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 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.