Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today's Lesson With Pat Prince

Our lesson was AWESOME! Dazzle had a lot of energy, but wasn't too naughty. I'm getting a lot better and riding through her head-snaking and using the whip and driving her forward when she does that instead of freezing up and pulling her back, which was rewarding her.

We worked on our trot, keeping her on a circle which means pushing her in or out with my leg depending on which side of the circle we're on. She likes to aim for the trailer. haha.

Then, we worked on our upward transitions, which she was wanting to toss her head about because she'd rather NOT transition up, thank you.

Lastly, we worked on our leg-yields, which are not too bad, if I do say so. She needs more forward in them (you don't say?!), she would prefer to just go side-passing to the wall. So what we did was leg-yield a little, then trot forward to the wall in front of us and walk. It only took maybe 2 or three times of that and when we tried a normal leg yield she had WAY more forward and didn't try to just dive to the wall.

Pat said she had a hard time believing this was the same horse she met only 3 lessons ago. She said that Dazzle was showing us how smart she is and how much potential she has. She learns SO fast. So, we are once again, very much encouraged and had a nice time.

One of the big things for me is that when she does something naughty I discipline (drive forward with leg and whip, say, Uh Uh, whatever I need to do) and we're done. Before, I was arguing with her for 10 minutes and still wasn't sure I had won. She is SO much easier to deal with.

Since Pat had me use the whip more deliberately, it actually MEANS something now instead of being a nagging pest to her. My leg works, my whip is not a forward, pick up your hind end, aid. It's amasing. She listens to my legs for helping support her turn in the arena, move in or out of the circle, flex at the poll, bend on the circle, etc. It's...liberating.

I was so afraid that I was being mean or abusing her if I used the whip too much that I had made it so I had to whip and whip and whip or spur and kick, etc. WAY too much for any reaction. 2 lessons and 2 schooling sessions of at-walk-whip-means-trot and at-trot-whip-means-trot-FAST and using legs only once before the whip and she is no longer ignoring me. I don't have to use either much and when I do, it's one squeeze, firm tap, etc. I only had to be "mean" 4 days and now she understands what I want and is wanting to "play the game" as Patricia puts it. Instead of fighting me she is trying to understand. I'm not annoying anymore and now she's willing to play.

I won't be able to have another lesson for probably 2 weeks, so we'll see if we can keep progressing schooling alone!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trail Riding Day

Sunday we hauled out to my in-laws place and then drove up to the national forest land and rode up a wide gravel road for an hour. We rode an hour in and then about 45 out. It was a great ride. My in-laws rode with us, and one of Melissa's friends joined us on Thunder, my old gelding. Melissa ponied Thunder off of Bayberry and he was an angel, trying his best not to scare his rider. Bayberry acted liked she ponied horses all the time, even though it was her first time. Dazzle had a great time and trotted and galloped, and had a bunch of fun. She would drop back, then manuever to the front, then wait for the others. Then, she'd trot race Sparkles or Turbo, my in-law's Appy's. By the time we got back they were all sweaty but still walking out fast. They were all relaxed and alert, not upset or prancy. Melissa was really happy with Bayberry as she afraid she would take some work to be a trail mount, but it looks like she'll be just fine.

So, today, Monday, we gave them the day off since they'd had 4 days of work. Tomorrow, we have lessons with Patricia Prince again. Melissa leaves for Thanksgiving later this week, so we probably won't have another lesson for almost two weeks.

Tricities Instructor

Saturday we hauled in to Red Barn again and had lessons with Rae Lamming from Tricities. I was a little terrified as the ladies from the barn were telling us she was more serious in her lessons and opinionated. At my lesson however, she was great, very nice, and not scary at all. She was very encouraging. She told me not to let Dazzle get choppy and fast with her front legs. She said I need to lean a little more FOWARD in my posting! She said Dazzle should grow another inch or two and that she is currently a down-hill horse that moves uphill. I was THRILLED. She really liked her and thought she was really cute. She also said she was swinging her back by the end of the lesson! Yey! Melissa enjoyed her lesson too, everyone said how wonderful Bayberry looked.

This week I will try to get my lesson videos on Youtube. I don't know if I'll be able to put the whole lesson up, as each is 45 minutes long. I'm hoping so though, because it will be like providing training videos. Wish me luck! If you know how to do videos that long, let me know!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Got Forward?

Friday evening's lesson with Patricia went awesome! It took place at Red Barn, a boarding barn about 10 or 15 minutes from my house. Melissa and I drove in and took back to back lessons. She went first. Bayberry was good, they looked great as always. Pat had Dazzle and I work on forward again, this time she was SO much better! We actually got to graduate to working on something else! She had us work on leg yield on our down times. She did good. I love this new instructor! We are so encouraged after a session with her.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday At The Fairgrounds

We were late AGAIN, but at least we got there. Ashley got to come. She's my 13 yr old neighbor that I let ride my old guy. She seemed to have fun, though she said he was a poop. That's normal for him though.

So, there were a LOT more people at the meeting, which is good for the horses. We do wish they would teach all the kids the rules of riding in an arena. They run all over like cats. Dazzle spazzed a little at first, but calmed down after a few laps of trot.

We worked on our forward (and not running into, or being run into, by the kids on their horses). They had a little cross rail up and I let her trot over it. She doesn't over jump it like it's 3 feet tall; she just put it in her trot step. It was awesome. After we were kicked out at 3 PM we rode in the outdoor to cool down. Melissa got on Dazzle for a few minutes and said she could already tell a difference in Dazzle's forward and her response to the whip. yey! We have another lesson on Friday. Hopefully it doesn't rain because this time it will be in an outdoor, uncovered arena at a private boarding barn. We have all week to do our "homework". Hopefully we'll get some dry weather so we can get some good sessions in this week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kick In The Butt

Another part of what our new instructor gave me for homework was to instill a work ethic into Dazzle. When she said it I thought, "Yeah, Dazzle and ME". I can be SO lazy. So Work Ethic is the name of the year, I'm guessing, for Dazzle and me. It doesn't help that the weather is changing and we had our first lightning/thunder storm this evening. Melissa and I have new, refreshed goals now, so we will be refocused and ready to work through the nasty winter weather.

Melissa's lesson, which I shall mention even though her horse is a TB and not an Appy, also went great. Our instructor called her mare, Bayberry, her "Grand Prix" horse. Melissa couldn't have been happier. She also said Dazzle had the "movement" to make it at Training Level in the USDF shows. Later, Melissa and I laughed over the fact I was as tickled over Training Level as she was with Grand Prix.

So, at least so far I'm doing better on riding everyday it isn't raining than I am on walking on the treadmill or outside for my exercising plan. Oh, tomorrow starts another week...


I video-taped Melissa's lesson, then she taped mine. Half of hers was in the dark because apparently the fairground arena lights on a timer and that time is 5 PM even though it's dark by 4:30. She still had a good lesson, even in the dark and we have all that the instructor said on the video.My lesson was amazing. All we worked on was "forward" but it was awesome. She said right now for me forward=fast. She said she didn't think she'd ever told someone that before, haha. Yup, Dazzle is special like that, haha. She told me to just sit there, not to push with my seat or use leg every stride to push her forward. She has gotten desensitized and is just going slower and slower, which I knew. She said let her get too slow at the walk...then spank her with the whip until she trots and then just sit there, no pushing, etc. as her reward. Then we she gets too slow, do it again. This is pretty much what Melissa and I had been thinking, but it seemed "mean" so I was hesitant to do it. But, the instructor said this way she'll become light to the aids and eventually she won't need anything at all to stay in her gait and not be a slug. Which is exactly what we want. So, awesome lesson. I plan to get the video online eventually, I will post a link when it's there!Have a great weekend all and I hope you are having less rain than me!


So, it's been rainy and nasty all week. Somehow, it's been letting up on the rain long enough to ride a little before it gets dark. I've been working with Dazzle on FORWARD. We also play with leg yielding, shoulder in, and haunch out. She has been constantly trying to be bent to the left. Thta's apparently her favorite thing. She also has been dropping her butt to the left when going right and dropping it in when going left. Melissa rode her Wednesday after I did. She was having the same problems, so that made me happy that it wasn't just me. She thought maybe my saddle is lower to the right and Dazzle drops her shoulder to the right. It's a guess as good as any! I really feel like I'm just kind of out of tools and I'm to that point again where I almost hate to get on because I know I'll get frustrated and Dazzle won't do what I ask. Luckily, we both have lessons Friday! YEY!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Equine Shopping Online

I don’t know about you, but I bought most my horses from online ads, almost all my tack online, I’ve bought supplements online, sold horses online, etc. So, where are the best places to buy or sell? Here are my favorites. Feel free to add your own!

To buy/sell horses:







To buy supplements/tack:

http://www.smartpakequine.com/ They are the place that will sell you supplements in great little packets, all separated out in the right amount for your horse. SO awesome. Perfect for owners that board, when you go on vacation, or if you just want to have the ease of use. They ALSO have a flat rate of $7.95 shipping no matter what you order. Saddles, supplements, everything is included in that flat rate. They are great to work with; great customer service, return service, etc.

http://www.ebay.com/ You can sometimes find a bargain here. You need to know what you’re looking for and make sure you read the ad well and know what your options are if you don’t get what you thought you were buying. I’ve had some great experiences buying there, and some not as great ones. Make sure you pick a buyer with very high feedback percentage and you’re most likely to be okay.

http://www.doversaddlery.com/ I always shop for sales here,

http://www.statelinetack.com/ And here.

http://www.horse.com/ Usually the cheapest on stuff, whether it’s supplements or equipment. They are good about returns if you don’t get what you were expecting. I love them! And they are very wallet-friendly. I buy my de-wormer through them.

http://www.tackoftheday.com/ A different sale item everyday!

Educational Dressage Sites:




http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/forumdisplay.php?f=75 This is the Dressage blog part of the above forum

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Choosing An Instructor

Here are the ways I have found instructors. If you have something to add, please do so.

-Join equine related clubs. This is a great way to meet other horse owners, pool your resources, share knowledge, and even meet up with teachers, trainers, breeders, etc.

-Look in the phone book for breeding/training barns and go meet them. If they don't have what you're looking for they may be able to steer you in the right direction.

-Call 4-H clubs. Often they will know who the instructors are in town.

-Put a Wanted post at the feed store or ask the feed store owner. These people meet all the horse owners in town. They might just know one that will meet your needs.

-Google trainers in your area, look at Dreamhorse listings, Craigslist listings, etc. This will give you an idea what you will pay in your area and who there is to pick from.

-My new favorite; CLINICS. Go watch. You can often watch all day for free. It's awesome. Take a notebook and take notes. If you love their style, sign up for next time.

Okay, so now you have some candidates located and you need to choose the one for you.

-First off, don't limit yourself to one. You can take lessons from several instructors if you want. It can be a GREAT way to get the best learning experience. You will get input from different minds on the same issues. SOMETHING will click and you'll be a better rider for it.

-Go for quality of lesson over price. Believe me, $60 for one really good lesson is worth WAY more than one $10 lesson with a lousy instructor. You'll spend more time and money fixing what a bad instructor teaches you. You'll save money in the long run by going with the better instructor.

-Check on the trainer. Dressage instructors are certified at different levels. Make sure yours is certified to teach at the level you are taking from them.

-A good rule I go by is this: The trainer should be showing in the discipline they are teaching you. That way, they are up on the trends, costs, attire, etc. They should also be ABOVE the level they are teaching you. It's hard to teach something you are also just learning.

-Take a lesson to see how it goes before committing to a schedule. If you hate it, you don't have to take from them again.

-A great trainer is currently taking lessons from an even greater trainer. There is always someone better. Any candidates gets bonus points if they are taking lessons themselves.

-A good trainer will be honest with you. If you ask outright, they should tell you how far you can likely get, how much potential your horse has, etc. Don't be afraid to ask. You need to know what you're working with, both on your end and your horse's.

-A good trainer will be encouraging. They will push you to do things that are outside your comfort zone. They will push you to use your lessons for the greatest goal you can.

-Lastly, a great trainer will have safety first. That means both you and your horse or the lesson horse. You should be required to wear a helmet, boots with heels, long pants, etc. The horse should be in good weight with well-fitting tack or you should not get on. If you notice things that look dangerous, run away FAST.

Getting the most from your lessons:

-Have a friend video-tape your lesson. You now have your own training tape you can watch over and over and over and over....

-Be on time and warmed up before the lesson starts so you don't waste part of your 45 minutes -on warm up.

-Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask your instructor to repeat themselves. You will get farther faster if you have good communication. TELL them if you feel unsafe, frustrated, short-tempered, etc. Your lesson should be a good experience for you AND your horse.

-A good trainer will share what they learned in their riding lessons with you. Write down whatever they tell you is important or whatever sounds like something you'll want to remember later.

-Practive between lessons. It's hard to get better with one ride a week or month.

-Don't burn yourself out between lessons; make sure you take breaks from schooling to go have fun with your horse. You can usually practice the same manuevers outside the arena. You'll get to apply what you learned and your horse will just think you're playing a game on the trail/road/field/etc.

-Ask your instructor what books or videos they would reccomend you read at your level. Sometimes it can help a lot to see something written or ridden outside the lesson.

-If your horse isn't trained in Dressage already, it can be a great idea to request lessons on one of the trainer's horses if possible. Even just once in a while can be a great help. It's always easier to learn on a horse that knows more than you. If you have this option, take advantage of it.

If you have anything else to add, please feel free to comment!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Weekend

Saturday is rained ALL day. We drove around buying half-price Halloween candy to make up for not being able to ride.

Sunday we got to ride at the indoor arena at the fairgrounds. We were late getting there (because of the law of the universe that requires there to ALWAYS be a problem when trying to trailer horses somewhere), so I only got about 45 minutes of the hour in the indoor. It wasn't bad though. The last time we'd been there was a show in March where she was a DITZ and awful. She started doing the same head-flipping-crazy-green-horse garbage and I pushed her to behave and she actually did! We even cantered both directions and she was pretty good.

After we rode in the arena we rode in the outdoor a little bit, Melissa made me ride Bayberry for about ten minutes. Bayberry is a 16H ottb mare that she's had about a year. She feels like riding a timebomb. My arms are still sore; she leans on the bit constantly.

We traded back and went on a "hack" about the fairgrounds. We rode around the arena buildings, around the parking lot, over to the race-horse barns. We rode them over different colored concrete, rubber mats, logs, etc. It was really fun and horses thought it was awesome; "What, all I have to do is not kill you and you're happy? Yey!"

We get to go back next Sunday. Hopefully we'll be able to get out of here on time so we can actually have a leisurely ride and talk to other club members.

We had another club meeting tonight and it was really fun. We scheduled a dressage lesson evening with an instructor. Melissa had a lesson with her last week. I haven't had a lesson from anyone but Melissa in probably a year or more. I'm so excited. And nervous of course, haha.

On a training note, our leg-yields are coming along nicely. We need more forward still. Our trot is getting better I think, but our trot-canter transition is still really rocky. I'm hoping we'll get to deal with that in our lesson. Our haunch and forehand turns are almost perfect. Melissa says they aren't Dressage style though, they're Western where she plants the foot. I didn't realize they were different. So, I guess we're ready for Trail class for next summer, haha. I'm not too worried about it. You don't need those turns in Dressage until a higher level. We're only trying to school Training right now.

I'm excited to be part of the Riding club we joined. I'm hoping to find more riding buddies to hang with for when Melissa goes home to Canada when she graduates. So far, they're an awesome group of women.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Know Your Goals

Everyone knows that having goals set to work towards helps you focus and ultimately, reach those goals. As Appaloosa owners riding Dressage, what are goals we can work towards?

You may only dream to ride Dressage on the beach or through the woods. However, a lot of us have dreams that include showing and being recognized on some level.

To get us started with our goal lists, I will share my own. I want to breed my mare eventually, but not until she has "earned" her right to breed. To do this I plan to:

-Earn her way in the Appaloosa Sport Horse Association Studbook at Bronze Level.
-Have her shown at ApHC shows with the goal of getting a ROM in something.

To accomplish this, we will have to have USDF scores at Training Level of 60%+ under at least two different judges at two different competitions. If we do that, we can work towards reaching the Silver Level which requires Level 2 test scores above 60%. For an ApHC ROM we would need to accumulate points at ApHC shows.

In order to move towards these goals I am schooling Dazzle in Dressage and have Emailed the Appaloosa Sport Horse Association to be clear on the requirements and what shows will qualify. I go to clinics and watch lessons taken by my friend. I take lessons whenever I can. To reach my ApHC show goals, I have contacted the trainer I want to use. I plan to have him train and show my horse at the ApHC shows. I am now waiting for him to return from World to start discussing my plans for the future.

My horse is only 3 yrs old, so we have lots of time and are in no rush. Right now, we school 2 or 3 days a week and then hack across the fields or ride around the block 2 or 3 days. I don't want her to get burned out on the arena or get lazy from walking around the block, so alternating keeps her balanced and interested.

My friend and I were feeling a bit discouraged in our abilities to train our horses a few weeks ago. We went to a tack sale at the house of our instructor. She told us to quit making excuses, that we were perfectly capable of training our horses ourselves, and to just DO IT! We were quite encouraged and have been working hard since then.

Our instructor told us we weren't expecting enough from our horses and were babying them too much. So, we lengthened the time we trained, added warm-up and challenging new material, and generally "expected more" from them. And amazingly, they stepped up! Dazzle, my lazy horse, has more energy at the end of her hour-long session then at the beginning. Apparently, I was quitting before she was warmed up when I only rode for 15-20 minutes a session.

Our immediate goals are to be schooling First Level, showing Training Level by Spring. What are your goals? What steps are you taking to reach them? Do they involve showing or training that isn't Dressage, like mine does?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Can You Get Recognized?

It's fun to show locally and just get experience, but there comes a point that you want all that training, time, and money to mean more then ribbons on the wall. You're going to want some sort of record that follows your horse. If you show at ApHC shows in the normal events, that's easy. However, if you choose to follow the Dressage route you have have some different paths to follow.

Appaloosa Competitive All-Breed Activities Program:
This is the ApHC equivalent of the APHA's PAC point system. Through the ACAAP you can earn points that will follow your horse. This program includes USDF and U.S. Equestrian-approved events, as well as local and schooling shows. This is going to be a great option to hit when you are ready to start being noticed.

United States Dressage Federation:
This is the place to compete against all other breeds, including warmbloods and horses imported from Europe. There are awards you can earn as a rider, as a horse, as a youth, as an amatuer adult, etc. The competition is going to be fairly stiff and you have to have pretty good scores to even qualify to be in the running for the awards. Definitely a good goal for us all, but not as easy to get into financially and the events aren't as well distributed as other options.

Colorado Rangerbred Horse Association:
Your Appaloosa must first qualify to be registered CRHA. If your horse has either of their foundation horses in its pedigree then you can have it double registered with CRHA. You can use all your local shows to earn points and awards. It's easy to find out; just go to the site and email them or look it up yourself on Allbreedpedigree.com. Goer goes back to the two foundation horses, so if your horse is Goer bred then you'll qualify. To get points, you will need to join the Open Show Point Program, then send in your paperwork after each show and starting earning your awards.

Any other places to show and get points that follow your horse? Let me know and I'll add them here!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spots In The Show Ring

I was one of those riders who hated Appaloosas. I swore I'd never own one. Now, I have two and can't imagine life without them. I'm a prime example of making sure I was doomed to own an Appy by declaring I most definitely never would.

I started Dressage lessons when I was 12 yrs old. Now that I have fallen in love with Appaloosas I am doing my best to tie my passions together. I have started Dazzle, my mare, in Dressage and she is doing nicely. That is us in the blog title, on October 17, 2008.

Dressage is a discipline every sound horse can participate in. I love it as the basis of anything else. Since I ride Dressage, I can "fake" any other discipline. I won't look like a show rider doing it, but I'll be able to do the manuevers required. You can build on Dressage to get to whatever sport you're passion is. Why would I give that up when I got my Appaloosa?

So, now the difficult part. Appaloosas are not usually in the Dressage ring. They are well-known in the Western world, in the Hunt Seat world, in the Endurance/Trail world. They are versatile and capable, intelligent and hearty. There is no reason not to promote this wonderful breed in the Dressage world. With this blog, I hope to help break down the stereotype that Appaloosas do not belong in the Dressage ring, that they can't be successful at a competitive level, that they shouldn't be bred specifically for Dressage as it "ruins" the breed.

With this blog, I hope to bring together other Dressage riders choosing to use an Appaloosa for the sport. Please contact me if there is a topic you would like to see explored, if you have pictures to share, etc.