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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another day in paradise!

Today has had a fabulous start - the sky is pretty clear, there is a good breeze and everyone who has lost their winter tolerance of cold(er) weather is complaining that they're freezing! :)

We have Rien in residence for one more day of instruction and lessons - such a great opportunity to learn and apply the training system that makes such good sense to the horses and riders!!! Positive, forward with a clear reward system - color me happy and thrilled to be here just a wee bit longer learning all that I can!

Entries are in for the next show at White Fences for both Wendy and Wyatt. I'm going to keep Wendy in the Third 2 as we both like the test pattern (I vaguely remember it) and Wyatt will take another stab at the PSG. Wendy is really capable of doing a harder test but it has been quite a while since I showed 2 horses in different tests 2 days in a row, so I am trying to be prudent and not have more to worry about this time around. Her working canter pirouettes are really solid and becoming quite fun, so that is something we will continue to refine in the coming weeks. 4th Level and PSG will definitely be in her future once we are home! And perhaps I can be more focused and bump Wyatt up to I1 and leave those pesky 4 tempis and half pirouettes behind!! ;)

In the meantime, the 5* CDI is starting today at Global for Mane Stream Hotmail and Catherine, so it will be a super learning opportunity to go steal with my eyes some more.

Stay warm! Stay safe!! See you all SOON!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lots of photos are going up on FB!

Catherine's Frankie by Florencio
There is a ginormous album going up on the Farm Page on FB right now - tons and tons of images from White Fences on Saturday! Enjoy!! There are great shots of Austin on Alex's Eli, Shirley's Dallas and Catherine's Rubicon and Meredith on Frankie - plus a few gratuitous Corgi shots!

We got quite a bit of rain overnight, so riding is on hold (hence the reason the album got finished!) but I'm hoping to get some leather time in shortly!

I hope the hype over the winter weather up North is just that - hype! Stay safe!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Two steps forward, one step back

It has been ages since I have had time to blog about what I've been working on with the 2 horses, activities in the stable and the show at White Fences Equestrian Center. There may have even been a CDI in there for Catherine, too...but it is all running together in the fast paced, hectic days where we are all trying to get as much accomplished as possible with just enough energy to do it all over again the next day!

So I'll get to what the horses have been up to - Wyatt and I have been hard at work putting the polish on the PSG! We've fine tuned the centerline entrance, the halt, the move off and the proper set up for the first extended trot and all the transitions in between. Then there is the approach for the shoulder in, volte, half pass another diagonal of extended trot, and the same lateral exercises on the other rein. Catherine gave me excellent advice on how to ride better collected- extended-collected walk and then I got to use Mom's super tools for better walk pirouettes! The canter work has been a bit of fun for the past few weeks - The Boss has given me a challenge to improve the work and we have done our best to rise to the occasion - some days are better than others but it is a big improvement in just a short amount of time. Our left canter pirouette is now rock solid. The right one is improving and if my left leg were a tad more reliable - I think it would have come on board just as quickly. Wyatt can only do what I ask of him, so it is a credit to his good nature that he tries so hard to please.

Wendy has been my "practice this until you have the timing, positioning and mental focus down!" horse for the whole trip and such a star about essentially being a 'school horse' for me. She has vastly improved her self carriage and connection - while allowing me to work on all of the exercises that Wyatt has been preparing to show off in the competition arena. Patrick has also been a huge help from the ground and her Spanish Walk is pretty super! That particular exercise has helped to free up her shoulders and allow greater reach out of her withers - pretty fun stuff if you ask me!

Hacking Wendy back to the stable
There is a CDI 5* this week at Global and that means several crazy busy days are almost upon us. Morton Thompsen was in the area last week for training and I was able to go watch one day. Rien is arriving tomorrow for training here at the stable, so it will be interesting to be at ringside for another fascinating series of lessons and training. I'll be taking tons of notes - never fear! There is a gigantic blog in the works about the training and execution of different movements...too much to put into this blog.

So that brings me to the final topic of today's blog! When shall I be heading home? Soon is the best answer that I can give. If it works into the schedule, I might squeeze one more week of training in after the 5* and then hurry home to get crackin' on all the fabulous horses that are pining to go back into full work! Hopefully I can bring warm(er) weather back with me!! That would put me back in PA to resume teaching and training around the 4th of April. Golly, time has just flown! As soon as I can firm up a departure date, I'll post more and let you all know. In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe and get ready for an awesome 2014!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ooomph! Where is the time going???

So it is busy here at the stable. And that is probably the understatement of the year with Catherine's busy show schedule, the horses like mine that are competing at a lower tier and then all the lessons, day to day things that must be done and the rest of the fun and exciting stuff that makes for a busy barn! WOW! I am behind on my blogging! So please accept my apologies and I will do my best to keep up with everything from here on out...

Speaking of out - I think I will be returning to the land of mud and cold in about 2 weeks. Check back as that might change.

And on the topic of changes - wait and see what Wyatt and Wendy have to show everyone!! (I'll get some video this weekend!) They are both doing so much better!!! Wyatt is showing tomorrow at 11:53, so think some good thoughts - we might need a touch of luck to pull off a stellar test...but it is a vast improvement from where things were a few weeks ago. ;)

Wendy is ticking along and I am quite pleased with her progress. I will be looking for some shows for her to come out at as soon as we return home. Third 3 and Fourth 1 are what we are working on, so we'll see how it goes...

Speaking of going - I'm off to get ready to go train at White Fences Equestrian Center today with both horses for an off the farm adventure. :)

Have a super day!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wednesday - Friday

Love the life of being in the thick of things at a CDI!!! 

What a fantastic couple of days!! Super show riding! Super training and lessons! Star quality big name trainers, horses and riders to watch all day long...just about perfection on a day to day basis! :) Add in fantastic tests from The Boss and Mane Stream Hotmail and I’d say life is pretty darn good!!! 

That all being said - I have tons of photos from the Grand Prix to edit and upload to the Farm Page so everyone can see what’s going on in the world of Hotmail, so be sure to check that link out in a day or so.

Moonlight at Global before Hotmail's test
So working backwards on the schedule for today - tonight is the USET’s big event in the Stadium Tent - “Prancing with the Stars” - so I’ll report back on who’s the best dancer in the dressage arena these days! Will be Adrienne, Shelly, Todd or Cesar? Only time will tell!!! :) I’ll see if I can snag a photo or two to share but it’s looking like a good line up and plenty of fun for all. 

It was Pi Day, so a crepe was dinner!
There are lessons starting in about 10 minutes here at the stable and I’m on the list mid-day with Wyatt. Wendy had a fantastic school yesterday - such a thrill to be cantering towards the mirror and doing changes and I’ll I can see is 2 legs with no wriggling! Such a good girl to maintain her straightness and self carriage!! Her lateral work continues to improve as do her half steps. I’m holding off on the Spanish Walk a bit as she now offers it as soon as she thinks it would be useful...which is not when I am opening a gate or asking for a quiet halt. ;) She’s such an overachiever! But her changes are what I’m most proud of - they’ve really gotten to be something special!

And that same moon was up when I started chores!
Speaking of changes, Wyatt has also upped the ante on that front. All of them (any count or singles) are getting more uphill and balanced. The word “light footed” might even begin to apply soon too! His piaffe and passage are also coming along no complaints at my end with The Peach. :) 

So I think that is what is what for today. It’s time to rally and get out there and begin the learning process with a good cup of coffee in hand!

Happy Riding!!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014



Super school on Wendy!! She has really turned a corner and stepping up her game! Lots of good mediums and she’s really getting some bounce behind!! We’re able to put all her power to good use now and it’s going to be really fun to see what the next few rides have in store - she’s almost ready to work with The Boss again but I’ll get to why that might take a few days in a second.

Wyatt got a last minute time slot with Catherine for a fantastic lesson. We worked on getting each change more uphill, collected and in self carriage. Also tightened up the canter pirouettes, the canter half pass zig zag and the medium and extended canters. Oh and the lateral work in the trot, too. I think we were both fairly tired but it was a very, very good lesson!!! :) We also are entered for the next show at White Fences in the PSG! :) Movin’ on up!!

Today is Move In Day & Vet Check at Global for Mane Stream Hotmail and Catherine, so I will be helping at the show for the next few days and taking a lot of photos! Which means my blogging will probably go out the window...

I do have to take a few minutes and say how important one factor has been in my re-evolution as an FEI rider and that is my Stubben Genesis Special. I don’t know if there is any video footage from after the car accident in November 2010 or before I started working with Catherine in June 2011, but that was the beginning of the transformation of me being able to be an effective rider again. The saddle and her training system of how to use it as the fine tool that it is have made it possible for me to enjoy safety, security and a better connection with the horses...there really are not words that properly explain how important it is for me to be able to _feel_ the horses’ backs and use my own weight aids to refine the connection and self carriage. If anyone has any questions about the saddle or would like to try one, pop me a note and I’ll do what I can to help you feel the difference it can make for you and your horse. 

In any case, root for The Boss! There are 36 in the Grand Prix tomorrow! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014



Wyatt @ WFEC 
Ahhhhh, a day to catch up a bit! I had a very nice hack on Wendy and worked some basic stretching and lateral work to help her stretch the muscles that tie her shoulders into her body - she was carrying quite a bit of asymmetrical tension that was coming out in her changes with a big reach into the left to right change. So hopefully that will help things out for Tuesday’s training.

Wyatt had a nice leisurely hand grazing session to give him some time out of the box. He is quite funny - he’ll use his far vision, focus on a distant horse/person/object and then grow about a hand and snort. LOL Then he remembers he could be eating and resumes his lawn mowing! Very funny and just classic Wyatt!

So Tuesday will bring more training time. The Boss has a very full schedule, so I think we’ll be working in and around her other students. Or perhaps on the lawn in front of the stable...just have to play it by ear!

Mane Stream Hotmail
Speaking of The Boss - did you all see her lovely article about bringing Hotmail along as an international Grand Prix horse? I strongly recommend taking the time to read it!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday! Showtime!!


Whew! What a day! I had a super fun time at the show cheering for our stable mates and all the lovely horses who tried so hard! Wyatt was a very good boy about our whole adventure today! He hacked alongside the road with traffic (other horses, bicycles, scooters, cars, trucks and trailers) and past the other Casa Lusitania resident horses that were enjoying some mid day turnout with no fussing or tension. He warmed up very nicely and we had a good test. I’ll stick to “good” as the description as I under performed as a rider and blanked out after our first canter pirouette. Totally lost my focus. *sigh* Oh well. We got lots of good feedback from the “S” judge and a nice score of 65.676%. So there are lots of things to work on for the future and I am pleased with how the training is progressing.

Wendy was very good in our afternoon training. She is making very good progress - perhaps it is her fancy new accommodations that have helped her to blossom into being more impressive? Who knows? At any rate, I was pleased with her self carriage, impulsion, relaxation of the topline and use of the hind legs. As always, the contact and connection was very nice and she is voting for more time down here as we can start to work on harder things tomorrow! 

Speaking of tomorrow - it’s our ‘day off’! I think there is a barn trip to have breakfast as a group to celebrate a good show and then I’ll do some light work with both horses to get them out of their stalls for a bit. 

There are tons of photos to edit and upload, so check the FB Page and I’ll try to get them up by the evening. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

And the beat keeps marching on...


Test practicing day! I finally made time to memorize the 4th 2. 

Wendy in her stall
Time to keep practicing that test!

Which I promptly forgot as soon as I nailed my 2nd canter pirouette!


So I’ll sum up the past few days in a few sentences. The training has been more about my (lack of) ability to focus and settle down mentally to ride a test movement by movement rather than skimming over the details and hurrying the work. Catherine has provided excellent coaching and riding tips to center myself and Wyatt (and Wendy for that matter) and execute each movement to the best of our ability. Things are much better now and I am feeling confident about showing tomorrow. 

Wendy has moved down the street to Kim’s stable for a while. She is calm and grounded about hacking around the circle and her stall is needed for another client of Catherine’s. So far she is loving her new space and very happy about having 2 windows to look out at the world. Her neighbor Dallas thinks she is the right color, so it will be interesting to have more time to spend in a different location while we’re here. 

Which brings me to the reality of being down here - at some point I will be coming home. I am not 100% sure of when that will be. Tomorrow’s show will dictate quite a bit of that, honestly. If we (I) can get it together to organize the test properly and show off Wyatt’s gaits - I would like to stay for the recognized show here at White Fences near the end of the month. Partially to see how we do in front of some S judges that I haven’t shown under and also to get a jump on the competition season. The training is really starting to blossom and show big improvements for both horses, so wish us luck! It would be really fun to be all set to show as soon as we head North!

If you are wanting to get a jump on your dressage before I am home, please contact to set up a lesson. She is more than qualified to help you all out until I get back!!! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014



Wow. A whole month has gone by already!! Time is flying and while my brain feels overly full some of the time. Overall the reality of the schedule and routine of an international FEI training system has sunk in a bit and I am comfortable with the daily schedule and sequence of exercises. :) 

Wyatt is making huge progress and Wendy is a daily joy to refine my aids and timing while improving her execution of the exercises. It is really fun to know what to expect from both horses in terms of connection, self carriage and the commitment from the hindlegs from the start of each ride. Today’s work focused on the improvement of our trot tour and the fluidity of the lateral work for Wyatt and polishing the canter pirouettes. He was a very good boy and I offered him many apologies for not having been a better rider sooner. Wendy got to help me improve my walk pirouettes, the angle and bend in the half pass and shoulder in and then school some working pirouettes in the canter. She is such a fun horse - if my timing is good and I am discreet in the way I ask (translate as polite, not forceful), she is spot on perfect! Totally black and white in the response, so it is really rewarding to have such an honest partner. 

The afternoon adventures included a run to the feed store and a quick trip into the grocery store for some fresh salad makings and fruit. Nothing particularly exciting - but very much necessary. 

Tomorrow stands a good chance of being a bit stormy and that incoming weather has my ankle screaming, so it is soon to be time for some sleep with another busy day tomorrow. 



Watching The Boss to start the day
Ahhh, Monday! You are the day to reevaluate where the training is, how stiff muscles are and if, perhaps, there should have been more riding/sleeping/stretching than just doing mundane chores as the main activity on Sunday. With all of the above in mind I hacked Wendy with Austin and one of Catherine’s young horses over to the White Fences Equestrian Center for an off-the-farm-adventure to start the day. She was lovely as the brave leader - flags flapping in a stiff breeze are no problem, yapping dogs that rush the fence and run alongside are fine, crossing a landbridge over the canal is ok and then schooling in a strange arena with flowers, a judge’s hut, people crunching in the leaves and making all sorts of distractions are no big deal! She has settled into the routine and training program nicely - The Boss commented on her improvement and we enjoyed watching Austin schooling the youngster and then happily hacked home on a loose rein. 

Wendy watching at White Fences

Baby Jocko
Wyatt had a similar adventure - he went with his good friend Patrick up the street, had an intense warm up that had a strong focus on solidifying the quality of the changes in the canter zigzag (he must be straight for at least 1 stride before and after the change) and then we worked on perfecting the pirouettes. After all of that hard work, we had a run through of the PSG and while it did not have any major bobbles - I did not ride my best and showcase his strengths enough. Must work harder to be more consistent and professional in the presentation of the work all the time. 

So the current plan is to polish the 4th 2 and show that test this coming weekend so both of us have a bit of time to settle down and sparkle more when we do show PSG in our next outing.  *sigh*   The barn motto of “We don’t train for second place” is very much in action in the decision making, so we’ll buckle down and keep working on improving the work!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

3 days? That's all? Time is flying!


What a fun day! The morning stables were uneventful and productive. Catherine’s Grand Prix was early in the day, so we trundled over to Global to watch her test and then it was on to doing our own horses back at the stable. I had a nice school on Wyatt with some helpful advice from Patrick and then a good hack on Wendy around the circle. She is somewhat concerned about the large rocks that border some of the driveways - but other than that - it is no big deal to pass shrubs, flowers, bushes, fallen palm fronds, gated driveways, potholes, sandy paths...she handles it all very calmly. 

Tomorrow is the Freestyle for Catherine and it will be at night under the lights, so we will have plenty of time to do the stables, ride and then hopefully go over and watch some of the competition that is going on outside of the stadium arena. 


Busy. Busy. Busy. That’s what a day in this stable really means - lots of errands to coordinate, horses to work and care for and then a super fun horse and rider combination to go cheer for in the evening! I had a super ride on Wendy to start the morning. We schooled on the grass in front of the stable as the arena was a bit too wet from some showers that passed through overnight. We worked on her straightness in the flying changes and overall relaxation in the trot work without a huge emphasis on mediums or anything too extreme as it was a touch slippery on the dewy grass. No sense risking an injury pushing for big movement when there is still so much time to train left on the docket! 

Meredith with Catherine's new puppy Jocko! 
Wyatt had a good stretching work and then we schooled a fair amount of his piaffe and passage. He finds that work simple and easy, so like Wendy, I felt it was smarter to do movements without a ton of velocity on the grass. He is gaining a great deal of strength and stamina - so much fun to work with a gifted horse!

So I spent the afternoon at Global watching and studying the different horse and rider combinations before it was time to help Team Hotmail get ready to school and show. There is a wide variety of attire (more on that later) and different colored helmets, coats and breeches are “normal” here. Bling is still in and boots with different colored leather(s) are also in abundance at every level.

Sunrise in Loxahatchee


There was a good deal of fog rolling off of the canal this morning as I did the stables on that side of the property. Boots has a litter of babies - lots of chirping and squeaking as the daylight breaks through the trees. 

It is our day off today, so I will be just lunging Wendy and Wyatt to get them out of their boxes for a bit later in the morning. Then there is some housework, laundry and my brown boots have a date with polish!