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natalie perry dressage

Dr. Taryn Yates, dressage, Equine Rehabilitation, natalie perry dressage

Micah Comes Back

We’ve been moving cautiously ever since Micah was injured in early April. We think he got cast in his stall but will never really know for certain what started the soreness in his back and hips. Whatever caused it, it was a game stopper.
Sice then we’ve done regular chiropractic and acupuncture treatments with Dr. Taryn Yates and faithfully followed a rehabilitation protocol set by Dr. Yates and our trainer, Natalie Perry.

Micah stretches and relaxes as Dr. Yates works on his back.

Micah stretches and relaxes as Dr. Yates works on his back.


This has required a lot of slow, patient work. In the meantime, my hopes of competing at Second Level this summer have been set aside. After the first few weeks of oh-so-dull hand walking and lunging, when we were given the go-ahead to cautiously start back to the walk/trot under saddle, I was delighted.
Micah now shows significant improvement and it looks like (fingers crossed), we are out of the woods. It is so much fun to begin asking for more and feeling Micah respond. He especially loves his stretchy trot work.
This experience has helped me to become much more aware of Micah’s back. When I ride him I’m feeling every step and movement of through his hips and spine. At the same time, I’ve also learned a lesson or two about my own well-being.
While riding up an especially long hill on my mountain bike yesterday, I felt my back tighten up. “Should I pull over and take a break?” I wondered. “Or just power through it?”
Throughout Micah’s recovery we’ve given him generous walk breaks and done more rising trot than sitting, all to avoid over-tiring his back. On several occasions he’s taken bad steps, been given a walk break, and recovered quickly enough to resume work once again.
Thinking this over as I made my way up the winding mountain bike trail, I decided to give myself the Micah treatment — pausing for a break off the bike before tackling the most strenuous part of the hill. Just like Micah, the tension in my back eased and I was able to finish the ride feeling good.
The experience reinforced two things for me — it gave me a better understanding of how paying attention to fatigue and responding with walk breaks and stretching can help my horse. I was also reminded to take as much care with my own back as with my horse’s. After all, we’re in this together.
I am much cheered by my horse’s progress. Perhaps he’ll be strong enough to show this fall. Regardless, nurturing his recovery has been rewarding in its own way — as well as a reminder to never take your horse’s or your own well-being for granted.
Happy riding!

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dressage, dressage showing, Dressage Struggles, natalie perry dressage

Beyond Ribbons: The Unanticipated Training Opportunity

On June 11th and 12th our chapter hosted their annual recognized show. It was a hit. But as with any show, not every ride goes as anticipated.
Near the end of the weekend, I watched in admiration as my trainer, Natalie Perry, schooled a student as her horse refused to enter the show ring. The mare threatened to rear as the pair circled the arena, balking and turning sideways.
Natalie trotted gamely alongside, urging horse and rider forward, but the mare had her rider flummoxed and the pair opted out of their class.
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Undaunted, Natalie led horse and rider into the warm-up ring and put the mare back to work, reconstructing the rider’s shaken confidence as she did so. I was sympathetic — rearing is one of my least favorite things.
When the rider tried to dismount, Natalie said, “Oh, no you don’t.”
The mare had competed successfully in the morning, in an arena that was farther from the barn. Natalie suggested that the mare was hoping to return to her nearby stall. Regardless of the reason, she couldn’t get away with it.
The pair began moving forward again under Natalie’s supervision.
“Don’t take your feelings out on her,” Natalie said. “She’s being good now.”
Sage advice. Most of us know just how hard it is to set frustration and fear aside and simply ride the next moment. It’s easy to want to punish the horse.
I was reminded that, just like a dressage test, riding often asks us to let go of the moment that didn’t go well and focus on what we have in hand in the present.
Once the pair was going freely forward again, Natalie had her student exit and re-enter the warm-up arena several times. The mare balked initially but without much fight. Soon she was entering the ring and going back to work when asked.
As it was the end of the day, show management granted riders permission to school in the show rings after conclusion of the final class. Natalie jumped on the opportunity. The errant mare went straight from warm-up into the show ring and did some good work, without a fuss.
While Natalie had worked the entire weekend competing and coaching, she stuck with her student, making sure her rider had a renewed sense of confidence in her ability to work with the mare. In addition, the mare did not leave the show with an unwanted habit.
The coaching continued even after the mare finished her arena work.
“Walk her all over the show grounds before you get off and take her back to her stall,” Natalie said. “So she doesn’t think she gets to go back to her stall just because the work is done.”
While I enjoyed watching many beautiful rides over the course of the weekend, this ride was one of my favorites. If I could’ve handed out a blue ribbon for it, I would have been happy to reward this dedication to horse and rider. With horses, training needs to be more important than winning.

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cantering, dressage, dressage lessons, equestrian, horse husband, natalie perry dressage

Post Lesson Euphoria

My husband is getting tired of hearing me say, “Best lesson EVER!” every Tuesday afternoon.
Poor man. Little does he know that he’s in a much better position than the husband whose wife comes home discouraged, tired, or — worse yet — angry after every ride.
I am a rider who is cheered by each ounce of progress we achieve on a weekly basis. I ride a wonderful horse, who is consistent and sane, yet makes me work at it. Any time we make progress I have the dual pleasure of knowing that I worked for it and an appreciation of the gift my horse gives me by choosing to go along with this crazy sport we call dressage. After much hard work, we are hitting our stride.
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Credit goes to my trainer, Natalie, of Natalie Perry Dressage. Natalie has figured out my quirks and foibles and works really hard to get messages through my helmet and into my brain and body. It’s no small feat.
After some time off, I had backslid a bit with the my nemesis, the left lead canter and Natalie took me back to the trot to address the problem. She had me turn Micah with the outside of my body onto and off of the center line. The exercise fully illustrated the importance of the outside aids, which is a total body experience. You simply can’t make such a tight turn by hauling on the inside rein much as you might want to. Every time I think I understand the outside aids, I find a new level of understanding and appreciation.
The outside-aid turn was just what I needed to help me to more effectively use my body in the left-lead canter. I practiced the exercise during the week and we repeated it again today, with the result of some truly beautiful canter work. It’s music to my ears when Natalie says, “You’ve been practicing.”
I hope it’s rewarding to her that I am listening, paying attention, and trying hard to incorporate what she teaches. Her job isn’t easy.
No matter what level we ride, we can make progress with the help of caring instructors and kind horses. Let every bit of improvement cheer and inspire you — letting both your horse and trainer know how much it means to you. We’re all in this together.

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Central Oregon Dressage Classic, dressage competition, dressage show, natalie perry dressage

Testing 1, 2, 3

This weekend I filled the role of horse show announcer at the Central Oregon Dressage Classic. It took a circuitous route to get there.

Several months ago I mentioned in passing that I’d announced for Fort Vancouver Dressage several times. You have to be organized, but it’s otherwise a pretty easy job and you get to watch all the rides.

At the time, I didn’t know my friend, Tina, well enough to understand that Tina is a Communications Expert. Within three days, Tina had let it be known that I had Announcing Experience.

I hadn’t realized how far and wide Tina’s ‘reach’ is. If Tina was an advertising campaign, she’d be highly successful.

Within just a few days, Mari, assistant trainer at our barn (Natalie Perry Dressage) said, “We need to talk.” I assumed I was in trouble and had killed a horse or broken a serious barn rule. I held my breath, waiting for Mari to continue. Would I have to find a new barn?

“We need an announcer for our June show,” Mari said. She is president of Central Oregon’s dressage chapter and an expert volunteer rustler. I was so relieved I hadn’t killed a horse, I would’ve said ‘Yes!’ to almost anything.

Which is why I spent the day in the announcer’s booth at Brasada Ranch. Here’s a photo of my headquarters.

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The first 20 minutes of day 1 were a bit rough, as those of with walkie-talkies figured out who we were and what we were supposed to be doing. We couldn’t see one another and had to learn to transmit vital information such as Rider #1 is moving toward the indoor; Rider #3 is in warmup; Rider #2 is nowhere to be seen, and so on. With time, we developed our own code and rhythm.

Continue reading…

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dressage for mere mortals, dressage show, natalie perry dressage, seat aids

Honey, Is That a Carrot on the Nightstand?

Of course it is! I’d spent the day at a horse show and will need days to unpack and regroup. You’d think my husband would catch on to these things, but I haven’t shown in several years, so it’s a new experience for him. The carrot accompanied a pair of gloves, so it was something of a montage.

After seven years out of the show ring, my return had the fascinating feel of something new yet familiar.

Familiar: getting up at the crack of dawn and hauling an incredible amount of equipment for a one-day event.

Familiar: a mix of anxiety, excitement, and exhaustion as I wait for my rides, scheduled for 1:41 and 3:04 p.m. It seems like an eternity.

Natalie gives Charles his show ring debut. He was scared but did a great job.

Natalie gives Charles his show ring debut. He was scared but did a great job.

Familiar: spending the day with our barn community, with their own levels of excitement and show nerves. We have owners taking new horses into the ring, horses who have never shown before, and even a young stallion. We’re all pitching in where we can. Everyone’s supportive and upbeat. Thank goodness someone brought Gatorade. Continue reading…

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