Essays of an Equestrian

Miscellaneous

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If we are to think of things in generalizations it is because sometimes, or at least often enough, they are true. Dressage has within it a few generalizations as well such as the epic dressage queen or the quintessential generic dressage snotty bitch.

 

Now there are snotty bitches all over the world, but for some reason dressage snotty bitches have achieved a level of stupidstardom, I mean superstardom which simply surpasses other snotty bitch levels. I think it’s because even when they are trying to be nice they still come off as snotty bitches.

 

SBS, (Snotty Bitch Syndrome) can manifest itself anywhere from bullying to simply not engaging ones brain before opening ones snotty bitch mouth as well.


I believe snotty bitch is a condition which is often times incurable. So if you are a victim of a snotty dressage bitch, in a way you might for just a moment feel a little sorry for them. That is until they say another snotty bitch thing to you.


Snotty Bitch Syndrome manifests itself in various ways, the first and foremost is in being judgmental. But not just regular horse people judgmental, but super narrow minded snotty bitch piaffe judgmental. And when they see something they aren’t used to they freak………. And so the snotty bitch emerges.


I was recently told a story by someone new to dressage and its competitions. Like many of us this rider had achieved a measure of success in other equestrian disciplines but it is new to dressage. An equestrian immigrant as it were.


Now we all as riders have our little issues. Okay sometimes we have big issues too, and big other stuff (like asses) as well! But for some of us dealing with health stuff some of the issues are really hard to work with. And when someone is resourceful enough to figure out a way around it, they should be respected, should they not?


Well with this particular rider the challenge is MS which causes limitations to mobility. Add to the equation a horse the size of a Brachiosaur. They call them Percherons in the horse world, but I know there’s dino sizing DNA in there somewhere. This particular one is 19’2 hands, which I couldn’t mount on a good day unless I had with me either a) forklift or b) another smaller horse to stand on.


So this remarkable rider with the MS, and who is accomplished in another discipline, trained that Percheronsaurus to kneel so that the rider could safely mount.


Positively brilliant!! (I am going to have to mention this to my own Mr. Thang who looks at me with disgust when I stomp up the mounting block).


Imagine this scenario: Rider excited to be going to their first dressage competition overcoming the challenge of MS and the gigantor horse. The horse obediently responding to the cue to kneel. Rider mounts safely and without incident. Horse then lifts up, and they’re ready to go.


Enter at A: Snotty Bitch speaking these pearls of wisdom as they look up at the rider way up there in the sky from their much smaller horse and state:

“I hope your disability doesn’t hinder you from controlling that monster”.

This my friends is quintessential snotty bitch. But is it you?

 

Remember please, it’s much cooler to be kind. Don’t be a thrush mouth.

There is a wonderful update on the continuing saga of the snotty bitch!

After posting my blog entry I got a wonderful update which is best put here in the person’s own words. I laughed so hard I fell off the couch ~ Apparently at this event the rider had the opportunity to do a short demo ride showing similarities between reining (a former event they competed in) and dressage.

 

“We had a wonderful time but the best part came when SB rode up and commented that she would never have believed a horse like mine could spin and slide stop like that! I laughed and said I get that alot. Then “Accidently” dropped my head band and said “OOPS” My giant black angel reached down, picked it up, reached around and handed it to me and I gave him a cookie. The people around us dropped their mouths and said how amazing the “trick” was!

Snotty Bitch said “I never feed my horse by hand!”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any Snotty Bitchier, there ya go!! LOL

Spring is here and we’re all dusting ourselves off, ready to ride in anticipation of the glory weather days of the better three seasons. That evil fourth season, winter, still tries to hang on from time to time, but clearly winter knows its ass has been kicked to the curb by spring and that it’s time to head for a different hemisphere.

Actually, I don’t really care where winter goes, as long as it is gone from here.

I find myself bouncing back and forth between waiting for spring and trying to expedite spring. I’ve raked the last leaves up (they seem to still be multiplying though they were cleaned in the fall) and I’ve planted new lily bulbs.

For those who are unaware I take great pride in my garden, especially my array of lilies. I grow lilies (except for tiger lilies) because they are non toxic to wandering chickens. Chickens who find them delicious, and from whom they must be protected until fall comes and my very active hens can take them down to dirt again just about in an instant.

I jump all over the gardening thing as soon as the weather permits because I want it done so I can hang out Bar-B-Q-ing. Plus I want to spend time at the barn when it’s warmer out, my favorite temperatures being from 60-85 degrees for riding. The only thing I can’t do is plant the veggies yet, though my grape vines will soon be getting clipped and whacked back. My vines grew like mad last year and for the first time my three year old grape plants tossed out some grapes, though they were mutant grapes which didn’t mature perfectly. I’ve read that this year they would. They had better!!

My horse is shedding like a banshee, though I’m not even sure what a banshee is or if it sheds. I’m also amazed at the amount of winter hair my horse as he’s a thoroughbred and really never grows a winter coat anyway. Almost like a horse going from crew cut to bald as a winter coat sheds into summer sleakness.

He’s shiny, energetic and raring to go. If only I were like that!! My middle age catches up with me more and more it seems as bones creak and thighs bulge. My lower back has this weird thing happening in that it hurts during yard work, bending or sitting a boingey trot, but as soon as I stop it’s fine again. What’s up with that?

My bra size has expanded and now I think I should just sew two or three of my old bras together to make something which fits better. It’s better than having to go out and buy a size Kazillion Triple G. In my mind, (though sadly my mirror disagrees) I’m still ravishing, 20 years old and a 130 pounds. This is my story and I’m sticking to it!!!

So my doc now has me on thyroid meds and with the ever increasing doses I find myself with more and more energy, which is good, because I was really starting to wonder there for a while if I would soon be unable to walk from the bed to the potty and I anticipated the need for one of those pantie pads – maybe even the faux item I made up in one of my video creations “Earls Pony Personal Panty Pads”.

I am determined to once again become the strong, brave beast bitch I once was. I need warm weather to help. Help get me outside and help with sunkissed energy. Longer daylight hours mean I can get things done at home after work, making weekends less complicated. Or at least that’s the plan.

I am sure many of you fellow middle aged amateurs are feeling the same and I want to encourage you that you can do it!! There just might be a little discreet peeing when you drive your horse forward with your seat, or perhaps an escaped poof of a fart when you drive them forward. It’s okay. That’s why indoors are big!

It also helps to have a horse whose belly routinely “bloop bloops” when it trots. Hides the body noises and moans coming from the rider! As for fart noises please note that is quite proper to always blame the horse.

Of course this is also why most of us have dogs. We can always blame the gassy smell on them.

Soon grass seed will go down, veggies will be planted and besides mowing, weeding, fertilizing and repairing chicken caused bare patches the lawn and other plantings will be good to go, and all I’ll have to worry about is going to the barn and riding…… whilst not peeing myself.

I wish you all fine spring riding and dry underwear.

Dressage For The Rest Of Us

So I spent the winter being a bum, at least in the minds of the horsey types. For the first winter ever in over 30 years I didn’t really ride. I didn’t feel the urge nor the necessity in torturing myself. My middle aged body didn’t want to be cold.

Now you could understand someone not wanting to be cold, except for one thing. When I did go to the barn to visit, I wasn’t cold. It was just the IDEA of being cold was such a turnoff that I decided to hibernate indoors, except during my brief barn visits. Never before have I stopped riding for the winter. EVER. Truth be told, it was kinda nice. Hubbie was happy. Work at home got done.

My horse seems to have thrived with the time off. His body is 100% and he looks gorgeous despite being in his mid teens now. Seems like just yesterday he was a butthole ex racehorse! But he’s nice and round, coming off the winter exceptionally well at this newish barn. He was able to spend daytime out in his semi-private field of grass. Nice healthy tall grass. I’m not exactly sure how big his field is. Maybe five acres, maybe 7? It’s just a big plop of land which is ideally placed behind the barn owners house but most importantly it allows for him to run, and run, and then run some more.

I spoke to the barn owner yesterday and she delighted in tales of her dog, a large Belgian Melanois and my horse playing chase with each other despite the stout fence which separates them. Apparently it’s a daily joy for them both, a surprise to hear as when I first got my horse in 1999 he absolutely abhorred dogs and would tried to hoof their faces at any given opportunity.

My horse shares this large pasture with his buddy, an aged horse belonging to a friend of mine. The other horse plays with mine, but soon tires, and so my horse uses the dog and horses in an adjacent field to get his play on. So physically, emotionally and mentally there’s been plenty to engage his mind during my cave dwelling winter days.

As soon as I smelled the first warmth in mid February I had the barnboyguy begin to lunge my horse twice a week, just to get my horse used to moving under human command again. We did this for three weeks and then I began to incorporate riding again. I chose the perfect day to have that first ride. Conditions were ideal to a good experience for both horse and I.

The barn was quiet and the temps were warm. My girlfriend was riding her horse, my horse’s pasture buddy in the arena as well, so everyone was nice and relaxed.

I didn’t expect to do very much with my horse and just wanted the first ride to be a calm, happy experience. I worked him at first a long time in the walk and kept his very active “go-ee” brain occupied with cavaletti, shoulder in, haunches in. I did some walk/trot/walk transitions and then let him settle in a nice training level type long reined trot. Canter went smooth as silk, relatively speaking and our canter/walk transitions took a little time to warm up to (which was perfectly alright) but soon were dead on.

I don’t like to canter my horse ad nauseum, and I much prefer doing transitions in and out of the gait. Basically, I do because my horse tends to load the front end too much and since he is far from sure footed, often he’ll trip with a too long rein. The transitions help to pick up that front end without having to shorten the rein too much and it is also so much easier on my middle aged body.

We ended the ride on a good note, with great success. Afterwards my girlfriend commented saying it was as if we had been riding all along. I figure it doesn’t get any better than that!

Our subsequent rides went likewise. First rides after a few days off were all about bending, shoulder in, haunches in, and a little half-pass tossed it when it felt right to.

My most recent ride found me riding the absolute most perfect half pass left we’d ever done. I was ecstatic and jumped off him and loved on him tons. What a good boy!!! I quit the ride then, and after caring for him and putting him away went to call a friend to talk of the perfect half pass. But she didn’t answer. I spent the rest of the day trying to call friends to speak of the perfect half pass but no one was around!! Another day passed, and still I was unable to communicate the perfect half pass to anyone. When the perfect half pass comes and no one is there to see it, have you really half passed at all?

Part of me can’t believe it’s gone so well so far. The bug to ride is back inside my belly and it feels good to have it again. And although my house and garden show the result of my time away from riding (yes my lawn and garden are ready for planting) it does feel good to greet sweet spring once again and look forward to a glorious warm weather season.

I hope your rides go as well, and urge you to remember that the power to have the best rides lies within you.

It’s so much easier when you AND the horse just want to.

Twas the night before Christmas Poem also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”
Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) wrote the poem Twas the night before Christmas also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve. The poem Twas the night before Christmas has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the story of Twas the night before Christmas St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!

The author of the poem Twas the night before Christmas was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the night before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry. Clement Clarke Moore came from a prominent family and his father Benjamin Moore was the Bishop of New York who was famous for officiating at the inauguration of George Washington.

The tradition of reading Twas the night before Christmas poem on Christmas Eve is now a Worldwide institution.

This is the poem refurbished DressageForTheRestOfUs style.  I guess it was on my mind.

2 horses

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the world
Horses and Horsemen, their stories unfurled
There were horses for show and some were in training
In jumping, dressage and many in reining

There were horses for experts and those that were not
They trained at the canter, lope, jog or the trot
There were horses for trails and some, they raced
They galloped, they jumped, trotted or paced

And in some barn I heard such a clatter
Two ammies were fighting over who was the fatter
So away to Facebook I flew and I flashed
Opened the laptop to see who was bashed

Each rescue accused others of crimes don’t you know
Horses killed or abused just to make dough
Like a soap opera they yelled for all who would hear
Homes condemned, animals taken, lies and truth never clear

I shut my eyes to think and to think quick
For some Christmas spirit, a poem of St. Nick?
I’d change it to suit us, try not to be lame
And for goodwill I won’t say a name

Now rescues and shippers and trainers in kitchens
You chase folks away behaving like bitchens
Us ammies are clueless, or so you say
Then get it together and show us the way!

We need to learn in a way most conducive
To riding as art while not being abusive
To develop our minds along with our seat
To compete like humans, compassion complete

But instead you conspire and train oh so foul
Many discourage and throw in the towel
So on this night with miracle’s force
I write what’s in common, our partner, the horse

I imagine a horse world, good all around
Where kindness and compassion are known to abound
Where greed is a thing far away put
Not valued in training, it’s squashed underfoot.

A bundle of knowledge that no one would lack
Training that’s good for horse, leg and back
Not what is easy like some famous would do
Horses curled up like a giant groomed poo

Horse eyes should twinkle, focus complete
That’s what should win when we compete!
Performance need be there too with the rules
That should be coveted, not just the drools

And never should chin touch to a chest
The Masters taught us, why make up the rest?
So for one night let’s make it global
Do what is right and do what is noble

There are horses who hurt, are hungry or dying
Let’s stop it now, all should be trying
From BLM mustang to those who need bail
To slaughter and rolkur we must not fail

So for one night and maybe a day
We must do what’s right, or so I will pray
And lay aside the anger and greed
Our best Christmas spirit is what horses need!

So I’ll spring to my keyboard, fingers fly with a goal
To write what I’ve been thinking, deep down in my soul
That if goodness embraced us all would be right,
“Happy Christmas to all, work together, good-night!”

I had looked forward to the WEG with great hope, enthusiasm and anticipation. And while I found some inspiring things, they were not in the areas that I though perhaps they would be or should be.

Part of my brain is surprised by this. Part stunned that the stupid half of my brain still doesn’t get it and holds onto the sliver of hope that one day international will regain its collective honor.

I have made a conscious decision to accentuate the positive in this situation. So let the accentuating begin…… I’m trying very hard not to be a Debbie Downer.

Inspiring to me was the wonderful saddleless and bridleless demo by Stacy Westfall. Now while riding bareback and even bridleless is no great thing in and of itself, the two simultaneously in such a large, loud, charged venue is something to be quite admired.

Quite frankly every rider should be able to do this, or do something close to it. Every rider should be able to at least take their horse into a familiar ring, with the right conditions, and be able to pull off walk, trot, canter without getting killed given adequate exposure, diet, training and trust.

The greatest display of the true meaning of dressage I found in a cross country rider named Rebecca Holder riding her grey horse Courageous Comet. The fact that we are both from the USA is purely coincidental and played no part in my admiration, though it is kinda cool.

This team won my heart during the cross-country phase due to their harmony. Perhaps a part of the reason is that this rider isn’t built like the svelte blonde stereotypical advanced riders you see. In fact, the lady is beefy and for some reason I found that quite refreshing and admirable considering the stamina it takes to ride such a course. But mostly it was because for every stride and every jump that lady and her horse were ONE. No deviation, no momentary hiccup. And her horse’s expression showed it.

Lovely.

Although she withdrew from later competition, she and her OTTB now have a place in my heart.

Admitttedly, I didn’t watch every ride of every event. Although I DVR’d the TV shows and paid the thirty bucks for the online Universal sports coverage it was only days before I found myself bummed out by much of the riding, most notably in dressage and reining. Truly a hyperflexion heaven disappointed me profoundly.

Clearly the WEG riders warming up had decided they were going to do what they wanted to do in full knowing that no one was going to cry foul, unless of course there was blood. Eventually there was blood and a disqualification followed but that’s besides the point.

So I did what any self respecting big mouthed blogger would do. Or at least what this self respecting big mouthed blogger decided to do. I went riding. I did cleaning. I did everything I could but watch the rest of the WEG. I removed myself from the chatter, then went back in to view with fresh eyes. I found that my fresh eyes, and old tired eyes saw the same thing… force, domination, unhappy horses.

Yes, Tortilla looked happy enough, but he was incorrect enough to negate that. His extended trots didn’t happen as they should, and I wondered if there was a reason for the conservative execution of them. Was it me or did it seem the line blurred from time with the trot? There seemed confusion as to whether it was a trot or passage or perhaps some new gait called “trossage”.

So, after weeks of staying away and not blogging but rather doing fall cleaning and organizing, paying bills and whatnot I have finally decided how I feel about all of this and has decided my position on such matters.

Not that anyone would care mind you, but if you do, read on.

My position is: It doesn’t affect me.

It also doesn’t affect every other rider who wants to use a better standard, one that they can live with within their own morality, in their riding. Of course those that prefer such means as what is seen in the horse show world will profoundly affect the horses ridden within that method, but for me and others like me, the world and our training objectives carry on.

The FEI and the like are moving farther and farther away from me, and me from it. With every demonstration as to what that community feels is justifiable, I am repulsed further away to pursuit differing dressage and riding avenues. I don’t want a horse whose head is positioned so as to sniff his own pits or nibble at his chest.

It also occurs to me (based upon the standing ovation for Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz and Fuego XII) that a huge part of the audience just might be feeling the same way about things. That audience, along with countless of later viewers on the internet, sung the praises of this team and were quick to forgive the few errors. That audience admired that combo so much that they leaped to their feet in a sudden and stunning display of admiration, inspiration and appreciation.

Can it be that THAT crowd wants change too?

It is also apparent that the residents of Mt. Olympassage (like the great god Sjeus) are perfectly happy with the status quo. They don’t want to change a thing and are maneuvering skillfully to make sure they prevail.

The FEI also doesn’t seem to mind at all, along with the folks at WEG, who after the brave act of disqualifying bloodied tongues, didn’t say boo squat to all the horses being warmed up in various degrees of torture… errr hyperflexion.

It therefore is becoming increasingly apparent that another equestrian venue is required to accommodate the wishes of a worldwide audience. A “Dressage As Art” venue as opposed to the current “Dressage As Sport”. I’m also going to bitch that after watching a lot of the reiners, maybe “Reining As Art” should be next.

In “Dressage as Art” there could be scoring, placing, competing and judging but with a closer eye to more acceptable riding practices.

Sort of like Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling as compared to Hulk Hogan type wrestling. The Hyperflexors could even borrow Hulk’s pink feather boa if they would like to add a little “sumpin sumpin” to their performances. I’m 91% sure this would work.

With all this on my mind I rode my horse this weekend. Never did I feel more compelled to ride with finesse and lightness. Of course I’m just of the herd of middle aged female dressage riders trying to ride more graciously with our horses and from what I see, it’s really becoming all the rage.

We ammies just eat this shit up.

I’m happy to say that my horse gave me as much as his present conditioning would allow and in the end he was so forward and so strong I really had to work my body to contain the energy as opposed to using the reins to do so.

I loved the opportunity to test my skill and I could see by the horse’s reaction where I performed well and where I needed work. However, considering how infrequent my rides have been, coupled with the active winds and cool temperatures, my horse was so into the ride that it seemed impossibly magical, and it was actually easy at many points.

Like butter.

Now we are riding no where near FEI level but with these rides I got a sense that if I were to ride consistently correctly, and train more often, that we’d progress by leaps and bounds as if overnight.

It left me happy and wanting more, and more desirably it left my horse wanting more too.

Now isn’t that how you’re supposed to feel?

It sure is nice to win at shows and even nicer to win at big ones. But I have no doubt that I, along with innumerable others, would rather have great mid level rides on their horses than forced, domineering rides that are apparently necessary (or at least seem to be so) in what currently is masquerading as dressage competition.

Given this, I’d like a place to go and show before a judge so that our progress can be expertly critiqued according to the standards I and many of like mind, hold dear. Of course this would require a judge unimpressed by anything less than correct and the proper venue in which to place said judge’s ass and the judge would need the guts to score folks as they should be scored, even if those folks didn’t like it.

Then you’d need the herd of middle aged women to fill the class. Of course you would fill the classes as we love torturing ourselves.

As for venues such as the WEG I find myself in a stage of continual distancing. I’m distancing from the FEI dream and I’m drawn to find new sources of learning a la Walter Zettl. I’ve been checking out Manolo Mendez with great enthusiasm and will be attending/organizing clinics in the future. Although he could never, ever be duplicated I would like to find a bit of Zettl in Mr. Mendez. In this regard I’m checking out other notables like Dominique Barbier and I plan on soon studying some things new to me, like Cynthia Royale (trainer of Shadowfax – Blanco from Lord Of The Rings) in addition to others I’ve previously written about.

So far each has given another piece, and I’ll be paying attention to all of these folks some more. So far, and for the most part, I’ve liked what I’ve seen.

For now, I’m not renewing any memberships until I see more of what will happen in the future. For now, I’m going to take my hard earned money and direct it to those who teach a better way.

I never did understand those riders who never show but still somehow mysteriously advance. Now I do.

Now I do.

See, I DID learn something from the WEG!

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