Tag

flying changes magazine

dressage, natalie perry dressage, Tina Steward

The Quiet Inspiration of Mary & Dante

Soft-spoken and small in size, Mary Cuevas is one of those riders you might overlook as you stride through the barn, busy with the demands of your own life. Mary quietly goes about the business of setting goals and working to achieve them without calling attention to herself. Should you compliment her on a show score or well-executed movement, she’ll break into a smile and most likely credit her horse and trainer with each success.

Mary & Dante’s 16-year partnership ended far too soon

I was aware that Mary was working her way up the levels with her horse, Dante, but like most people, I only knew parts of the story. I learned a bit more when we attended Adult Rider Camp together. But what solidified our relationship was when we began working together on a Pas De Deux. Our hours in the saddle turned into a true friendship.

And so, I was honored when Mary confided that she’d finally written up the story of her journey with her beloved Dante. Dante’s loss had been so painful, it had taken Mary a year to put pen to paper. What resulted was a six-page, account that Mary handwrote in a single sitting.

“Would you consider publishing it in your blog?” Mary asked. “If it’s good enough?”

“Of course, I would,” I said. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into … but had a sense that it would be worthwhile.

I took Mary’s story home, read, it, and found myself in tears. Mary’s love for her horse came through loud and clear and her dedication to her goals was impressive.

“This is definitely worth publishing,” I told Mary. “But I want it to reach a larger audience than my blog. I’m going to see if Flying Changes magazine will publish it.”

“Really?” Mary said. She was thrilled.

I emailed Kim Curzi, the magazine’s owner, and gave her a brief synopsis of the story. I felt sure the story, with its Northwest focus, would be a good fit.

“I’d be happy to look at it,” Kim said.

Now came the hard part: I was tasked with editing Mary’s 2,600 words down to something closer to 1,200 words — a standard length for most magazines. I had to shorten the story while preserving Mary’s tone and intention — not an easy task. With each edit, I’d find myself in tears over Mary’s loss — which, while draining, told me that the story had what it took to touch hearts.

To round out the story, I asked Mary’s trainer, Natalie Perry of Alliance Equestrian Center and clinician Tina Steward DVM to sum up their impressions of Mary and Dante. Their words were perfect. And, although the story exceeded or goal of 1,200 words, Kim included the quotes in their entirety. She also used my favorite suggestion for a title, “In it for the Long Haul,” which came to me at the last minute and really summed up Mary’s commitment.

Mary has inspired me to raise my expectations of what I can do with my riding. For a bit of quiet inspiration, please read Mary and Dante’s story in the April issue of Flying Changes magazine. I think you’ll appreciate the journey.

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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.

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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.

Continue reading…

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bucking, canter, dressage, equestrian, humor, raku, riding

Thanks, Chief

A raku pot sits on my dining room table, a reminder of the little quarter horse I owned for a year. My mother made the pot and had it raku-fired with some hair from Chief’s mane and tail. It’s lovely.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the pot at Christmas, I’d given up on Chief (more on that soon) and sold him. Fortunately, selling Chief was one of the best things I could have done – despite the fact that I dearly loved him.

What does a raku pot have to do with Chief? The dark lines in the pot are made by tossing horse hair into the kiln, when firing.

What does a raku pot have to do with Chief? The dark lines in the pot are made by tossing horse hair into the kiln, when firing.

Chief had been trained Western but I thought he’d make a good dressage horse. He had nice enough movement and was willing in the initial (key word) stages of our work. He liked change, going new places, and mixing it up in the work. He was a confident, excellent trail horse except …. Continue reading…

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canter, dressage, horses, humor, riding, transitions

Whose Legs Are These, Anyway?

I’ve known my legs my entire life, and you’d think we would’ve worked things out by now. When walking or cycling, my legs behave as expected. I don’t even have to think about what they should do, they simply go through the motions for me. It’s fantastic!

On the horse, however, things are different. My heels slide up, toes point down, and the entire leg slides forward. No, legs, no!

IMG_0427

Continue reading…

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canter, dressage, horses, humor, riding, transitions

Big, Ugly Frogs

In Japan there’s a saying that goes like this: “Eat your biggest, ugliest frog first.”

I love this phrase, which I take to mean, “Tackle your largest problems before anything else.” When it comes to riding, transitions are the biggest, ugliest frogs in my itinerary. Nothing else shows off flaws more quickly, other than falling off.

Continue reading…

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