A Dressage Poem

Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders

Inside leg, more leg, some more leg

Half halt

Half halt

Inhale, exhale

Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders

Seat bone, leg, just the thigh

Half halt

Half halt

Breathe you fool

Look up, look ahead, look up!

Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders

Half halt

Half halt (you forgot didn’t you?)

Are you breathing?

The end


Dear Mother Nature


wp-image-563025182jpg.jpegWell, dearest mother, as I type this post, you have decided to huff and puff and shut the mid-Atlantic down. Seriously, what is up with the crazy wind? Gusts around 70 mph are wrecking havoc with my attempts to get Ike and myself back into shape for show season. When I should be riding, I am instead lashing the corner of the fence together with an extension cord to keep the dogs from escaping. And with all the downed trees, all my normal barn routes were blocked. Even if I had managed to get to the barn, it would have been foolhardy to throw my leg over my horse. High profile “vehicles” don’t fair well in high winds.

If I really think about it, you have had a bee in your bonnet this entire winter season. What gives? That brutal cold spell in late December and early January turned our ring into concrete and my fingers into blue icicles. You try soaking a hoof and wrapping it when your fingers won’t function. Who wants to be outdoors when you have to dress like the StaPuff Marshmallow Man to stay warm and stuff your gloves and boots with Hot Hands? You are warm but unable to move normally. Do you secretly laugh at us as we struggle? Imagine I am staring at you with resting bitch face. No, I am not joking.

You were kind to us as far as snow amounts. For that I am grateful. You did manage to stick it to me with that mid-December event that was just enough to make me question my decision to enter a schooling show. Could you please provide me your mailing address? Look for my reimbursement request in the coming weeks.

And lest we not forget the never-ending days of rain. Yes, I am aware of our rain deficit but enough is enough. Mud season is not supposed to start until April. You recall that catchy phrase, “April showers bring May flowers.” Hello! It is only the second day of March. Please check your calendar. All that rain has probably contributed to the tree issues we are having because of the wind. The paddocks look like pig wallows. Try as I might, my horse is never clean. There are always mud clumps that I miss until I am astride. Thank goodness no one but Ms. C ever sees our decrepit grooming skills.

So, what is it going to take to get you to calm down? You have already demonstrated your mad skills for causing chaos. If I promise to plant a tree, will you take a nap? Please let me know what sacrifice you command…you already got my original Charles Owen helmet and I refuse to give you my new one, so just get that notion out of your thoughts.

Here’s to a more pleasant spring season. Sincerely ,

Alison and the entire equine community of the mid-Atlantic region

Being Worthy

IMG_20180119_150145_027.jpgThere has been a lot of time for reflection this winter. Mother Nature has reminded us repeatedly that she is in charge and we had better respect her authority. Weeks of beyond brutal, face numbing cold, a little snow, and now flooding rains mean that I spend more time thinking about riding rather than actually being in the saddle.

Sadly, I care more about not riding than does my horse. He is entertaining himself by standing on his overturned water trough (just the front hooves thankfully…for now), breaking fence boards, and testing the hot wire…you see when you realize the hot wire is off, playtime with your brother is so much more fun as is reaching over the fence to eat the tree.

I can share that we did earn some year end awards from both our local chapter and at the state level. It was nice to have our work recognized and to have work worthy of recognition. Now to build on that success and continue the journey.

2017 vada awards

When we can ride, we have been strengthening Ike’s ability to carry himself. Incrementally we are building our collection in the trot and canter. Slowly but surely we are seeing improvements in our work. The plan is to stay at Third Level and to get scores consistently in the mid-60’s before we move on to Fourth Level. Luckily Ike’s rider is finally figuring out correct half pass alignment. Hopefully that coupled with better collection and clean flying changes will mean higher scores and fewer “needs more ____” comments. Once we master those skills, poor Ms. C can face teaching me the coordination I will need for tempi changes. I fear it will be reminiscent of tap class or gymnastics – lots of flailing with little accomplished. Stay tuned.

One of my biggest concerns for the coming year is Ike’s lack of tail. He managed to rub a significant portion of it out last summer and what is left barely qualifies as a tail. We have moved into Appaloosa territory, and I am researching hair weaves for horses. It is too embarrassing to share a photo. Well, I am embarrassed; Ike is rather blasé about the situation. He might change his tune when the bugs return and he has no tail to swat them away.

As I reflect on our journey thus far, I am grateful for my equine partner’s willingness. He is not the most gifted dressage athlete, but he more than makes up for that with his heart and his try. He gives me everything he has when I ask him to try new skills. He has become rather adept at interpreting my requests. The year to comes holds so much promise. Let us hope it will also be worthy of recognition.


Thought For The Day

Actually, two thoughts can sum up my ride today…

1) I am pretty sure that I spent 45 minutes arm wrestling an animal that weighs about 10 times what I do. Look for Ike leaping off the top rope of a WWF ring later this year.

2) Thank goodness no one was around to witness the lopsided wrestling match. Today, I was the designated loser.

Happy New Year!

Ike and I would like to wish everyone a prosperous and healthy 2018. May your horse be sound, your equitation flawless, and your centerlines straight. 

While I now hate the word “more,” it will be our word of the year for 2018. More bend, more suppleness, more throughness, more energy, more everything except for negativity. We are leaving that behind in 2017.

Embrace the possibilities of the next 365 days!

Alison and Ike