Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Overdue Update

I haven't updated my Blog since October 7th. To those of you that follow, I'm so sorry, but I had some fairly good reasons for not updating before now. The biggest reason being that there was absolutely nothing to report. Bastian was still just "off" I was only getting out the barn about once a week and we were doing nothing..... No shows, no lessons, no training. But now that November is already half-way over we're finally back on track :)

I tried for a few weeks to get a Chiropractor out to check up on B, but to no avail. I think I was causing bad chiropractic luck, both of the chiros I called had to cancel due to having their own chiropractic emergencies and being unable to work on horses. So after week five I hopped on Bastian to see if he still felt a little funky and he felt FANTASTIC! So I opted to listen to what the powers that be were trying to tell me and decided not to attempt to reschedule for the time being. So far, so good, Bastian has continued to be amazing and he is back to engaging his hind end and using his back.

I also had my Hastilow Concept Saddle reflocked by the amazing saddle fitters at Hastilow Competition Saddlery. It had been a year since I had had it looked at and it was due for a bit of maintenance. The best part was that despite how absolutely wonky Bastian is in his hind end due to his bout with EPM as a three year-old, he actually still moves quite correctly and evenly under saddle.
(Check out this picture! He is standing square, that is how 'off' he is in his hind end, yet he still moves lovely, we usually score 7 or 8 on gaits!) The fitter told me that the flocking was even on both sides and it did not indicate that the saddle was unbalanced or that he was moving unevenly. I'd also like to take a moment to mention that I have seen Hastilow fit some odd shaped horses and that their saddle fitters are good. I've got some horror stories (don't we all!) about saddle fitters that are linked to other companies and in my experience I have yet to have a bad experience via Hastilow. So any saddle fitter that can make a saddle fit my wonky horse definitely has my respect! I just ordered a Neue Schule bit from Hastilow as well and am looking forward to trying it out, I'll be sure to give a full report once its here.

We haven't been doing any exciting work, just getting his muscling back and getting our groove back. Both of us are fighting a lack of fitness, but we're back up to 45 minutes of solid work and going strong.
(Bastian, while very glad to be back to work, is thinking that its a bit tiring....) We're focusing on building up those back muscles again and getting our balance up and back over the hocks, lots of transitions and building on our lateral work is doing the trick. I also think that I have figured out what I'm doing wrong when we halt. Bastian has a bad habit (induced by me!) of bringing his left hind leg up underneath of him and resting it when we halt. Tres annoying and I have been trying EVERYTHING to figure out how to get him to halt square (When Tawny rides him she gets a square halt pretty much every time so I know its me!). Finally I tried putting on an insane amount of right leg and despite him tracking sideways away from it, he halted square! So now I've just got to figure out how to keep him from going through my left leg....oy vey the joys of riding dressage, right??

On a much more awesome note, check out the sweet dragon that I managed to clip onto my horses booty:
Yup, I did that and it looks pretty cool. We're ready for some winter work, Third Level Approach-th ;)

Monday, October 7, 2013

And The Good News Is.....

Prepare for the Good News-Bad News-Good News Sandwich. ;)

Good News

We've hired two new people at work and I've been making it out the barn three or four times a week after school depending on my schedule, Bastian doesn't know what to do with seeing me so often.

Bad News

I scratched from Regionals. There were a lot of factors leading up to this decision, not the least of which involved the fact that Bastian was out of shape from the lack of work in September and he needed to be on top of the world to be competitive at Regionals. Like many other in this sport, I lack the disposable income to spend to just say "I went to that show!" If I'm spending my money on a show, I expect to do well. So long story short, I scratched and I was able to get my entry money back.

Good News

Not going to Regionals means we can focus on getting ready for Wellington in March and our Para Test. Bastian is in training and I'm getting to take a lesson every week. :)

The Rest of the Story

It was not an easy decision to make, I love competing and showing, its what keeps me focused when I ride, I am a person who likes to have a goal to work towards. This year was looking even cooler since it was the first year that National Championships are being offered too. I went back and forth, played out all sorts of different scenarios in my mind and decided to follow my gut. My gut said 'scratch.' I've ignored my gut before and regretted it, for the most part its 99% right. So its done and now we're focused on what needs to happen before March (I'm assuming March...they aren't exactly Speedy Gonzales on posting dates or prizelists for this Para-Dressage stuff). I've got my personal days saved so its all good on that front.

We're getting much better at our turn on the haunches and we've actually learned how to do half-passes so we've been practicing those as well. Bastian is thinking more collected, even though he can't maintain it for long. We're working on addressing his fitness and redeveloping his back muscles and his hind end. Its really pretty cool, because once I get his gaits where I want them, he has all his 'tricks.' In preparation for Wellington, we're focusing on his gaits and on all the small things-square halts (I have three per test and there is no reason I should not be scoring 8 or better on each one), riding my corners, accuracy, straigtness, etc. etc. Bastian is wonderful and I absolutely love him to death, he is talented and athletic, but a fancy dressage mover he is not. We can't afford to give away any points and we will be competing against fancy movers that have extensive dressage training. Bastian has an amazing Walk and a great Canter, his weakest gait is the trot, but even that is improving. I feel confident that by the time we go south we'll be ready. And I can't wait to see all my new friends too!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Hastilow Competition Saddlery is the place to go if you are looking for a new saddle, whether it be a dressage or jumping saddle. They have many options to suit you and your horse, they can do custom options as well and have a selection of used saddles! Their saddles are made in England by master saddlers and are of an amazing quality! They also offer custom bridles, Neue Schule Bits and other high quality tack. I never realized how much my old dressage saddle was restricting Bastian until I got my Concept Elevation Saddle. Wow, what a difference it has made in how Bastian has been able to move through his back and be more comfortable. I also find it much more comfortable than my Wintec Isabella ever was! So I highly suggest that you head over to their website and check it out!

It will be time to clip the B-Monster soon, I'm hoping to replicate this awesome dragon on his adorable little behind:
This amazing dragon was done by a friend of mine on his butt two years ago. I'm not as handy with the clippers, but I'm going to give it my best shot!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why Didn't Someone Tell Me I Owned a Horse?

The last time I blogged was August 17th. Since then school has started-both my full time teaching job (I'm back to teaching the classes I love at least instead of the 3 crazy new curriculums I had to learn and teach last year!) and on the same day my Graduate Courses started (3 classes this semester!) and we've been short staffed at my part-time job so all of us have gotten more hours than we want (which is usually a GREAT thing), and I have been left with pretty much no extra time. Since August 17th, I think I have ridden Bastian a total of 10 times and that is being generous in my counting. The biggest detriment to all this is that we've both lost a bit of that great fitness level we had at the end of the summer.

Mentally, Bastian is there. His balance has shifted and he's uphill more than he's downhill (even when I'm getting him to stretch down to get that back muscle going again!). We've found a lovely new bit and he's going quite well in it. I've got lessons lined up and training rides scheduled. We've got two and half weeks to get it together before Regionals, I'm wigging out a little-I feel like this is my chance for redemption from our not so successful Rancho Murietta *** show. I have 100% confidence in Bastian.

Our past month was not without some fun. A while back we had decided to go to a Hunter Show for fun and so on the 14th, Bastian and I went to the Buckeye Horse Park and we showed in the flat division- Hunter Under Saddle, Hunter Hack, and Hunter Pleasure. The pleasure involved having to perform an "extended trot" (like a hunter version extended trot...) and we rocked it! I think that is what won the class for us, we placed third in the Hack and Bastian jumped the two scary flower decorated fences like he had been schooling fences all summer and we came in second in the HUS, earning us Reserve Champion of the Flat division. Woot! I have never won a hunter class before, EVER.....so it was pretty cool and we had a lot of fun, hopefully I can hit up a few more shows next year and maybe even do the low adult hunters (2' division). We should have lead changes by then since we're going to start working on third level over the winter ;)

We got back to work last Thursday and Bastian and I have been working hard since then. We've hired some new people at my part-time job so I'm back to working just one or two weeknights, Graduate school is going well, knocking off assignments and papers one at a time and getting closer to getting to my Masters. And teaching is getting more under control (again, since I'm already familiar with the curriculums I'm teaching). Basically I get to be a horse owner again! Yay!

Not much of an update, but then again, not a lot has happened. At least the B-man is still incredibly handsome. Here he is rocking the disheveled look ;)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Keeping Our Focus

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” ~ H. Jackson Brown

This weekend Bastian and I were at the WPDA Summer Sizzler, the weather cooperated, which was nice compared with the drenching rains of previous shows. Bastian didn’t feel quite himself. He was tense through his back, super grabby on my left rein and we a few downright ugly moments during our schooling ride on Friday. I wasn’t able to get him to where I wanted him to be and he wasn’t giving me any help. By the end it was better, I finally had him softer through his mouth and back, but not soft enough. We took it though and I got him all tucked in for the night.

Bastian and his new friend Boomer playing Halter Tag(Boomer is for sale if anyone is looking for a cute kid's horse!!!)

On Saturday our first test was Second One. He felt much better as we started warming up and we scored a solid 64% for second place. Overall I was happy, it was a huge improvement from the 54% that I scored on Second One last fall in Kentucky…lol. Next was our Second Three test. I felt like it rode much better than our earlier test, but alas, the judge did not agree. We scored a 58%.  After reading my test and seeing the scores, I realized that while I was happy because he was a bit more through, he was stuck behind my leg and inconsistent through his poll. The judge gave us nice scores (7s!) on the things we did well and nailed us on the movements we didn’t do so well (4s!). It can be tough to take sometimes, but it pointed out our weaknesses and left us with some serious homework.

On Sunday we only had one test, Second Three again. This one actually did ride so much better than our Saturday test and we walked away with a 61%. The judge was fair, we got our 7’s on our strong points and this time scored 5s on our weaker points (turn on the haunches, medium trots). We have a lot of work to do to fix all of those little things. Regionals is just two months away.

I’m a little frustrated by our lack of progress and I gave it a lot of thought on the hour long drive to and from the show each day. My conclusion is that Bastian and I have made such immense progress in the past few months that we’ve temporarily plateaud. I had to take a moment and appreciate how much we’ve both learned. Our bad days are still pretty darn amazing. Second Level ain’t no walk in the park and developing the muscling needing to maintain the collected gaits while maintaining softness through the poll and being precise through all of our transitions takes a lot more than what we needed for our training level test. I have spent the past 20 odd years of my riding career at training level, so this is a huge move up for me and we’re still figuring things out. We have the perseverance to do it and Bastian is more than capable, so its onward and upward for us. Our next stop is USDF Regional Championships in Lexington, VA.

With that being said, it’s back to work. Our focus needs to be on developing the muscling to maintain the collected gaits, and I’ve got to make our mediums more noticeable. We have two months to work on everything. Next weekend was supposed to be a schooling show at Grand Haven. I've finally uncovered Bastian's "not quite rightness" though-he is muscle sore on the left over his hip area, he doesn't seem to want to swing through on that side. Its nothing serious, but I'm giving him a few days off and we'll do a few light rides to get him moving and stretching it out, I don't want to push him. I've also switched up his bit and the difference was amazing, he was so much softer so we'll see if it was just the "hey this is different" effect or if after two weeks in a different bit he is still as wonderful and soft as he was. We had the opportunity to go on a walking trail ride the other day (We figured that walking would be good to help stretch him out and get the muscles moving without causing strain) and he was fabulously happy. His little ears were perked and I think he was flashing back to last year year when we were schooling XC. It definitely freshened him and me from being in the ring and I'm looking forward to more trail rides before the weather turns and getting the chance to trot and canter up and down some lovely hills.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Underwater Dressage

Things have been going great with Bastian! We went to the NODA Schooling show and ran through our Second Level 3 test on July 7th and he was fantastic. The weather was less than lovely and by the end of the day the humidity had returned with a vengance. We were both a little tired, but we pulled it off and scored a 63% and that was with missing our first simple change three times-it and we did it all with a front left shoe. Yup, the Wednesday before the show I showed up to ride and there he was being all cute and shoeless. Of course, it was a holiday week so finding a farrier proved to be impossible. He wasn't off so I figured I would go to the show and if he seemed footsore we just wouldn't show. Lucky for us, it all worked out and I got to run through my test before our recognized show.

We didn't finally get a shoes put on until Thursday July 18th :( and he managed to pull his other front shoe as well. With the weather being as wet as it was and him being due I wasn't overly surprised, but it did make schooling for the show difficult. We needed to practice, but I was worried about possibly causing soreness by asking for too much, so we did abbreviated schooling.

Anywho....despite the torrential downpours on Friday and Saturday at the NODA Recognized show and needing Floaties in order to survive our tests, Bastian was again a champ. I could not be happier with our performances (I mean, yes I could be happier if I had ridden better and been more correct, yada yada yada), but he was awesome. We rode our First 3 test first and it was going quite nicely until our second canter loopy, I half-halted and collected too much at X without enough leg to back it up and he did a beautiful trot transition. Complete rider error. We ended up with a 64% and our second qualifying score for Regionals. Yay!

On to our Second Level Test. He was awesome!!! We scored a 65% and got both of our simple changes to counter canter. We have some stuff to work on, just getting more flow in the test and more consistency in our collected gaits, but I am very proud of us. We took second in the class and it was our first qualifying score for championships. Woo-hoo!

Sunday at least was sunny! Our Para-Test was up first and while it rode better than it did in California (we got all of our leads!) I still managed to make some costly mistakes and we just are not there yet. We scored a 59%. It a tough test. In Bastian's and my own best interest I'm not planning on showing the test again until the schooling shows over the winter. I hate having to watch someone struggle through a test they aren't ready for-it makes everyone stressed-the rider, the horse, the judge, trainers, coaches, etc. So I'm going to avoid that road. I feel quite confident that by staying on the training schedule I'm on, we'll be ready by this winter and in time for Wellington in the Spring. But B is generally very relaxed and happy in the ring, so I don't want to jeopardize that by stressing about attempting to do stuff we just are not ready for. We are pretty comfortable at second level and I feel that our scores reflect the fact that we are showing where we should be showing.

Next up was our Second 3 test again. I thought it rode so much better than Saturday's test, it just flowed better and we were more consistent. We scored a 63%, our judge was a bit pickier today, all of her comments were spot on and are actually some simple stuff that I just need to focus on and our scores will start to go up rather quickly. So we got our second qualifying score and another second place. Best of all, our Saturday score earned us the Reserve Champ AA Second Level award. (Five year old moment-I got a big pretty ribbon!!! Woot!) Not too shabby for our big move up to Second :)

We're head to Championships in Lexington, VA in October. I like the facilities there and I'm hoping that I can get in touch with Bastian's breeder and she can come and watch our classes, I think that she would like to see her handsome baby all growed up and showing Second Level. And, we have our Second Level scores towards are Bronze Medal. Woot! I don't plan on showing Third Level until next spring. My original goal was to show this fall, but with having to concentrate on perfecting our Para-test, Third Level is going on the back burner (basically my flying changes are going on the back burner since everything else in the Para Test is Third Level) But if we can pull it off, we'll be showing Third next year and hopefully finishing up my Third Level Requirements for my Bronze Medal.

Next weekend is the WPDA Summer Sizzler at Grand Haven. We're doing strictly Second Level and since the pressure is off to get my qualifying scores I can have a bit more fun, we're doing Second One and Second Three. Here's hoping that it doesn't rain that weekend, it would be awesome to have to slop through the mud and slide through the corners....

Here is the video that Donna took of us from the NODA show: Thank you Donna!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I decided to go out a day earlier than planned to ride Bastian, I had intended to wait until Wednesday and give him a full week off, but I just couldn't resist, it is after all, summer break and while I've managed to keep my self busy with house things and working out my training plan for rest of the year, I was going through some serious equine withdrawal. We didn't do much, just a light 30 minute hack that started with some lovely walk work and ended with cantering some even more lovely cross rails.

Bastian and I haven't jumped in about 3 months, everytime we're schooling though, when we start on anywhere near a line to a jump, his little ears perk up and he's like "Are we going? Can we do it? Please? Please? Pleeeeeaaase? PLEASE!!!" and then's he's sad when we go past it. He loves to jump. So today he was feeling so great that I figured he deserved a treat. When I pointed him at the first one, he wasn't quite sure I was serious, but the next three after that were wonderful! He hit his spot and he was so adjustable! (Thank you dressage training!) I had loopy reins and he was listening to my seat and was really rocked back to each fence.

I need to start incorporating more jumping into our training program. The judge commented that he just didn't have enough strength and push from behind to preform the movements with power, which if we want to be competitive with all the lovelies out there in the Para-world, we need to develop. I'm going to start doing low grid work with him to get him to rock back on his hind end more and develop that pushing power. This kills two birds with one stone, not only will it make him more powerful, it will give him the chance to do something he loves-jump, which will help to keep him fresher in the dressage ring. Its a win-win all around. (and if I can sneak one in, we may go to a hunter show and do a 2 foot division, I think he would kick ass he's going so nicely!)

The rest of the plan includes developing both his and my own muscling to better handle the rigors of the upper level tests (and yes, to me 3rd level is upper level-I was a training and first level rider for the first 20 years of my riding career, it was only last fall that I moved up to 2nd and know I'm riding third....) I am excited to continue working towards my Bronze Medal through the USDF. I hope I can knock out my 2nd Level Scores this summer and then my Third Level Scores next year. Third level is looking more doable, I'm starting to understand the whole Flying change thing, we've had two very nice accidental lead changes in the past month.... Since I'm only riding one horse I have to really up my game fitness wise, I would love to ride several horses a day but its just not in the cards. Such is life, we'll find an alternate way to do it.

We're headed to the NODA Schooling Show on July 7th to ride through our 2nd Level 3 test before we perform it at a recognized show-I'm not a fan of not being prepared and not practicing things. Its not looking as intimidating as before (kinda like 2'-2'3" fences didn't look big to me after completing a BN event) and I have a good feeling about the show. I learned A LOT about Bastian and myself at the show in California. I've got a better warm up plan in mind and he really responded well to the extra special after-ride care my grooms gave him.

After the NODA schooling show, we'll be attending the NODA Dressage and Encore Show on the 20th and the 21st and then the WPDA Show in August. After that its a bit of break until Regionals in October. I'm hoping to be qualified in both First and Second Level. Our group is aiming for Region 1 Championships in Lexington, VA. I'm hoping that if we qualify, Bastian's breeder can make it out to the show to watch his classes, I try to write to her once or twice a year to keep her updated on what her lovely boy is up to and I think she would love to see him strut his stuff live and in person.

Onward and upward as they say. I feel like I've got a handle on what needs to happen, after Regionals I'm aiming at the show in Wellington in the spring as another CPEDI*** (I've saved my personal days this time so my boss can't tell me to shove off). I'm also very seriously considering moving to the Wellington area. I'm not a fan of the weather, I like the cold and I love PA, but if I want to compete with the big boys, I need to do so in as economical of a fashion as possible and I don't have the funds to take huge trips to CA and FL on a regular basis, so that is definitely an option, there has to be teaching jobs in the area and I could do tutoring part time for all you young'uns that show up for the season to ride and show your amazing ponies. The idea has merit.....we'll see where this year takes us. I'm not going to jump into anything just yet, but if you hear of an open teaching position in the Wellington, Florida area for a high school English teacher, let me know!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Would Brian Boitano Do?

Wow. What a crazy two weeks. I'm sorry I didn't manage to keep my blog more updated during the journey, but we managed to keep ourselves quite busy. We made it home safely on Tuesday night and spent pretty much all of Wednesday sleeping. Today has been spent doing laundry, mowing my jungle of a lawn and just getting back into the groove of EST and Pennsylvania. I'll try to cover all the important things here, but forgive me if I jump around a bit!

I mentioned before that during my international classification I was re-classified as a Grade IV from a Grade III para-equestrian. I've had a lot of people ask me "how could they do that??" Welllll.... how could they not? I needed be classified internationally, when they went through the same process that they went through three or four years ago when I was nationally classified, the only difference being that now I am stronger, I've found different ways to compensate for the muscles and bits that don't work, I've developed more core strength. Which of course leads to my mixed feelings, on one hand I'm very excited about being reclassified and knowing that I have improved physically. Of course, receiving this news the evening before you are about to compete and you've spent every penny you had and didn't have to get your horse across the country in your one shot at earning a qualifying score was NOT what I wanted to hear.

The grade IV test is more like a third level test. The differences from the Grade III test include: Extended trot, Extended Canter, Simple Changes, Walk Piorettes, trot half pass, canter half pass, canter-halt, and extended walk. Easy-peasy right? All I can say is that I have an amazing horse and an amazing trainer. We had never done over half of those things, I've played a bit with half-pass, but mostly a the walk in an effort to teach Bastian how to do our turns on the haunches..... Becaus Kristin has trained both Bastian and I correctly, we were able to do some semblence of the all those new movements, although not nearly as good as they should be and for a few, the first time I did them was in the show ring.....

So the theme of the weekend became "What would Brian Boitano do?" We all know of course, that he would make a plan and he'd follow through, that's what Brian Boitano do. So Team Bastian regrouped, I studied the Grade IV Test Team for Friday, watched a few youtube videos on walk piorettes and extended walks and got ready to give it my best shot. On Friday, we misse our qualifying score by 1/6 of a point. We scored a 59.4%, we needed a 60 :( The test itself went pretty well (my video camera is in a bag that was unpacked at the barn, I will post videos once I get it back!) I missed a lead in one of my simple changes, had we gotten that we might have eeked out our 60%.

Saturday was the Grade IV Individual Test, which was more technically difficult, it had more simple changes and the test was actually doing pretty well until we missed our right lead in a simple change at P, then missed it twice more and didn't get it until we were in the corner before K, obliterating any chance at a decent mark for either the simple change or the collected canter between P and K.... We end up with a 53% for that test, moving even farther away from the desired 60%. After we got Bastian put away, we sat down and started working on my Freestyle. I had a freestyle for Grade III, in order to ride it for Grade IV, I had to re-write the choreography, we had to include all those elements I mentioned above except for the walk-piorettes.

We tweeked it a bit, then I saddled B back up and we rode through it once in the practice arena. I switched to the double bridle, I figured it couldn't make it any worse! LOL, it was just what we needed, he rocked back, was more collected and our transitions became much better.

Sunday came and we tacked Bastian up one more time...our freestyle rode SURPISINGLY well given that we changed it to fit the music I had and be Grade IV compatible and that I had only ever ridden it through once. I only had to improvise one movement-we threw in an extra 10 meter circle in extended walk and believe it or not, we managed to get our 60%, just by the hairs of our chinny chin chins. During the awards ceremony, when the judge was handing me my ribbon, she complemented me on taking on the Grade IV test and dealing with the difficulties of the test without any preparation. So, long story short, we earned our Certificate of Capability and we are now eligible to be selected for the WEG team.

Its of course, much more complicated than that, but this step of the process is done. I have until Wellington next spring to work on the Grade IV test and actually learn how to do all those things I was doing...lol. The location of the Para-Nationals is still up in the air. Apparently show management thinks paras make things too difficult? I don't really know, but that is the blunt answer-I'm not one to mince words. If its someplace we can make it to, then we'll be there. Right now our show plans include the NODA shows at Grand Haven in July and the WPDA show in August. Then, Regionals in October and Wellington for a CPEDI*** in the spring.

I have to give a huge thank you to Team Bastian. They were amazing in keeping him happy. Between stall cleaning, 3 hand walks a day, icing, poulticing, grooming, bathing, and tack cleaning they more than earned their keep. Also, a huge thank you to my sponsor, Hastilow Competiton Saddles. I love love love my Hastilow Concept Saddle and obviously Bastian loves it too or else he would not be able to utilize his back and rock back onto his hocks as well as he does.

I also have to give super thanks for all of the words of encouragement from the other para-riders, the Classifiers, the Stewards and the USPEA representatives. It was a tough weekend for us, Bastian and I definitely gave it our all and well I of course would have loved to have done better, I feel that we did pretty damn good given the situation that we faced.

So. Take that Bembridge Scholars!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Right Place, Wrong Time

Things have been going well overall here in sunny California. We've been having a great time and Bastian has been behaving like the best lil' dragon in the world. He's been a bit tense and after some keen coaching advice from afar, Kristin got us thinking forward and through again.

Bastian likes the weather, its cool overnight (in the 50s) and the mornings are in the 60s (just cool enough you want long sleeves) and by the afternoon its in the 80s. No humidity, so its really quite nice. The B-man has been taking little siestas in the afternoon.

Today was the jog, I'm going to admit I was super nervous about this part, having never gone through it and not knowing how picky the judges were going to be I was scared that they would not pass him and I would have driven all this way for nadda, but he was looking fine and Samantha did a great job jogging him despite his lovely trip on his way back towards the judges. Yes, only my horse would trip. But he passed, greatest words I have heard in a while "Number 153, Accepted." Here is the video from the jog: They never announced the results for best dressed or best turnout, but I think Samantha and Bastian looked awesome.

Here is the tricky part, I was originally classified as a Grade III Para-Equestrian four-ish years ago. Since then I have gotten much stronger, especially in the last few months as I've been doing more core exercises and whatnot. I had to be internationally classified today (I only had my national classification before) and because I've become stronger, I was re-classified as a Grade IV Para-Equestrian. :-/

Don't get me wrong, overall, I'm actually quite excited about the change, there are a lot of fun things that I get to do in my dressage tests (more third-level-ly [is that a word??]}, but that is not what I wanted to hear today at the end of my classification. I am currently prepared to ride a Grade III test, I've practiced it and that is what we came to do, but in order for us to get our certificate of capability in order to be considered for selection, we need to ride the Grade IV test tomorrow. There are a few parts that might be sketchy, but we are going to give it a go, keep our mind on the task at hand and *hopefully* rise to the challenge. We ride at 8:40 in the morning (around 11:40 for all-y'all Pennsylvanians and Ohio-ans out there) and of course we are the first Grade IV ride so I don't get to even watch another rider go through the test (there is only one other Grade IV here).

So tomorrow I ride the team test, I feel good about most of it, it is what it is and hopefully, with luck, we'll manage to pull off a viable score. Its been great to meet the other para-riders, check out Lara Oles website.

I'll be sure to update after we ride our test tomorrow, if you want to creep on scores, you can go here:Fox Village Dressage Scores

Thank you again to everyone who has helped to support and sponsor me, especially Hastilow Competition Saddles my amazing family and friends. This would not be possible without all of you!! THANK YOU!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

California Dreamin

Bastian has settled in quite nicely to his temporary home at the Mureita Equestrian Center. Aside from wondering why in the heck he is in solitary confinement, he seems right at home. I'm anxious for other horses to start arriving so he has somebody else to talk to being the social butterfly that he is. He is enjoying his spacious 10x13 stall and was pretty darn happy when we hung his fan up yesterday. He has been eating and drinking like its going out of style and with the high being 106 degrees yesterday, I had no problems filling up his waterbuckets multiple times. He even had 3 buckets of water overnight, of which he drank the majority of it. He looks as fat as ever and is very relaxed.

We spent yesterday getting my tack stall set up and finding a car to rent. My amazing dad was great in that regard and having an entire tack stall to myself is definitely spoiling me! I spent today feng shui-ing my tack stall and making minor adjustments. It was also nice getting all that done before the show-we didn't have to fight with a line of traffic, throw things unceremoniously off of the trailer and get out of the way.

After we got everything unloaded I lunged the B-man without side reins for about 15 minutes just to get him out of his stall and moving. He looked great, there was a bounce in his step, but he wasn't nearly as crazy as I was expecting having been cooped up in a stall of some sort for the past week. I'm sure the heat had something to do with it, but I was able to work him in one of the covered outdoor arenas so it wasn't too bad once you were in shade, but there wasn't much of a breeze to speak of. After his lunge, I gave him a bath because he looked downright chompy :-/

I dropped the second half of T-Squared off at the airport last night, so I had all morning to spend bonding with my handsome chestnut guy. After feng shui-ing my tack stall I saddled him up, lunged for about 10 minutes and then hopped on. He felt great, forward and steady in the contact. I just wanted him relaxed and forward today, we played a little with shoulder in and leg yield and did a few lengthens for 3-5 strides. The arena was huge and we had it all to ourselves, which was very nice. I was proud of his focus, it was getting pretty windy so there were some terrifying squeaky noises but he kept it together. I'm looking forward to riding him again tomorrow, we can focus a bit more on the elements of the test and I'll have Samantha (only 3 more hours until she is here!) there to video.

So far so good! I still can't believe that I've managed to pull this off so far, this has been a huge undertaking and we're moving into phase two (the show!) Thank you again to everyone who has contributed! Here is the link to where ride times and scores will be posted . As of right now, nothing is posted, but it should be up shortly.

Well, its time to go feed the B-man his supper then its off to the airport to pick up Samantha! I can't wait until she's here, I'm pretty excited that she was able to come out here, she's going to look amazing jogging Bastian on Thursday!

Monday, June 3, 2013

2T + B = CA

Today is (was) the day! Bastian is headed west with T-Squared (my dad and my brother have the same name and it was suggested that I refer to them as T-Squared. I think its funny…) Anyway, up at 4:30 AM then off to the barn to do one more poultice, put him in his fluffy travelling halter and load him on the trailer. I think he’s going to enjoy traveling loose in his spacious box stall ;)

I’m glad he is the only horse going, since there is pretty much no way we could have fit more stuff on the trailer. I’ve got 24 bales of hay (did I mention the outrageous price of hay in CA??? ($25 a bale…sheesh!) 20 bags of shavings, my tack trunk, saddle, buckets, vet kit, grain, fans, my personal luggage, a mounting block, two coolers, lots of food and drink and of course, the B-Monster. It took me about 5 hours to pack and prep the trailer all said and done. I remembered how much I disliked doing hay when I was still able bodied enough to chuck 100 or more bales a day. Here is the section of the trailer (I really should say Rig-its beyond just a trailer) stacked with hay:

I also sent 3 pages worth of instructions with him. I’ve never not traveled with him so I’m totally freaking out here, but I also know that T-Squared will take care of him, I mean I wouldn’t send him if I didn’t have a good feeling about this overall. I know that I have over-packed, but I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it and it can always travel back with us.

A last minute addition to Team Bastian is one of the most spectacular young ladies I have ever known: Samantha “Diego”. When I got her text a week ago saying she could go with me I was ecstatic! I booked her flight before she could change her mind (not that she would…). Samantha is such a steady-eddy and I will need much steady-eddying during the week. She will keep me level headed and on the right track as well as providing excellent grooming services. Making all this happen requires a phenomenal support team and I am lucky to have such awesome people helping me out.

Bastian has been great these past few weeks and we’ve had some great lessons with Tawny Williamson. As long as I keep my core engaged and keep myself focused I think that we’ll do just fine. I’m hoping that I get to hob-knob with some big-time celebrities. (both horse and Hollywood-I know I’m like a ga-zillion miles from the actual Hollywood, but I am going to be in CA!) I’m sad that Bodega Bay is like 3 ½ hours from Rancho Murieta. I, being the geek that I am, wanted to go and get my picture take there since I teach the short story “The Birds” to my 9th graders and then we watch the Hitchcock Movie, which was filmed there. Oh well, I’m looking forward to lounging by the pool when not doing Bastian things and I have a list of novels to work on. Best vacation I’ll have been on in a long time!

I spent most of Saturday at the Erie Hunt and Saddle Club scribing for Kristin Stein. It was great to be reminded of the judge’s perspective and just how much they DO see. Either way, it was a blast and highly educational. Good luck to everyone showing at the WPDA/Grand Haven Show this coming weekend, I’m bummed that (yet again!) I’m missing out on this show. Next year maybe I’ll finally get to show. Special good luck to one very adorable Chloe and Angel as they make their Training Level debut; Bastian sends his best to Shannon and Leo as they make their First Level debut; and fingers, legs, eyes, and toes crossed for Tawny and Gem who have missed out on the past two show seasons-get out there and kick some butt ladies!

My plane leaves at 5:15 on Friday and I arrive at the Sacramento Airport at 8:30ish their time. Until then, I’ll be freaking out and doing lots of ab/core work to make up for not riding for four days….

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

To Make a Long Story Short.....

There has been so much going on since I last blogged....I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up better! So, here's the latest news:


All plans are go! I sent my entry in, Bastian's FEI passport has been obtained. Its been a bit crazy coordinating all of this. My amazing dad and brother are hauling Bastian out to California for me. They are leaving on June 3rd. I've managed to secure enough hay, grain and shavings for the handsome man. The tack box is packed and I've only got a few more things to take out to the barn. I'm flying out on June 7th to meet them. The show grounds open on the 11th and the show starts on the 13th! Getting everything in order has been quite stressful, but we're managing! It hasn't officially sunk in yet, but I'm sure that once I board the plane it will! Super excited ;)


After a great show at Chagrin Valley Farms in March, Bastian and I started to encounter a few roadblocks, he was sore through his back and just not moving as well as I know he can. The solution was having the vet out and getting his hocks injected. Aside from him being wound tight from four days of stall rest, he is feeling great and is back to his awesome self. I had lesson today and will have another one on Thursday. I'm trying to fit in as much as possible before I leave as I'm doing the show solo, I've got to soak up all the wisdom I can from Kristin and Tawny!

Bastian's double bridle arrived in the mail the other day and he looks quite smashing in it. I'm not entirely sure whether I will show in the snaffle or in the double yet, we'll just have to see how he feels on those days. His Hastilow Concept saddle fits like a glove and he's looking sleek and happy, a little on the chubby side, but that's the plan as I'm sure he'll lose weight on his trip.


I've successfully completed my first semester of graduate school, just two more semesters until I have my Masters! Woot! I've managed to get lots of extra work days in at the part time job which has kept me extra busy. Only a few weeks of school left, which I am glad for, it has been a long exhausting year for so many reasons. I'm looking forward to next year; I've back to teaching my awesome 9th graders :)


In general, thank you everyone! This is a huge endeavor and every little bit has and will continue to help us on our journey. No matter what it is that you have donated, especially the well wishes and encouraging words, we genuinely appreciate them. Thank you to Hastilow Saddlery for our amazing saddle, Thank you Kim Sprickman for hosting a month long Scentsy Party and donating a portion of total sales to our trip (its not too late to order! Just contact me!) Thank you to my AMAZING brother and dad for taking time off to haul my adorable chestnut pony's booty across the country. Thank you to Cleveland Equine for fitting in my horse's hock injection appointment and making him feel so super good! Thank you to Iroquoise Elementary School for donating their monthly "jeans" money to our trip. Thank you thank you thank you! I'm trying to keep on top of all the thank yous, if I've left your name off please forgive me!

Okay, that is all the major stuff, I've got laundry to finish and its almost my bed time..... I promise more updates soon and hopefully some video!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Practice Practice Practice!

This past weekend was full of success for the B-monster and I. I had not one but two fabulous lessons last week. We worked on our collected canter and just getting him to really really collect for a few strides then pushing him back out, we learned how to properly execute a turn on the haunches and we started schooling those, and we worked on keeping his haunches and shoulders where they are supposed to be and maintaining the correct bend. :)

Then on Saturday I headed to Equine Affaire to do some awesome shopping. I did pretty good and while I didn't find a double bridle, I managed to snag some great deals. I also managed to snag a coveted Cosequin bucket. I've wanted a cosequin bucket for years.....I had to stand in line for about 15 minutes and get my picture taken with one of their sponsored riders and then post it on facebook. Totally worth it ;)

And speaking of sponsors....I will soon be announcing a new one! Yay. Bastian loves his sponsors, they keep him looking snazzy (Thank you Hastilow Competition Saddlerly), and feeling healthy (Thank you Dr. Susan Wilcox/Steel Valley Spay/Neuter). I must say that my Hastilow Saddle looked pretty spiffy this weekend all cleaned up and what not. I have to say that one of my favorite things about my saddle is that it truly fits my horse-I don't have to use any extra pads in there to make it fit or to make his back more comfortable.

Any why, you might ask, was my saddle all cleaned up this weekend. Well not only is that right way to take care of your tack (I'm soooooo bad about cleaning my tack regularly!) but we went to a schooling dressage show this weekend at Chagrin Valley Farms. It was our first time riding the Para Team and Individual tests. I had run through the movements before in their approximate order, but it was really the first time doing it in an actual correct sized arena. Both tests rode much better than I was anticipating. I was concerned about the 10 meter collected canter onto centerline into counter canter move, but it went really well and wasn't nearly as tiny as I was expecting. We scored just over 60% on both tests. I thought my first test (the Team test) rode better, but I was on my way to a better score on my Individual test until we lost our canter between D and B. (I half halted too much and didn't back it up with enough leg) so we scored a 4 on that movement and on the transition down at M, I just kept my trot and went on with my test. Had we not broken I probably could have eeked out another 1 or 2 percent. Oh well, live and learn!

We were both tired by the time we were done, but I was very happy with Bastian's effort. The judge's comments were true, I only disagreed with one-I thought our last center line was much better than our first center line, but I wasn't the one at the judges table. For us it was a great check up. It confirmed for me that we are on the right path and that if I continue to work on what I am working on we can only go up from here! I'm very excited to go to California! (if only they would post the prize list....its killing me! lol) and even more excited for the NODA shows in July. Our next stop is the NODA schooling show at Grand Haven, we'll be doing the Team Test again and hopefully doing a run through of my free style.

The weather here is starting to improve and Bastian is adjusting to living in his lovely new home quite nicely. Here's hoping the weather is lovely tomorrow afternoon and I can ride outside!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lesson Learned :)

Have I ever mentioned what a wonderful instructor I have? If not, then let me say it now. Kristin Stein is amaze-za-zing. I had a great lesson this past Thursday. Bastian and I have always struggled with his wiggly-ness and my own weakness in my lower body, it is hard to keep him straight. This results in not only unwanted lateral movement but an unsteady poll. So it has been a huge focus of ours to get his little chestnut booty moving and to keep his poll quiet. He’s also a sensitive guy, so every little bobble on my part results in a bobble on his part, it’s a vicious circle.

Over the past few months I’ve gotten better with my upper body and better with my arms (I like to impersonate a chicken every now and then…). Now, we’ve started focusing on bringing my legs into the picture, keeping them on and keeping him tuned in there, using those elusive inner thigh muscles to keep him balanced. In my lesson on Thursday, we got it! If only for a stride or two, but we got it, I felt it, felt the difference it made in his gaits and it was awesome!

I love that Kristin was able to break it all down for us and to get us to this point. It is one of the things I truly look for in an instructor-if you can’t break it down and explain precisely what my leg/arm/hand/seat-bone should be doing I’m going to struggle with it. Another thing I really like about my lessons with Kristin are that even if what I want to be doing is some kind of fancy dressage second levelly thing or jumping over crazy fences (when we were jumping), she won’t allow me to do those things unless I’ve got the pre-requisites under control. A quality that I think is often lacking in many instructors-they do what the client wants instead of the client needs or is appropriate for the client.

The results are phenomenal. Because we have the pre-requisites mastered and in place, we can then do the cool stuff. So like today, because I made sure we were quiet, working off the seat rather than the hands and in front of the leg, Bastian gave his back and was soft and round and we had some crazy good canter-like a whole 20 meters worth of quality 2nd Level score of an 8 kinda canter.

What’s the point of this little story you ask? First off, always listen to your trainer (provided you have a smart one who knows what they are doing). Second, with horses, taking a few steps back will often times get you huge strides ahead. This lesson has been a bit slow sinking in for me-the first time Kristin really applied it with me was three days before Regionals. I wanted to be practicing the elements of my test and what Bastian really needed was a flexible rib cage and to go long and low and get through his back, so we spent the days before Regionals doing long and low work-like pre-training level work, I was freaked. But it paid off and it was what we needed, I could have put him through his first level tricks and he would have done them, but there would be no quality there.

As the rider, it is important to get on and realize where the horse is coming from on that day-it won’t always be where we want it to be. When it is not, realize that it is okay to take a step backward, even if it is right before a major competition. Pushing blindly forward without fixing the basic problem won’t end well for you or your horse. So yeah, today’s ride has now cemented this lesson in my mind. Bastian’s poll was so quiet you could have balanced a glass of water there…. He’s such a great guy and he is settling in nicely to his new home. We’ve also made our first offering to the shoe gods…. Oh well, he’ll be getting new feet soon and then problem solved!

We’re looking forward to an awesome April and a magnificent May (English teacher alliteration there). Just two months before he heads across the country to CA. I’m thinking I may need to start buying Pepto-Bismo by the case to deal with the stress!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pack Your Bags!

So those of you that know me, know that I am a complete and utter geek, through and through. When I'm not doing the ga-zillion and one things that I have to do in order to make a living and prepare my horse for the show season, I can be found reading awesome literature, watching awesome TV shows and movies, and watching the best Japanese Anime around. (Total pop culture junky here) Two of those particular loves are watching (and reading) George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones and watching Nickelodeon's Avatar the Last Airbender. So when HBO decided to put out a template to make your own coat of arms I couldn't resist combining these two ideas and creating a coat of arms and 'house words' for my fabu pony. House 'Luck Dragon' didn't sound right so I just stuck with "House Bastian" and then as I sat there trying to come up with some mind-blowing house words (We do not Tempi ~ala House Greyjoy) I started thinking about Uncle Iroh from Avatar, one of my favorite characters and how his nickname was "Dragon of the West," and well, long story short, I was like 'Hey, Bastian is the Dragon of the East.....' So the above is now my horse's coat of arms....I think its pretty sweet, the only thing that is missing is Bastian's personal logo, which I think I can eventually finagle onto there somehow....

Anyway, the main purpose of this blog is to give an update on our California plans. What I've got right now is some transportation! Woot. So, between borrowed trucks, trailers and a whole gaggle of air plane tickets, Bastian, myself and my slave, er, groom for the week will be making it to California. After the show I'll be making the drive back with him. Road Trip! I'm hoping we're in good enough spirits to get a few touristy pictures with Bastian like at the worlds biggest ball of yarn or something. (He's been telling me that he would really like to journey with the donkeys down into the Grand Canyon). But regardless of that. It looks like Game On. While there are still a ton of other details to work out, this was one of the major ones. If anyone has any frequent flyer miles they would like to donate let me know! LOL

That's all for now, just wanted to share his bodacious coat of arms and our happy progress news. Lesson tomorrow! Can't wait;)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Double the Fun

The ever so handsome B-Man has stayed sound for going on two weeks now...**knock on some serious wood here**! We lost about a month of muscle development in him from his time off, but we're quickly catching back up. That's the best part about having such solid training, he knows what is expected now, we just have to get those muscles responding again, so we have moments of collection and self carriage and its fabulous. (I've also been watching him on the lunge and there is some pretty nice trot in there, I just have to figure out how to find that gear when I'm on him!)

Our plan of attack the past two weeks has been long and slow, we've only just started getting back to doing bits and pieces of "collection." My focus has been on getting him through his back again and in front of my leg. The first week was tough, all he really wanted to do was have a 9 year old TB moment and go "KABOOM!" but he (for the most part) kept it together so the relaxed and forward wasn't happening to much until this past week. So as we re-adjust to each other there have been bobbles, but they are lessening every day and he is becoming quieter in his poll again.

We've also did our first ever ride in a double bridle. I've ridden with a double one other time in my life, but was pretty handy with gags and combination bits that utilized two reins back in my grand ol' eventing days so at least the two rein thing didn't freak me out. I'm pretty sure I could not hold anything else in my hands; two sets of reins and two whips is quite enough, thank you. My hands hurt after about 30 minutes since I'm not used to the curb rein yet. But mission successful, Bastian was quite accepting and when I managed to hit the sweet spot, it was heavenly. We're going to incorporate that into our regimen once a week. I'm also pretty sure that since we are now 'using' a double, he should automatically start passaging, piaffing, and piriouetting. He did none of those things so I think I want my money back.... lol

Funding is still going rather slow, but I'm hammering away at it. I have to give a HUGE thank you to the faculty and staff of Iroquois Elementary School in Erie, PA. They generously donated their casual Friday fund for February to Bastian and I to help us make it to California. Their generosity is much appreciated and gets us one step closer to our goal. I continue to cut out whatever I can and in April we will be moving to another local barn where Bastian will be field boarded for about a 1/3 of what I pay for board now. That extra money can be put into our California fund. It was not an easy decision to make, he's a happy camper and of course I can't foresee any problems but with horses you just never know! I think he will be okay, he was an outside bachelor when I first got him. I'll still be able to ride with Kristin when she comes out to my new barn and in the in-between times I'll be riding with Tawny Williamson. So fingers crossed that he'll like his new living situation!

My tack trunk is almost finished I just need to put the finish on it and thanks to some great advice from my TSC co-workers I got this awesome finish that is the same thing they put on bars to keep them from getting banged up and destroyed by inebriated patrons, so if we have a rough day at a horse show we can just belly up to my tack trunk and have a few....dual purpose equipment is always the best!

Those are the high lights for the moment. A final note: Hooray for March Madness! May the best Gator/Buckeye win ;)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Crunching the Numbers

No, it’s not some super yummy new breakfast cereal, although that would be nice wouldn’t it…. Nope, I’ve started to do the math that is California and frankly its downright frightening, but between sheer determination and a little bit of luck, Bastian and I will be making this trip. Here is the initial fiscal breakdown:

Hotel for 10 days: $800

Plane Ticket Roundtrip: $500

Rental Car + fuel: $500

Food for 10 days: $500

Show Fees: $1000

Additional Stabling: $300

Hauling: $???? (I haven’t heard back from any shippers yet….)

Sooooo…..that means that not including hauling I’m looking at $3600. :^O

Damn! So between now and then I’m going to have to do some massive fundraising. I’ve cut out everything I could possibly cut out of my everyday life that costs me extra money (good bye TV!) .

I’m still selling Polo Shirts and Saddle Pads and would love to put on a schooling CT in May to help raise funds. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated! And anyone who wants to plan and organize something I would really appreciate that! This isn’t a cop-out, I will do whatever it takes, but between two jobs and full time grad school and trying to ride and train it gets a bit overwhelming…. But I am definitely all ears and I need help-I can’t do it on my own.

On the Bastian front, there is still something a little wonky going on and its back and forth between his LH and RF. The vet wants us to do a round of Tildren in March and then to have his hocks done in May. Its looking like the Kentucky show is going to be nixed from the schedule-it’s just too much between extra vet money and the trip to CA. Viriginia in July is the same way. It looks like it will be CA in June, NODA in July and WPDA in August then (hopefully) onto the USDF Festival of Champions (Para-Nationals) in October followed by Regional Championships.

I’ve got a very light work week this week so I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with the hairy chestnut monster ;)

Suggestions on how to make this all happen are welcome!!!! Be sure to check out our website for the most up to date news: www.luckdragondressage.vpweb.com

Bastian enjoying the spring mud-he's very into exfoliating his skin....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Plan B

So much has happened since last time I posted and I needed some time to get my thoughts in order, so bear with me as I try to explain everything....

Everything that I have been working for has had to shift. Of the many ways I occupy my time, one of them is my full time job as a high school English teacher. Due to the nature of the job, we do not get vacation days and we only receive a limited number of personal days (3) that we are permitted to use throughout the year. I used my personal days for Regional Championships because at that time none of this was really in the works and there weren't any shows on the schedule. As the schedule was decided, there were only two opportunities for me to choose from in order to show and attempt to achieve my qualifying score. Both options involve a good deal of travel. Option one and the most economically feasible was Wellington Florida in March. In November I approached my immediate supervisor about this issue wanting to know what my options were concerning days off beyond my personal days. I explained the situation and what I was working to accomplish. They made it sound like getting the days off would not be an issue-I could take unpaid leave. Fast forward to 3 weeks ago. I am happily making my plans and when I try to confirm exactly what they were willing to allow me to take I am told that my request cannot be accommodated because it would set a precedent (my para-phrasing here)and they would have to approve unpaid leave for whenever people wanted to travel.

If you are scratching your head, as I did saying "huh, don't you understand what it is I am trying to do here? This is so much more than just travelling...." then thank you. And I do understand the districts point of view, but I was requesting at a minimum two days-Thursday and Friday and offered to teach summer school (something that I have done for the past two years) for free (flex time)-I usually earn close to $800 in order to have just those two days off. Basically I was told that (paraphrasing again!) "its nice to have goals and you have a great story, but we don't want to support you." I am not impressed and the only thing I can respond with is this. Game. On.

This leads me to the two options I have left:

Option One Give up. I don't even feel the need to elaborate here-its self explanatory, being that there are so few opportunities for Para riders here in the United States, I give up live a satisfactory but unfilled life as a 2nd level dressage rider.

Option 2

Go to Sacramento, California and attend the only other CPDI*** Dressage Show offered this year. More expenses, and another 11 hours of travel. So....guesss who's going to California! This girl! Admittedly, the whole idea of travelling that far is overwhelming, the logistics of how I'll manage to get Bastian there as well as myself is a bit much to think about. I will happily take suggestions on shippers, overnight locations and if anyone else wants to go....I here the horse show is really nice....lol

35 hours. 35-friggin-hours. I have it mapped out in the event that I am driving/hauling B and it works out to just over two weeks with travel time, recovery time, showing, then driving back. Instead of the 4-7 days that Florida would have meant. Now I am faced with more hotel fees, more gas money, more pet-sitting money for my sweet little Lucky dog and Doodle.....okay I'm getting whiny here, I'll stop. Like I said; Game on. I will be going to California and I cannot wait. Bastian and I will get our chance to show in an international ring against the best of the best.

So to continue on the bad news front, Bastian has had some hind end wonkiness, so I had the vet out today thinking maybe its just his hocks-he is 9 years old this year and we have never done anything joint wise. Alas, it was not hocks. We actually have an awesome mix of things going on....He has a splint on his left hind leg. Solution was an injection (can't remember off the top of my head), then he was off mildly on his right front, we blocked his foot and his ankle before he was sound. Then a-gazillion x-rays later and we have (insert big fancy word here) changes. (I don't have the vet report in front of me-its still sitting in my tack locker at the barn...) So injection there of stuff (different stuff than his splint injection), followed by 5 days of hand walking (hooray!) two weeks of bute and back to normal work in 7 days. If he's still off when we go back to normal work then I call back and we re-evaluate. I need to give a huge thank you to Dr. Berthold from The Cleveland Equine Clinic, he was so easy to talk to and he knows his stuff. I feel very lucky that I have such a wonderful vet clinic so nearby-they have always taken excellent care of me and my Chestnut Nugget of Joy. As long as he's sound we have a few more steps to complete over the next few months, but Bastian should be 100% in time for CA. Unfortunately my stress level has skyrocketed. I bought a box of little debbie cakes on the way home and well...they are almost gone.....

Here is our updated schedule:

KDA Spring Show, KY (May)

CPDI*** Rancho Murieta, CA (and because I am travelling I will again miss the June WPDA/Grand Haven Show :( )

Lexington, VA (July-still only a maybe, depends on if anyone else is going!)

NODA + Encore (July)

WPDA Summer Sizzler (August)

Para-Nationals, KY (October)-providing I Qualify at CA!

Regionals-Lexington, VA -October

It also looks like there is a training session with Robert Dover at some point for Para-riders, keeping my fingers crossed that I can A) be selected, B)its a reasonable distance and C)it doesn't interfere with my silly school

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley, -Robert Burns (1785)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Unwillingly Waylaid

First off- almost 5000 page views! How cool! :) and I'm up to 16 followers *thumbs up* thanks guys for reading/following!!!

Due to being scheduled at work every night this week and the week before along with having a flat tire two days in a row I have missed out on A LOT of Bastian time, but in order to have that Bastian time I have to work or else I won’t have the income necessary to do what I want to do. I’ve got some projects in the works to get me through the this “off” season, although it not really an off season since I have a show in about 45 days…..which I should note is still not a definite, there has been a slight monkey-wrench thrown into my plans and I don’t know if I’ll be able to work it out but as soon as I know for sure one way or the other I’ll be sure to update. So here’s more of the Good News/ Bad News:

Bad News:

Fast forward to Saturday…I get off work, head to the barn all excited to finally get to ride. I decide to lunge him first so we didn’t have to worry about too much goofiness and he’s lame. Something was off with his right front. Cindy and I poked (mostly Cindy) and prodded him and couldn’t find anything other than a titch of a titch of heat inside of his cannon bone. *sigh* I iced, poulticed, wrapped and buted him. Today he was much better, he looked more stiff/soar rather than actually off, and not a severe stiff/soar, just a "I need to stretch and warm up kinda stiff" in his right front. I’m thinking he maybe slept funky? Can horses do that? Anyway, I rode him today at the walk for 50 minutes and worked on walky-things and halts. We trotted a few times on the long sides and he felt good-he wanted to go and was stepping evenly. So I’m thinking that he is better, but he did have bute with breakfast I want to take every precaution so I’m playing it safe. He was iced and pouticed and wrapped again and is getting bute through Monday night. I work tomorrow so another day off will be a good thing and then I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s ready to rock and roll on Tuesday.
Bastian isn't a fan of the poultice!

Good News:

My freestyle is complete! I worked with Cynthia Collins of Luna Tunes Freestyle and although my initial musical choice wasn’t a good fit I was able to find some great Celtic music and Cynthia did a fabulous job organizing it and splicing it together. The choreography is excellent too, I think it will really showcase Bastian’s and I’s strengths. I’m working on learning the choreography but will have to wait until I am in a full size arena before I can actually practice with the music. I’m looking forward to it, I’ve always wanted to be able to ride a freestyle. I even already have plans for music for our next one-I’m hoping by next year Bastian and I will be ready for a freestyle that involves some third level moves.

Another project I’ve got in the works is refinishing a tack trunk I picked up. It was a steal of a deal for just $35. Aside from a missing hinge, the box itself is really in excellent shape, it needs some sanding and I’m working on stripping the paint. My plan is to refinish it with a dark stain and I have Kim working on designing a plate or such to place on the lid that has our awesome logo on it. Once its finished it is going to look super super classy and between that and the rolling saddle/cart basket do-hickey that we recently acquired I should be able to transport everything I need other than hay, shavings, and grain to a show. The trunk is a little bigger than I really wanted but for that price I just couldn’t pass it up. And I will be able to fit things like his water/food buckets in there as well as my helmet, boots and some other larger items. Like I said, everything but hay, grain and sawdust! I’m an organizational freak and so I’m also excited that I was able to order some pretty awesome stuff from Thirty-One to help organize mine and Bastian’s things. I’ll be sure to post pictures as I get farther along in the process! So far I am having a blast working on it, I’m all about doing projects like this and I will appreciate it all the more because I did it. (cheesy, I know!) Here it is on the day I picked it up (I took it apart-it was all in one piece when I got it!)
And from the side....

Not exactly horse related, but another project I’ve started is that I finally managed to enroll in Graduate classes. I am taking a full course load this semester in addition to everything else I’ve got going on. To quote Corey from Empire Records “There are 24 useable hours in every day!” I’m excited about taking the classes, if there was money in it, I would be a professional student, I really love taking classes and learning. If everything stays on track, then I will have my Masters by next spring.

I’m looking forward to getting out to the barn tonight and spending some time with the B-Monster. I’m sure he’ll be a bit of a fire-breathing dragon since he hasn’t been worked in forever and that’s the problem with having a super fit, young, healthy horse. I can lunge him for an hour tonight and then hop on him and ride for another hour and he would still be raring to go! And I’m not lazy when I ride, we go for 20-30 minutes before we take a legit walk break, like I said, he is super fit! But when he’s fit he ends up being more through and wow will he have some nice movement!

I’d like to encourage anyone out there who is currently looking for a new saddle whether it is a jumping or dressage saddle to visit www.hastilowusa.com The Hastilow Saddle Company custom fits their saddles to you and your horse and do an amazing job at it. Since switching to our Hastilow Concept Saddle, Bastian has been coming more through his back and lifting his shoulder more. His mediums have made major improvements and he is staying softer through his bridle because he has less reason to brace through his back. We’ve finally found a great balance of the right equipment, the right training and the right farrier that we are making huge strides in our training. Because all of the basics were there, now as I throw new things at him he takes them by storm. The difference in his way of going improved when I got the Concept Saddle and then improved again once I had the saddle fitter out to make a few minor adjustments to the flocking.

Until next time Bastian says “"In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is." ;)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spring Fever :)

Last Saturday’s warm temps gave Bastian and I a pretty bad case of Spring Fever. I wanted nothing more than to ride on the outdoor, the sun was shining and the snow had all melted off and it was in the mid 60s. Alas, I don’t really care for mud and will avoid it when I can, and when it rains and you have about a foot of snow melt in the matter of 48 hours, that is what you get so we stayed inside, lol. I mean who wants mud all over their *white* polo wraps….what is it with Dressage and white anyway….

Bastian and his new groom-its never to early to start training them to do things the right way.... (not that I *normally* use a come to brush his shoulder...but hey its a start!)
But it got me thinking about my “dream” schedule of shows, this year it’s all about dressage. Goals include:

*Earning my 60% or higher at a CPEDI***

*Earning 61% or higher at Second and 62% or higher at First so I can qualify for Regionals

*Attend either the Para-National Championships or the First Annual Dressage National Championships

*Get my Second level scores for my Bronze Medal

*Attempt a 3rd Level (Like 3-1) test sometime in the fall…..probably at a schooling show

*Learn how to do flying changes so that we can do a Third Level Test…..

I think they are all doable and will keep me super busy all year long. Bastian has been a Dressage Beast this past week. We’ve got the right mix of stuff going on, awesome training (thank you Kristin), awesome feet (thank you Ray) and an awesome saddle (thank you Hastilow). He is a happy camper and I am a happy Katie.

So on to our show schedule:

March and February: Schooling Shows at Chagrin

March: The *Show* CPEDI*** In Wellington

April: none--but going to apply to ride at Equine Affaire with Jan Ebling, which would be pretty cool! I don't have high hopes of getting accepted, we have a lot of talented horses and riders in our area, I can only hope most of them went south for the winter and aren't around to apply for Equine Affaire....lol ;P

May: Grand Haven /NODA Schooling Show, KDA Spring Warm Up and Show

June: WPDA/Grand Haven Show

July: Dressage at Lexington, VA, NODA + Encore

August: WPDA Summer Sizzler

September: Regionals?

October: Regionals? Nationals?

Not entirely sure what Regional show our Barn is aiming for. Region II is at Lamplight and in September, Region I is in Lexington VA and in October. Plus I’m hoping that the Para-Nationals will be combined with one of those or maybe at HITS Saugerties? So that will determine where and if I go as well. So until then it’s all on the calendar.

This is of course the *Dream* list, who knows if I’ll make it to any of them, but I’m gonna try!

Our plans for Wellington are starting to come together. I have secured transportation, lodging for both Bastian and for myself in Wellington as well as overnight facilities for Bastian in Georgia (haven’t booked for myself yet).

Our Freestyle is in the works and Bastian is officially micro-chipped (I want to take him to a store and scan him cause I’m a geek like that…. ).

If you haven’t checked out our website yet, be sure to head over: http://luckdragondressage.vpweb.com/

More updates as they happen!