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Friday, February 28, 2014

At long last! Yippeee!

Well, a project that has been in the making for several years now has finally gotten in motion! Catherine RODE Wyatt! This is fantastic as she has many more miles under her belt and has worked with multiple Weltmeyer offspring over the years! We have a plan of how to advance him and make the training easier for all of us! There are lots of photos in the newest album on the Farm Page - check them out!

Wendy was a rock star for her work - lots of changes, lateral work, mediums and half pass with some working pirouettes for good measure! Such a good mare! She is also working with Patrick to learn to Spanish Walk. She was remarkably unimpressed by the whole exercise, so we'll see what happens down the road.

Patrick working on Wendy's Spanish Walk
It was also move in day and Vet Inspection at very busy and then we are a bit short handed at the stable this morning with lots of horses to tend to before going to cheer for The Boss in the CDI Grand Prix.
TheraPlate offers stretching for grooms, riders and spectators

 So remember to root for Catherine and Mane Stream Hotmail in the CDI today! They go at 10:20! Check USEF Network for Livestreaming coverage!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday and a whole lot of work to do!

It was a very foggy start to the day here in Loxahatchee! High humidity, thick fog, sweating horses and riders with pretty poor air quality made for tough training for both horse and riders!

I watched Catherine school Mane Stream Hotmail through most of the Grand Prix work and tried to focus my eyes on his frame, the straightness of the work and the quality of the connection of the hind legs. They are a really fun pair to watch as the consistency of the work is so high and then the light year of difference of "really good" vs. "incredible" and the way in which Catherine helps Hotmail to become that much more special! Such a treat!

Then it was time to tack Wendy up and have a warm-up ride before my lesson on Wyatt. We worked on straightness, alignment, connection from the hind legs to the poll, respect of the aids and the lightness of the bridle. Such a good girl! Great push from behind! Better elasticity and reach - all the things that we have been working on are paying off! At the moment, I am planning on trying out one of the 3rd Level tests to see how that goes tomorrow with an eye towards the school show here at White Fences next weekend for her.

And on to Wyatt we go! Lots of half pass work, bunches of flying changes, tons of pirouettes and then putting it all together for the canter tour of the PSG. I am currently struggling with the actual test. Riding the movements is not a problem, schooling the pattern goes ok, but ask me to ride each stride with focus and attention...that's where it is getting a bit rocky for us. Catherine was super helpful and Meredith's husband James shot a bunch of photos, so I'll upload them to FB tonight to share with everyone. In the meantime, the house is quiet and we have a bit of a break, so I'm going to catch a quick nap before the fun begins again at 4 with the start of evening stables.

Check back tomorrow for photos of The Boss on The Peach!! ;)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesdays are Terrific!

Daffney with her new toy


What a great day!!

I had a wonderful ride on Wendy! She’s really coming along nicely and getting softer in her back each and every ride. The lateral work is coming along beautifully and the changes are smoother and more uphill all the time. Such a good girl!!

Wyatt’s lesson with Catherine was stellar!!! We worked on fine tuning the half pirouettes, a more open poll and forward connection in all of the work and then making precise flying changes with perfect balance! Loved every second of it and then got to really turn him loose in the trot tour work for the PSG!!! No more use of the brakes - it’s all about getting the hind legs in gear to get the energy up and out in front of my leg and seat! Color me happy and paint a rainbow with a pot of gold! All that power and correct work is really coming together!!! (I think in the end he will outshine his grand dam - as I know a lot more than I did in 1996 and am not so overwhelmed by the complexity of the work!) 

But so everyone does not think Florida is truly perfect 110% of the time - I got stung by a wicked hornet today when I was putting Wendy in her stall. WHAM! Right on the outside of my shoulder! Thanks to Austin’s mad skills with a can of Hornet Spray - I think it will be safer tomorrow but OUCH! it stings tonight!

  These 3 very different flowers were about 2' apart in the grass near my horse trailer. It's starting to look a lot like spring here. The neighbors have called in some gator wranglers to attempt "Boots" - but so far no luck! 

Monday, February 24, 2014



Morning at the stable
What a super day!!! Wendy and I got a good ride in the main arena while Catherine changed horses. She was much improved in all aspects and we had a nice line of 3’s that got Catherine’s stamp of approval (always a good thing). Her half passes were also much better and it is a real treat to be able to use the mirrors to check the angle and crossing! So handy!!

Wyatt had an intense lesson with The Boss! We worked with the alignment and straightness in the canter, counter canter, changes and then it was time to go along the training scale to our pirouettes! And they were stellar!! Super self carriage, staying up in the bridle, light off of the leg with super even rhythm and balance!!! Color me happy!! Then onto the canter half passes and working on maintaining that same self carriage and uphill quality...which is so much fun! After a quick breather in the humid air, we started working on polishing the trot tour from the Prix St. Georges...which was so much improved than the last time we did it. 

So with all that hard work behind us, The Boss has given her stamp of approval to enter the show here at White Fences on the 8th and 9th of March! Tail coat here we come!!! :) 



Ahhhhh, a chance to catch up with myself!! I’ll be honest - yesterday was tough. The double lesson format going on less than 4 hours of sleep was a bit much in the heat! I am not complaining about having had the awesome experience of working for Catherine at Global...far from it! My riding was not up to snuff for either lesson (although the horses were good) so today was all about addressing the things I _know_ I can do better as a rider! 

Both horses were very, very good. Wendy worked on her half passes - improving the bend, angle and crossing while maintaining good forward energy and honestly up into the bridle with good rhythm! Good gracious that sounds like a lot...but it was truly quite refreshing to settle into the patterns that are so familiar and then use some haunches in or advance the shoulders as needed to tweak the work as we went along. We did a bunch of shoulder in - haunches in - renvers - travers on a circle followed up with shoulder in - medium - shoulder in on a circle. She was fabulous! We did a few lines of counting changes and some counter canter to keep her honest and then had a nice hack around the property.

Wyatt had a very light work with a serious plan - we focused on stretching at the withers and maintaining an honest connection with the bridle while working at about 2nd Level. There was quite a parade of traffic going past the front field where we were schooling, so Ms. White Range Rover - I saw you videoing my work. I hope that it met with your approval!! 

The rest of the day was spent catching up on household chores and the immense laundry pile that is generated with so many horses in work in Catherine’s busy stable. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday! It's time to get down to business!!

Mane Stream Hotmail & Catherine


Whew! What a night!! Global was rockin’ last night!!! What a thrill to be a part of Catherine’s team and help the boss get ready to strut her stuff!! We were all decked out in our Team USA gear and waving flags while Catherine had her freestyle debut with Hotmail! Boy they did a great job! A super test with high difficulty and risk and awesome music!!! I can not wait to see how they do at future competitions!! 

I had 2 lessons with The Boss today and they were both super! Wyatt worked on his pirouettes, the straightness and alignment in his changes and then getting better self carriage in his collected and medium trots. The pesky left pirouette is now the easy one - or at least it was today!! The right one was a bit tricky but we were both getting a bit hot and possibly tired as it’s been a hectic couple of days! Overall, I feel that he is getting ready to start putting the tests together and eyeball some show closing dates. My coats all fit, he’s looking good...soon. Very soon. 

Wendy had a super lesson working on her collected - medium - collected transitions in both trot and canter. I will admit that the heat was getting to me (and probably to her), so it was not our best work. Tomorrow will be better and we’ll be ready to sparkle in front of The Boss at that point! 

It has honestly been a very long series of days, so my apologies...but I am exhausted. Getting into the barn by 4:45 is taking its toll on me. Last night we got out of the barn after midnight. Add in dinner is almost ready and I just want to put my aching feet and screaming ankle up for a bit - there’s a thunderstorm on top of us that’s setting it off. Tomorrow is our “quiet” day, so I will do my best to finish editing the photos from Global and get them posted to the Farm Page on FB. 

Sorry to be slow. 

Friday!! Freestyle Day!!


It’s Freestyle Day! Which means we had time to do our horses here at the stable in Loxahatchee and then go to Global a bit later in the day! Woohoo! Time to practice a bit of what I’ve been seeing in the big rings! (there is a bit more to that and I’ll get to it in a second!)

I rode Wyatt as early as I could get to him as the weather is frightfully warm and humid with no breeze. He and I worked on some lateral suppleness, the energy from the hind quarters and maintaining a soft contact with the bridle. Every ride seems to be picking up where the last one left off, so I am very happy with the progress we have made under Catherine’s watchful eyes!

Wendy is in season. If you are not a horse person, just imagine a cranky teenager who is not in the mood to clean their room and that’s a fair comparison! ;) I tried to jolly her along She did what I asked her to do but with a bit of an attitude and small snarky comments - “you didn’t need to kick me that hard!” which has an indignant swish of her tail attached of course! 

My seat continues to improve and the energy from the hind legs is more accessible on both horses. I feel like we are consistently making forward progress and I am relying less and less on the reins for the half halts...thank goodness! 

So it is off to Global shortly! Go USA! Go Patrick! Go Davidor! Go Catherine and Mane Stream Hotmail! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fun, good horses, great rides and now a pile of photos to edit!

OK - I'm not going to get to the photos tonight as it's already 7PM and I need to find dinner! So in honor of not editing and posting - here is my Current Top 10 List -

Top 10 Signs You’ve Been in Loxahatchee 

10. Speed bumps are normal and no cause for concern (ie slowing down)
9. Listening to alligators when it is fully dark is no reason to fret
8. Knowing 3 different gate codes is normal and expected
7. Playing with lizards is fun and normal
6. Making at least one U Turn is part of any driving directions
5. Hills become vague memories
4. “Cold” is below 65*
3. A windy day is as well received down here as a day that doesn’t get above freezing up North
2. Going 8 miles takes 45 minutes
1. Having a GPS is required!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

So much to cram into a day!!

Yesterday was crazy busy! (it was a typical Monday here in the busy stable of International Dressage apparently!)

But by my standards - we were hopping!! Our usual start time at 4:30 just had us finishing morning stables on time and then it was time for a quick breakfast, then tack up horses for Catherine and Patrick,  watch some lessons, then have some lessons - which I'll get to in a second and then more horses, chores, stables and then eventually some dinner. Which is somehow making a day that was jam packed with a ton of work and hectic scrambling seem so mundane and quiet! (must meditate on why that is at some point!)

So onto the lessons! Just last week, Catherine had taken away my stirrups to help get my knee up in the position where it belonged to allow my hip and pelvis angles do what they need to do so I no longer block the energy from the hindlegs from coming up through the back, into the withers and up into the poll. I think the Boss gave my seat a stamp of approval as she said the change is "the best thing she has done for my riding!" Plus the horses could not be going any better, so they agree as well!

Wyatt was my first lesson when it was still relatively cool. We had an amazing lesson with a strong focus on using my seat instead of my reins, perfecting our canter pirouettes and then improving our elasticity and straightness in the flying changes! There is not much to say beyond it is going great! The pirouettes are much better and I can start and stop them at will with good balance, uphill quality and control of the placement and forward energy. She is happy. I am happy and Wyatt finds them easy and fun now!  *picture a victory dance as they have been tricky for both of us to improve*

Wendy's lesson was in the heat of the day but she came out and did her best work to date! Lots more swing from her back, softness under the saddle and big push from behind with good lifting of the withers. She is a delight to ride every day as her neck and jaw are not an issue - she is uncomplicated in the bridle and getting more elastic in her connection under the saddle. :) Our medium trots were stellar show quality and I'm beginning to think she'll be ready for a horse show here at White Fences in a few weeks!

Today was move in day and Jog Day at Global for the big 2014 CDIO Wellington, so check the farm page for new photos and some snapshots from today. 

I am going to be working some at Global for Patrick and Catherine as well as time here at ID, so updates will be spotty until a real schedule is firmed up. There are not enough hours in a day but it is so much fun to be back in the big leagues of the CDI world! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Sunrise looking west from the stable
Sunday is theoretically the Lord's Day and a day of rest. As the turnout is a bit limited, both of my horses had light work outs today and were super stars.

Wyatt looking towards the south
There is laundry to do, a run to the feed store, grocery store, general cleaning in the house and then evening stables still to go...oh and lunch. Then dinner and    B-E-D. I am tired and it is a busy week coming up with two horses in the Nation's Cup classes at Global! One small tour and one big tour! Very exciting and I can't wait to take some photos to share with you all!

There are new albums on the Farm Page - so check them out and I'll try to stay on top of updates this week!!

Wendy on the buckle enjoying some hacking

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Saturday 2/15/14 

Started the day with the usual routine and chores and then zipped over to Hilltop’s fabulous facility in Wellington with Meredith, Hotmail and Montrachet. As it was not my lesson or training session, I will just say that it is fabulous to watch two seasoned professional trainers work with talented horses repeatedly on the intricacies of improving the hardest of exercises. 

When we got back it was time to take a few of the horses for a hack around “the circle” aka Hannover Circle here in White Fences. We went past Lars Petersen’s, Michael Barisone’s...just to name a few! It was a lovely bit of time well spent and I particularly enjoyed how much my little friend Wendy relaxed and calmly took in all the new sights and smells. 

After we returned, Wyatt had a bit of a hack in the arena. We watched a egret (or something similar) fishing and moving from place to place in search of an early dinner. 

Speaking of dinner, I missed my lunch, so please accept my apologies for the short post. 

Catherine and Patrick have horses in the Nation’s Cup at Global this week, so I will get a good idea of how the competition schedule impacts life back at the main stable and schedule. 

Check back!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday! Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday Valentine’s Day! 

Lots of good things today!!! Wendy and I had a good school and worked on some of the exercises from our lesson with Catherine yesterday early in the morning. She and I have a slight tendency to lose our alignment in the changes - which results in a larger change in one direction and then a loss of it was a great opportunity to be out in the large grass area and pick a distant tree on the horizon and ride uphill with good energy before asking for the change! Everything improved nicely and then we had plenty of power and good push from the hind legs. 

She is a very fun horse to work with as her mouth is uncomplicated, she is easy to sit and her responses are clear and uncomplicated - which means I have the opportunity to work on ME! while we practice and work on the exercises! Love little Wendy! Such a joy to ride each day as she is so similar to Waldaire and I do miss the big guy. 

Wyatt had a spectacular lesson with Catherine today. Things were a bit hectic when I warmed him up, so I worked on the things that I would have at home had it been a day of “just us” with no lesson quickly approaching...and it was a super warm up. The connection between leg and seat up into the bridle is fabulous now that Catherine has gotten my knees to stop blocking the energy out of the hindquarters! So light in the bridle, easy in the neck and jaw...just a joy! So when she was able to come to the arena, it was Game ON! Medium trots, transitions within the trot itself, ditto in the canter - always trying to keep the energy uphill and balanced without losing the self carriage. Then it was onto our pirouettes! The left one has been a bit of a challenge but today we had great timing, super collection and kept our rhythm with no mistakes. It was as good as the right and The Boss was very pleased with the improvements! 

Since I have been here at Catherine’s stable, she has been extremely generous and allowed me to watch other students and her own horses training. It has paid off in spades as I am a visual learner! It was fantastic to allow my mind and body to use the timing and aids as I have been “stealing with my eyes” (to quote The Boss) on Wyatt. He was flat out amazing!!! Catherine was pleased. I am ecstatic! It is has been quite some time since I was able to allow the horse to do things and not be “making” things happen. Our changes were fantastically balanced and straight by the end of the lesson. 

So tomorrow I am allowed to go to a clinic that Catherine is participating in - with my camera in hand! So expect lots of photos and some thoughts on the day late evening tomorrow! 


Thursday 2/13/14

I realized this morning as I walked down to the stable that I haven’t given you all an outline of the daily routine! Apologies!!!

My day begins at 4:30 with a (relatively) brisk walk down to the stable under an inky black sky with the stars appearing much brighter and vibrant than at home. As the landscape is quite flat with a distant horizon in all directions, the view is pretty incredible. As I help with stalls, hay, water and grain the sun slowly creeps over the eastern perimeter of the stable. We have a canal just to the right of the dressage ring with the Florida equivalent of “forest” on the other side. There is a resident alligator calling out to intimidate the frogs, birds and fish in the canal. I call him “Boots” as I believe that is a fine aspiration for a noisy gator! 

After morning stables there is a time for a quick breakfast and coffee. The first set of horses begin their daily exercise at 7AM. Riding continues uninterrupted until well after 2PM with lessons and training being tailored for each horse and rider combination. There is a small break in the schedule until 4PM when afternoon stable chores begin with mucking, transporting bedding to each stall for the next day, cleaning tack and polishing boots, setting up the stable for the next day and beginning to think about dinner for ourselves! 

After some down time in the evening, we do a night check and last distribution of hay and water around 9. Then it is time to go to bed and catch up on some sleep before starting the schedule all over again. 

For anyone that thinks that this is an unfair schedule or too much work to do in a day...well, it is not a bad situation in my opinion. Working with one of the world’s top rider/trainers and being allowed access to their full training system while interacting with their staff on a daily basis - it is a privilege to be allowed to be a part of the team caring for the superstars of the stable. And the amount of knowledge that is at your fingertips - how to braid, grooming tricks and tips, riding techniques, the training system and all the small details that make success more of a routine rather than luck! 

If any of my readers are interested in busting their butt to further their knowledge and riding skills - pop me an email and I will forward your resume to The Boss. If you are not organized, OCD about safety and cleanliness and a good rider, well, maybe work on those details first. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Working on a Wednesday!


So today has been pretty amazing! I started with a good long hack on Wyatt! He’s been working hard the past few days and needed a day to replenish his energy, so we hacked around the property a bit with his new buddy Rubicon and Austin. We did not work on any thing fancy - just watched horses in their paddocks, a trash truck, several cyclists and a handful of joggers passing by the front gates. A very pleasant ride and nice break from the intensity of training the harder work.

Speaking of harder work - I got to watch multiple riders working on their seat and the connection from the hindquarters up through the back into the poll. Very, very educational and informative to watch the subtleties of the work and body mechanics of both horse and rider!! Lots of instantaneous improvements and dramatic changes for the horses - nothing is a better indicator of what is happening behind the saddle than to see the influence of the seat! 

Wendy had her lesson with Catherine today and was a very good girl. A lot of the focus is still on getting her to take longer steps behind - which allows her to elevate her forehand and have more suspension without becoming quick or hasty. Catherine had been helping several other riders with making sure their knees are where they belong on the saddle, so it was fabulous to then apply what I had seen to my own ride and then feel the big improvement in the way Wendy was going! Very dramatic and a strong reminder that if it is not going as well as I would hope or feeling the way that I would like - it is probably my seat/hips/knees blocking her forward energy and nothing more! It is never the horse’s fault - only mine! 

So the afternoon awaits with more horses to care for and stalls to muck. Hopefully the north is not too snowy or slick and Spring puts in an appearance shortly!!

Photos will be up on the Farm Page on FB! Check them out! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ah - Tuesday!

Livin’, learnin’ and lovin’ every second of this opportunity!!!

Tuesday brings more without stirrups work and a big smile to my face! After a somewhat abbreviated ride on Wendy this morning, I had an amazing lesson on Wyatt. Just so everyone does not think that it is all about Wyatt 110% of the time - there were lots of horses that were being shown to clients and lessons were the name of the game before the sun got strong, so the main arena was a bit crowded and she was my “warm up” horse today. We worked on having more activity from the hind legs, straight and correct flying changes and spent a few minutes working on my position (practicing what I had focused on in my lesson yesterday) - that was enough to call it a day with her and enjoy a nice hack around the property. 

(I forgot the cord that connects the iPhone to the computer, so they’ll have to be added later - sorry!)

Wyatt’s lesson focused on more work without stirrups (such a relief to just be without them!!!!). We did a bunch of transitions within the trot and canter itself with my seat being the primary aid controlling the tempo, balance and forward energy - not the reins or my legs. 4’s, 3’s, working pirouettes in the canter and developing more cadence in the trot without rushing - all controlled by my skeleton in the saddle. 

Both horses are so responsive and attuned to better riding. I am humbled and ashamed that I have not been honoring the contract with have with one another to be fair and honest in our dealings. They are very tolerant to have politely listened to me for so long and then graciously step it up to the next level the instant I start to ride more correctly. Horses are truly amazing!

Life in the stable continues to be an ever developing pool of knowledge and skills. Everyone is extremely friendly and kind and willing to share their life path of how they got to be where we all are at the moment. It is quite fun to be meeting and discussing horses with people from all over the country. 

So there is a bunch of grooming that will happen this evening. Beauty parlor time for Wendy!!! Her mane is a scraggly mess and too thick, so there will be some proper photos of her shortly! Wyatt will also be getting a few touch ups - a properly trimmed tail for one thing! :)

Stay warm and safe in the North! It looks/sounds like Mother Nature is really giving it to you all!!!

Monday Monday

Monday 2/10 -

Ahhhh, the joys of working without stirrups!

 I don’t know about the rest of my friends who read this blog and ride but if my stirrups are out of the equation - my position and seat are much more effective! By allowing my knee (which is often times too straight) to come forward and upward - my hips are forced into more mobility and allowing the horses back to be more supple with increased responsiveness! So rewarding and fun to make a fundamental change and have an instant response from the horses!!

So obviously I was happy with my lesson on Wyatt! Wendy had a light day with some attention being paid to my position and timing of the aids. It is wonderful to have a horse like her to work with as all of the material from my lessons can be practiced during our sessions together.

It was also a “regular” Monday here in the stable with lessons going on all day and training of the in house horses. It is fascinating to watch the dramatic improvements from all of the horses in just one week’s time! It will be quite fun to see what happens during the rest of my stay!

My sympathies go out to all my friends up north - I am trying to get Mother Nature to send warmer weather in your direction - I promise! Hopefully the Polar Vortex clears out in a hurry and more temperate weather arrives soon!!! Stay safe! Stay upright! 

Tomorrow has another lesson on the schedule for me with Catherine. I will probably school Wyatt with her again and then do Wendy on Wednesday. Austin, Michelle and Meredith are all offering to get some photos soon, so I promise to have those to share in a day or so! 

Apologies for the short post! 

I forgot my iPhone cord in my room, so my apologies - photos will be added to the Farm Page this evening if I can find the energy to head out again. Somehow starting at 4:30 makes for a long day! :) A very happy but long day...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saturday! plus Sunday!

Saturday - 

Lesson with Catherine late morning on Wyatt working towards the overall look and feel of how Hotmail goes for her. Extremely hot and humid. If anyone at home wants to beat me with a stick for saying it is too hot - I understand completely but am already dehydrated and feeling ill, so there is not really any point. 

Sunday - 

Catherine is showing in the national GP class with Hotmail in the morning. It is technically a day off for the stable, but I will be riding both of my horses as their turnout has been a tad limited. Then it is beauty parlor day for them - the clippers will be in action and their manes will be tidied also!
But first up will be a trip to Global to root for The Big Boss! And take some photos! :)
I’ll report back at the end of the day with more photos, video clips and more training updates! 

ETA: 2pm update - Wendy was super for her early ride before we left for Global! Lots more looseness in her back, nicely up into the bridle and honest in her changes with good energy from behind! A++ for being such a good girl!

Wyatt was also stellar after we returned! He is back in his more mild bits and nicely balanced in the connection. He had fabulous changes, some acceptable half steps according to Austin and Meredith and was very good in the trot work. Another A student in the stable!
I am waffling on what to do for his turnout situation. Wendy is calm and relaxed in her paddock and he desperately wants to roll. Currently I am leaning towards hand grazing her near his paddock and having him wrapped/booted/bubble wrapped to the eyeballs so he can have a bit of freedom to be a horse again...but it is very possible that that could change by this evening. We shall see!

So the tack is cleaned and oiled. The bandages, saddle pads and towels are in the dryer and my brown boots are airing before I polish them this evening. 

Friday Ohmygosh - time is FLYING!

Friday - no lesson with Catherine due to a fully booked schedule. 

Global Freestyle in the evening. 

Rien lessons in the morning and video/photography for Catherine at the same time. It is a pure pleasure to be able to watch so many top horses and riders. I should mention that the corrections for both horse and rider are the same as I have heard from mom over the years!!!! A wealth of knowledge and eye candy all wrapped up with a gorgeous bow of sunshine and good people!

Reminder - check the Farm FB page for photos!!

Thursday! :)

Wendy was very, very good for her lesson for Catherine. We were on the grass arena in front of the barn and she handled the change of venue like the pro that she is. 

Best phrase of the day from Rein - “Get the neck out of the way and just ride forward” or “Ride the hind legs into the collection.”

I learned so very much watching the improvement of the horses and riders in just a few days time! The ability to articulate while knowing instantly what a horse needs from their rider - that is a true gift! 

Wednesday! (sorry for no photos)

Please go to our Facebook Page for photos - I am pushed for time and can not edit/caption everything that needs to go up on 2 sites, so I'll will be doing that there until things settle down a bit more.

Wednesday to Saturday - 

Rien van der Schaft has been here this week working with Catherine and her stable of riders. If you haven’t heard of him that is not a large surprise as I had not either. Rien is a very highly regarded trainer in Holland and has a sensitive touch for fine tuning Grand Prix horses for the international arena. Rein was also on the short list for the US Dressage Coach position not too long ago! He has been a pure delight to watch and listen to each and every day! All of the corrections are logical, well time and executed with the horse’s welfare and progression of knowledge held as the most important facet in the training. 

Wednesday - 

Best phrase of the day from Rein - “Get the neck out of the way and just ride forward” or “Ride the hind legs into the collection.”

I learned so very much watching the improvement of the horses and riders in just a few days time! The ability to articulate while knowing instantly what a horse needs from their rider - that is a true gift! 

Wendy was very good for her second lesson with Catherine. We worked on activating her hind legs and encouraging her to step more under her body as she works forward and uphill without increasing pressure in the bridle. I tried to incorporate the philosophy and concepts from the morning lessons I had observed. At the same time it was a fantastic opportunity for me to work on the bad habits I have in my equitation - slightly rounded shoulders, caved in chest and spread elbows. 

Wyatt was also very good for his work. If you are wondering why I started with Wendy vs. Wyatt with Catherine - that is due to the fact Catherine has seen Wyatt quite a bit over the past few years and she has never seen Wendy at all. So I wanted her guidance as to where/what/how to improve things with Wendy while Wyatt had a bit more time to settle into the routine in the stable. He was very impressed with the big blue sky and distant horizons!! It is quite a change from home and our small (but efficient!) indoor arena.

Speaking of home, I feel absolutely terrible for leaving Mom and Dad behind in the awful weather that arrived with all of that ice! They have been without power for days and it is bitterly cold. My hero Sandro has been helping them take care of the horses and be safe until the power is restored. 

In the stable today the very well known farrier Dean Pearson was here tending to some of Catherine’s horses. He is a delightful man and just every so pleasant to interact with - even on a limited basis. His assistant Matt was very nice also and they celebrities in my eyes - much like so many of the horses and riders here in the stable!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday! My head is full!

Wow! What a fabulous (albeit hot!) day! A good night’s sleep makes a day stuffed to the brim with education so much better! 

The day started with Wyatt who was much improved in his focus and concentration in today’s ride. After so many months in the indoor arena, he was a bit overwhelmed yesterday, so it was very nice to have my buddy back for a good school. If all goes according to plan, he will have a lesson with Catherine tomorrow to get an idea of what the next month will consist of for his training plan. 

Wendy had a very good lesson with Catherine this afternoon. We focused on getting her to keep her very good contact with the bridle (a real plus to hear how nice it is!) and then encouraging her to take longer strides behind while elevating the forehand and increasing her suspension! A lot was accomplished in just 45 very hot minutes!!

Before anyone even thinks that I am complaining - it is tough on the horses and me to be working very hard with strong sunlight and the temperature in the high 80’s with high humidity. We are all drinking lots of water and taking our electrolytes but it is HOT. Everyone is talking about it - so I don’t feel bad for changing clothes three times a day!
In between my rides I was at ringside frantically taking notes on the lessons that we going on for the staff riders here at International Dressage. Young horses, middle level horses and then Catherine’s big FEI horses...just pages and pages of notes of exercises and corrections to incorporate how to deal/adjust/improve the work. High level, intense, analytical and always with the horse’s relaxation, focus and happiness held as the most important detail! Very, very fun stuff and I will expand on that when afternoon chores are not in need of some attention! 

We have some intense thunderstorms rolling through at the moment - downpours alternating with big lightening! So stay safe my friends in the frozen North!!! 

Monday's stuff! Whew! Thank goodness it's over!

Monday - blew a tire on the trailer on I-95 and pulled off on Exit 58 south of Savannah. Full props to US Rider for sending a repair man promptly to change it out for the spare! Todd’s Auto and Truck Repair rocks!! 

If you are considering hauling anywhere, any length of time or distance, please take a look at US Rider and consider it for your back up plan of emergency assistance. They are set up to help equines and all of the hauling mishaps! They are assisting me with follow up insight as to repairing the damage to the trailer and replacing the tire also - simply wonderful as I am in unknown lands down here!
Although it was not apparent at that time, the tire bits slapping around inside the fender had damaged the exterior turn signal and all of the marker lights on the trailer. As I pulled back on to I-95 near Orlando, I realized I would be driving the trailer without the exterior lights and still had about 190 miles to go and not enough daylight to finish the drive. It was time to pull the hammer down! Fortunately, traffic was light and we had an uneventful trip to the amazing facility at White Fences. Catherine’s stable is magnificent and the staff and amenities too long to list! It is palatial!

The horses unloaded quietly and we made certain that they had plenty of fresh water and good hay until late check in the evening. 

Tuesday brought an early start to the day - 4:30 AM is rise and shine here! Time to get to making certain the horses have had a safe night’s rest and begin all the tasks to keep the barn running smoothly! Both Wendy and Wyatt are continuing to settle in nicely and I had a lovely day regaining my own sea legs after all that driving! Their rides were brief and casual enough to not tax their tired bodies and minds. 
I was able to observe a few lessons from a distance and catch snippets of the amazing horses that are in residence! It is so fun to be among the rock stars of the dressage world! It’s a happening place!

So it is about 8:30 and time to head back to the stables to tuck the horses in for the night. :) 

All my northern friends - stay safe in the mess Mother Nature is handing out to you all! What a mess! I will think lots of warm thoughts in your direction to hopeful push that storm off the coast sooner than later!

Until tomorrow’s update - Happy Riding!