Dec 28, 2010

USDF Changing Rules on First Level Sitting Trot

So, I'm late to the game on this one (see -- I really am blocking out news of the dressage world), but I just recently became aware that the USDF changed their rules to allow posting trot in First Level.  This is to take effect in the 2011 tests.  I was taken aback by that decision, though in retrospect I don't know why that should have been the case.  One can go on and on about how it's really for the good of the horse and his/her spine, rather than the dumbing down of dressage, but I find that very hard to believe.  I get the arguments in favor of posting, really I do.  It is better for the horse, in general, and I often post when warming my mare up for her reining sessions.  However, I also feel that it's not ridiculous to ask a horse/rider combination to be able to sit the trot in a First Level test.  You can practice a lot of posting at home, so as not to strain the horse's back, but in a show I don't see that it's a complete hardship to ask for sitting trot on the day of the test.  If you've properly muscled up and prepared your horse, s/he should be able to handle the sitting, regardless of dressage education and/or age. 

Dec 23, 2010

Who's Got a Prettier Face?

Pics of My Pretty, Pretty Girl

So, these aren't the best, but I'm afraid that I'm limited by the dark and gloominess of Syracuse weather.  Plus, my little Gracie really wasn't too interested in having her picture taken.  Frankly, she was pretty pissed that I kept her from eating grass.  :) 

This last one is a show photo from last year -- Miss Gracie and my trainer.  How cool does she look?  She's all "I got this, Dad."

Dec 8, 2010

Courtney King-Dye: The Power of Tragedy

Reports are out today that Courtney is officially back in the saddle, working to transition from the hippotherapy riding that she's been doing back to the level that she was working at before her accident.  I'm very, very glad that she going to be okay and able to ride again.  It'll be a slow process, of course.  As she acknowledges, "[she] hopes to ride dressage horses again this winter, and compete in Grand Prix by the end of next summer, but understands the need to be realistic about her recovery." 

Even more importantly, I hope this is a wake up call to dressage riders to rethink their decision on helmets.  I know that more and more riders are choosing to ride and show in their helmets, but it's not enough and there aren't yet enough of the right kind of role models.  If you're a high-level, high-profile rider, you should make the decision to wear helmet, just to set the proper tone for riders who want to emulate you.  I hope that she will make the decision to always wear a helmet from here on out and in that way her accident will bring about positive change in the dressage world.  I complained about her hypocritical stance on helmets over a year ago when she dodged a audience-posed question about her thoughts on helmet usage.  She wore a helmet while exhibiting at the 2009 Syracuse Invitational, but was vague about her personal feelings towards the equipment.  It was the right time and place to effect true change in the world of dressage, but she remained noncommital.  However, I am hoping she might have changed her thoughts due to her posting of October 13 on her website, stating:  Another thing I learned at WEG is top riders are role models. Everyone watches us show. So I changed my mind about helmets. There's a personal decision involved, yes, but if what you do affects someone else, then show them the right thing. If it's made a rule, everyone will show in one, and you'll look incomplete without one...

Better late than never. 

First Comes Frustration

So, I've owned my mare for 2 weeks and 1 day and I have officially entered the period of frustration.  Not with her, mind.  Just with myself.  Going from riding a good school horse to a really nice, well-trained, open-level reiner is like trying to taking leaps across a wide chasm with my eyes closed.  On my last lesson I discovered that with certain things I've taken a few steps backwards -- my lead changes are crap.  I can't elaborate more on that - they're simply crap.  I always thought of myself as the lead change queen when I was practicing dressage, but these reiners are trained just so differently...  What I've learned:  essentially I just need to figure out how to do absolutely NOTHING.  Which is difficult for an ex-dressage queen.  I always half-halted, rocked my weight back, set up the new bend, held the inside leg to outside rein connection steady and timed my changes just so.  Ha!  Good luck trying to do any of that with a reiner.  Basically my job is to stay out of her way and and let Gracie do the heavy lifting.  This is so incredibly difficult to do and while I'm getting better, it's still a struggle.