Friday, May 27, 2011

Rules of dressage

1. If you really want to get better at dressage, take it up at an earlier age – and grow an extra 3 inches of leg.

2. A test that starts with an arrow straight centre line and a square halt signifies the start of a Hickstead Speed derby.

3. A dressage test is a test of your skill against another competitor’s luck.

4. Dressage is about achieving a harmonious working relationship with your horse, whose only idea of harmony is eating grass in a field with his buddies.

5. If you want to end a drought or dry spell, wear a new jacket and Patey hat to an outdoor arena.

6. Untalented, difficult, aggressive horses have robust health, good hocks and long lives.

7. Talented tractable horses are accident prone and have OCD lesions.

8. You will ride the best test of your entire life just prior to being disqualified for not wearing your gloves.

9. Never keep more than 300 separate thoughts in your head before a test.

10. Never keep less than another 300 separate thoughts in your head during a test.

11. Horses do not improve their paces because you are wearing expensive German breeches.

12. If you chose a disco theme for your dressage to music test then the judge will be more than 90 years of age and Swiss.

13. The less skilled the rider, the more likely they are to share their critique of your test.

14. If you are considering the services of a horse clairvoyant to help you with training then you have reached the point of total desperation – try the German breeches.

15. Your horse has never heard of Podhajsky let alone read the book.

16. No matter how badly you ride a test, it is always possible to ride a worse one.

17. If it ain’t broke, try shifting your position and it will be.

18. Judges only suffer from temporary blindness (or kindness) when they are judging someone else’s test.

20. If you fall off your horse in the arena you will have paid to have the test videoed.

21. If you are feeling confident before a show then three of the British dressage team will turn up to give their young horses some “experience.”

22. Your horse will perform its best piaffe ever when you ask for extended canter.

23. Since runs of bad competitions come in groups of three, the fourth competition is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

24. No one cheats at dressage because no one has worked out how to do it.

25. It is surprisingly easy to end a test with a perfect square halt once you have scored a four for every other movement.

26. The result of an expensive lesson from a top pro is that you will stop believing in that tiny piece of innate ability that was holding your riding together.

27. Remember when buying a dressage horse advertised as “needs experienced competitive rider” this really means “needs the skills of Phillip Dutton just to stay on board.”

28. If you think your test was better than someone elses, it probably wasn’t.

29. If you pay 60,000 for an imported WB, you will be beaten in First Level 4 by a quarter horse.

30. Clinics given by someone with an interesting accent are not necessarily superior to those given by the homeboy.

31. If you go to the expense of raising an expensive WB foal, he will have a talent for jumping and no walk worth talking about.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bull riding

That canter actually looks really nice to ride :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What type of rider are you?

THE HUNTER RIDER: Is skinny and trying her best to achieve the conformation of a 17-year-old male in case she ever has a clinic with George Morris. Field marks include greeny-beige breeches and a baseball cap when schooling or mud colored coat and hardhat with dangling chinstrap when competing. Forks over about a grand a month to her trainer for the privilege of letting him/her "tune" up the horse, which consists of drilling the beast until its going to put in five strides on a 60 foot line no matter what she does. Sold the Thoroughbred (and a collection of lunging equipment, chambons, side reins) and bought a Warmblood. (Bought a ladder and a LONG set of spurs.) Talks a lot about the horse's success in Florida without exactly letting on that she herself has never been south of the Pennsylvania line.

THE DRESSAGE QUEEN: Has her hair in an elegant ponytail and is wearing a visor and gold earrings sporting a breed logo. A $100 custom sweater (also with breed logo) is worn over $300 full-seat white breeches and custom Koenigs. Her horse, "Leistergeidelsprundheim" ("Fleistergeidel" for short) is a 17.3 hand warmblood who was bred to be a Grand Prix horse. The Germans are still laughing hysterically, as he was bred to be a Grand Prix JUMPER, but since he couldn't get out of his own way, they sold him to an American. His rider fell in love with his lofty gaits, proud carriage, and tremendous athleticism. She admires him mostly while lunging. She lunges him a lot, because she is not actually too keen to get up there and try to sit that trot. When she rides, its not for long, because (while he looks FINE to everyone else), she can tell that he is not as "through" and "supple" as he should be, and gets off to call the chiropractor/massage therapist/psychic, all of which is expensive, but he WILL be shown, and shown right after he perfects (fill in the blank). The blank changes often enough that the rider can avoid the stress of being beaten at Training 1 by a Quarter Horse.

THE EVENTER: Is bent over from carrying three saddles, three bridles, three bits, and three unrelated sets of clothing (four, if she is going to have to do a trot up at a 3-day). The hunched defensive posture is reinforced by the anticipation of "a long one" a ditch and a wall, and from living in her back protector. Perpetually broke because she pays THREE coaches (a Dressage Queen, a jumper rider, and her eventing guru, none of whom approve or the other) and pay trailers/stabling/living expenses to go 600 miles to events that are spread out over 5 days. She is smugly convinced that Eventers are in fact the only people in the world who CAN ride (since Dressage Queen's don't jump, the H/J crowd is too afraid to go OUT of a ring, and the fox hunters, a related breed, don't have to deal with dressage judges). The hat cover on her cross-country helmet is secured with a giant rubber band, so she can look like her idol, Phillip. Her horse, who has previously been rejected as a race horse, a steeplechase horse (got ruled off for jumping into the in-field tailgating the crowd), a jumper, a fox hunter, and a polo pony (no bit stops this thing), has two speeds: gallop and "no gallop" (also known as stop 'n' dump). Excels at over jumping into water, doing a head first "tuck and roll" maneuver and exiting the complex (catch me if you can!) before his rider slogs out of the pond. Often stops to lick the Crisco off his legs before continuing gaily on to the merciless over jump just ahead. Owner often threatens to sell, but as he has flunked out of every other English-riding discipline, it will have to be a barrel racer.

THE BACK YARD RIDER: Usually found wearing shorts and a sports bra in the summer; flannel nightgown, muck boots, and down jacket in the winter. Drives a Ford 150 filled with saddle blankets and dog hair. Most have deformed toes from being stepped on while wearing flip-flops. Has a two-horse bumper pull trailer, but uses it for hay storage, as her horse hasn't been off the farm in 6 years. Can install an electric fence, set a gate, and roll a round bale, solo. Rode well and often when she used to board her horse, 5 years ago. Then she took the horse home to "save money" and has spent about 50 grand on acreage, barn, fence, tractor, etc. Has two topics of conversation - 1) How its too hot/cold/wet/dry to ride. And 2) how she may ride after she fixes the fence, digs drainage ditches/stacks 4 tons of hay.

THE NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP DEVOTEE: Looks like a throwback from a Texas ranch, despite the fact that he lives in the suburbs of New Jersey. Rope coiled loosely in hand in case he needs to herd any of those kids on roller-blades away from his F-350 dually in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Cowboy hat strategically placed, and just dirty enough to look cool. Levi's are well worn. "Lightning" is, of course, this natural horsemanship guy's horse. Rescued from a bad home where he was never imprinted or broke in the natural horsemanship way, he specialized in running down his owners at feeding time, knocking children off his back on low-hanging branches, and baring his teeth. The hospitalization tally for his previous handlers was 12, until he was sent to Round Pen Randy; after ten minutes in said pen, he is now a totally broke horse, bowing to the crowd, and can put on his own splint boots. (With R.P. Randy's trademark logo embossed on them.) R.P.R. says, of all this, "Well, shucks ma'am, tweren't nuthin'! It's simple horsemanship. With this special twirly flickitatin' rope ($17.95 plus tax), you'll be round-pennin' like me in no time!"

THE ENDURANCE RIDER: Wears Lycra tights in wild neon colors. THe shinier the better, so the EMT's can find her body when her horse dumps her down a ravine. Wears hiking shoes of some sort, and T-shirts she got for paying $75 to complete another torturous ride. Her horse, Al Kamar Shazam, used to be called "you" until he found an owner almost as hyper as he is. Shazam can spook at a blowing leaf, spin a 360, and not lose his big trot rhythm or give an inch to the horse behind him. Has learned to eat, drink, pee, and drop to his resting pulse rate on command. He has compiled 3,450 AERC miles; his rider compiled 3,445 (the missing five miles are the ones when he raced down the trail without his rider after performing his trademark 360). Overheard frequently: "Anyone have Advil? Anyone got some food? I think last year's Twinkies went bad. For this pain I spend money? Shazam, you - its just a leaf! [thud]"

THE ALL-AROUND RIDER: You'll most commonly find this specimen in a worn out but bedazzled "Cowgirl Up" ballcap, $500 bling belt, and jeans so tight that she had to lay on the bed to get them zipped. She's a Tack Store owner's dream - custom show halter, custom western saddle and headstall - and don't forget the full English set as well. And you know that saddle is getting traded in two years from now when it's just "too dark to be seen using in public." She schools for the English classes in a western work saddle and work bridle - yet another trip to the beloved Tack Store. Then comes a different outfit for each event - actually several - some for "little" shows and the truly blinding ones for the "big" circuits. Meanwhile, her half-crippled, peanut rolling gelding has to endure braids in his mane and a 2 pound tail extension on the other end...face highlighter, hoof polish, and some corn starch on that sock and he's ready to go. They walk in the show pen and perform a perfect pattern only to be told by her trainer that if she really wants to win the big ones a $50K horse is just not enough.