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, 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.