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!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


    As I sit, tired and slightly sunburned here in LAX I look back at an amazing weekend.  It all began on Friday night.  I flew in to this same place, full of anticipation and excitement.  I was going to La, to Hollywood, to the land of dreams!  I have seen pretty woman.  I held visions of Rodeo Drive and Spago in my head.  Never having been to LAX I didn’t know how soiled and pampered SeaTac and DFW have made me in my traveling ways; such confusion was overwhelming.  Shuttle buses, terminal changes and construction had me so backward and lost.  At one point I thought I had awoken in an old Godzilla movie; and I was Godzilla.  I was overcome by a swarm of bodies.  They all looked to be replicas of the same person, and all at least a foot shorter than me and male.  It was surreal.  Looking back at the strange characters in unusual costumes I saw all weekend the Godzilla feeling was one of the most ‘normal’ moments of my trip!  I saw Jesus, the joker and the mad hatter within hours of landing.

     The first night was about greeting old friends and getting the weekend plans underway. We had come to meet mom’s childhood friend Guy Eckstine.  He is a music producer who sits on the Grammy’s board.  He was just finishing an album for a new young artist and offered to help me with my freestyle music.  I learned a lot from him this weekend.  His patient over view of the process, and stepping in only when necessary with pertinent questions was a lesson for me.  I even got to hear the last three tracks of the album months before its release!  Good luck Grant I loved the tunes.

      The best part of spending time with Guy was that he knew mom when she was my age.  It was strange to hear about mom as a force of nature for fun and breaking rules instead of enforcing them.  Saturday morning it was up and headed to Del Mar to Evan Marks’ home studio for recording.  We took the scenic route along the ocean and saw so many famous landmarks.  Once we arrived in Del Mar I tried to coordinate seeing Brandi, but she was (can you believe it) at a horse show.  We went to Jake’s on the beach for lunch and watched people’s antics from the amazing view.  There was even a guy trying to play Frisbee with himself.  I would definitely recommend Jake’s to anyone who happens to find themselves in Del Mar.  After lunch it was off to Evan’s to mix some music!  The amount of detail that goes into splicing music is unbelievable.  We have fade ins, fade outs, and instruments added to the high or low “stuff”.  I was trying to sound like I learned a lot there but it got so overwhelming fast I can’t remember half of what we did in the 3 hours we were there. 

     A few hints for freestyles; first don’t make an overly obvious entrance and exit halt.  If the music ends abruptly and you aren’t’ on your cue, or you get there early…the judges will know!  I put several possible beats close together so that the music allows a few spots close together which allows for a few possible halt spots.  Another hint, make the music varied enough (i.e. don’t loop the same notes repeatedly) because if you have several distinct marks in the music you can learn the feel of these as you practice.  This gives you a better measure of time and where you should be in the routine.  In case of a bolt or a bit of a rush to the test as sometimes happens in show conditions, you can adjust as needed.  Last year at NAJYRC this happened to me.  You can see this on the USEF Network website video.  Sjapoer’s eyes rolled up in his head, his ears flicked back and he made the trip across the diagonal as if it was a short side.  We weren’t even supposed to be on that side of the arena.  But I knew the spot in the music, because of a cue and estimated the remaining time.  I threw in an extra volte and then continued to where the program was supposed to be.  This is easier under rushed or crazy times if you have distinct cues in the music.

     Anyway I wanted to thank Evan Marks for his amazing work.  He even is keeping all my work so that if I want to make slight changes (even add or take out a second here or there) he can do it for me over the internet and send an updated program in minutes.  If anyone is looking for freestyle music help I suggest you email him at Mark Shapiro shapmark@me.com

    After we finished up it was back to LA with a quick stop at the house of one of Guy’s other new bands, “the Bolts.”  Great guys!  Their family was so welcoming and invited in for an impromptu party.  They even watched USEF videos to find out what ‘dressage’ was.  Reluctantly, after being invited back for a concert anytime, we headed home; ok with a quick stop at In and Out burger.  I guess this is a ‘must’ as Billy said for anyone visiting the area.  I have to admit though it was a pretty good burger.  However, the place was packed and when I told the guy behind the counter it was my first time to eat there he looked at me like I was from Mars. 

     Sunday was a relaxing day off.  We walked down Santa Monica pier, went to lunch with Billy’s friend Byron and his mom Barbara.  Then we went bowling in the afternoon and I lost second place to Byron by one pin. (I want a rematch!)  The evening was cut short to get back to the Hilton for an early Monday morning flight.  So I am headed home now for a short three days.  Then off to Sacramento to stay with Genay and attend the Jan Ebeling clinic.  Show season is almost here I am getting pumped.  First weekend in May at Whideby will be the start of the new dressage year for me.  I’m getting excited. 

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