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, October 9, 2018

Regional Championships

          Two weeks ago I took Glorious and Enzo to the NEDA Fall Show and Regional Championships. I had planned to show Glorious in the Prix St. Georges and Inter 1 Finals, and Enzo in the 4 th Level Finals. A mistake by me in the paperwork created the situation that although Glorious had gotten his scores to be qualified at both levels he could not do the Inter 1 Final, and Enzo's great progress made it possible for us to Qualify him for the PSG Final as well as 4Th Level. Not to be one to step down, but instead step up I pushed myself to ride Glorious in the CDI. For many people this is not a big step. For Glorious this is super special because he has been so sick with breathing and digestive issues that to be able to do a show without the possibility of support from medications was a risk and ultimately fabulous!
           Glorious did a wonderful job at the show. He is always super attentive and does not get easily distracted. His energy throughout the summer with his new health has been building and we are even becoming more confident in the double bridle. His Prix St. Georges was super fun for me. The warm up much like a normal horse, where I did not need to be careful not to do too much, so he was loose and swinging in the test. Yes, there is room for more cadence and strength, but we are progressing, and that is so fun! It was a small class and his 67% was good enough for second place. I was happy to be second, ecstatic actually! However, I was most joyful about the test and how he felt, it has been a long time since he has really been himself, its been a long road and he is coming back!
            The Inter 1 did not go as well, he was a bit too playful, tight in his back and bucking around a bit. I was still happy! I need to learn to ride my new horse! He has not had so much to give the second day of a competition, and although the timing was bad, the future is bright.
            I had the good fortune to ride Glorious with Rein van der Schaft last weekend at Bear Spot Farm, thank you Jane Karol and Dottie Morkis for including me, it was really  special. We were able to work Glorious through all of the Grand Prix movements, happy and confident and strong. Rein is a super instructor and gets the most out of his horse/rider combinations in a clear, positive and encouraging way. I was so proud of how far Glorious has come over this past year and how confident he is in his piaffe work.
             Enzo has much less experience showing. We prepared for the Finals by bringing him to Saugerties in August, however the rain at that show prevented us from doing more than one test. I am happy to have had him there at least for that, as the big show atmosphere is overwhelming for him. One could look at his awesome results and not know how hard he had to work in order to do so well. We schooled Enzo thursday around his show arena and in the ten minute ring, for his confidence and to get some of the juice out simply working. He had a class sunday also and I did not want to use him up simply because of adrenaline. We then walked over and around the big warm up where he would have to start the next day. Some horses were working there, he looked around and was quite happy so we went home. The next day dawned cold and windy. I took Enzo out for an early morning stroll to his show ring in hand. He was great, wanted to eat the flowers and grazed a bit on the nibbles that were around the outside of the ring. I had confidence that he was beginning to understand the people moving over his head in the VIP and was getting relaxed with the golf carts and other commotion that was not on ground level, as in the other shows he has been too. He had time to look and take it in, I also asked for him to take time and pay attention to me and did my ground work turns and he was listening. By the afternoon it had not warmed up, nor had the wind subsided. The big warm up was filled with horses and riders that were nervous and uncomfortable. Enzo stayed with me the best he could, but he was not super comfortable in his body. I believed in his confidence in the arena, however, I did want to do some movements in the warm up so that he felt fluent to do the Prix St. Georges. When the dividing wall in the middle of the warm up fell down beside us and all the other horses ran for cover, Enzo stayed with me, thank goodness, but it was time to make another plan of attack for our test that was in 15 minutes. We did transitions. I had boasted to my girls in camp, " if you make well ridden transitions your horse knows what he needs to do to get through any test, you do not need to waste your horse in the warm up". Well here was my chance to put my money where my mouth was. I could not canter comfortably, to many crazy horses with non steering partners, so after one short canter right and left and lots of walk trot, trot walk and big trot and small trot transitions we moved to the 10 minute ring. I believed in Enzo, he knows what he needs to know to do this Prix St. George. I did a couple of changes in the ten minute ring and some small and big canter and off we went. Knowing that you are prepared and did your homework brings confidence. When we got to the show ring Enzo took a deep breath, taking the extra time with him in the morning payed off. Although his body was not quite where I wanted it to be his mind was with me 100% and when you feel that, you know everything will work out. He put in a great test! Most of the test he was right with me, I lost him once in the canter, but we both kept our cool and got back in sync quickly. It was only his third PSG and he was 3 rd in a huge class of super performers with 69%. I was delighted. Not just because of the test, but because of how he kept himself together to get to the ring. It seems like doing the movements is the most important thing to many people, no, teaching your horse to listen and trust you is the most important thing. Without his trust I would never have been able to ride those movements that day. And on a side note, for me Enzo won the PSG because he was able to go to the awards ceremony and trot around without a handler ;)
               We schooled lightly saturday, he had to go back to the big warm up, he was a trooper, but no need to use him up, we got loose and happy and went home. It was fun with all of his fan club there to watch and as a team we decided he did not have to work hard.
                 Sunday morning we went for our little stroll around the arena. The wind was back and some of the horses were set on fire by the flags. He decided to be a horse in horse land for a brief moment, and then changed his mind and realized that our world together seemed much better. We did our ground work pattern and some other ground exercises and he was back focused on his job and his body started to breath again. The warm up for the 4 th level was less crowded and he was happier, but not quite in front of me. I had to wait for the 10 minute ring to really ask for him to get in front of me, but in the warm up we were really able to find the suppleness and swing we needed for the test. The second I sat in the saddle sunday I felt there were no nerves to break up our connection. He was right there under me and that was a great feeling. The test was wonderful. Enzo put in a huge effort and won the 4 th level championship with 72%. The hard work payed off.
                So as I look back at this past year with Glorious and with Enzo there are so many people to thank. Glorious would not be mine if not for the support of my husband, who so many years ago helped me to import him to the U.S. Of course my parents who continue after all of these years to travel to my horse shows and watch me ride since I was a little girl. Glorious would not be healthy if not for the constant care and attention of Dr. Brett Gaby, Dr. Meg Miller and body worker extraordinaire Jamie Cohen. His feet have been a constant project and thanks go to Michael Boylan for showing me how happy he can be on his feet, and in the summer Tim Bolduc for saving the day to get him happy and put his shoes back on after he leaves them in the field. Thank you also to my amazing friends Nancy Solomon, Andrea McCauley and Kyrena Parkinson for guiding me through the darker times with him and helping me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
                Enzo has a super fan club and support team, without who we would never have made it to the Region 8 Championships. Thank you Karen and John Barth for trusting Enzo to my care and training, your support, energy and belief  has created an amazing team. Thank you Vicky Canuso, Andrea McCauley and Mac Rider Saddler Henriette for all of your time, energy and support through this journey. Of course his team of professionals Dr. Brett Gaby, Tim Bolduc and Jamie Cohen, who we would never be where we are without your help.
         And a special thank you is also due to the people that have contributed to my ability to build a partnership. Thank you Conrad Schumacher for being strict with me about my seat and application of the aids, thank you for teaching me that horses can and will want to participate if ridden correctly. Huge thank you to Tristan Tucker for opening my mind to all of the possibilities. Meeting and working with you has forever changed my training, and I will always be grateful.
             Thank you must also go to all of the people that created the show, NEDA, Centerline Events and all of the CDI staff. THANK YOU! We had a great time, and you did an awesome job.
                 Big Thank you to Michael Bateman for his awesome care this summer. He has taken our precious cargo to shows, clinics and sadly to Veterinary Clinics. I don't like to spread the word about our beloved team for fear they will get too busy for us! However, we must give credit where credit is due and I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us this summer.
         There is one unsung hero that without him non of this would have happened. I have the most amazing support team at home, Huber Aguilar, who takes care of everyone while I am home and makes me feel safe to leave. Huber works hard, loves his horses and keeps me on track. He is absolutely the rock solid foundation to an amazing team. Thank you Huber for all of your hard work and sense of humor we could never have done this without you.
             I wrote this to give everyone a little taste of the road. We look at the people in the winners circle and it looks wonderful, we want to be there, we want this success. Honestly, if you don't enjoy the road to the top you will not get there and if you get close it will not be worth it. Building a partnership with these two animals, that is the success. Taking them into the ring and having them want to do the tests and be the best for me and their teams, that is the success. The ribbons are just that, ribbons, they can never replace the feeling, and the memories of this goal oriented summer. I hope this brings value to you and your journey.

                     Go out and ride with confidence ~clarity~connection



  1. Congratulations on a fulfilling weekend for all of you!

  2. I loved your Blog on the Region 8 Championships. I'm so glad to be part of your Team!!! I'm looking forward to a Fabulous Winter Season in FL with you and these two fine horses, Glorious and Enzo!!!!! Go Team Go!!!!!