sticky but when they get wet they are not slippery either.  The back (top) is sort of a stretchy fabric that does not seem to fade that I can see.  The wrists are secured with Velcro, which make them easy to get on and off.  

The SSG website says:  "Wears like iron! Washes like a rag!"  This is probably the best feature of this glove, as they are completely machine washable.  I hang them to dry and they look brand new.

My current schooling gloves have holes underneath my ring fingers (wedding rings on the left, moonstone ring on the right) but other than that look great.  I have had them for over 10 years.  I almost wish they would wear out because I think I want the pink leopard print next!  LOL!!!  I cannot imagine riding without these gloves.  I love them!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reva Goes to School (aka A Riding Lesson!)

This past Tuesday I took Reva to my instructor's farm for a lesson.  This was only her second time off the farm, the first time having been the Chris Lombard clinic back in June.  Of course, Reva was Little Miss Perfect.  She trailered there without issue, stood quietly at the trailer while I tacked her up, and was very good the entire lesson.  

We had been having some issue with the trot lately, as she wants to only walk or canter.  So at times her trot would be "hoppy" where she would  try to go up into the canter.  She obviously does not know what a half-halt is just yet, so I had been doing my best to push her forward into a trot and maintain it.  I focused on just the walk/trot and trot/walk transitions.  I even stopped cantering for now, because I know she can do it, but I want her to understand that anything faster than a walk does not always have to be a canter.

We began by working on turn on the forehand, as a way to reinforce moving off my leg and connecting to the bit.  She did well, but at first was a little confused and wanted to step back.  That was easily fixed as I kept her in front of my leg.  

She did quite well at the trot, not even once trying to do her hoppy canter thing, which made me pleased.  I told Judy (my instructor) that her trot felt really tiny and choppy to me.  I had been trying to lengthen her stride by sending her forward.  Judy agreed it was a small trot, but that what I needed to do was slow her trot down to allow her to find her balance first.  As she reminded me, we wanted longer NOT faster.  As soon as I thought more about slow and less about forward, her stride lengthened!  She actually has a fluid and comfortable trot and I was happy to see how I could easily improve it.  It felt counter intuitive  to me, but I also have to remember I am riding a green horse again.  I am so used to riding Dreamy.... a horse who knows what all the aids mean and has decent gaits already without me having to do much!  LOL!  Even though I have to still ride Reva like a "big horse" at the same time I have to remember she is unbalanced and young.  

Much of our trot work was interspersed with walk breaks.  Reva is not in good enough shape to have a lesson like Dreamy, of course.  

At the end, I did chose to canter because Judy has a wonderful ring compared to my unlevel field where I ride at home.  To the left, she was great.  She has a clear three beat rhythm and while she is not balanced yet, she is so much further along in her canter work than Dreamy was at this stage.  Her canter is big and is a bit strung out right now, but Judy was still very positive about it.  :)  I have been having trouble getting our right lead, so I was hoping Judy could help with that.  She had me trot tracking to the left, then cross the ring at X as though I was just making a circle to the left.  But before the fence, I changed her bend and asked her to canter on the right lead tracking right.  We tried it a few times, but she insisted on picking up the wrong (left) lead.  Judy had me stop trying and just get the canter one more time to the left on the correct lead, so I did not end on a wrong note.  I asked her what I should do at home.  For now, she wants me to just give the exercise a try a couple of times and stop if it does not work.  There is no use drilling it or worrying about it right now.  She is too green.  As long as she is at least giving me a canter, Judy said not to worry about leads.  

Overall, Reva was excellent for her first lesson.  I wish we had gotten that right lead, but I am going to take Judy's advice and not worry yet.  :)  (That is hard for any of you who know me....LOL!!!)  My goal is to get the right lead correct 80% of the time before snow flies.  :)  Judy was very encouraging of Reva and the progress I have made with her so far.  She gave me a generous compliment when she said at the end that I had two very nice mares, meaning Reva and Dreamy.  :D

I am hoping Reva will make an appearance at a local dressage schooling show later this fall.  She will not be showing yet, but I would take her as "schooling on the grounds" which is half the entry fee for a class (so it would only cost me $10).  I am hoping that if I arrive during the lunch break, they might allow me to ride her into the actual dressage ring.  Probably not, but at least I could ride her in the more active environment of the warm-up arena and general showgrounds.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dressage on the Seacoast pics!

Here are the professional pics from the UNH dressage show on July 31.  Ignore the god awful one she got just when we picked up the canter.  Yep, Dreamy sometimes will still throw her body and neck after the transition.  Nice....... :P

We are #20!  And the sun makes her look so much more like a bay than a black horse!  LOL!

Thoughts on what I should purchase????  :D

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Taking Stock :)

Four posts in one day!  Whew!  I have had so much to write about but very little time to do so.  Happy reading!!!  :)

Dreamy and I have come so far in everything we have tried.  All I have to do is go back and read earlier blog posts to prove this.  Having proof of progress was the driving force behind my reason to start a blog, so that I could have a training journal and take stock on how far we had come, especially when I had a not-so-stellar ride.

Despite having grown up with Morgans, I have always loved to event.  I evented my Morgan mare Sparky and loved it.  I had to stop jumping her when she turned 19 because of bone spavin in her hocks, so I switched disciplines to carriage driving.  We competed successfully until I retired her at age 24.  

When I began riding Dreamy, eventing was my goal because I missed it.  I wanted to do some low level eventing and have fun.  And we have done just that.....hence the reason for my blog "handle" of STB Eventer.  :D  I could not decide if I was an eventer who liked to do dressage shows for fun or a dressage rider who did events for fun.  (And we also have done hunter shows for fun too!  LOL  But that's another story...)  In the end, I have discovered that I am really a dressage rider who cannot help but ride in a few events a year in order to gallop cross country! 

This year we have yet to do any events, only because our dressage shows all conflicted with them.  But now we have the rest of the summer and fall to event!  YAY!  And with Dreamy approaching 20 years old, I have been very selective and careful how much I jump her anyway.  So it has really worked out perfect.

There are many ways to take stock, but I am going to focus on our dressage goals for purposes of this post.  I hope that my readers (and I have 36 followers now!  WHOO!)  and anyone who happens upon this post will come away with the understanding that dressage REALLY is for ANY horse.  If I can do what I have done with an older retired racehorse/broodmare Standardbred, then anyone can!  :)

Our success has not come overnight.  I first started Dreamy under saddle the year I got her in 2003.  I rode her maybe ten times a year from 2003-2006, just walk and trot, puttering around the backyard.  I was too busy showing my Morgan to really give Dreamy much saddle time.  It was not until July of 2006 when I made the decision to really focus on Dreamy and take her to one show that year.  I started her "serious" under saddle training and six weeks later we went to a local open show that August.  For me, it would be how to figure out if I wanted to pursue training and showing Dreamy in 2007, which would be my Morgan's first year of retirement.  At that local show, Dreamy won a bunch of blue ribbons and was happy as a pig in mud.  That clinched it!  :D

My goals were low for 2007.  Stay on the horse and stay in the ring.  LOL!  But she blew me away with a 68.5% and a first place ribbon on her very FIRST dressage test ever (Intro A)!  :)  And as you can read in this blog, things have certainly blossomed from there.  Here is a rundown, my way of taking stock with numbers:

2007 (local SMDA shows and rode both tests 4 times)
Intro A = 63.75% average
Intro B = 66% average

2008 (local SMDA shows and rode both tests 6 times)
Intro B =  66.58% average (earned a few 70%'s that year!)
Training 1 = 59.61%

2009 (rated USDF shows)
Training 2 = 58.30% (ridden 8 times)
Training 4 = 56.3% (ridden 8 times)
Overall average = 57.302%
Overall median = 56.786%

2010 (rated USDF shows)
Training 1 = 62.83% (ridden twice)
Training 2 = 63.57% (ridden 5 times)
Training 4 = 60.80% (ridden 3 times)
Overall average = 62.482% (that's a 5.18% increase!)
Overall median = 61.304% (and a 4.518% increase!!)

I am so proud to see how the scores have improved.  Obviously shows are not everything, as there have been many other ways we have improved that cannot be scored on one test at one moment in time.  But I like to show because it gives me concrete feedback on where we are.  I have gone up a full rider point from 2009 to 2010.  In 2009 I used to get 5s and 6s on rider.  This year I have gotten 7s and even one 8!!  And an average of 62% is not THAT great overall in the scheme of dressage.  BUT I did it on a STANDARDBRED at RATED USDF SHOWS!  To me, that is pretty freaking awesome. 

For the rest of the year we are going to keep having fun and working hard to improve.  I have one more local dressage show to do here in Maine, in order to qualify for Maine Dressage Society awards.  We will also do dressage at Nationals.  But now I want to do some events, compete in the last MHA show with STB classes, go to the Standardbred National show again, and have a BLAST at WEG in our breed demos!  :D 

Here's hoping we are ready for First Level next year.  :D :D :D  Not sure exactly what the plans will be.  Maybe I will just do Training 4 and First 1 and try to qualify for USDF Regionals at Training level.  Maybe I will just do the local schooling shows at First 1 and 2 to get our feet wet.  Maybe I will do a little of both.  ;-)  My mare will tell me what she can do, because really it is about listening to my horse.  Maybe we will FINALLY get to do some team penning!!!!!!!!!!!!  Actually, that is a huge dream that I betcha we can accomplish!  LOL!

Sometimes I feel like I am just bragging on and on about my horse.  Well, in a way, I am!  LOL!  It's my blog and I'll brag if I want to.....nah nah nah!  :-P  But also, I really want to show how with lots of sweat and tears, a little luck, and a great instructor, you can really do ANYTHING you set your mind to do...with a STANDARDBRED!  

I think we have lived up to our blog name!  :D  LOL!!!!

Dressage on the Seacoast at UNH - July 31, 2010

This post could also be titled Dreams Do Come True, or some other such corny line.  LOL!  I love showing at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) because I went to school there.  I wrote about all that here after the July UNH show (they do two dressage shows and three horse trials each year).  

I only needed ONE more show for a USDF All Breed Award.  I had all my scores (you need 8) but you also need 4 shows.  So instead of entering for both days, I only signed up for classes on Saturday.  I did this because four scores were not needed, but I also did this to save money.  Rated shows are EXPENSIVE!  Technically, all I needed to do was ride one test at UNH, but I signed up for both Training 1 and 2, just in case!  LOL!

Dreamy warmed up well.  We were to ride both tests for Marlene Schneider (S).  Unfortunately we had to ride both tests in the grass ring which is always difficult footing.  I think they ought to just take the sod off and make it dirt like the other two, but whatever.  LOL!  But our first ride was at 8:30AM, so the grass was still pretty wet.  And it was long.  We had a minor slip in the first canter circle and it rattled Dreamy.  She did not really want to canter on the grass, as she is very funny and self-preserving about her footing.

But overall, I was happy with the test.  I do not like Training 1 as much as Training 2, but it is the easiest test.  And all I needed was that one 60+% test and we had the Champion Training Level USDF All Breed Award!!!  ;-D

I only had 45 minutes between tests, which was nice.  We hacked back out to the trailer, I gave her a few moments break at the trailer, where I loosened the girth, gave her a sip of water, took a drink of water myself, and reviewed Training 2.  We went back to the warm-up ring with about 17 minutes to our ride.  I just wanted to trot her a bit more and do it.  

Just as the rider before me entered the ring, they announced the scores for my Training 1 ride.  They pin to 6th place, but they only announce fourth through first.  So they announce fourth with a 60%  (not us), then third (not us) I am thinking well, good lord, maybe we did not break 60% after all......  AND THEN THEY ANNOUNCE US AS SECOND PLACE!   WOOOOOW!  We earned a 64.348% and a second place ribbon out of nine riders!  The rider who did place first is a Grand Prix rider here in New England, so I felt pretty good.  LOL!

So now I am GRINNING like an idiot, trying not to cry, because while I just learned we clinched our USDF award, I now have to ride Training 2!  :D  BUT WE DID IT!  YAY! 

I know I floated through that test.  I love T2 anyway, know it like the back of my hand, but I was just so happy.  Dreamy tried really hard, not wanting to canter, but she did.  That final salute made me almost burst into tears.  All our hard work over the last four years have totally paid off.  

I did not even care what our Training 2 score was.  LOL!  But I cooled her out and cleaned everything up, taking my time because there was still 45 minutes left in my T2 class.   I bought lunch, picked up my T1 test and ribbon (which was all 7s and 6s), and browsed through the mobile tack unit on the grounds.

I found the pair of Kerrits breeches I have been coveting on sale!  WHOOO!  They are the Sit Tight Supreme breeches, which I like because the full seat is black not white.  I can never get my white breeches fullseat areas completely back to white, since they are rubbing on a black saddle the entire time I ride!  LOL!  And as a Kerrits ambassador, I really wanted to show in these breeches so I could write a review.   So I was super pleased to find them at only $75, with no tax (thank you NH!) and no shipping!  :D

I moseyed back over to the scoring tent to find that T2 had just been posted.  OMG!!!!!!!!!!!  We earned a 68.214% and a third place ribbon out of 12 riders!  And the second and first place riders were professionals!!!  :D  I was completely in shock (and still kind of am....LOL).  What an awesome score and awesome day!  This test was all 7s and two 8s with two 6s on the canter circles!!!  We got some great comments from both tests (my commentary in the parenthesis):  straight and steady, round and steady, good connection (!!!!),  smooth transition, nice big walk and overstep (this was the free walk score of 8!), obedient, nice bend, very nice test just needs better balance in canter, and nice activity ( the working walk where she used to get lateral but no longer does!)

I am still in shock as I write this.  I am SOOO proud of my mare.  I am sooooo thankful for my instructor's help.  I am just so pleased that after all the hard work, we did it!  As a friend of mine said on Facebook, "this proves the point that GOOD THINGS happen to GOOD PEOPLE!"  Yay!  I could NOT agree more.  :D  LOL!  Dreamy and I have tried so hard and worked so hard.  This is a huge accomplishment......we have qualified to be the USDF All-Breed Training Level Champion!  :)  Dreamy is only the third EVER Standardbred to earn a USDF award and the first ever at Training Level Adult Amateur.  Whew!  

First level here we come!!!!  :D

Yay for saddles that FIT!

So, as I wrote about here, I have a new dressage saddle.  I completely adore this saddle.  I love how it has shorted panels so I can actually get my leg down on my horse.  I was pretty confident that it fit Dreamy well and it truly fits me PERFECT.  

I was able to get an appointment with my saddle fitter, Nancy Shedrick, for last Thursday.  I was so pleased when she took a look at my saddle and said it was a good fit for Dreamy!  YAY!  She complimented me, saying I had a good eye.  Well, SHE is the one to thank for that!  Nancy taught me well at our first fitting in April.  

I had a few concerns though.  One was how low the saddle was to her withers.  I mean, there was three of my tiny fingers clearance and it cleared her spine with no problems, but it did seem low.  My instructor Judy echoed the same thing when she saw it.  Nancy agreed that while it was a tiny bit lower than she would like, it was fine.  Why?  Because I am a tiny 5 foot nothing, 120 pound rider.  She said there was no way the saddle was going to touch her withers.  And she knew that if something changed, I would be in contact with her immediately.  (She's got that right!  LOL)  

Second, I was not crazy about the billets.  I am used to the Y billet system and this one was just plain weird.  (I should take a photo...)  She told me they were fine and reassured me that she could change them, but it was not affecting the way the girth hung or anything like that.  OK, I can suck it up and get used to them!  LOL!

And last, I thought the cantle sat just a tiny bit too low.  And Nancy echoed my thoughts on this.  She added a small bit of wool flocking to the panels, which was neat to see.  My son thought it was the COOLEST thing ever and Nancy was very patient with him.  She told us both what she was doing and let my son hand her bits of wool.  :)

So now I am proud to say my saddle is exactly fitted for my horse!!  :)  Of course, she will change, but Nancy is just a phone call or email away.  Every horse changes and now armed with my new saddle fitting knowledge, I know I will pick up on any small changes that might need to be tweaked. 

THANK YOU NANCY!  You have been an integral part of our success this year!  :D  If anyone in the New England area needs a saddle fitter, I cannot recommend Nancy enough.  She is GREAT!  :D :D :D

NEDA Flextime Lesson #1

I was very fortunate this year to receive two NEDA Flextime lesson grants, one with Jennifer Wilson-Horr and the other with Gwyneth McPherson.

I took my lesson with Jen last Wednesday.  It was a good lesson overall.  I began by telling her what I wanted to work on, which was the connection to the bit and Dreamy's tendency to avoid  going into the right rein while tracking left. 

Immediately, she had me dismount and showed me how to stretch and unlock her poll.  Dreamy likes to stretch, but Jen wanted more.  It took some effort on her part to get Dreamy to drop her head from the ground.  Then she showed me how to work her on the ground, moving her hindquarters and encouraging her to engage her inside hind leg.  We found (no surprise) that Dreamy is stiff in her left stifle, which made moving over to the right a bit harder.  

I mounted back up and did some warm-up so Jen could watch us work.  Then she asked to ride Dreamy to see how she felt.  This was neat, since my own instructor Judy just rode her the other day.  It was neat to watch her go for someone else, especially when that someone else knows so much more than me!  LOL!  (Jen is currently competing her stallion at PSG).  

My lesson was a challenge.  Jen made me WORK.  She was a little relentless, but that is something I need sometimes, I think.  Not all the time though....LOL!  Dreamy was a champ, whereas just last year (and definitely in 2008) she would have had the BIGGEST hissy fit when I was pushing the boundaries.   Instead she tried her heart out, literally.  She worried, as Jen said she "internalizes" everything, but instead of freaking out (Jen even carried a dressage WHIP, for goodness sakes, which made Dreamy FREAK out last year!!!) , you could SEE her trying.  She held it together and moved out like a REAL dressage horse!  LOL!

Handing her back to me, Jen said there was NO reason why this mare could not go First level.   Awwww, yeaaaaaah!  :D

The biggest thing I took away from my lesson was increased knowledge about connection.  Dreamy likes to "play" with her head, sucking back a tiny bit behind the vertical, then a little in front, then right on the bit.  And so on.  It is not nearly as bad as it once was (LOL) but it is still there at times.  And it is not like she is sucking back to her chest and then flinging her head out.  It is not that dramatic, but enough that we were never having a true connection.  Every time Dreamy would come back, I would "drop" her.  I would release my reins forward and then there was literally nothing there.  And then when she would come up a bit, I would pull back.  I was doing the opposite of what Jen wanted.  When Dreamy sucked back, she made me USE my elbows (what a concept!  LOL) to follow her back and KEEP that connection.  When she poked her head out slightly, I followed her.  Suddenly, Dreamy realized that no matter where she put her head, she was NOT going to evade connection.  There was that light bulb moment when she settled right THERE, where she was supposed to be!!!!

Of course, I then blow it.  LOL!  I have discovered I am scared of connection.  It feels like it is too heavy in my hands.  Every time Dreamy accepts the bit, I half halt and slow her down and give and pull back, sometimes all at once practically!   To me, it felt like she was "heavy" in my hands.  As Judy reminded me when she rode Dreamy for the first time in my last lesson, Dreamy is NOT heavy.  

OK, so now I am trying to unlearn the way I ride.  LOL!  That is HARD to do!  (See my post about my Heather Blitz clinic from this past May...!!!)  Jen was tough, and it made me a bit frustrated.  Not enough to cry or give up, but work harder.  I WANT to ride my horse correctly.  I WANT to do First level.  I WANT it sooooo bad.  And here was my little mare, trying her HEART out for me.

Jen kept reminding me to "ride her forward" and to "ride her like I am going somewhere."  This was hard to do, seeing as I used to get comments in 2009 on tests that we were too forward.  I think I have reined in her big ole trot too much.  Now that we have almost got connection (and many times we really DID get it in my lesson), I have to remember to create impulsion.  It is so hard!  :(

And at the walk, especially our stretchy walk breaks, I tend to let her go on "vacation".  Jen reminded me that I cannot just let her halfheartedly plod around, I MUST ask her to stretch to the ground.  She wants me to really stretch her back and release that poll. 

So things were looking up at the walk and trot.  We were doing pretty good, despite having to unlearn all my bad habits......ha ha ha.  Jen is the type of instructor who makes me nervous, as she kept asking me, "Now what is her ____ doing?"  Fill in with neck, leg, hindquarter, shoulder, etc.  Half the time, I have no idea.  I'm just trying to ride the way you asked me to!  LOL!  So another thing I learned is that at times I have no body awareness for myself OR my horse.  Bad me.

Then we cantered.  UGGG.  Dreamy is so good, so balanced on her transition and the first few strides......and then BAM!  I hunch over into the fetal position and she falls apart.

Yep, Jen got after me.  SIT UP!!!!!!!!!!  But I can't.  And I got frustrated.  I realized (hours later...of course) that I cannot just be told to "sit up."  If that was all it took, I would not have the problem.  Instead I need to hear put your shoulders back, round your back (as I tend to hollow it), tilt your pelvis or still your seat (I like to "scoop" my seat at the canter.  Bad me).  Or all of the above.  ;-)  

And every time she would tell me to sit up, I would TRY so hard.  And she would just keep telling me, because I was unable to just "sit up".  I am not sure what I do.  So eventually, I end up saying, "I can't!"  NOT what I should say.  I should have said, "I'm trying..." but I truly could not just "sit up."  So I felt terrible about that, but Jen tried her best.  

She did tell me to ride as many horses as I could.....ummmm, well, I have a four year old greenie...???  LOL!  I have no access to other horses, especially schoolmasters who know more than me.  (That is my NEXT horse...LOL!)  So Jen said I could come down any time to take a lesson on one of her horses.  (Later in the barn, she told me she wanted me to ride her stallion......AHHHHHH!  :D  I was sure to tell her I did not need a new instructor, as I love my current one, but that coming down once a month or every other month could be an option for me.  And she does have an indoor, so I could ride this winter.  

So overall, it was a good learning experience.  Sometimes I need to hear things in another way to get it.  Or sometimes I just need to be pushed out of my comfort zone.  Dreamy was SOOO good too.  I was super proud of her.  I hope I can find a way to ride with Jen again!  :)

NEDA Flextime lesson #2 coming this week!  :)