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horses

dressage, dressage judges, horsewomen, winter riding

Pro’s & Con’s of Winter Riding

In the interest of promoting a positive attitude, I’m going to skip over the con’s of winter riding. Chances are, if you live outside of Florida or California, you already know about freezing water troughs, frozen arena footing, and horses slipping on ice. Let’s focus on the pro’s. Are there any?

The boys hang out near the gate, where the snow has been trampled into submission.

The boys hang out near the gate, where the snow has been trampled into submission.


Mari and I had this discussion today as she was cooling out her horse and I was warming Micah up for a lesson. As our breath came out in puffs of steam, I raised the subject. Here’s what we came up with. It’s a short list. A very short list, indeed.

Pro’s of Winter Riding
1. Water hoses slide easily over the snow, so they’re easier to move.
2. You don’t need to fill water troughs as frequently, since horses drink less in the cold.
3. Snow isn’t as messy as mud.
4. No flies!
5. Pasture horses tend to stay close to the gate begging for hay … no long hikes through the field to fetch them.
6. Blanketed horses stay tidier than their summer counterparts.
7. Lazy horses are more forward in cold weather.

I told you it was a short list — and one that’s hard to get enthused about as our fingers and toes go numb. If you have any ideas to contribute, please send them my way. Trying to stay positive as we have record snow here in Central Oregon.

For reasons none of us truly understand, the boys like hanging out in the dry lots during this year's heavy snows. Check out the great mix of breeds!

For reasons none of us truly understand, the boys like hanging out in the dry lots during this year’s heavy snows. Check out the great mix of breeds!

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Barn, Chiropractic, dressage, dressage lessons

Back to the Barn

After the holidays, head cold, freezing temps and seasonal flu, my barn time has been seriously limited for the past two months. Having gone through the 12 stages of grief, I finally had to give up and accept that nothing is going as planned.

Cold temps and lots of snow mean time off for many of the horses in our barn.

Cold temps and lots of snow mean time off for many of the horses in our barn.


Today I made out to the barn for Micah’s chiropractic session, choosing to let Natalie ride Micah during my lesson time rather than risk a relapse of the head cold. Between lesson and chiropractic time, I would have needed to spend nearly four hours in the barn, which I just didn’t feel ready for at 30 degrees. (Granted, 30 degrees is feeling almost balmy compared with this season’s foray into the low teens.)
Despite not riding my horse, it was good to be home. How I’ve missed my horse and barn buddies.
Micah and his pasture mates were hunkering under their shelter, likely complaining about the two feet of snow covering the grass. Micah saw me coming and headed my way, certain that the carrot in my pocket was better than a mouthful of snow.
Horses stay under shelter, hiding out from heavy snowfall

Horses stay under shelter, hiding out from heavy snowfall


Chiropractic went well, with Dr. Taryn Yates giving Micah a thorough adjustment. “His back is doing so much better than when we first started working on him,” she said. “Just some minor sore spots.”
Dr. Taryn has been seeing lots of sore shoulders from horses walking and slipping on ice. So, while Micah hasn’t been getting much work this month, at least we’re not letting minor problems turn into major events.
As my head cold subsides and temperatures rise above 20 degrees, I’m ready to start bringing Micah and myself back to work. While it’s harder to get myself out the door when it’s cold, it’s certainly worth it to spend time with my barn family and my horse.
May your roads be plowed, your pipes thaw, and you and your horse stay healthy through the season.

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dressage

O Odysseo!

What a grand surprise when I received a VIP invite to attend Odysseo’s ‘Social Media Night.’ The event coincided with our wedding anniversary and Al, non horse husband extraordinaire, was game to go.
I’d seen the ads and trailers for the show, plus got a brief review from Linda Martin (owner of Portland’s Glisan Street Saddlery) when I made a quick (yet fruitful) stop in her shop on my way into town from Bend.
Linda raved about the set and overall continuity of the show. With two new flattering yet functional breeches in hand, I left her shop really excited about the evening’s adventure.
How fun to see gleaming white circus tents in the urban setting of Portland, OR — just under the Ross Island Bridge. I knew the horses were stabled in tents just a breath away. I would love to watch the set-up and can only imagine how much work is involved. The behind-the-scenes workings are intriguing.

In Portland's urban setting, white tents rise up against the sky inviting us in.

In Portland’s urban setting, white tents rise up against the sky inviting us in.


We were ushered into the VIP tent, thankful to find that everything was well air-conditioned since it was 80-something degrees outside, which is hot for Northwesterners. After a lovely happy hour and beautifully presented buffet dinner, we made our way to our third row seats. Third row!!!
The lights dimmed, the curtain slid gracefully out of sight and the show began.
As with any equestrian extravaganza, Odysseo begs the question, “How are they going to pull this off? How many horses? How big of a venue? What kind of riding?”
I felt certain I would be entertained and amused, knowing the work and caliber of talent Cavalia invests in their shows. The question remained — how would they pull it off?
The answer is “Beautifully.”
Today I’m going to leave you with a bit of a teaser. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I most loved about this show, knowing that what horse people and non horse people take away from it may be quite different.

p.s. Tomorrow I’ll also include a special code, giving you a 10% discount should you want to purchase tickets. You should. 🙂

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The Outside of a Horse

Sir Winston Churchill is credited with having said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” I’m sure Mr. Churchill meant to include women in that statement and I know for a fact that horses are good medicine for some of us.
Here’s proof. The flu has been running rampant here in Central Oregon — as it probably is in your town, as well. It’s a great time to be on a cancellation list for almost any kind of service: clients are falling like flies. If you’re healthy enough to drag yourself in for a last-minute haircut or dental cleaning, you’re in luck.
Out at the barn, poor Mari was really suffering earlier this week. She sounded stuffy, looked pale, and clearly lacked energy — but still made it to work every day to give lessons and ride. She was relieved when a few cancelled lessons helped to lighten her load.
Akela came down with the bug and even went to the Emergency Room. “I felt like I couldn’t breathe,” she said. It’s important to note that Akela said this while she was brushing her horse, RJ. She was still sick but rode, anyway.
I woke up with clogged sinuses and chills on Saturday and slept on and off through the day, with plans to ride Micah on Sunday. Some effective over-the-counter meds helped to make that ride possible, as well as today’s.

Better living through medication

Better living through medication


As I finished up my ride, I saw Hannah watching near the gate. She’d been so sick with the flu and fever, she’d been grounded for the weekend. She came out to the barn today just to see Micah. I offered to let Hannah cool Micah out, knowing that just being on the back of a horse can transform an average day into something special.
Hannah smiled and declined my offer, for fear of starting another coughing fit. She was happy to pet Micah and feed him carrots as I brushed him down.
As Hannah led Micah out to the pasture, for turnout, I had to laugh.There are those who make excuses to avoid coming to barn and those who simply can’t help being there. No wonder I love these people — we are all crazy together.

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First Snow at the Barn

After five days in Palm Springs, over Thanksgiving, it was a bit shocking to come home to snow and temperatures in the 20’s. We’d been hoping for snow, so of course it came the day after we arrived in Palm Springs. We were jealous — although I did enjoy an afternoon by the pool, soaking up the sun.
I worked hard to muster up enough enthusiasm to head to the barn this afternoon. I waited until the temperature was supposed to peak at a grand 30 degrees, then took off.
It was my first snow drive of the year, so I started with white knuckles but relaxed as the Honda Element and its snow tires did their job. This doesn’t mean the other drivers were doing their part. The drive took much longer than normal as people either a) drove too fast, showing off their 4WD; b) drove slow, in fear for their lives; or c) gawked at cars stuck off the side of the road.

Micah makes a beeline to the gate upon my arrival.

Micah makes a beeline to the gate upon my arrival.


Finally I reached the barn, gorgeous under a coating of snow. I’d been worried that Micah had been cooped up in his stall for nearly five days. Without snow pads on his feet, he doesn’t get turnout if the snow forms balls under his hooves. This horse loves his pasture time, so stall time makes him cranky and energetic.
On top of the stall time, it’s been so cold that Micah wasn’t being ridden. Riding when the temps are in the teens isn’t much fun or especially good for the horse.
As I drove up, I was happy to see Micah out in his pasture with his buddies. It ws so cold and dry that the snow didn’t stick to his feet.
Micah was happy to see me, too, and made a beeline for the gate. This is rare. I’d like to think it was love — but he probably wasn’t getting much grass, through the snow. I am his human treat dispenser.
The human treat dispenser has arrived!

The human treat dispenser has arrived!


It was 24 degrees in the sun (the forecasted 30 degrees never happened), and even colder in the barn. My knees were knocking from the cold, despite lots of layers.
My thoughts of riding went out the door, freezing into icicles on the way out. A gentle lunging would be more than enough in this weather.
No one else had ventured out (imagine that!), so we had the barn and arena to ourselves. I let Micah thoroughly stretch out at the walk in both directions, then asked for a relaxed trot. Micah was happy enough to comply. He likes having a job and this was easy work.
If Micah has any silliness in him, it’s going to show up in the canter depart. I really didn’t want him hurting himself, so I kept things as relaxed as possible when asking for an up transition. While he thought about doing a little rodeo work, he held back.
A few circles of canter, then a trot transition. Wait until the trot is relaxed, then back to canter. We even got some stretchy trot moments.
I called it quits long before Micah started to sweat. No need for that in this weather. While I missed getting to ride, better to keep myself and my horse healthy, give ourselves time to adjust to the weather, and hope the week’s forecast of a warming trend (into the low 40’s!!) is correct.
Until then, brrrrr.

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An Unexpected Award

Earlier this year I started this blog, ‘Dressage for Mere Mortals,’ in my usual, trial-by-fire method of learning. After months of reading about blogging, the only way for me to really gain ground was to jump in with both boots.

I am still very much a beginner, as humble of a blogger as I am a rider. Which is why it was especially surprising when I received a message from horseclicks.com that they’d awarded my blog a Top 50 Horse Blogs Award. How did they find me? What was their criteria? I’m pondering those questions with a smile on my face. It’s lovely to be noticed.

Top50

Blogging has been a fascinating experience for several reasons:

1.  Setting up the initial format took a little work. Fortunately, I had  two experienced bloggers to help. Technical I am not.

2.  I love writing short format and having a weekly deadline is good discipline.

3.  Connecting with readers and other bloggers is fun. They share their stories and lives and I share mine. There’s a sense of community.

4.   I can never quite predict which blog posts will get the best response.  My two snarkiest posts (‘My Stupid Legs’ and ‘Dressage Show Rant’) generated the most comments thus far, which was entertaining.

5. There are technical aspects I’m still learning about: increasing readership, tags, categories, etc. Still trying to figure out Twitter.

As always, thank you to those of you who read my blog, take the time to comment, and share bits of your life with me. It’s so rewarding to receive your input and support.

http://www.horseclicks.com/news/the-top-50-horse-blogs-you-need-to-read/3037

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