Category

equestrian

dressage competition, dressage pet peeve, dressage spectators, equestrian

Short Dressage Show Rant

It’s time for me to share my #1 horse show pet peeve: Spectators Who Critique Rides

[Begin Rant]

Dressage looks easy from the sidelines but it’s actually a horribly exacting sport involving a 1,000 pound herbivore with a flight instinct.

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Spectators who critique rides from the sidelines do everyone a disservice. Most disturbing are spectators who don’t compete themselves. If you’re not brave enough to be in the show ring yourself, your comments are unfair, unwanted, and unkind.

Most of us know enough dressage lingo to sound knowledgeable. It’s easy to say someone needs more outside rein, a more secure seat, or more tactful hands — but to have the presence  of mind to accomplish these things in a stressful environment is something else.

From the sidelines, it looks as if each test moves in slow motion — as if the rider has plenty of time to make corrections. One might assume, from a ringside seat, that there’s MORE than enough time to half-halt, balance the horse, finesse the bend, or whatever else the rider needs to do.

Perhaps that’s true for professionals. As for the rest of us, we wish! Transitions happen quickly — lightning-fast. The judge rings the bell for you to go in, and the next thing you know your reader is calling, “X, halt salute.” You’re done and it’s all a blur. You’re still gasping for air. You didn’t have time to correct mistakes, you simply had time to make them. Or so it feels.

If you’re an expert rider, have pity for the less fortunate — they are struggling. If you’re not an expert, don’t pretend to be. You may be dissing the rider in front of you within earshot of their friends and family. That’s tacky! While you’re using the tone of a knowledgeable critique, what you’re really doing is a put down.

If you can ride better than that poor soul in the ring, do it. If you can’t, acknowledge the time, effort, and courage it takes to compete and give them a hearty round of applause for all of that.

Dressage is a lovely sport. Let’s keep it that way.

[End Rant]

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dressage, equestrian, horsewomen, margaritas, stallions

Barn Women Get Weird

One of the things I most like about horsewomen is that they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. Or their mouths. It is perfectly acceptable for horsewomen to talk about semen, for example. Nonhorsewomen generally don’t discuss semen outside of a gynecologist’s office.

I threw a little happy hour get-together last week and invited several women from the barn. Seven women and 26 limes resulted in the consumption of 72 ounces of margaritas. The discussions ranged far and wide but the highlight of the evening came when Tina gave us a reenactment of her stallion’s day of semen collection.

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Using several bar-b-que skewers to represent rails, a cucumber slice to stand in for the ‘plain as day Quarterhorse mare’, and a bit of chicken satay to show the relative placement of the ‘phantom,’ Tina gave a lively recap of the day’s events. Let’s just say her young stallion had a little trouble getting things right. Thank goodness for the two burly guys on hand who got things corrected. It’s dangerous work.

My next-door-neighbor had stopped in to visit and was amazed and amused. She’d previously had no idea how this deed was done. Fortunately, as a nurse, she’s not squeamish. “Wow! I like these women,” she said.

It’s so refreshing to get beyond polite chit-chat, politics, and the weather. Thanks to horses, our lives are anything but dull.

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cowboy, dressage, equestrian, pasture

Back in the Saddle

You know you’ve been missing your horse when you’re mountain biking to the tune of “I Should’ve Been a Cowboy.” There’s something very weird about that.

Much as I love mountain biking, there’s nothing like being on a horse.

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Yesterday’s return to the barn with a little country western playing on the radio felt oh, so right. I even enjoyed the long, long walk to the far reaches of the pasture — where the grass is so much better than right next to the gate.

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Micah has shown little enthusiasm for my plan to teach him to come running at the sight of me and my carrots. I slog across the pasture, watching swallows sail through the grass, a few geese honking overhead, perhaps a hawk. The walk takes so long, dandelions pop up, mature, and go to seed before I reach Micah, in the far corner. He’s so far away, I can’t see any detail — I just aim for the biggest horse out there.

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Sometimes Charlie, the youngster of the group, gets the herd riled up and cantering to the gate. I appreciate when he gets Micah to the gate for me, but no such luck today.

Continue reading…

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A Horse With No Name, America, Desert, equestrian, horses, Songmeanings.com, Wikipedia

Desert/Horse/No Name

Every destination needs a theme song. Unfortunately, a trip to Palm Desert, CA has unearthed memories of the most inane desert tune ever written. Like a sandstorm that just won’t quit, the melody howls  through my days and nights–making me wish for shelter from the storm. The song’s reference to a horse makes it all the more difficult to escape for the horse-starved traveler.  I’m referring to America’s 1971 hit ‘A Horse With No Name.’

I apologize if the song pops into your head as well, because it’s one we’d all like to forget.

Desert vista, minus horse

Desert vista, minus horse

In the interest of research, I went to songmeanings.com (who knew there was such a thing!) and learned that there’s been much controversy as to whether or not the ‘horse’ in the song referred to heroin. Really? It’s hard to believe anyone with half a brain would come to such a conclusion…or care.

It’s also hard to believe that there’s a Wikipedia entry about ‘A Horse With No Name.’ However, they nailed it with the following description: “The song has also been ridiculed for its banal, oddly phrased lyrics, including “The heat was hot”; “There were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things”; and “‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”

Wikipedia also notes that there is speculation that band members were intoxicated with cannabis while writing the song–which is more believable than the heroin reference (above).

The chorus is as absurd as the rest of the song, but has that unfortunate ‘sticks like glue’ quality that only really bad songs have. Following are the lyrics that linger, including the ‘la la’ (actual lyrics, I’m not making this up) which goes on for far too long. Sing along if you like–at your own risk.

“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

La, la”

At week’s end I’ll return to Bend, with hopes that the taunting tune will remain in the desert, where it belongs. Perhaps the sight of a real horse—with a name—will make it go away.

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dressage, equestrian, lunge lesson, riding lessons, stirrups

My Stupid Legs

Today’s lesson was about my stupid legs.

Acting independently from my brain — who is supposed to be in charge — my legs pinch or pull up and my feet dangle in the stirrups. Rising trot is fine. Sitting trot, bleck.

I love sitting trot. I bounce along in motion with my horse, happy with or without stirrups. In fact, happier without stirrups – because they point out the problem.

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I discuss the issue with Natalie at the start of our lesson and she says, “It sounds like a good day for a lunge lesson!”

Gasp.

Continue reading…

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dressage, equestrian, Menlo Circus Club, Silicon Valley

Silicon Horses

Silicon Valley is known for monster companies like Oracle, Facebook, and Google – monuments to technology. Homes have jaw-dropping price tags. And I’ve never seen so many Tesla’s in my life. I am out of place here.

Still, there’s something to enjoy in almost any city, and just a mere mile from our hotel is Menlo Circus Club. This is a wacky name for a historic facility that houses a fantastic equestrian center.

Melo Circus Club Equestrian Center

Melo Circus Club Equestrian Center

The dog and I wandered over to gawk and breathe in the scent of horses. (Although this place was so tidy, even the horse scent had been sanitized. I’m not sure where they put it. Skittles was sadly disappointed that there were no horse ’snacks’ left lying around.)

I watch a few rich people warm up their horses in a gorgeous outdoor arena. Jumps are stored in the middle but no one is jumping. Too bad! Watching jumpers warm up is really only entertaining if someone is misbehaving.

I'm shocked that board is only $850/month!

I’m shocked that board is only $850/month!

The temperature is perfect for riding. Of course. The horses shine with show-ready polish and everyone behaves. Skittles is bored.

Continue reading…

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