Welcome to the dressage spot, a place for the young (or young at heart) dressage riders wanting to gain information on the sport of dressage, training tips, equine health care, maintenance and fun!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Flying to Florida

         My standby flight on Southwest from Seattle was flawless! Cara Pasieka is the greatest. I wouldn’t be here without her sponsorship. Thank you Southwest Airlines.  I will admit that I forgot my ticket at home and my amazingly wonderful boyfriend ran back to get it for me at 5:30 am!  When I stepped off the plane I was met with 82 degree weather, sunshine and relatives I have never met! I had fun riding around on my Great Uncle Clyde’s golf cart and playing with Bella (a super-cute Jack Russell Terrier).  After a slow morning, we drove to Wellington and started to settle in.  Wellington, Florida is such a great experience for horse people.  It is the only place I know where you can go everywhere in boots and breeches and you blend in!  The tack shops actually have everything you might need; even for dressage! 

     The horse I was to ride in the clinic fell through; so I spent the day trying to find a new one to ride.  Luckily, my amazing coach Jeremy contacted his friend Ally and I am going this morning to try a few horses.  Keep your fingers crossed for me today! 

      The tentative schedule for the clinic starts with an introduction meeting on Tuesday night January 1st.  Every morning at 7 am we start the day with an intense workout.  Last year, I have to admit, I vomited on the first day it was so tough!  After the morning workout, from 8am-12 each of the 12 riders have a 45 minute lesson.  The 12 riders are divided between two clinicians each day.  On Wednesday the trainers are Tuny Page and Tina Konyot; on Thursday Katherine Chandler and Robert Dover; on Friday Robert Dover again and Jan Ebeling; and finally on Saturday Michael Barisone and Courtney Dye.

     Each afternoon after a group lunch there are lectures until 4 pm.  One thing I am definitely looking forward to is dinner at Hampton Green on Friday night.  Last year, it was a highlight of the clinic.  We played the game high-low.  This is a game where all the participants said the best thing that experienced during the week and the hardest. 

     Well I am off to have a waffle and get ready to ride! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012


          As the holiday approaches, I begin to think about heading to Florida next week.  I am so excited to see old friends and meet new faces.  The Emerging Dressage Athlete Programs clinic last year was one of the defining moments of my life.  I can only imagine the impact it will have on all the participants this year. 

     For those of you who haven’t participated in the EDAP clinics or applied for an EDAP clinic I would advise you to visit Lendon’s website http://dressage4kids.com/Emerging%20Dressage%20Athlete%20Program.htm

     This program, the website states, is to help find, develop and educate young dressage talent in the United States.  You have to submit an application and a video.  Once enough young riders in your area have submitted applications a clinic is set up.  Lendon comes for a weekend clinic which is itself more than enough reward for the application.  I suggest getting several other junior and young riders in your area to apply with you!  The clinics are unique in that it isn’t just riding, there are lectures and demonstrations.  Then the instructors of the clinics across the US get together and select riders for a week long clinic in Wellington, Florida.  The Wellington clinic last year included morning physical fitness workouts, riding instruction by industry greats like Robert Dover, Lendon Gray, Katherine Bates-Chandler, Anne Gribbons, Courtney King-Dye and many others.  After lunch which is done as a group (giving you time to meet other riders and auditors) there are hours of lectures and demonstrations by amazing speakers like Dr. Susser.  She is a sports psychologist that helped me last year in learning visualization techniques that gave me great focus at FOC and NAJYRC .  I really used all the information that I gained at speeches by farriers, veterinarians, massage therapists, chiropractors and so many others. 

     Even the great instruction, riding and fitness wasn’t the highlight though.  Getting to meet so many other young riders was truly inspirational.  To see that I am not alone in my goals and to have others to discuss questions, concerns, everything and nothing with since has been amazing.  I even took vacations with some of the girls I met at EDAP!  We spent a truly hilarious ‘bonding night out’ without any parents or trainers.  It was only a movie and KFC but it cemented dozens of friendships. 

     Finally, I received inspiration from the heightened level of commitment from everyone.  This was so motivational for me last year.  It kept me focused on my goals and what I had sacrifice to succeed in my dreams.  It made my dreams so much more of a reality. 

     Come with me on this dream trip and apply for EDAP! It will change your life.   If you are over 21, or a parent, or just a dressage enthusiast and can’t attend but want to help you can go to the same website and donate to Lendon’s amazing project. 

     Stay tuned for more news from EDAP next week on this blog…….

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day Three of the Convention

I woke up on Saturday, the third and final day of my convention adventure in New Orleans at 7 am; that is 5 am Washington time.  The morning started with a youth breakfast.  This was just a casual get together to meet other young people from all over the US.  This is my favorite part of all of the clinics, conventions and education seminars I go to.  I admit to being a bit sleepy as I am not a great morning person.  I think after some food and a Starbucks vanilla steamer I perked up a bit.  Directly after the breakfast we had a youth education seminar about strengthening the core and how posture affects riding. The presenter really won me over and I intend to start doing some yoga when I get back to Kirkland!  I have always thought I had great posture and position but I learned that there were ways I could increase this strength and minimize problems when I get older with back, neck and knee issues.

     Then we had a meeting about the Dressage Seat Medal program.  It was very informative and I realized that they are encouraging even upper level and FEI junior and young riders to compete.  I had always thought that once I hit second or third level competency that it wasn’t really ‘sporting’ to ride equitation style classes.  The program leaders definitely discouraged me of that notion.  They want upper level riders competing they said in order to show proper position to lower level riders.  So I encourage everybody out there who qualifies to participate.  You can qualify by riding in a dressage seat qualifying test or by qualifying in any Jr/YR event in your Regional Championships.  So in essence if you are already qualified and going to regionals why not do one more test and ride the Dressage Seat Medal event?  Nationals are in Colorado.  Don’t let the cost or travel discourage you though because organizers are trying to get local breeders and trainers to let youth riders use borrowed horses for the finals.  This in itself is a great opportunity to get to show off your skills, learn and develop how to ride other horses.  I know that every new horse I get to ride I learn something new about training and riding.  Each has a new or unique quirk to work through. 

     Then it was on to the Conformation and Performance lecture by Dr. Clayton.  I will admit to having heard this three times but each time she sneaks in something new so don’t wander off!  It is a great lecture on how conformation affects the outcome not only of performance but potential health issues like suspensory injuries.  She also gives specific things to look for when you go shopping! 

     After her speech, it was a quick dash upstairs to iron my dress for the Gala and then back down for the “Look at London.”  While I always appreciate and hope to emulate Steffan’s riding, media and approachability I was particularly impressed with Aikeko, Ravel’s owner and her precocious daughters.  She brought a level of humor, intelligence and frankness to the panel that was amazing.  At times she seemed almost vulnerable in her love of Ravel.  When she admitted crying whenever she read an article about him it reminded me of myself when I think about Sjapoer.  I appreciated also the discussion on judging and the improvements in our sport and the direction and future of scoring with harmony over power.  My Olympic dreams for Rio recrystallized as I rode the elevator up to dress for the ball.

     Back down 30 minutes later to gawk at the glitter, sparkle and feathers.  Everyone looked spectacular.  I really enjoyed the more formal dress of New Orleans over the more casual event in San Diego.  It gave the event more of an excited aura.  Of all the speeches and honors I loved Michael Poulin’s easy manner as he got accepted into the Roemer Hall of Fame and Steffan Peters’ highly emotional choking up when he spoke of Ravel being his best friend and business partner. 

     So as I fly home on a ridiculously early flight I look back at the last few days and I have learned that the USDF takes an army of volunteers, delegates and enthusiasts across the nation to keep in going.  They work hard to make us safe and allow us to pursue our riding and training goals.  I also recognize that we love our horses.  I mean really love them.  We research how to make their lives happier, healthier and not only for improved performance but because we desire a deeper understanding of everything they think and feel.  We desire their happiness and longevity.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Second Day of Convention

     My second day at the USDF Convention began with the Region 6 recap meeting.  We all got together to give a quick sound bite on every committee meeting from the day before.   Several interesting current and future debates revolved around changing the bit checking format so volunteers don’t have to stick their fingers in unfamiliar horse’s mouths and some by law changes.  I felt quite helpful recapping the three youth and FEI Jr/YR meetings.  It was fulfilling to be useful and to present to the region.  The afternoon was filled with a long and formal presentation of the budget, bylaws and rule change requests.  Lots of boring voting on minutes and other details I admit to vegging out on at times. However, I did realize that lots of work gets done at the convention that affects many of us as riders and trainers that we aren’t even present to participate on! 

     All the long details were intermingled with keeping people awake with GMO Basket give aways.  A moment of humor occurred when the Kentucky Dressage Associations Bourbon filled basket went to the only underage person to win a basket; me!  I skipped down the aisle to peals of laughter.  However, I gave the alcohol to the USDF Staff who deserved to have a little celebration after all their hard work.  After we cruised through nearly two days of details in several hours (it was an unusually debate free BOG I hear); it was off to dinner with Jessica Hainsworth and her mom. 

     One of the things I love about the convention is getting to see friends from all over the country.  Jessica and I met last year at the EDAP clinic in Florida and haven’t seen each other in nearly a year.  We got to talk about horses, school, parents, boys and our future plans.  It was a great dinner.  Then off to do homework and to bed early for the 8 am youth breakfast in the morning.

Friday, December 7, 2012

First Day of the USDF convention

After a midnight arrival and an early morning registration, I got to say hi to old friends and meet new ones at the Region 6 meeting, just across from my former Region 9 meeting!  Then it was off to a discussion on the roll of carbohydrates in feed.  This was a very interesting and useful discussion on the roll of energy in your horse’s health and performance.  Dr. Lamprecht said to start all feeding choices with several questions.  First, what is his energy need?  Second, what type of pasture or forage does he have?  Finally, does he have any special issues such as age or health issue?  We then looked at the entire gastric system of the horse and where and how carbs are digested.  Then we used a graph to see what a horses calorie needs are based on its energy level.  For an upper level high performance horse it was 26.6 MegaCalories per day!  After all the science the practical information was to read labels.  First, read the PURPOSE STATEMENT on the bag.  This tells you what type of horse the feed was made for.  If this is important as the content and mixture of nutrients is based on its purpose.  Second, was the guaranteed analysis and finally the FEEDING INSTRUCTIONS!  This is where the speaker said many mistakes in feeding which lead to colic can occur. 
 Then it was off to the Youth Programs Meeting.  Here we discussed the Shining Star program and the USDF High school pin program and finally a new idea for a mentor program.  The meeting was very well attended and everyone gave great ideas.  The resulting decisions were that the Shining Star Pins would be awarded based on a single event and that the award application forms would be rewritten to ask more specific questions.  The USDF High School Pin program would be revamped to reflect the USEF program more directly.  Finally, it was suggested that the mentor program be a list of participants on the website that can be approached by any youth members that have any questions.  The idea of mentor training was discussed but no decision was made.
Then off to the FEI Jr/YR meeting.  Here we discussed the rule changes for next year.  It was interesting to learn we won’t have to ride both tests on the same weekend and that we can ride as many of each test as we desire and the lowest of each and not a single weekend would be dropped. 
The final event for me of the day was harmonizing with your Horse by Hilde Gurney.  Hilde is so much fun.  She inspires with her love of riding and horses.  She makes me look ahead and see that I can have a career that gives me as much joy and happiness as she has in hers.  She gave a wonderful breakdown of training from birth to 4 year olds.  She said her breeding and training goal was to have horses that are fun to be around, fun to ride, easy to train and have the ability to compete in Grand Prix.  She said her yearlings are handled daily in the pasture.  They get hooves cleaned, fly sprayed etc. daily.  Her 1 yr olds go into half training and learn to move away from pressure.  They work 3 times a week.  Her 2 year olds are in full training on the lunge line and are learning to turn from the rein pressure.  She puts nosebands on from the minute they have a bridle.  Not tight. Just there.  At 3 and 4 years she works on making them uphill and confident.  She went on to demonstrate basic things like correct seat and hand position.  The videos were fun and gave me a personal look into her life. 
After the convention closed for the evening Jessica Hainsworth, her mom, my mom and I went out to find a place to eat on Canal Street.  Jessica and I wanted IHOP so we ordered stuffed French toast and crepes and had a great time.  Back to the room for Hotel Transylvania giggles and an early night. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Dreadful Spook

    Today I want to share a training tip I have been learning and developing with the help of Jeremy and Shauntel since moving to Washington.  It is a bit different than I have been taught in the past so it has taken awhile to get integrated in my every day riding.  But I have seen an amazing change in Sjapoer and our riding since beginning the change.  Anyone who knows Sjapoer is aware of his personality.  His intelligence and sensitivity are part of what make him such an amazing horse.  This sensitivity is paired with movement and power.  I am very lucky to have such an amazing horse.  BUT…yes there is a but!  With power, motion and sensitivity comes a lot of work to stay focused and to stay in the saddle at times.  Sjapoer can have a back cracking spook; and he is always, at any moment, without notice, ready to spook.  So I have had to be tense and ready every second.  This fear or lack of ability to read and control his spooks led to a lot of tension in our riding at times.  It competitions and even in practice this meant days of brilliance and days of heartache.  No one who knew Sjapoer will believe that I can now ride him in the walk with a loose rein, one handed with confidence!  Yep, can you imagine that for even a minute? 
    So what do I do? At the onset of every lesson I start him with his head low and round so he is focused on work and not on his surroundings.  If he has a lot of energy in the beginning with his head low and long I do a lot of stretchy posting trot circles to warm up.  When it is safe we go to canter to run some energy out of him.  Then we do endless transitions of walk-trot-canter.  The frequent transitions in warm up keep him busy.  He doesn’t have time to distract himself.  The biggest change though has been in the philosophy of “getting him to go by the ghost.”  I have always been told when Sjapoer spooks, to make him go by the object directly again.  Perhaps giving him a tap or a half-halt directly before the spot of the spook to get him to know I won’t take him being afraid and to give him something else or perhaps bigger to fear.  Sometimes this meant attempting to go by a flag, or a shadow, or an invisible monster a dozen times.  At times each pass escalated the event.  Now when he gives a big meaningless spook I don’t go directly past the spot.  I go to the other end of the arena.  I get his head low and his neck long.  I do lots of quick transitions until he is focused on our activity and has completely forgotten the event.    Then we go by again.  Rarely has he ever remembered he was upset before.  This keeps us from spiraling and increasing tension to the point where the entire lesson time is lost.  Next time, give it a try!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

     So on the week of Thanksgiving I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of the people who keep us in the saddle.  One thing I learned at the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program's Horsemastership Clinic last year was that there are dozens of experts who keep our horses, our tack and ourselves healthy, happy and progressing.
So thank you to the farriers that keep us sound.  Thanks to the massage therapists and acupuncturists and chiropractors that keep both us and our horses walking!  Thanks to the veterinarians that come at all hours of the day and night to address the results of some adventure.  Thank you to the judges and technical delegates who motivate and keep us safe and the sport fair.  Thank you volunteers, scribes, runners, whip and bit checkers for dedicating hours to competitions from the sheer enjoyment of the shows.  Thank you to the GMO and region committee members and officers.  You give us structure and direction.  Thank you to USDF and USEF for guidance, sponsorship and support.  Thank you trainers and grooms for being beside us in all weather (figuratively and literally).  Thank you barn owners for using your land for probably the least financially viable use--arenas!  Thank you saddlers and feed makers and store clerks for the endless answers to endless questions.  Finally, thanks to family and friends for the support and understanding of those of us with the horse disease.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

L Judge Classes

     So I recently looked into the L education Program.  I have been thinking about getting a judge’s license.  I first thought about it for extra money in college.  This could be a job for weekends that could help me have some extra cash without having to take the proverbial restaurant or retail sales job.  Also it would be a job that at least kept me in the riding industry.  I also have really fond memories of Clare Morrow’s mom.  She told great stories of traveling all over the world as an Arabian judge.  After my initial idea I went to Jeremy and asked his opinion.  I wanted to know if it would maybe help my riding.  He said although he had not done it himself he believed it would be a valuable experience.  His thought was that it would show me a judge’s perspective and also perhaps increase my ability to explain things as a trainer.  So I began research on the program.  At first it seems very daunting.  There are several academic ‘sessions’ you have to attend.  There are A,B,C, D-1 and D-2 classes.  These are each a weekend course.  You have to purchase the flash drive prior to the first session in order to begin the readings and course work.  Session A is titled “Introduction to Judging and Biomechanics.  Session B is titled “Judging Criteria for Gaits & Paces, Movements and Figures.”  Session C is title “Basics, Collective Marks-Gaits, Impulsion, Submission and the Rider.”  Session D-1 and D-2 are “Judging Full Tests in each of the Levels.”  Session E is actually scribing and sitting for a total minimum of 22 hours of experience.  Then course concludes with a Final Examination.  I really want to take the class and get started on the course work but here is the kicker.  The classes are not offered everywhere and you have to take them in order.  So if you missed the November A sessions in either Pennsylvania or Virginia you will have to wait until the fall of 2013 to get into the next round of classes.  The expense can be a deterrent as well because you have to travel to the locations of the classes as well as pay the cost of the class.   This would be a good thing to apply for an education grant from USDF or USEF for though!  So all you junior and young riders out there dreaming of a career in Dressage I invite you to take the classes with me next fall!  Hope to see you there.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Orleans

The holiday season will be soon upon us and the dressage world will be very busy.  Things start off just after Thanksgiving with the USDF Convention in New Orleans.  This year we will be staying at the Sheraton on Canal Street in the Famous French Quarter.  The Awards Gala on Saturday night is to be a masquerade ball! I am so excited and lucky to be attending this year.  I applied for one of the USDF Youth Convention scholarships and won 1000$ to help cover all my costs of attending.  I would advise all junior and young riders to apply next year!  There are USDF Youth Convention Scholarships and also USDF Region Convention Scholarships.  It is definitely worth the application process and paper you write after the convention. 

     USDF Region 9 and the local members of the Southern Eventing and Dressage Association (SED) will be our hosts and they have a great agenda for us.  The social highlights are a welcome party on Thursday, the spirit of New Orleans dinner and tour on Friday and the gala and awards banquet on Saturday.  There will be committee meetings and education sessions daily.  For a full schedule of educational and committee meetings check out the agenda and education listings on the usdf.org site.  

     Personally, I can’t wait to hear on Saturday “Looking Back at London” a perspective on the Olympics by those who were there.  I also am interested on Friday to hear about the new rule changes in the USEF Rule Change Forum.  Finally, the Youth Education (on improving fitness) and Programs Open Forums on Saturday are a must.  While you are there don’t forget to drop into the silent auction and help support USDF programs and “Laissez les bon temps rouler.”

Friday, November 9, 2012

College and Riding

So last spring in my junior year of high school I began to contemplate where I wanted to go to college.  This process began a bit different for me as a rider than many students.  I didn’t start with a family alumni association.  I didn’t start looking for a specific program.  I first looked for a trainer!  One of the key factors for me was that I find a trainer during the next 5 years that would be able to help me meet my riding and therefore professional goals.  I searched through the web and made a list of what are considered industry standard top trainers in Dressage.  I then researched those trainers. I went to their clinics.  I talked to their students.  I narrowed the search to about five that I felt I could really grow and excel with.  Then I drew a one hour 35 mile radius around their training facilities and searched for colleges within that travel distance.  I made lists of what those colleges were.  I then researched those colleges.  What were their programs like?  Did they have a riding team or club?  What were their admission requirements?  After all of this work I had narrowed the search to three trainers and three colleges.  I then contact the United States Equestrian Federation Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg asking for his advice.  I also said my search had led me to him.  He agreed and offered a spot for me in his barn.  Here I am 9 months later living in Washington, applying to UW and friending the UW equestrian team.

     I think about all the other riders my age and their struggles to get an education and keep up their love of horses and the sport.  This is very difficult as both school and training are time consuming.  They are also both expensive.  How do we pay for both?  How do we manage both?  The USEF is attempting to recognize these questions and to help.  They have begun a great help and information on their website for college bound riders.  Go to the www.usef.org homepage.  On the left click Membership and then Youth Programs.  When this opens on the top right click Collegiate.  Now you have access to information on all 5 collegiate riding groups under the USEF umbrella.  There is also a college guide that has useful information on how to use riding and your riding goals on your admissions and scholarship applications!  There is also a section on scholarship guidance and best of all a college search engine.  This allows you to put in information about you and your goals and gives you feedback on the colleges that meet your criteria. 

     We should be able to (with some planning and proactive work) get to meet both our educational and riding goals!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Breed Shows

So equestrian sports are the most expensive in the world! If your parents don’t know that yet don’t tell them.  Wait until they see your big smile while you hold that blue ribbon in your hand.  Luckily, the sport lures you in.  You don’t start with expensive horses and staggering training and traveling expenses.  It starts innocently with a cute ‘free’ pony and a pair of paddock boots and a helmet.  But then it grows and grows and grows.

     The next series of things I want to discuss here is how to help defer some of those costs.  Early on in my riding career my trainer, Mary Mahler suggested I stick to breed shows instead of the larger USDF/USEF shows.  This was a much cheaper option for fees and often for travel expenses.  Breed shows are competitions that are usually limited to pure or mixed bloods of a specific breed.  For example, I competed in Arabian Breed Shows with my horse WA Federalea.  This not only allowed me to save money but allowed me to develop as a rider in a smaller pond.  I gained momentum by winning many regional and national honors.  This helped me to ‘hook’ my parents into later bigger costs and to gain recognition in our region.  Furthermore, breed shows are often funded more than USDF/USEF shows and you can earn prize money in significant amounts.  I often received show and yearly checks totally thousands of dollars for yearly winnings as the registered owner of WA Federalea.   Breed shows do require an additional membership beyond USDF/USEF for that breed.  These memberships offer additional incentives also.  They often have yearly convention, year-end breed awards and scholarship programs for youth riders and volunteers.  For example, KWPN-NA.com the Dutchwarmblood society of North America has the Willy Arts Young Rider Grant.  Even USEF offers youth scholarships through the breed affiliations.  This means you have to be a member of the breed registry to apply.  USEF will send out a reminder of the dates for applying for these scholarships.  So check out your horses breed.  Google if it has an association and check out their website.  Many breed associations also offer fun social events.  For example, the Fresian Horse Association in my former region had a yearly Halloween party.  They dressed up the horses and riders in costumes.  The creativity was amazing.  One year we even had the horses bobbing for apples!

     Up next time funding through your regional associations and GMO’s!  Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Today’s information again is focusing on information for the NAJYRC competition.  First, USDF region 9 put together an amazing brochure for potential riders, parents and trainers.  Take a look at it at http://www.usdfregion9.org/JRYR/NAJYRC-Region-9-Qualifying-Guidelines%20Program%20FINAL%20ONLINE%20Format.pdf

     This brochure was put together by Inez Campbell, a long time dressage mom, in my old region.  It is very user friendly and was written from the perspective of someone who has participated in NAJYRC competitions before.  The brochure gives riders and parents a tentative look at things like what the NAJYRC competition may cost.  Furthermore, it includes a great section on “what to expect” and frequently asked questions.  It walks you through the entire qualifying and competition process.  By far the best site for NAJYRC information! 

     Interestingly today I stumbled on a website for NAJYRC.  This looks like the official site separate from USEF or USDF website.  It is www.youngriders.org/Default.aspx     Unfortunately, this site didn’t seem as user friendly or as complete as the Region 9 page.  However, it will be updated with more ‘legal’ information as new qualifying dates and information comes out for the 2013 season.

     Another interesting service available for youth riders is the USEF High School Equestrian Athlete program.  I am a three year participant and plan to send away for my senior year patch soon.  This program is cool because so many youth riders don’t get recognition from our schools for our high school sport.  We are outside the normal high school competitions so we don’t get letterman’s jackets cool regalia!  The USEF HSEA program gives youth riders a chance to earn recognition for their hard work in their discipline as well as get free stuff and a chance to shop in an exclusive part of the USEF Catalog. 

     I can tell you the jackets are well made and really warm!  They look amazing as well.  You can get your name and your horses name on the sleeve of the jacket.  I remember thinking once when at a horse show where several of us had on our HSEA jackets that we looked like a team (or a gang J).  Thinking of a gang of dressage riders makes me smile.  Hard to think of anything that the participants are called Queens or Princesses as having a gang.  Anyway you have to be a USEF member to participate.  You have to complete a form and then log your activities.  There are a set number of requirements depending on your equestrian discipline.  But once you get your log signed, send it in and get your pin.  For details see the USEF site at:  http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/Youth/highschool/highschool.aspx

     Hope to see you sporting your jackets at the USDF Convention in December!

Friday, October 19, 2012

USDF, USEF and more!

     For the first few weeks of this blog I thought I would spend some time on the governing bodies of our sport.  Today I want to discuss the United States Dressage Federation (USDF). The United States Dressage Federation is dedicated to the equine discipline of dressage. Its mission is to education, recognize achievement and promote the discipline of dressage. At the local level general membership organizations (GMO’s) are the outlet to USDF.  USDF is governed in the national levels of training to fourth level by the United States Equestrian Federation which governs all equine sports in the United States.  International levels of competition are regulated the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI).

USDF has a great website at www.usdf.org which has untold amounts of valuable information for anyone considering the sport of dressage.  On the website they have information on everything from membership and awards to links to free books on footing and how to select a dressage horse!  Spend some time reading through the site.   For junior and young riders the site gives basic information from the structure of our international governing body to the initial costs for shows and how to find a trainer. 

Furthermore, the website discusses junior and young rider awards and programs.  Junior rider divisions are classified as those of ages 14-18.  Young rider divisions continue the programs through the age of 21.  The North American Junior and Young Rider Championship is the premier equestrian competition in North America for junior and young riders. Equestrians come from the United States, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean Islands to vie for team and individual FEI medals. The competition is run under rules of the FEI and is the only FEI championship held annually on this continent.

In order to participate a potential junior or young rider must be a USDF member and a USEF member.  They must also declare their intention to participate according to USEF regulations which are listed on the USEF website.  The specifics to qualify for 2013 NAJYRC are at the link below

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Beginning!

I remember when I first started riding lessons.  Like today, I lived and breathed horses.  I wanted my own pony so badly I made all kinds of promises to my parents.  Eleven years later I am a seasoned dressage show veteran.  I look back over those years and I think about all of the learning my parents and I did.  There were so many questions, so little guidance.  This is not a sport like little league where you sign up and they give you a date, a time, a place and even soo after beginning a position to play.  Here in the b eginning you feel very alone in a sea of endless possibilities.  My parents bought and sold horses.  We had questions about everything and very little idea of how to analyze answers.  We were so clueless we bought a saddle before we bought a horse!  I can laught now looking back; but those times were frustrating (and expensive) for my parents and me.  So I want to help others relieve some of the pains of those lessons.  I thought about how to help as many dressage buffs like me as I could of all ages and training levels.  I decided upon writing this blog.  So today, on its inaugural entry I thought you could get to know me.

My name is Ayden Uhlir.  I just finished riding in the junior division this year.  It was an amazing year full of roller coaster highs and lows.  The dreamlike moments for me were winning the Festival of champions Junior National Championship, the individual gold at NAJYRC and two bronze medals there as well.  But my year has been about so much more than winning; it has been about looking to the future.  As a high school senior it is the time that most of us contemplate what is coming in the next few short years.  As I spend my time looking toward my future it became clear to me that my future is tied to the future of the sport of Dressage in the United States.  I want to help it in any way that I can to grow, to develop and to progress.  The possibilities are endless.  In the immediate future I made some drastic changes in the last three months.  I left my home, my friends and my family to move to Kirkland, Washington to train with the USEF National Dressage Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg and his amazing training partner Shauntel Bryant.  In my short time here my perspective of the future and of training has exploded and deepened in so many ways.  I have gotten their permission to share this knowledge every week with you on these pages.  I will mix my weekly lessons with information on NAJYRC, USDF, USEF and other dressage organizations and support group information.  I would love for you to contact me with questions and concerns you may have in your own training or competing.  I want this to be a place for everyone to discuss dressage; and in particular for junior and young riders to persue and share all of the issues we have together.

Looking forward to growing together,

Ayden Uhlir