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.


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!”


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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.

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Chick Flick, dressage, equestrian, Vegas, world cup dressage

Chick Flick

Last night I sent my husband out to drink beer with the boys. I was feeling run down and just needed a little time to myself.

As I heard the car pull out of the garage, I turned to a guilty pleasure. Something I wanted to do alone. Uninterrupted. Free to laugh or cry as I pleased. World Cup Dressage 2015, courtesy of my laptop.


I’d heard the stories, seen the clips, but this was my time to get up as up close and personal as one can get with youtube. Squeals of joy. Tears of wonder.  Add a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn and I was in heaven.

While the performances were grand, what moved me most were the horses.

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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.

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canter, dressage, equestrian, flying changes magazine, horse shows

Better Than Monday Night Football

With my first schooling show of the season less than a month away, it’s time to not panic. Sure, we just (today) managed a canter lengthening but it is, after all, just a schooling show – and we’re only supposed to do a few lengthened strides.

Each week I read through the tests and ask my trainer to help me with something I’m struggling with. There’s plenty to choose from.

I’ve also taken to watching youtube videos of real people riding the tests. It’s way more fun than Monday night football (or football any night, really). In addition to helping me to learn the tests, the videos help me keep a sense of perspective. These riders are mere mortals, just like me!

I see uneven contact in the bridle and want to tell Rider A to use her outside rein. She could also prepare her horse a little more for the transitions. He seems surprised.

Rider B is annoying her horse through the leg yield. I’m not sure what she’s doing wrong but he’s clearly pissed. I laugh out loud at his expression.

Rider C’s horse looks like a pistol but hangs in there through the entire test, even though the show grounds are directly under an airport – the sound of planes taking off is deafening. I’m proud of these two for keeping their focus.

Three cheers to this pair for  maintaining their focus, despite the show grounds being just under the flight path of the local airport.

Three cheers to this pair for maintaining their focus, despite the show grounds being just under the flight path of the local airport.

Unlike the videos of professionals riding perfect tests, I’m reassured by the humble efforts of these riders. They help me maintain my sense of perspective, when my stomach rolls at the thought of showing for the first time in six years.

In my finer moments, I’m looking forward to hanging out with the rest of the barn rats and giving it a good effort. Regardless, it’ll be more fun than football!

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Bob Goddard, equestrian, flying changes magazine, Horse Crazy!, humor, riding, Trail Rider Magazine

Guest Blog by Bob Goddard, ‘Planning for Perfection’

Today’s posting is from one of my favorite humor writers: Bob Goddard. Bob’s been writing horse humor since 1991. His blog will celebrate its 4th birthday this June.
I met Bob when I was owner/editor of Flying Changes magazine and thoroughly enjoyed publishing his work — so it’s really fun to be collaborating once again! He currently publishes a humor column for Trail Rider Magazine and is the author of ‘Horse Crazy!’
After spending many years as a Horse Show Dad, Bob decided to take up riding himself. His blog www.horsecrazy.net/bobsblog/ documents Bob’s perspective from the saddle.


On Lesson #114 we attempted to recreate Lesson #113: a perfectly pleasant winter’s day ride. However…

The temps were actually single digit – this time without the benefit of literary license. These days, we’re happy enough if we don’t see the minus sign in front of our numbers. As Gerry (on Habakuk) and I (on Windy) discovered as we followed Karin (on Charley) lemming-like through the Kiddie Trail, the footing was less than ideal. Discretion being the better part of valor, we headed inside. The Chicken Part of my brain – science calls it the cerebrum – insisted.

Within the confines of the Great Indoors, Windy and I performed some dressage moves. These included “Snappy Salute at X” and “Precisely Perfect 20 Meter Circle.”

Anyone who knows anything about dressage knows that after you enter at “A,” you proceed to “X” and make a Snappy Salute. Anyone who knows anything about the English alphabet knows that “X” should be “B.”

I’m wondering if the letter-sequencing discrepancy has something to do with the roots of dressage itself. While the Germans and miscellaneous Europeans developed dressage into the sport/art form we know today, it was the Greeks that first came up with idea. Way, way, way back. Its origins are in fact attributed to the writings of a gentleman named Xenophon who was actually an army guy. Xenophon and the Greeks had their own take on the alphabet with letters that were simultaneously very pretty and very confusing to look at. Kind of like the script you might see on the back of the One Ring to Rule Them All. The one that Karin wants.

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