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Friday, January 25, 2013

Final EDAP

    Even the sun seemed sad that EDAP was drawing to a close.  On Saturday the weather turned grey and cool.  The sadness of leaving so many new and old friends was already setting in.  Even though there was an early Sunday morning program, all the West Coast riders had early Sunday a.m. flights.  So this was our last day! 

     For the first time all week the workout with Bob was actually painless.  I think it is that week mark which gets you over the hump of the change in intensity.  I hope that I can take this feeling back to Washington and keep up many of the lessons I learned (again) from Bob.  While we may not all do the same exercises or keep up the same format; I hope we all have learned a valuable lesson about the level of our fitness.  To be top international competitors you have to push beyond the norm.  You have to push beyond yourself to strive higher.  (I am proud to say that since coming back I have kept up my core training and have done daily planks in Bob’s honor!)

     I was the first rider at 8 a.m. with Courtney King-Dye.  I was so happy to see her for our one year reunion.  Last year at the first EDAP clinic I got to attend a New Year ’s Eve party with Courtney at Jenn Baumert’s house.  She and Jenn actually took time to watch my freestyle video and give me pointers!  I will never forget the amazing gift they gave me that night.  I hope to always treat people as they did me.  I was so inspired and proud as they watched my video.  

     I was so glad to see how far Courtney has come in 12 months.  She gives me inspiration and courage. One thing I can say her toughness and high level of demand from her students has never wavered.  I spent the next 60 minutes working so hard I thought my stomach muscles, my arm muscles, and even my thigh muscles were going to start quivering.  But by about 20 minutes into the lesson Renoir was in a beautiful frame and it was by far my best ride of the week.  Thanks Courtney. 

     I then went to watch Genay Vaughn ride with Michael Barisone.  Michael trained Wilson, the horse Genay rode all week.  So Michael knew what Wilson was capable of and I figured this would be some exciting display of horsemanship!  I think a lot of people had the same idea because nearly everyone lined up along the arena to watch.  Genay proceeded to wow us and even did a perfect Grand Prix zigzag!  Michael said it was easily an 8!   She even got a standing ovation from the viewers.  It was a great end to an amazing week for both Genay and I. 

     Genay and I had to zip out of one afternoon session to go thank our owners for the use of their horses and to arrange transport for them back home!  I want to again say thank you to Rick Silva for the privilege to ride Renoir.  Check out my facebook for some pictures of this lovely horse (who competed at the European Young Rider Championships!)  BTW he is for sale!

     We made it back to Still Point Farm just in time for the media discussion by the always interesting and stimulating Mary Phelps.  She gave us more great pointers about handling the media along with amazing anecdotes that are so fun to hear.  Robert even jumped in with some pointers from his own experiences with the media.  Mary then had three auditors come up and do practice interviews.  I have to say amazing congrats to Sarah Whitney for her smooth as silk answers!  Good Job.

     Finally, a quick change of clothes and off to the party at Hampton Green.  Ok, so we got really lost on the way there.  Thanks GPS for having no clue.  But I had an amazing time and I will always cherish every memory with my old friends and my new ones.

    Bye and thanks Lendon, Robert, Courtney, Katherine, Jan, Tina, Bob, Michael, Tuny, Dr. Susser, Dr. Bennnett, Dr. Mitchell, and anyone I might have left out.  This is a life changing event.  Please everyone who can help support it by volunteering or sponsoring!  Check out how on EDAP’s webpage.

Friday, January 18, 2013


     Day three at EDAP dawned with aching muscles and the need for serious spa time.  My body cried for a massage and my core hurt so badly I knew I’d be bobbing like one of those dashboard toys in the saddle that day; and I actually started preparing for Bob weeks before the clinic.  I do some intense plank work and was bragging to Bob about I can easily do a 2 minute plank. I did forget that I was extremely sore, so that when he took me up on my plank challenge I failed miserably.

     Interestingly I think the shared ‘suffering’ through Bob’s morning workouts is one of the biggest team builders in the program.  For the rest of my life, whenever I see anyone from EDAP; I will be able to smile a secret knowing grin and commiserate on our shared survival.  I will moan about the pains, smile at the memory of working with other riders, and covet Genay’s amazingly cool workout pants. Among the survivors and even for future participants, Bob is legend.  I think it is great; so Bob, in spite of all our complaining…keep it up!

     That day I rode for Jan Ebeling.  I think he has done so much for our sport this year.  Even though he was forced into a spotlight not of his own making; it has helped to bring attention to Dressage beyond the equestrian world.  I think of all the tough questions and scrutiny he had to face.  I think of the really tough questions that had and could have had very lasting effects and it makes me think about the consequences of everything I say and do every day.  With all that in mind I went into the lesson with the highest regard not only for Jan as a trainer but for so much more.

     Robert Dover had spoken to Jan about our discussion on training horses to show them quickly in a light, supple and uphill frame.  We spent the hour really developing thoroughness and uphill carriage.  By the end of the lesson, my already aching muscles were asking to be put on another person.  They wanted to abandon me.  I am even ashamed to say I slouched in the saddle when talking to Jan.  I didn’t have the strength to stay straight and tall.  However, once the photo of me with such bad posture hit FB I will never slouch during a lesson or clinic AGAIN! Lesson learned. 

     Off we went to a combined lecture with the George Morris Horsemastership clinic.  One thing I have to say about the jumper people; they coordinate.  They always are dressed in their matching shirts and hats.  There really is a lot we can learn from them or that we can learn together.  We had a really interesting lecture from their ‘go to’ farrier.  Beyond the lecture information I was proud of the eventers.  They sat at attention and paid attention throughout the entire event. 

     Friday night was girl’s bonding night out.  Cilantro’s for amazing sandwiches (no polo boys) and then a few rounds of bowling.  We were all having fun sharing stories, giggling and getting to know each other as people outside of riding and the competition arena.  I was very impressed to discover that Asia has some serious bowling skills. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

EDAP Lesson

The first afternoon of educational seminars at EDAP I missed.  I got an exclusive tour of Rick Silva’s facility.  It was amazing.  After some debate (and a bit nerve wrecking sort of riding interview) I was paired up with the beautiful Renoir.  I caught back up with the group in time for a tour of a private quarantine facility for CEM.  CEM is a venereal disease in horses that can cause still births in mares among other complications.  The facility explained in detail the very specific testing that is done on site.  It was interesting to realize that they didn’t have to quarantine geldings for obvious reasons; but because mares and stallions have a long quarantine period they could be out of training for a period long enough to affect their performance.   Therefore, they provide arenas and other facilities needed to keep in training while in quarantine.  The training however is strictly scheduled so that a representative is present at all times to guarantee the quarantine.  We even had to wash the bottoms of our feet when entering the facility.

    Day two dawned with great optimism.  I would get to ride Renoir for Robert Dover today.  I wasn’t as nervous perhaps as some of the girls who hadn’t come last year.  I had gotten to know Mr. Dover and even had done a live interview on his radio show last year.  I went into my lesson though with a particular objective.  Renoir was trained by a man and last ridden by a male young rider.  I was concerned as most of us women riders are that his style would be one that would require more strength than my little 101 pound 5’8’ frame could manage.  So I brought this question to Robert.  I mean every participant was a young girl.  Many of us want to be trainers someday.  This would be something we all faced.  How do I get on an unknown horse, and ride him my way.  How do I get on and ride a horse in a light and supple frame uphill and forward without the power he was used to. 

     Robert responded to my request by saying that is his job!  “He takes other people’s horses, jumps on and in five minutes has to ride them and make them look better than their owner’s.”  So I guess I asked a valid question.  Well we went right to work.  Robert focused on visualizing what frame and picture of myself with the horse I wanted.  “You have to see it and believe it to make it happen,” he reiterated often in my lesson.   By the end of the lesson Renoir felt lighter, was in a nice uphill frame and we did some 2,3, and 4 tempes on the diagonal.  The one’s I miscounted so I blew that.  I never thought counting was so hard until tempes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Developing EDAP

    I spent the last few days with Allison Brock a former Young Rider participant.  As a professional today, who was looking back, she said that her time in Kentucky taught her some valuable lessons about competition and the levels required of our horses, riders, and trainers.  After hearing her stories, I contemplate the many opportunities that are emerging for Junior and Young riders today.  I am so thankful for the increased support and realization of need in our youth programs.  Many of us have been lucky enough to be included in the Dressage4Kids, the Emerging Dressage Athlete Programs, the High School Equestrian Athlete Program, the new Elite Dressage Clinics and the USEF 5 year planning system.  Allison and many professionals today had none of this support years ago.  But if we want to be competitive at the international level in a consistent and dominating way, we need to build and support such programs. 

     One tidal wave of effort toward this goal is led by Lendon Gray and the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program (EDAP).  This program’s mission statement is to “Encourage riders under 21 to become true horsemen with correct position, competitive skills and knowledge of all aspects of riding and horse care; to offer scholarships to enable competitors to further their education; to have fun and develop good sportsmanship throughout.”   There are now several different events and aspects to the program.  There are the two day regional clinics, the week-long national clinic and the three month intensive boot camp.  All begin however, with the same application process.   To apply you need to go to the EDAP website http://dressage4kids.com/Emerging%20Dressage%20Athlete%20Program.htm then click the link to the application.  You have to fill in the form as well as sending a video or a link to an online video.  There are no specific move requirements. 

Do not be discouraged by the application process.  And don’t worry if you aren’t a ‘high performance competitor.’  In fact, when I interviewed Lendon Gray she said applicants “never even had to have ridden in a recognized show.”  The program was designed to look for the “Diamond in the Rough.”  When I asked what she was most proud of with the first year of EDAP; she said, “It was bringing forth some very talented riders who received opportunities they would not have had otherwise.” 

I applied in both 2011 and 2012 and intend to do so again in 2013.  You can apply at any time in the year.  There are no deadlines.  I suggest you put the application in your January to do box!  But here is the IMPORTANT part; after you apply then go out and get your friends to apply as well.  This is necessary because a clinic in your area will not be set up until enough applicants are selected in your region! This is not daunting.  It in fact can be a great generator for increased youth activity in the region.  It really helped motivate my old region 9 last year! 

Once there is enough interest a local clinic is scheduled and the fun begins.  The 2 day regional clinics are used as the stepping stone to selection for the yearly national clinic in Wellington, Florida.  This clinic, the Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic is an intense week long clinic with daily riding instruction by a ‘who’s who list of trainers and riders in the US.’  The morning rides (and infamous workout sessions) are followed by afternoons of intense lectures and a mountain of information.  My mom said it reminded her of Maymester in college; a whole semester of information in a few short days!  Then evenings you get to socialize and spend time with your peers in a noncompetition setting.  This is one of my favorite aspects of the program.  I have made so many friends this way.  Brandi and I met at EDAP last year, went snowboarding over spring break together and are now celebrating our one year anniversary at the second EDAP clinic. In addition, the Courtney Dye Horsemastership Clinic will be held at Hassler Dressage at Riveredge in Maryland July 31 to August 4 .

The tidal wave of growth rolls on as now EDAP has gone further and has added an intensive 3 month long boot camp this year.  Imagine the week long EDAP clinic being extended into 12 weeks.  Add the dimension of bringing your own horse and being able to compete in shows with the assistance of such amazing training. 

Finally, I asked Lendon what was the one thing she hoped that all the riders and auditors this week would leave Florida having learned.  “Just one,” she joked, and then added “to realize that there is a community of riders on the same journey…and that we are all in this together. Let’s learn from each other…and that includes the horses as well!”


Sunday, January 6, 2013

EDAP Continued...

The first full day of the EDAP clinic began at a bright and early 5:30 am!  Genay and I are staying together at Jen Baumert’s house.  It was so fun to go to bed giggling over silly things and wake up full of expectations.  Neither of us had a horse to ride yet so we were both anxious about what the day would bring. 

     Genay’s horse arrived first.  Wilson is a lovely I-1 competitor with the sweetest owner around.  She stayed most of the day to help us, watch the riding and take lots of photos.  There was a bit of mix up with the horse sent for me and he came missing tack and with the wrong bridle so my anxiety went up a few notches.  He was a lovely chestnut and I joked about him being the first redhead I had ever ridden.  I discovered years ago when looking back at my horse selection that I favor bays!  Strange how that works isn’t it.  I always imagined I would have a big black horse like Black Beauty or the Black Stallion. 

     Anyway I was riding for Tina Konyot at noon.  At 10am Brandi Roenick was riding with her, at 11am Genay Vaughn was riding for her also, so I was coming after that illustrious grouping.  Well things didn’t go well; as they sometimes do and I learned a valuable lesson.  Tina gave me some amazing encouragement and told Lendon that she needed to find me another horse or she would let me ride Collect V instead.  Fortunately, Rick Silva came to the rescue and brought me Renoir, a lovely horse that rode in the Young Rider European Championship last year.  He was ridden by a young Italian guy.  When I told the girls this they were more interested to know if he was coming to watch than about the horse!

     After a great lecture (as usual) by Dr. Susser on visualization, focus, practicing and setting goals we were off to dinner.  I spotted Eleni in the parking lot at the restaurant and Genay and I rounded up a few more EDAP strays (including Emily Smith) and we had a great dinner at Backstreet.  The homemade chicken noodle soup was fab.

     Off to bed to dream of my ride with Robert Dover in the morning.

EDAP Part 2

   Finally able to type this up, sorry its late! More to come later.

     I love the city of Wellington.  Everyone here smells like horses.  They sell carrots in 25lb bags at the grocery stores!  This place gives you dreams and hopes.  It also makes you realize you have to work harder.  You have to train harder.  You have to commit more to achieve your dreams.      

 I sat by the pool today, trying to tan in 72 degree overcast weather.  It was wonderful.  I think today was my calm before the storm; the last day to relax.  New Year’s Day will be filled with airport pickups, barn duties, laundry, meetings, and finishing art project gifts I am making for everyone. 

     I want to take a moment to send a giant Thank You to Ally Brock.  When I suddenly found myself without a horse to ride for the clinic she jumped in with the organizational skills of a General to find one for me.  Hours later, I was already in the saddle.  Although, in the end EDAP found me a great horse from Rick Silva’s barn; I want to thank Anne Friedlander for offering me the use of her lovely Royal. A big shout out to Marcel Van de Burgh for arranging it! 

    It is amazing how everyone in Wellington opens up their hearts and homes to Junior and Young riders.  I look at all the programs like EDAP, the HSEA program and the Elite Dressage Clinic and I am amazed.  The adults in the dressage world have worked hard to create new programs and new opportunities to improve dressage in this country.  The other girls here and I are deeply in debt to all those who came before.  I hope we can all build on this wave and make America a premier dressage nation.

    Happy New Year and I promise to have lots of information from Wellington this week!  My horoscope for 2013 says it is my year!  So if it is supposed to be better than the amazing one I had in 2012 I am bounding forward with stars in my eyes and rainbows in the sky.