beer, dressage, equestrian, horse husband, horses, Tumalo Coffee, world cup dressage

Barn Babes in Vegas

The barn is nearly empty this week, as most of the barn babes took off for Vegas to (supposedly) watch World Cup Dressage and (as documented on Facebook) drink cocktails in hotel bars.


I am sooooo jealous! But at the same time, having the arena all to myself is almost as good as a chilled Lemon Drop, a drink I appropriately first sampled in Vegas, many moons ago.

Wanting to practice my dressage tests for next month’s schooling show, I had no one to enlist but Al, my engineer husband. Al knows nothing about dressage but is a quick study. No matter what, I knew it would be entertaining.

I showed Al the USEF test booklet, gave him a quick explanation of dressage movements, made a drawing of a dressage arena (markers and all) and gave him a beer … a crucial element in marital negotiation.

Next up, using a small ceramic horse in the fictional arena, we went through the test. I wanted Al to have an idea of a) where the letters are and b) how much preparation a rider needs in order to go from one movement to the next.  I’m not certain Al can tell one gait from the next, which can only make things more interesting.


Call this prep work for the next day’s outing to the barn, where I asked Al  to read my tests. What a guy! As a stereotypical analytical, I expected Al to have lots of fascinating questions, and he didn’t disappoint.

Starting with an analysis of the arena letters, Al tried to come up with an algorithm that would make sense to mathematicians, if not equestrians. So far, he’s dissatisfied with the algorithm, but he’s not done yet.

While I tried to simplify matters for Al, leaving out the centerline letters we wouldn’t need, he insisted on an accurate rendition of these imaginary letters.

When I suggested that he was making things more difficult, Al responded with, “You know I’m an analytical.” As if that needed to be pointed out.

Al dutifully paid attention through two beers, appearing to follow along.


The next day we took off for the barn. I left an hour early by car. Al rode his bike the 15 miles from our house to Tumalo. The man needs his exercise.

Al arrived after I’d tacked up and warmed up Micah, so we were ready to go. In full cycling regalia (aka: spandex), Al studied the arena as I talked him through a case of the jitters. Al likes to do things right. Suddenly faced with horse, rider, sand, and arena markers, I could see his confidence wane.

At my insistence, we began. “Even though the letters still don’t make sense,” Al said.

I have a rough idea of how both tests work … but my memory tends to fade after the first three or so opening movements. Al dutifully prompted me, only needing a few queries on my part, such as, “Where am I going now?!”

Micah and made it through both First Level tests 1 and 2, with me making mental notes of what we need to work on. I’m not sure how much Al enjoyed it but he got Husband Bonus Points and I took him out for coffee. With me in riding garb and Al in cycling gear, we were probably Tumalo Coffee’s best-dressed couple of the day.