dressage show

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.
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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Charlotte Dujardin, dressage, dressage competition

The Walk to Poo Transition, An Open Letter to Charlotte Dujardin

Dear Charlotte –
I thoroughly enjoyed your October 3rd and 4th symposium in Sherwood, OR and faithfully worked on improving my horse’s ‘go’ button, per your advice. We had several jolly ‘yee haw’ rides down the long-side, thanks to you. Our rides at home have been much more forward!
What we failed to school was the walk to poo under saddle transition.

No subtle leg aid here! Photo by Andrew Martin

No subtle leg aid here! Photo by Andrew Martin

Part way into my First Level, Test Two class this weekend, my lovely horse decided nature simply couldn’t wait any longer. He came to an unasked-for halt, groaned in satisfaction, and left a large pile of manure at “M”.
I do recall you saying that it’s a typical male thing, only being able to do one thing at a time. You also mentioned that if you ride with a whip at home and then drop it before entering the show ring, bad things can happen.
This was one of those moments.
I hope you’ll enjoy the photo of my Pony Club-quality kick. No subtle leg aid here.
Fortunately, I brought my sense of humor with me to the show. Miraculously, we got a second place ribbon and this lovely comment from the judge, “It happens to all of us 🙂 “
Best regards,
Lauren Davis Baker
A fan

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dressage, dressage show, summer sizzler show

Dressage in a Downpour

Last month, a group of riders from our barn attended the Summer Sizzler Dressage Schooling Show. The show is held in Redmond, OR at a lovely facility called Stonepony Dressage.

An early heat wave ended just in time for the show, letting temperatures cool from the low 100’s into more tolerable 80’s. In Central Oregon, summer cooling generally means clouds with a potential for afternoon thunderstorms.


We watched the sky all morning, as riders quietly went about their business, warming up in the indoor arena, competing in the outdoor ring. Akela and I took turns hand-grazing Micah, the second level schoolmaster we co-lease, walking him about the property before our rides.

Akela was scheduled to ride first in the First Level Test 1 class. Clouds built ominously as the temperature dropped and wind picked up.

As Akela did her warm-up ride, under the supervision of trainer Mari Valceschini, I ran back to the trailer and shoved our gear inside just as heavy drops of rain began to fall. I grabbed a jacket and headed back just as Akela headed to the outdoor show ring. That, of course, is when the downpour began.

Continue reading…

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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.


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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