Saturday, April 24, 2010

"If you got it..."

Michele and Grayson had a flatwork breakthrough yesterday. Grayson has all the best Thoroughbred qualities in that he's very intelligent and will try his heart out, but historically he finds it easier to go faster than work from behind. This week something seemed to click, when "Gray" started to get the hang of moving over his topline and even showed some schwung (swing).

Michele is preparing Gray for the Intro Level tests at the May 16 Stanhope Stables dressage show. At this rate, I think that the pair could land a respectable score if she decides to get their feet wet at Training 1 (no pressure though!).

Though the elegantly built Michele began riding later in life, the rest of us are a little envious, since her body clearly was made for this sport. LIke most of us, I suspect that Michele would have liked to have gotten started a little earlier, but as her trainer Terri Stryker says in the video, "If you got it, flaunt it!"

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ask the rider to walk...

From the just-released "New Annex XIII" to the FEI "Dressage Stewards Manual":

"The steward may also ask the rider to walk for a certain period in situations where the rider’s stress may cause undesired riding."

I assume that means asking the rider to walk the horse under saddle, but it would be better if the steward made the rider dismount and go for a walk to clear his or her head and think about how much they'd enjoy being chased around with their nose pinned to their chest.

Seriously, though guidelines in response to the use of rollkur/hyperflexion are welcome, it's hard to believe that these are anything more than CYA measures. The FEI may just as well remind the riders that they should assume that they are being videotaped at all times.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Framework

If you can overlook my extreme fashion faux pas -- navy breeches, red non-collared shirt, dark green polo wraps, and black saddle pad, embellished by rainbow reins -- you may notice that my ten-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred, Jazz (registered name "Son of a Fish"), is beginning to get the hang of elongating his neck to reach for the bit, rather than just curling over and hanging in the contact. One of the benefits has been that he appears almost sound behind. It's taken a while to convince him and get him strong enough to work in this frame. Not bad for a tense, spastic, balled-up EPMer.

The movement of Jazz's forelimbs has improved since last week when his farrier, Dean Guzzi, set him up with lighter shoes in front, in response to my trainer's hope that he could do something to help Jazz not "wing in" with the tighter right foreleg.

The next step will be to incorporate the custom saddle that I ordered from County Saddlery. Jazz has outgrown his current saddle, which is now pretty tight behind the shoulders. If we can free up the shoulders, I'm thinking that all of our troubles will be over! Ok seriously, maybe, just maybe the worst will be behind us.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


This is the latest image from my series of impressionistic stills taken from lesson videos.

Taken on March 16, 2010, I'm riding my ten-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred, Jazz (registered, "Son of a Fish"), in a lesson with Britta Johnston at Stanhope Stables in Huntington, NY.

Boots-n-Breeches in Brooklyn

The newest Fifth Avenue vintage clothing store, Guvnor's Vintage Thrift, could be a boon to Brooklyn equestrians who are showing on a budget.

I happened into the store this afternoon. Two old-fashioned baggy breeches caught my eye and got me digging in a rack where I found a couple pairs of gently used modern(!) breeches — one Ariat, size 22R.

Then hubby noticed, hanging on both walls amidst a smorgasbord of boots, a dozen or so riding boots: field, dress and even one pair of hunt boots! Unfortunately, there were none in my size (9 with a narrow calf), but there were several in ladies sizes 6-8 and some mens.

I know that many of the kids that volunteer and ride in city barns don't have deep-pocketed parents to support their horse habit, so if you're in the area, a trip to Guvnor's might be a way to get started or to stretch every dollar dedicated to participating in local shows.

Guvnor's Vintage Thrift
178 Fifth Avenue
(between Sackett & Degraw Streets)
Park Slope, Brooklyn