Dressage


Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kentucky!

        Going to Kentucky was so much fun! It was a great time to spend together with my husband. I had not driven through Tennessee before and the country was beautiful! The horses were so perfect in everyway and I am so lucky to have my parents, Scott and Casey Satriano (the owners of Roxanne),  and my amazing husband to support me in such an adventure. I have not done a competition like this in many years........... so one starts to wonder if you still have the energy and enthusiasm to make it all happen.
     When we start in the beginning it was a long road getting to Kentucky, however, it is also just the beginning of many awesome things to come. Glorious my adorable now 7 year old Dutch horse  has been sick for a lot of his young life. He catches up in the training because he is such a good boy, but he missed out on a lot of the show experience. I am so grateful to Dr. Brett Gaby, Dr. Belden, Dr. Bill Yerkes and Dr. Belgrave, along with my completely wonderful blacksmith Kevin Strain for putting Glorious back together and he is in the best shape ever. Taking him to Kentucky was fun, and if I had not been "going for the gold" in the extended canter his points would have been much better!! Next time I will remember his experience level and help him out a bit more. It is like I tell the kids "sometimes you ask for more....and you get less" . Yes I could have been more thoughtful in the extended canter! but, still it was so fun to have him there and I know we will be there again next year with more horse showing under our belt.
                                                 

         
 
The weather was pretty cold! A bit early for Kentucky and we were all in a bit of shock. The show management did a great job of keeping everything running smoothly. It was also fun to get saddle pads and hats with the Region 8 logo on them, thanks to Debra Reinhardt, Regina Cristo and everyone else that was involved in getting those organized.
Roxanne has had a bumpy road the last couple of years too, being able to have her qualify for Kentucky was a super achievement. She has some stress in the show atmosphere but through the summer we have really been getting her through this and slowly we are able to show off and not be nervous. Well she passed all of the tests in Kentucky, well almost all of them :) We were able to negotiate our way around the show grounds on foot and in the saddle in the snow and wind, sun and wind and wind and wind. She was so perfect and trying hard to keep her cool even when other horses were loosing it. When we schooled around the arena she was great, other horses so lost and she was with me and focused and I was so happy. Sadly when I took her in the arena for her test the speaker exploded and I lost her. I did not loose her for that long, but long enough to take too much time to enter. We were eliminated :( but, she did come back to me 15 seconds too late and we did go through the whole test, albeit in the schooling area, but not ruffled or upset. I am happy that she was able to have the experience of being scared and then coming back to me, she came back 100% and did not have to be muscled or manipulated into listening. It was just too long from scared to back with me..... We will keep working on the time it takes to come back from noise fear. But I was so proud of her because in another time she would not have come back at all, so we are getting there, practice practice, practice!
 

       I know there are a lot of great riders that have had the wrong thing happen at a very important time. We have all felt so sad to watch top riders in the Olympics and World Championships have these experiences. The emotions that it takes to get to a show like that and then everything going wrong, oh it just makes you so sad for them. But, what is great is that my horses do not know anything about it. I love them, they are so wonderful to put up with all of that travelling and no turn out and washing and braiding and riding. I am old enough finally that even though I had the wind taken out of my sails for a minute the horses came home like champions after an experience of a lifetime and hopefully something that will lay the ground work for a more successful go next year!
       One of my favorite things about Kentucky was all the nice people there. It was great to catch up with old friends that I have not seen in a while. It was also amazing to see so many new faces. If you have the chance to go to Kentucky for the US Finals as a competitor, owner or just as a spectator GO, it is so much fun!!
                 Happy riding :)
                           Nancy

Thursday, October 23, 2014

on our way to florida

What a whirlwind October has been. Mr. Schumacher was at the Ashby Stock Farm for three days at the begining of the month. The lessons were inspiring as always. This time I had a chance to ride Roxanne and Glorious in the clinic. They were both great! Glorious I had not had a lesson on from anyone in two years :( because of his health. Mr. Schumacher was very pleased with his progress and helped me a lot with a good plan for him. Mr. Schumacher has so many creative exercises that help with suppleness and strength. I loved his work with Glorious and the results are ongoing. With Roxanne we worked on balance and strength building half halts. The work with Roxanne reminded me about my own quietness and really has made a big difference in our everyday. I am super psyched about taking both horses to The Usdf Dressage Finals in November :) I also have to say it is wonderful to see the progress of everyone who joins in our clinics. I learn a lot from watching all of the lessons and appreciate everyones open attitude about learning a super training system.
     Last weekend we had a fantastic training with Tristan Tucker. I am so energized after spending the weekend with him working horses. He is an amazing horseman and tireless! So I have a lot to learn about his techniques but PW got a gold star for her improvement since june , we have been calmly practicing and we have lots of new homework. I am so lucky to have met these two extra special trainers and so wonderful that they make time for me so I can continue to learn.
    Now we are driving to Florida. My horses are so sweet.  Yesterday while we are are packing they all know what's coming. Used to be so anxious, now they are relaxed and happy and practically load themselves. They are tired now it is getting late, so amazing how good they are to put up with all this.
    It is also at times like this where you realize what a great team we have. Thank you must be said to  my husband Matt for putting his life on hold and driving me to Florida. Also there will undoubtedly be lots to fix and he is amazing how he can fix anything. Darwin and Lic are also fantastic at preparing everything and everyone for the trip. Of course I cannot do any of this without my mom and Dad who continue to support me while I try to figure this all out.
      It is also with a bit of sadness that we leave our masachusetts family. My friends and students that stay behind will be missed. That is the bad part about following the sun. Charlie and Jeanne are so generous over the summer. The Ashby stock farm is such a super farm to train out of and we have a growing group of students whose progress is tangible this year :) I hope for everyone a mild winter and good riding.
All the best and ride well
Nancy

Monday, September 22, 2014

The end of summer...

 Today is the autumnal equinox. People told me time would go by too quickly when I got older, but I had no idea!
We got home last night from NEDA. We are not heading to Devon this year. I am looking forward to showing in Florida. It has been a while since I have had a horse ready for the CDI's and I am truly missing that. However I am also very grateful for the wonderful horses I do have and the incredible support.
  Glorious was third in the second level championship, he received over 70% from Lilo Fore and a 9 on one of his simple changes. I am proud of my little man that takes everything in stride. He has not been well enough to show a lot this summer. I am so amazed how he goes to the shows with big eyes and just gives me that feeling as if to say "if you think I can do it then okay! I trust you!" how lucky am I. But really, that is what I wanted to create and I am grateful to my trainers and mentors for making me believe it is possible. A horse that can go to a scary place and feel happy and comfortable to perform. So much fun!
            So while we are reminiscing about good behavior.. I am also very proud of Roxanne. She was 4 th in the 4 th level championship also receiving over 70% from a top judge. But, you know those tests you come out and you do not care what the judge says? The test that you feel like everything I wanted from her she gave me? She came to the ring thinking "I really need to be nervous now" But when I sat on her and said no you don't she answered with "okay! Let's do this" No drama queen, no taking over, just in front of me awesome Roxanne doing what we all know she can do and that is what it is all about. It was a long road getting her fit again after her accident and surgery and knowing that we are on the way up again is so fun. CDI's here we come! Thank you Scott and Casey and Andrea for giving me this wonderful opportunity. And thank you to Roxanne.
           I also have to say I had an awesome time helping some wonderful ladies with their magnificent horses. Tyrelle, Faye and Kerri all rode in the third level championships and I was so proud. The adult amateur class was very competitive and Tyrelle with two blips was 5 th and Faye 9 th and Kerry not far behind. But more importantly all rode beautiful presentations with the fundamentals in place. And when Kerry took a guy that was a bit "taking over" in the extended canter into a beautiful collected transition in the corner and then completely gave the reins on the short side  I was ecstatic! That is it!  Andrea and Michelle were riding in the Prix St. Georges and although not record breaking tests they both are so determined to do the right thing for the horses and improve on every outing. Rubin is doing an amazing job of coming back into the competitive world after some bad experiences and Andrea so dedicated to making things right for him. Rodney is a superstar and finally Michelle has time for him and is reaping the rewards of his honesty and her hard work. I love my job when it is filled with such determined, hardworking and wonderful people and horses!
          
           It is hard to imagine that I am 50. The masters have said and continue to say the day you stop learning is the day you die, and I truly embrace that. I am so looking forward to our clinics with Mr Schumacher and Tristan in October. One thing I do have to say I noticed at this horse show (maybe now more then ever) is how many horses were really scared. I invite everyone to believe it is not necessary. We are all trying to be better riders and everyone has their own path they need to travel. I respect that! My path has been long and sometimes in the wrong direction. But, knowing that my horses can be comfortable in all situations, knowing that I can prepare them for that is such a great feeling. If you have time please come join us at The Ashby Stock Farm Oct 3-5 for Conrad Schumacher and Oct 17-19 for Tristan Tucker.
            Looking forward to seeing you soon! Until then Happy Riding!
          

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Labor Day

  Once again the Adult Camp held at The Ashby Stock Farm was one of the highlights of my summer. This years theme, Body Language, proved to be an interesting one for everyone that took part.
   One of the things I love about having a theme is that no matter the age, level, experience or athletic ability it is always easy to watch the positive aspects of the theme benefit all participants. This year was no different and paying attention to and keeping positive body language transformed these horse and rider combinations.
     Friday everyone, yes everyone, (that is a first, usually we have some Saturday arrivals) arrived and settled in on time for our lecture and great dinner made by Gail Price and Kerri Arruda. The lecture gave us a chance to go over our Body Language Work Book. I created the workbook with a place for notes and key points that I feel are important about body language; what to look for in your horse, how to change it and how to come to the lesson prepared for riding. I incorporated some ideas of what body language means to me and how to work on these points, both on and off  ones horse. 
      Saturday morning started early and with a lot of enthusiasm. Our star of the day was Zoe. She has been to camp before, as a matter of fact this was her third camp. Zoe started with us a year ago with her dedicated owner Karen. Zoe had been started badly and really did not want to play. Karen has done an amazing job. She has not only participated in camp, but she came back several times over the summer for reinforcement. Watching Zoe walk , trot and canter around the arena was wonderful. Seeing her happy about participating with Karen is amazing. It was rewarding to see Karen and Zoe communicating so well, I think it was also an inspiration to all of the other campers to see her improvement. The bar was raised high from the first lesson and no one disappointed us. Taking time to talk about the movement of the horse in all of the gaits, the timing and application of the aids and then discussing the horses positive and sometimes not so positive reactions gave the ladies the power to make good decisions in their riding.
       At lunch we had a brief talk about goals and I reminded everyone to use their goal workbooks from the April camp. We talked about how easy it is to think we are not improving. Writing things in the goal workbooks helps to keep things in perspective. Sometimes one forgets that only two months ago it was difficult to pick up the left lead and now it flows easily. Take time pat yourselves on the back when goals, big or small, have been accomplished. Let riding be a fun journey about partnership and confidence.
        Saturday night we ate together in the lounge, a wonderful homemade dinner made by Linda Powers. Everyone enjoyed the time to talk about their lessons, their horses and our sport. I took a couple of more minutes to answer questions from the day. I love this time because by the evening all of the ladies have had time to reflect on their lessons and start to think about what they want to make better tomorrow. It is great that we have that time to answer the questions while the riding is still fresh in everyone's mind. Also, it is nice having the group together and listening to the compliments and positive admiration spread around the room.
       Sunday all of the riders were even more comfortable than Saturday and everyone was on a mission. The horses were happy to be ridden by such riders with good timing and technique, the riders were able to move about the arena with ease. I enjoyed all of the lessons and was especially impressed by the awareness the riders were gaining of their mounts. Everyone went home with homework but also with new skills. In addition I think that every participant in camp gained a new level of understanding about what their horses are doing underneath them. Each time we do a camp I am amazed at the progress everyone makes. It is awesome that everyone watches all of the lessons. This makes a huge difference in the understanding of their own lesson. The lectures also make it easier on the horses so a lot of the goals have already been discussed and the horses do not have to put up with  that part. I could also say thank you to this great group of ladies that come to camp, they bring an enthusiasm and desire to learn that makes it so easy to create progress. I am already looking forward to Spring camp and I am going to start working on a new theme and an extra special Work Book for everyone.
           

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Riders and Trainers step up to the Runway to raise money for Region 8 Jr/YR Dressage

So many fantastic memories of the first weekend of May 2014.
    Our clinic with Mr Schumacher was a great success. The downside, I did not get to ride :( .... the upside we welcomed new faces to our growing fan club. The clinic was so full and the lessons were one light bulb moment after another. Mondays trainers workshop was one of the best dressage learning experiences I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. Mr Schumacher was so thorough, happy to field questions and provide answers to help us with our daily challenges. I wish that I had this encyclopedia of knowledge available when I was a young trainer. I am grateful to have access to his wealth of information now!
          Our fashion show came together and was truly amazing. Looking at the photos now I get goose bumps. Awesome job girls! and guys!
          If you can dream it you can do it! Thank you so much to all of the great people that made it happen.
My husband, Matt , without him we would not get very far in these adventures :)
Linda Powers without her strength and energy this evening would not have been the same ! (or happening)
Karin Swanfeldt for her hostess experience and long time support!
All of the girls and their families for your time and energy. Especially Ivana Gross and Kristina O'Connell.
Our supportive trainers Bill Warren, Bill McMullin, Pam Maloof, Trish Helmer, Gayle Paquin, Shan Lawton, Larry Poulin, Kristin Schwaegerle and Jane Hannigan.
Mike Lavoie for his help with lighting.
Melanie and Marlene of Chateau Cheveux for taking care of the hair!
Devin Whitney Brine for help with makeup
Paul Eason for providing his announcing expertise and music
Noreen Duffy for providing us with pictures so we will not forget our special night!
Jeanne and Charlie Parlee the owners of The Ashby Stock Farm
Dover Saddlery and Kara Judge for stepping up to the plate last minute after our original tack shop backed out
Black Horse Creations
The Stone Pony
Custom Saddlery
DSB Boots
Eleni Fashion
NATI Boutique
 
And of course we could not have done it with out our sponsors:
Elite Equine Imports, Teresa Davidson, Ruth Poulson, Bear Spot farm and Mark Shonberg





Saturday, April 26, 2014

Going Home! Or Leaving Home?

        The end of April and I see the last blog entry was January! Seems like just yesterday!! Okay, that really means I am getting old!
         Monday we move back to Massachusetts with eleven horses. I say we are going home, because really I am a New Englander at Heart, but here in Florida where it is my house and our farm, it is really home now. My dedication to bringing the wonderful horsemanship and dressage training that I have learned here and in Europe to New England is still strong. I am so lucky to have the wonderful Parlee family supporting my endeavors and making the beautiful Ashby Stock Farm available for our summer training.
           I look back on the whirl wind of the last months and I regret not having time to get my own horses into the show arena. But, I do not regret all the wonderful work we did together, students in the show ring and training at home, so many improvements, so many good tests a super successful season for everyone at Heartwood Farm. My own horses will show up North and next year I will plan my time more efficiently.
           One thing I am incredibly grateful for is that at my age............I still have such a desire to get in the ring, to train my horses and to ride better! So many people are fed up with their jobs, looking for something new, trying to find themselves. I still love, love love what I do! I realized this winter, one year after falling off, not badly, but enough for this old body! I m in better shape now than I have been in several years. Thanks to awesome chiropractors! I am older but better! You never really know how bad you feel until you feel good again! It is so nice to be back in shape and really doing right by my great horses!
            So the big job of packing up. My stress level always increases worrying about all of the horses travelling well. And this time at the end of the rainbow we have a great clinic planned and a FASHION SHOW! So I am busy and excited with a lot of plans!
                I promise to be better about noticing the time passing and keep up in a more timely manner!
         Ride well :)
                  Nancy
               

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rainy day in Florida!

Everyone says its good to be busy..........especially when you are doing something you love :)
However the horses are consuming every waking hour and I do love it, but hard to manage the office side of life!
So here we are on a dreadful rainy day in Florida. My lessons with Conrad Schumacher postponed and my horses relegated to walking the driveway in the rain!
But I get to catch up in the office, something that is not much fun, but necessary to having your own business.
Florida is the best place to be in January! We have had so many great learning opportunities and I also get to see many friends and colleagues from all over the world, here in my own town. Mr Schumacher is here for three weeks, so that is an inspiration, to watch his lessons and to get help with my own horses. Rein Van der Schaft has been here training as well and he has been a wonderful help and exciting to train with. We also went to watch Kyra for  day at Jim Brandon doing a symposium. Super super trainer and teacher.
Quadrille practice has started! We are preparing for March 7 Breast Cancer benefit that will be held at The International Polo Club.
 The shows are great. Nicole Nunez was here for two weeks from Venezuela for an intense dressage study course. She was able to show at the beautiful Global Dressage Grounds and rub elbows with the best in the warm up ring (literally :) What a fantastic experience for a junior rider and what a wonderful job she did on her tests, the first time competing at first level and everyday a better score on a brand new horse!!
Dhoppler competed in his first Prix St. Georges with no mistakes! And Noah also back in the ring at Prix St.Georges was a pleasure to show and I am looking forward to the end of the month when we will be competing again. In the meantime Noah and Dhoppler are perfecting their pirouettes and learning the relaxed way of doing piaffe and passage and the not yet relaxed way of doing one tempi's!
Andrea McCauley has moved in with her herd from New York and it is so much fun to have her sharing the farm. The environment for the horses is wonderful and a wonderful group of riders make everyday a pleasure.
Jenny Goad is here helping out and we are training her wonderful 4 year old mare Virtu. Monday we took Virtu and Pnut on a field trip and they were awesome. Virtu is green but handled the new environment very well and it is great to see how much they trust each other. Chanett was so great with Pnut for his first ride off the farm, we are very lucky that Chanett is helping us bring him along. Thank you to Adam Pollack for his generosity in letting us school at the beautiful White Fences Equestrian Center.
Rosie has arrived from New York and Ariella will be joining us for the weekends to start to prepare for the NAJYRC qualifying competitions. Very exciting and a joy to work with.
Linda Powers is also her in Florida for the first time and we are putting her Hanoverian gelding Sam back to work after an injury. In the meantime though Linda has been helping me leg up Alexis for the Challenge, that is a hard job! Alexis is still feeling great at 22!
My super star Judith has been doing fantastic with Omar and what fun to see them progressing every day. Omar does not know what happened to him, but life is not the same since Judith decided to get serious about this dressage stuff and Omar has to really get his butt in gear!
Jeanette is here from Canada and brings us tails everyday of our poor friends in the North. A worse winter I do not think we have ever seen........and Figo is also working hard with a very determined Jeanette, poor boys, they thought Florida was for vacation!
The lessons are all so much fun. I am so lucky to be able to work with this fantastic group of horses and riders.
My own horses are doing great and we will write more soon, I promise!
                    Happy Riding!!