Thursday, October 23, 2008

“You know what dressage means, right?” asked guest clinician Germán Schneider, local dressage rider, trainer and judge. “It’s French for ‘too afraid to jump’ he quipped. (It’s actually French for training, in case you were dying to know). Germán’s sense of humor really set the tone for the mini-clinic we had at the ranch – a necessary ingredient since the first ride was at the ungodly hour of 7 am. (That's Reese, my horse, to the left by the way.) All kidding aside, as anal-retentive as it may seem dressage is the foundation for everything we do and the reason that even us crazy eventers work so hard at it. (We know it may not seem like it, DQ’s, but we really do.) As Germán pointed out to Michelle C. riding her horse Bailey, an unbalanced, unrateable canter might get you a “6” on your test but you'll be eating wood on a cross-country course.
It’s always good to attend clinics or occasional lessons from a different instructor just to get a fresh perspective on your riding. For instance, Germán focuses on the same issues of rhythm, tempo and suppleness that Michelle E. does but verbalizes it in a slightly different way. Combining the two approaches really clarified for me the importance of working my young horse in a lower frame with more flexion at the base of his neck until his back grows stronger. I wasn’t even riding in the clinic so even watching from the sidelines can be and educational experience. Just be sure to choose someone who isn’t at odds with your own trainer’s basic philosophy. Otherwise you won’t be able to incorporate what you’ve learned from the clinic in your day-to-day riding. Definitely talk to your trainer about what you learned at the clinic if they weren’t present to make sure that the ideas you took away from the experience are appropriate for what he or she is trying to work on with you at this point in your riding.

And where was Michelle during all this? Up in Fresno with dynamic duo Nick and Sarah competing at Ram Tap. Michelle took Dixie into her first event ever where she finished 4th with a double clear in cross-country. Nick finished 4th with Buck pulling a rail in show jump while Sarah and Eddie debuted at Training Level with a so-so dressage test but good solid jump rounds. According to Michelle, as well as the general feedback on the Chronicle of the Horse chat forum, Ram Tap’s courses have changed a bit for this show. The Training course in particular was tough but fair so kudos to both riders and horses for a job well done. They’ll both be up there again next month so fingers crossed that those rides will go even better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Congratulations to our friend Larry and his horse, Caruso 202 (not to be confused with the other 201 Caruso’s out there) who finished 7th out of a million in Preliminary level at the recent event at Twin Rivers. Way to go, Bubba and Larry’s trainer, Auburn!

His story also goes to show you that when you go to a show, always be prepared! Their departure from So Cal was delayed from 5:30 am (eek!) to 7:30 am (slightly less eek!) because of a flat tire on Larry’s trailer and a naughty horse (not Caruso). Then, on the way home after a successful show, his trainer Auburn has not one but TWO flat tires on her trailer.

The moral of the story? Larry learned that if you are showing, particularly when the temperature is likely to climb into the triple digits, always be sure Sapphire Eventing is going to be there with the gin & tonics flowing. We didn’t go to this show and poor Larry got mighty parched out there all alone. On the other hand, I learned that unless your last name is Firestone, don’t ever travel with Larry!