Thursday, September 30, 2010

Poor Parzival!

The Horse | WEG: Jerich Parzival Eliminated From Dressage

This is old news by a few days, but oh well. That's what happens when you're stuck in Texas due to epic schoolwork and not at the World Equestrian Games haha!

This elimination is just ironic because I was reading an article by Adelinde Cornelisson (Parzival's rider) in the most recent Dressage Today, and I do recall that the second I read that she trained under Sjef Janssen that she probably did rollkur riding. And what do you know? Pictures of them in the warm up ring only confirm this. So I am suspicious that the horse simply bit his tongue, though where the source of blood is shown it would make sense (it's at the very tip). But still. I am sure that the rollkur nonsense didn't help any. Extreme tension in the jaw and inability to move one's tongue can lead to tongue biting ;)

Afterall, we all saw that rollkur can lead to zero blood circulation in the tongue. Thank you, Patrik Kittel, for demonstrating that point. Sorry, Watermill Scandic, for having to be the demonstration "dummy".

I am very disapointed. But mostly, I feel bad for Parzival. Such a lovely horse (and quite tolerant too if he puts up with that). He is beautiful and talented and it is just a shame to see such talent thrown away in such a painful manner.

I just really don't like Sjef Janssen, and now even less than I already did. In my honest opinion, he's just not a good coach, what with his training methods (also, I believe I read someplace that he's only been riding since his 30s? And that qualifies as coaching material?) And the part that really does me in is that they WIN international medals with these methods! Why?

But hopefully this elimination (along several scattered others previously) will be a start. People are already aware of it and many know it's wrong. That is a start. Thank you, Stephen Clarke.

And back to that article: it was a very good article on getting your horse to focus on you by focusing yourself and your aids. Some very good advice. But I simply cannot look at it in as shining of a light as I did. The advice is good, but there's that shadow simply lingering over it now.

What a shame. The thing is, in all of my 12 years of riding and working with horses, never have I seen a horse bite its tongue under saddle. I asked around at the barn, and neither had anyone there. Just a little suspicious ;)

Oh, and it was a British judge that eliminated them. Gotta love those Brits :)

This also allowed for non-rollkur rider Laura Bechtolsheimer (another fantastic Brit!) to get individual silver in dressage with an 81.70%! Edward Gal won gold. SURPRISE! Nobody saw him and that Horse God Totilas coming!

I was being sarcastic there. I hope you noticed.

But I really do believe that Totilas is on the road to being canonized!

AND STEFFEN PETERS GOT BRONZE!! YIPPEE!!!! VIVA AMERICANA! Did I mention he's coming to Texas in October to do a symposium?

And now I'm ready to sit back and watch how eventing goes!! And the individual grand prix freestyle Friday!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Allergies have decided to strike. Greta gave me mostly attitude and freaking-out-to-the-nth-degree (I think a trailer being loaded outside the barn while we were tacking up just put her into a clusterfbomb mindset!) And school has decided that us children are allowed to have no life and must do nothing but work.

I'm probably sounding so negative because I can't, well, breath right now!

Greta did well Wednesday night. Really superb!!! I did not have enough time to ride Thrusday night and on Friday night by the time I had time to ride, my super-duper-rare allergies had suddenly kicked in and, while I was complaining that I was being lazy and that I really could ride, I was nicely kicked out of the barn and sent home by my adult guardians out there. And my parents thanked them. And I thank them, because my allergies would've been much worse Saturday, though they did not get any better :(

Some pictures from the lesson yesterday....

Here are Greta's moments of brilliance:

But the rest of the time, I got this, though I have seen her do MUCH worse now that I think about it:

So before somebody out there complains, "Oh, I can't get the counter canter right!" or "Oh, there's not enough engagement in his piaffe!" and I come at you with a bloodlust in my eyes, remember that your horse could look like said goober above for an entire lesson. At least your horse stays round :)

As far as all that sweat: Greta had already worked herself up into a gooberish mindset, it was extraordinarily humid, and she was ridden for about thirty minutes of really working. She was given the next half hour to cool out on a long rein. Bless her.

But I HAVE to keep telling myself that I only learned and have begun to apply the concept of true hindquarter engagement (not that slow, lazy trot I thought was correct, and not a sewing machine trot either, but a good working trot) for less than two weeks now after our first lesson with L. Sadly though, we had our last lesson with her yesterday because she will be moving. So I will be back to my original trainerless plan haha!

But either way, Greta has to develop muscle. And muscle doesn't develop in a month.

But really, Greta is still super sweet and she is still the princess, and I have to give her some slack for her attitude yesterday because she A) had not been rode for two days, and B) had been left in for an hour after the other horses went out because our lesson was going to be an hour later (I could've gone out and got her, so I feel terribly lazy about that, and I wonder if that might've fixed things.) These ups and downs are really beginning to wear on me. Oh, well....

Here are some sweetness pics:

Bum bum pats after a beautiful few strides of a working canter :)

Trying to rub the bridle off on my pantalones.

:)))) Really, I will cherish the video that these last two pictures came from. I will cherish it FOREVER! So cute!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ariat Commercials

These are their newest commercials, probably for the WEG, but do I LOVE them! Gina Miles is one of my favorite riders, and Beezie Madden is a great, of course. Too bad they don't have any dressage ones, yet. But I don't see Ariat much in the dressage world... perhaps that's just me.

But either way these commercials gave me chills because they're just so wonderful and true. Enjoy.

I'll have Greta-related stuff up soon :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quickie WEG video from Down Unda

The whole time I was imaging how Greta Golightly would handle this. Bad images, believe me.

Seriously, it's a good thing the WEG is being held in the U.S finally. The American team finally has the home-field advantage as far as traveling (and I'm sure we'll kick butt anyway haha.) But still it's very interesting.... and the Australian blokes are quite funny. The WEG is only a few weeks away! YAY!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Greta, we need to take scuba diving lessons.

So I have just undergone going three days without seeing my girl. Now I know how other girls feel when they go for three days without their boy or their best friend. It's awful!

She seemed quite happy to see me though, judging by the whicker she gave me when I came around the corner and how well-behaved she was when I took her out.

So my part of Texas and the stables got about 15" of rain over the past three days. Wow. You know what follows 15" of rain over a short period of time in a place that accustomed to that amount over the course of a year? How about flash floods and mass destruction?

Well, we probably get more than 15" over a year.... but it doesn't always seem like that haha.

Thankfully, the stables, which has a small dry creek running through it (and probably helped a lot with drainage even though it flowed over both of the bridges that cross it, but it's gone down to a full but now manageable level) had damage (the nice rock road is now lumpy and bumpy, the covered arena is soup, some of the sand drained from the outdoor arena - no riding for perhaps a week - and a telephone pole got moved 25 feet! But it's been unwired and taken down so it's not a safety hazard anymore) but all of the horses are fine. The horses have all been well taken care of, and I feel so fortunate that Greta's at a place where I don't have to worry too much even in this crazy weather.

She was fine when I went out to visit her. My dear grandmother and I groomed her and cleaned her stall a second time, and I walked and trotted her up and down the barn aisle and stretched her legs to get her moving. When we walked we worked on a shortened walk and an extended walk. She aced it. Such a good girl with such wonderful ground manners!

It is crazy to drive through a normally dry town and see water marks from the night before where water was pouring from people's doors, and now all of their furniture is out in the street and lawn drying, if it could be saved. A street still has water flowing down it like a makeshift river. Storm drains are still gushing water because the drainage system could not hold all of it. One of the bridges in the neighborhood still has about a foot of water flowing over it, when normally the creek is about twelve feet under it. It was like a maze to even get around town yesterday, because some parts were flooded (and people still driving through! Not me!) and some parts were closed off by police because it was too dangerous further down the way. I even encountered a utility shed, car, and boat that had been washed down the way and was blocking a road. And it's even crazier now because it's bright and sunny (and humid) outside now, and the rain stopped midday yesterday! It's back up to being 90, but to think that only a month ago when it was 90 we hadn't had rain for almost a month! I never thought I'd actually be done in with seeing water!

Well, Texas begged for rain. We got Haphazard Hermine. Yeehaw.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Riding Updates

So, for the past three days (and before then, too) I rode the Grets and it has gone swell. I have also learned and corrected two very critical things these past few days.

When we go to the left, particularly on a circle, I would ALWAYS let my right leg slip back. Like way back. And it was totally ineffective and did not balance Greta at all. So, I took away the stirrups, forced my right leg forward to be at the ready at the girth, et voila! She actually tried to bend around my inside leg without excessive persuasion from the reins.

Also, I noticed that when I open and closed my inside hand, I was accidentally pulling back and then releasing, which is why Greta would throw her head up and invert and not do anything. I actually open and closed my hand and she started to cooperate. She still won't round up without excessive persuasion, and I always lose the connection going from a walk to a halt (not really from a canter to trot though, hmm) so I don't know what I'm going to do about that except figure it out. I've tried giving her the reins a bit during the transition, and while she won't invert, she'll tip her nose out and still lose the connection. Perhaps I really land on her back during the transition. But either way it's obnoxious when you have a good connection from the walk going into the trot and then totally lose it going back into the walk and I have to excessively persuade her to get it back again.

I really don't like dressage sometimes. So very hard!

But really, Greta has been great and today we had a super nice canter (I've noticed that it's becoming ever so slightly more elevated over time and far from on the forehand like it used to be) so that was cause to reward her and to end the already hour-long ride (I had lunged her in side reins for about twenty minutes, then finished up the hour with riding) and bless her she let me pick up the longeline and side reins from their hanging spot on one of the arena fence posts (and she didn't even look at them while riding!) and carry them back to the barn, pass the scary wheelbarrows guarding the entrance to her stall aisle, down the barn aisle, toss them onto her tack trunk with a loud thump, and finish off cooling down in the covered arena (it's been below 90 lately so I thought today would be a good day to get back to that outdoor arena, and she was pretty good in it! No refusals to go to the scary end, nothing!) All while under saddle. So good!

I might just make a sensible horse out of her afterall ;)

I'll get video soon. I almost got it today but forgot to bring the camera out with me to the outdoor arena, on the other side of the property. Oh, it would just been too much walking, poor me!

I suppose the longer I wait, the more Greta and I will improve, and when you guys actually do see us again, Greta and I will blow your socks off and make the choir sing praises. Pretty soon, we might just being Michaelangelo from the grave to carve a sculpture of us, because that's just how awesome we'll be ;)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In response to vengeful dodo drivers...

There are some nice places to ride around the stables, but they are lined up next to roads and I always worry about traffic, as little as there is, but I shall explain.

Many cyclists go up and down the roads around the stables (but this is something quite normal for Austin, just ask Lance Armstrong!) so people are on the lookout for them. But even I have had the occasions where I will be driving to the stables and not notice that there is a horse and rider in the grassy area alongside the road until I'm next to them! So I think to myself that if I didn't notice them, would anyone notice me and Greta? Perhaps, because Greta is white and I usually wear light colored breeches and polos. But perhaps not. So it's always been a chance I am not willing to take.

I saw this company's ad in one of my horsey magazines. They're called Don't Shoot Me and initially I thought, "I don't ride in forests or hunting areas, so this doesn't apply to me." And then I realized, so smart of me, that this International Orange color is the same color road workers wear and Lord knows I see them! So this company is genius! Int. Orange saddle pads, quarter sheets, fly veils, rider vests, helmet covers, even stuff for doggie!

They're based in Canada, so everything on the site is in Canadian dollars, so I don't know if they ship to the U.S. BIG bummer if they don't, because I would have no problem saving up money for this stuff. Contrary to Greta's normal "It moved so it's going to eat me so I must run away" attitude, she really does enjoy trail rides. She always takes over and tries to outwalk the other horse to the front of the group. The last trail ride we went on in late December of 2009, she was the only horse that didn't spook! And I like to trail ride, because it's something new for the both of us, and it's good for Greta's fitness and mine too. But since they widened the main road riders walked along, then I've been cautious. But something to wear that's highly visible, plus a buddy, plus some good old fashioned common sense and precautions, would make me feel much better.

Such a good idea!

Photo from

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Henry V. Horse

"He's of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger.... he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts." ~ William Shakespeare, Henry V

"When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes." ~William Shakespeare, Henry V

Perhaps these are all in the same scene, I have not read Henry V yet in English class and I dare not read it without the aid of the class and teacher, not that Shakespeare is normally a challenge - I read A Midsummer Night's Dream (adored it), Romeo and Juliet (that story has always made me nervous due to all that miscommunication, but I am all for Westside Story!), Macbeth (interesting and not a bad read), and I could've sworn I've read another but I cannot remember it - but I hear Henry V is supposed to be a doozy as is Hamlet, which we also will be reading. But so far I have noticed that ol' Will really liked ponies when writing Henry V. I like them, too, Shakespeare.

I've always liked Shakespeare. I also liked Captain Shakespeare in Stardust. And what horse-lover doesn't like Shakespeare RSF, winner of the most recent and the United States' first 70-day Stallion Test? That's a Shakespeare we can all get used to! I know Greta was crushing when she saw his pin-up (well, it was really just a Warmbloods Today cover).

Photo from via Google Images Search :)

Handy analogies :)

Firstly, thanks for all the comments lately. Love to hear what y'all say and to know that people really do read my nonsensical nonsense!

I have always felt very thankful that I learned dressage the right way: a month on the longeline, no reins, no stirrups (posting!), and yet another month just working on my hands, and the rest was putting two and two together and then the rest of the rest was history.

My first dressage instructor had some wonderful hand analogies for me to use. I had learned to ride western, particularly barrel racing, so neck-reining and horn-grabbing was something I was already quite comfortable with. Now I had no horn and I had to use two hands and thank goodness I was not EVER allowed to use the reins for support, because that's my leg and seat's job. The fact that it had been almost four years and three of those years being on-the-ground rehab and rescue work since I had formally rode a horse didn't help much as far as exclusively riding goes, excluding the fact that I learned a lot about horse care and ground training (bareback with a halter and leadrope in the pasture is riding, yes, but not formally, considering the horse was, well, grazing....)

So as you can imagine, my hands were rusty. My poor instructor was going to need a great deal of WD40. Thankfully, I caught on quickly with these wonderful analogies. I still use them!

The Bird Analogy
I'm sure a lot of y'all have heard this one. I even saw it in a book (Centered Riding, by Sally Swift and it had a wonderful illustration!). Basically, one must pretend that you are holding two baby birds in your hands (the reins). Hold them too tight, and you'll crush them. Hold then too loose and they'll fly away. Hold them too close together and you'll bonk their heads together. Hold them too far apart and they'll call obnoxiously for each other. If you can't quite imagine baby birds, think puppies or kittens or mice or anything that you would want to hold carefully, like your horse's mouth.

The Stereo Analogy
Imagine your connection to the reins like sound coming through a stereo. Keep the connection too soft and it's like very quiet music, you can't hear it, and when you ask for something and suddenly pick up contact, then it's like a pair of cymbals suddenly banging together, it's startling! But keep your connection like a death-grip on the reins, then it's like death metal music blaring trough the speakers: it's there, but it's so there and incessant and unintelligible that it doesn't help any!

A good connection is like a symphony: harmonious, just the right amount of sound, and if it needs to become louder then it's gradual and gentle, and if it needs to become softer then it's also gradual and gentle, rather than just throwing the reins away (then there's no sound again). Everything is precise and accurate and symphonic and it's appealing to the ear (AKA your horse's mouth.)

Of course there are those emergency situations where you NEED a death grip on the mouth, but that's regardless....

More Greta glam this weekend... I've just been wanting to share these because they help me a LOT! Happy Labor Day weekend and I hope everyone in Hurricane Earl zone is only a little wet and nothing worse! And for everyone in Central Texas, ENJOY this rainy and COOL weather, we NEED it!