Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dressage Festival of Champions

This is exciting! I'm already making my plans to attend!

USEF Announces Dates and Location for 2013 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions

RELEASE: November 28, 2012
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: USEF Communications Department

Lexington, KY- The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce that, pending approval from the High Performance Working Group and the Executive Committee, the Kentucky Dressage Association’s bid to host the 2013 Dressage Festival of Champions has been accepted.
 These annual championships will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY October 10-13, 2013.

The 2013 Dressage Festival of Champions will again hold six National Championship divisions- USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Championship, USEF National Intermediaire I Dressage Championship, USEF National “Brentina Cup” Young Adult Championship, USEF National Young Rider Dressage Championship, USEF National Junior Dressage Championship and USEF National Pony Rider Dressage Championship.

Additionally, the USEF is excited to welcome a new sponsor, AGCO, for the National Junior and Young Rider Dressage divisions. AGCO (www.AGCOcorp.com) is a leading global agricultural equipment manufacturer. The Fortune 500 Company is based in Atlanta and has over 20,000 employees in 20 countries. AGCO products are sold through five core brands; Challenger, Fendt, GSI, Massey Ferguson and Valtra.

This will be the first time the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions has been held at the Kentucky Horse Park, the site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

For further information regarding the 2013 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions please contact Jenny Van Wieren-Page at (859) 225-6949, or via email at jvanwieren@usef.org or Hallye Griffin at (859) 225-6918, or via email at hgriffin@usef.org.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pilgrims Show....Finally

It took me long enough, but I have finally gotten around to updating about Pilgrim's show. His first show ever out at Windrush Farms was awesome. It had great moments, good moments, bad moments, but all in all I was very happy with him and I was tickled with myself for keeping my cool no matter what was going on.

So here's the run down of how it went. We arrived pretty early, Pilgrim loaded and trailered out great. I rented him a stall for the day. I had one of the last ride times of the day and was volunteering in the morning. My hubby, my trainer, and I all got put on jump arena duty. We worked it all morning, and left in early afternoon to get ready to ride. My trainer rode first doing 2nd level tests with me calling. I was so nervous! I had never called before and it was very windy so I practically had to scream the tests. I made it through it though and she made it look easy.

Then it was time to get Pilgrim ready. He was pretty calm while we tacked up. I walked the outer edge of the warm arena several times before heading in and doing some trot work. He did well except for a few tight moments which led to pop ups, but I didn't stress or worry and just kept riding him forward. That was a proud moment for me as this used to send me over the edge. We started with Training Test 2, and got a 60%. His halt was awful, but only due to my poor prep for it. He had some really nice trot work that we got 7's on. His canter was a bit crooked but prompt at the cues and he gave me a nice stretching trot, I just let him fall in a bit on his circle. All is all I was thrilled with it for our first time out anywhere. Despite the wind and trees and scary flowers on the judges booth, he was solid and not spooky, and mostly focused.

The show was running behind, so after warming up for an hour and a half and then doing my test I was pretty much exhausted. There were only 2 riders between my first ride time and my second one, so I decided to park in the shade and watch the other 2 riders. I figured we could both use a break. This was a bad idea.

For our second test, Training Test 3, the break had caused Pilgrim to get tight and wound up. We entered working trot, halted, salute, rear. I managed to get his feet moving again and we survived the test without being disqualified....that was about it. All of our trot serpentines were done in tiny tight backed canter. I managed to get him back to trot for some parts of it, but it wasn't pretty. He missed his right lead twice before I finally got it, tried to jump out of the arena by A (which only a quick and heavy half halt saved us), and ran off in our stretching trot. I think the judge honestly felt bad for us, after the test she asked me to try our stretching trot again, which I did get this time, and talked to me about how she felt the wind was making him a bit tight through his back today but she really saw his potential in first test. I didn't want to explain that this is a constant issue for us and took it as a compliment that she felt this was an odd occurrence and thanked her.

I wanted to try to squeeze in one more show before the year is out, but all the remaining schooling shows locally conflict with show team and ARHA shows, so I'm out of luck until the spring. My trainer was really impressed with how well we both did and how far we have come. She has us schooling and working seriously towards first level. I was just excited to find they have added a training level freestyle!!!! It is totally calling our name. Goal 1: Get qualifying scores to do our 1st freestyle. Goal 2: Not embarrass ourselves doing a freestyle!

On a side note, I got my saddle checked by a saddle fitter, which was interesting and very informative and helpful. I had some flocking added, and found that it fit both Pilgrim and I pretty well and it is not holding us back. So no immediate rush to run out and get a new saddle. Her exact advice was to keep this one and save up for an upper level saddle, that and intermediate priced one would not do any better for us than what I am currently riding in. (Which wasn't cheap either, but is a used older Passier). He does need a chiropractor visit though and I will be scheduling that in the next few weeks.

Friday, September 21, 2012


That's what I need to keep telling myself, breathe! Pilgrim's 1st show is tomorrow and I feel as prepared as we can be, but am still a nervous wreck. So on that note:

Dear Lord,

Please don't let me poop myself tomorrow.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Faith Running, Johnny Jumping/Trail

Faith is doing cross country again this year. She's already run 2 meets. The first one she took 13th out of several hundred elementary girls. The second she took 12th. She is very excited for this season and took 2 minutes off both her run times already from last year.

Keith sent us some pics he took from the show of Faith and Johnny. We weren't able to get any from her trail class or her jumping, so I was excited to get these. They are working on their canter coursing and leads for the next show. Faith is very excited. They make a great team!

Thank God for Quietex and Green Lights

Pilgrim and I are getting ready for our first show next weekend. We are showing Training test 2 and 3. We have been having a tough time running through our tests as the arena at the farm is too small and strangely shaped and slightly sloped. It's fine for daily schooling but impossible to get the geometry right for each movement....and putting an entire test together is insane. So today we did a trailer in lesson at my trainers. Chuck could not get off of work to help, so other than the kids, I was on my own. This made both Chuck and I very nervous. Pilgrim is notorious for his trailer antics....loads like a dream but freaks out once inside....plus this would be the first time ever he was trailered anywhere to immediately ride and then trailer back home right after. Part of me felt like I was just asking for a disaster to happen. I even got a stall for the day of the show so he could hang out for a bit once we got there and relax before we had to warm up for our ride times. It also allows me to volunteer at the show which is always good.

I should also note that after many, many really good weeks of daily riding and weekly lessons, our last lesson was a mess. While working on haunches in, Pilgrim suddenly got super claustrophobic and went back to his old ways. I was able to work through it, but it was a huge battle. We were doing 10 meter circles to the rail, then leg yielding with haunches in, then asking for bend to create shoulder in. We did this the week before at the walk and he did well. At the trot, the minute we would ask for bend he would piaffe, then pop up in the front when trying to send him forward with my hip and seat. It took a long time to get him to relax and work well again, especially with anything requiring sit trot. So this lesson was in the back of my mind looking forward to today.

So saying I was nervous was a massive understatement. Trying to push the odds in my favor, we bought 2 tubes of Quietex. I dosed him in the morning 2 hours before when I needed to leave. When it was time to hit the road, I got him out and wrapped his legs and loaded him up. Not only did he load quietly, he stood like an old pro the whole time while I got everything settled. Once on the road I worried about all the lights we would have to hit. Stopping too long makes him anxious and panicky. Luckily I hit almost every light green and the few that were red we were able to just coast through. Not that I think it would of been an issue today though. Apparently he was out to prove me a liar the whole day. He munched his hay the whole hour and a half trip to the trainers and was an angel unloading and tacking up once there. I started to wonder if my horse had been mysteriously replaced with an identical twin. Once tacked, I mounted, honestly expecting some kind of throw down to take place. Instead I got a beautifully relaxed and soft horse who listened, warmed up, and ran through both his tests, then worked on problem areas in each. He allowed me to stop and hang out on him and talk through things with the trainer without jigging and dancing around. It was.....well......awesome! I have no idea if he will be this calm at the show or not. He may do a 180 and be insane, running around tight backed and bracing, running through my outside aids, and just freak out....but if he could be even half of what he was today, ribbon or no, 70% or 50%, I'll be thrilled. My main goal is to just get through this. I have to learn how to ride under pressure again, and Pilgrim does too. I know if he'll just trust me enough we can get through this together and work towards an awesome show season next year....when he can show everyone how amazing he really is.

Needless to say, I'll be using the other tube of Quietex the day of the show. Anyone used B-calm? It got really good reviews from SmartPak customers so I ordered some of it before I had a chance to try the Quietex. I wonder if it works as well. I used to use one of these before on the younger horses before big shows to help them stay focused, but I can't for the life of me remember which one.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Dear Sinus Infection,

Please go away. I feel like crap and have work to do. It is very hard to ride when the arena is spinning around you and you can't breathe.


Oh, while I'm at it:

Dear Pilgrim,

When I ask you to "whoa" so I can catch my breath, the fact that I am doubled over does not give you an open ended invitation to prance around the arena with your nose in the sky after halting for a total of 3 seconds. No I do not feel good, this is one day you could actually take care of me for a change. On the other hand, thank you for picking up the right lead canter correctly every time I asked for it and actually attempting you trot lengthenings today without adding in random steps of canter. You Rock!

your loving and very forgiving owner

Monday, September 3, 2012

Johnny's 1st Show!

Faith took Johnny Cash to his first show on Saturday. They went to Stonegate and entered 17 classes, placing in 16 of them and winning several! I am proud of them both! Johnny acted like an old pro, just as quiet as could be. Faith was cool as a cucumber. Daddy was a bit panicked when we first got there, but settled in as he saw how good Johnny was being. They had a lot of competition, most classes having to be split with over 17 entries, so we were just thrilled to place and shocked when they won several. I am very proud of both of them. Faith is very excited and plans on showing him at the next show as well. The highest division they did was cross rails this time and she wants to work towards 18" verticals and 2' division. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I've Crawled Out From Under My Rock!

I know I've been away for awhile. Life just got the best of me and have been running non-stop. I am hopefully settling into some kind of routine and I am hoping to be able to get back to writing and keeping up with everyone's blogs again. There is probably way too much to update on and no way I can cover it all in one post, so I'll start with a run down of what's been going on and fill you in on details and pics later.

1. Pilgrim is back home from training and doing fantastic. I have just filled out the paperwork to enter our first show and will be competing in Training level test 2 and 3. I will post some pics of me riding him in the next post I do because he looks awesome! We are currently schooling 1st and 2nd level moves.

2. Johnny is fully back to work and doing lots of lessons. Faith has officially fallen head over heels for him and is showing him next weekend at Stonegate. He continues to improve. Faith rides him all over on trails, flats and jumps him.

3. Faith had a major accident this summer, taking a hoof to the face, which left her with a bad concussion, a broken jaw and lots of stitches....and all of us having heart attacks as we sat in the hospital with her. She had to take 2 weeks off of riding which was probably the toughest 2 weeks she has ever had.....she had several breakdowns over it. She was very brave over her accident and held everyone together.

4. Both my kids started doing the Virtual Academy this year. It is like homeschooling but still run by the state and considered public education, you just get to do it on your own schedule and at your own pace. My kids were not being challenged in regular school and we all wanted more time to ride.....so we are giving it a shot. You will probably be hearing lots more about this as the year goes on. We have had some ups and downs, but overall are very happy with the change. The kids are loving it and while I am exhausted and working harder than ever....I have to say it is very rewarding.

5. We have a new horse in....in training to sell. Her name is Millie....although I need to come up with something cooler. I like Curb Appeal, but am open to suggestions. We are working on getting a steering wheel and some brakes, I think she is going to be really nice!

6. Jazzy and Chip are both doing great. Jazzy just got front shoes on for the first time ever. She has always been barefoot but struggled this year with being sore a lot. She is doing lots of lessons and doing walk, trot, canter, and trails....so I figured I was doing her a disservice by not making her more comfortable. She feels so much better with them on. Chip is same old Chip, fat and happy.

7. I hit my weight watchers goal weight! GO ME!!! I feel great!

8. My brother built and is racing a stock car. Don't ask.

Well, I think that covers most everything. The family is all well. The hubby and I just celebrated our anniversary and I remind myself everyday how lucky I am to have him in my life. I look forward to the day when life will get less hectic and we can spend more time doing nothing but sleeping in late together, cuddling on the porch reading, or any other lazy day things!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Johnny and Pilgrim Updates


Pilgrim is starting his second month at the trainers. So far he is doing great and I couldn't be happier with his progress. The only negative is he will never be perfect, and will always be a challenge to ride. So after a long talk both with my trainer and with the hubby, we decided to keep him there for another month to continue his training and so I could learn to ride him better during lessons. I am looking forward to these and hope we can find a way to get along better. My trainer feels he has unlimited potential, but due to his age and difficulty accepting combinations of aides, he will probably top out between 2nd and 4th level. Heck, I'm just excited that I might be able to ride him without it being a major disaster! I'll try to get some new video of him up soon.


Johnny and I have been working really hard and have had several smaller breakthroughs and several big ones! I think of any horse I have ridden, I am learning the most riding him. He is so blatantly honest with me when I'm riding it's very easy to tell when I'm doing it right and when I'm doing it wrong. Suddenly everything is really clicking into place and making sense to me! He is becoming softer and more steady in the contact and having less head throw/resistance moments. We have started working on developing the canter....and wow is that going to be nice!
He's done so well, that I actually let one of our high school students ride him for me yesterday. I had them do some simple flat work (he looked amazing, and was so forward! I actually had a tear in my eye, I was such a proud horse mommy!) and then had her send him over some small cavalleti jumps. While a little wiggly at first to the jump, he was honest going over them and on the last one even got excited and took her straight to it, gave a nice jump over it and cantered beautifully away! I was so excited. I had been wanting to start adding in some fence work, but I have injured my knee and can't 2-point like at all. So it's been postponed until my knee is healed. I was beyond thrilled when Victoria asked to ride him. Unfortunately I was so entranced in watching him and coaching her, that I got no videos or pictures, but my hubby got some video of me riding him the day before, so I will try to get those uploaded and posted soon.

4-H Show

The youth Show Team members competed at ETRC last Saturday at their annual 4-H Show they host. This was Dwight's first show of the season and he showed Billy. Faith gave Chip the day off (since he just showed the weekend before at the dressage show) and devoted her time to Junie. 

Cowboy Dwight
McKenzie shows Annie for the first time!
Caitlyn, Lora Grace, Faith and Hannah all getting ready for their classes. Lora Grace's horse Skippers Lady Lark  loves to be "one of the girls!"
Addison showed on Lulu and Dwight on Billy in Walk Only. Addison took 2nd and Dwight took 3rd in a class of 12!
Dwight took 1st in Western Walk/Jog!
Good Job Dwight!
Faith and Junie looking good. Faith showed against all High Schoolers!
Cantering to 1st Place!
I even showed in the Bill Payers Special (for trainers, parents, coaches, etc) on one of my students horses Annie! She just got done with her training and this is her 1st show ever!
All the other riders were on gaited horses....totally not fair when they made me canter with NO STIRRUPS! Annie was good though. 
Hunter Hack

What a pretty team!
Addison and Faith
A good day!

Trailer Trade

We have traded our trailer out for a different one. I was really hesitant about wanting to do so, since I loved having a fully enclosed trailer, but I have to say I really love the new one. It's a 3 horse slant load, step up, bumper pull trailer with dressing room. It's actually lighter than our other trailer was to pull and all the horses seem to really like it. Even Johnny Cash loads right into it! We haven't put Pilgrim in it yet, won't until he comes home from my trainers ....which I have decided to keep him there for another month for me to take lessons on him and keep in training. I'm sure he will like it too. He likes being able to see out!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Penrose Show

Faith competed yesterday in her first Dressage and Combined Training show. It was hosted by CDCTS the local group dressage club that we belong to at Penrose Farms. It is a beautiful facility...definitely drool worthy. Despite the stormy weather we woke up to, it cleared out and ended up being a beautiful day for the show. Faith had entered Green as Grass Combined Training which was Intro Test A and 18" fences. She also entered Intro Test C. She really enjoyed the Dressage and is going to focus on doing more of that with Chip throughout the year. We had a fall in jumping, and while she still plans on jumping and it didn't freak her out, she knows Chip struggles with it and for the Dressage and CT shows she is just going to do the Dressage part. She will keep jumping Chip at the Hunter shows where he seems to be more comfortable over fences. I am also continuing to work Johnny and while due to a knee injury I am unable to do any fence work with him, I am confident he is going to be a stellar mount for her next year. Somehow she still got 3rd out of 4 in the Combined Training, she was in 1st after the dressage portion with a 34.6

Here is Faith's Intro Test C. Faith took 2nd with a score of 65.5%. We definitely saw things to work on and the judge gave us some great comments, but considering it's her first time doing this we were thrilled. She was the youngest competitor there all day and in this class the next youngest was 16 or 17. She got a little lost in the full size arena. Her Intro A test was in this arena but made smaller. She actually gets a little off course and then catches herself. The judge allowed her to re-do the movement so she could score it correctly, but it gave her an error on the test and a 2 point deduction. Come to find out if she hadn't had the 2 point deduction she would have come in 1st! I couldn't have been happier! I am so proud of her and all the hard work she has put in. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Difference a Day Can Make

I planned on not posting another video until at least next week, but my awesome hubby was at the farm with me today and I wanted to show off our mad riding skills to him. He took some pics and video while we worked. It was amazing the difference already and the improvements we had. I am beyond excited. It really helped he started respecting the half halts today. With the improvements I see I am going to start setting some goals. I'm going work our butts off and shoot for trying to show him at Intro level in June!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Faith's Lesson

Faith got to have a lesson with my trainer on her pony Mars. After getting a feel for each other on the flat they got to do some jumping. Here is her doing a 3' crossrail. Rock it kiddo!

Pilgrim at Trainers

Pilgrim managed to survive the trip to the trainers and has started going to work. While it's just the first week and she says they are still working and figuring each other out so don't expect much....I have to say I was really motivated and excited by how well she did with him. He is still putting up a constant fight to everything but they are working through it. She has discovered that he lacks both straight and forward, and he is really tricky to ride since you have to pretty much get both at the same time, where as some horses if you get just get one then you can work on the other. Not so much with Pilgrim. His other big problem is he thinks about stuff and talks himself into being upset. He will go along fine, and then suddenly freak out even though nothing has changed. Hopefully this will help him. He's kind of a big baby, and while both my trainer and I agree that he will never be easy to ride, this might make him more manageable. It was kind of funny that about 3/4 of the way through her ride he made this loud groan that pretty much sounded like him saying "Arrggg.....I can't get away with ANYTHING!!!!" So funny. Then he just snorted and went back to work.

Here he is:

Johnny At Work

I've been riding Johnny and really started working on contact this week. It's a struggle to get him in the correct bend, but it seems like once he gets there he is really nice and reaching to the bit. It feels great. Unfortunately he is not real steady in the contact yet and sometimes really fights it, but every ride gets better and better. I'm super excited with his progress and can't wait to see how he comes along. It's also a huge confidence boost for me since I've managed to find the correct bend and am able to get him on the bit all on my own. Since he is so small and I'm so tall, sometimes he talks me into leaning forward, which I have to work on, but I'm getting better about my position on him which has really helped. I hope to keep riding him 4-5 days a week as long as the weather cooperates and I'll try to post another video in the next week or two to show his progress. Check out that awesome saddle pad! Love it!

Meet Annie

Annie is about 3/4 of the way through her 30 day training. I will be sad when it is done, she is a blast to work with.