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!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thank you all!

     So after the long four day journey home, as we literally pulled into the barn to unload Sjapoer I was on the Dressage radio show on the horsenetwork.com!  I am the last fifteen minutes of episode 217 with co-hosts Reese Koffler-Stanfield and Phillip Parkes.  You can listen at: http://dressageradio.horseradionetwork.com/2013/07/28/dressage-radio-episode-217-najyrc-winner-ayden-uhlir-and-debbie-mcdonald/

     What I find really interesting about doing a radio interview is listening to my voice.  Why is it that we always sound different in our heads than when we hear our voice outside of our own projection of it?  I mean have you ever said to yourself, do I really sound like that?  I think I sound like I am younger than I am and I laugh at myself frequently.  Maybe in my mind I think I am more sophisticated?  Anyway, one tip for all you junior riders out there; practice! Practice speaking in the mirror.  Write down what you want to say or to be sure to remember to say in an interview.  You might laugh at this but I wrote on my hand at NAYRC the names and how to pronounce the names of some people I really wanted to thank in my interview!  Unfortunately, I did this before my victory lap and when Sjapoer started galloping around the arena and my palms got a sweaty workout, it smudged!  So I have to come up with a better system.

     Another weird thing you don’t think of often is how you look in the pictures people post of you in articles and facebook.  I always see my friends Genay and Brandi looking like they just stepped off the pages of Vogue.  Even directly after a ride they have perfect posture, the raised arm of victory that is a classic Brandi.  They have beautiful smiles.  I always look goofy, my mouth makes some weird grin, my helmet is down over my eyes.  Mary Phelps talked about this at EDAP.  Give the photographers something they can use.  I did try something silly this year.  I wanted to blow a kiss to the camera while doing my victory lap.  I actually kissed my white gloves instead of pretending to.  I ruined my show gloves because they are now pink!  Don’t try that one.

     One other great thing that happened in KY, my friend Jessica looked at a beautiful 3 year old mare.  The horse is listed by the breeder Reese Koffler-Stanfield.  What a beautiful, sweet girl.  Jessica had the biggest grin riding her.  Three weeks under saddle and she was amazing.  They put up a tent she had never seen just before our visit.  The first time she saw the tent, mini was curious but went to it instead of bolting and was very nonchalant about the whole event.  She is really smart, her first day at the barn with Megan Moore and and Andrea Johnson at team CEO eventing she learned to bow!  I hope it works out for you Jessica.  If not, check out Minnie on Reese’s website at Maplecrest Farm.

    Finally, I want to thank all of the USDF and USEF staff for making my three years at NAJYRC so amazing.  This will always be a huge part of my memories of my teenage years and I will forever be thankful to everyone for the amazing fun, friendships and great riding!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Young Rider Freestyle at NAJYRC

Kentucky Conclusion

So a series of unfortunate events kept me from posting all week at NAJRYC.  First, my computer hard drive crashed!  Not only was this a big bad blog problem, but I am still in school at K12 and had exams to take.  Lots of calls later, I got extensions but what a hassle.

So back to all the events leading up to NAJYRC!  The dinner and water balloon fight with the Canadians was so much fun.  I met so many amazing people.  The food was great and the balloon fight was a bit lopsided with only two Americans; so it turned into a girls against boy bashing on Colby Dodd of British Columbia.  We spent time talking about EDAP and trying to hook up Lendon Gray and the Canadian Chef’s to make this amazing program open up to them.  Sunday was the EDAP ice cream social.  It started a bit shaky when Anna Campbell of Region 9 accidentally ate a piece of a peanut in crushed Snickers.  A Benadryl and a rescue from mom and things turned out all right in the end.  I was excited to see my old friend Cassie Schmidt there too.   I took the gang out to explore Razor Cave behind the house but we were way to chicken to go in because it looked like creepy crawly things were climbing on the ceiling.  Yuck.  But we did see a beautiful cherry red Chevy Super Sport 383 in the neighbor’s yard! We did get good team news as the submission by a teammate to EqEntries essay contest got the Region 6 NAJYRC a onetime grant of 1000 dollars.  Go Region 6!

Monday we moved to the KHP and Sjapoer and I got a lesson with Jeremy.  Things started to seem real.  It was finally upon us.  Tuesday at the jog I was a bit nervous as SJ and I have never had an uneventful jog.  They have ranged from broken toes to being lifted a few feet in the air!  I will say I got a lot of compliments on our airline stewardess-like black skirts and short sleeve blue cotton shirts.  I am happy to report it went very well.  There were a few tense moments when my teammate got held back and had a recheck.  But she passed and the team was set for Wednesday’s team ride.

Wednesday I got a late ride in the fourth round.  As we had only three riders and no drop score we got to have a later (haha 6:20) wakeup.  Having a team of three makes every second of every ride so important and it puts a lot of pressure on every rider because they know there is no back up.  You do not want to let your teammates down.  My mom and grandma spent the day in the stands watching every ride; keeping everyone updated on our standings.  I don’t let them tell me anything though.  I don’t like hearing scores.  I want to ride my ride without a goal in mind other than to do my best.  At the end of the day, we came out with a Silver Medal for Region 6.  Dinner back at the house was so fun.  It was full of laughter and stories that kept everyone in stitches for hours.  It was one of my favorite memories from KY.

Thursday was supposed to be a resting day, but there were so many meetings.  Riding for Jeremy, as his only student, is a tremendous privilege and has given me so much knowledge as a rider.  However, with every blessing comes a responsibility or two or twenty. All of those meetings some of you went to; I was at all of them (with my pulled neck) and had to listen just in case he asked me a question at any minute; I had to have a viable answer ready.  Stress!  The scrutiny becomes more intense and it seems like you get pulled in lots of directions!   But it is worth every second.  I would jump through fifty hoops a day if it meant having this opportunity.  The trainer, the teacher, the mentor, whomever is giving you their knowledge and time remember there are dozens of other girls (and guys) wanting that spot and how hard would they be willing to work to get that spot! BTW my practice ride with Jeremy went well. We spent lots of time working on halting and walking.  It was kind of a joke with Sadie Lahey and I from my team.  We both got dinged on our walks and halts.  Her trainer Karen Whitman jokingly was ‘demonstrating’ how to go about walking like a horse down the aisle of the barn.  Robert Dover gave Sadie some great tips on taking Uppa sauntering through the park.  Jeremy kept reminding me the halt is not about the halt but about the thoroughness before the halt.  And not to get after him in the warm up in the halt; he associates it then and the next 3 or 4 he will be tense and bracing and waiting for the punishment.  Most likely as this is a warm up one of those would be in my test. 

Friday, I had a great feeling of surety.  It was because of Sjapoer.  For the first time in over a week he looked and acted like himself.  He was pesky, and bugging for attention and to get out of his stall.  He looked like he was ready to explode with power.  He seemed to know it was a big day and he was ready.  I tried to start to zone out everything early in the day.  I got a call from Brandi Roenick and she gave me some last minute advice; which I have to say was spot on.  Thanks girl, I owe you.  I was the last rider of the day, which I have to say is my favorite spot to draw!  As you walk out and the scores are posted you know where you are at.  Although be careful, as your Geeky celebration dance is likely to get posted on FB by USEF!   I was really astounded by Gold this year.  Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to win and I worked all year to learn to do my best.  But this was my first year in Young Riders.  I had no expectations other than to do as well as I could and to show the judges how spectacular SJ is.  It just turned out really well.  So luckily my first year at Young Riders will be my last (unless someone has a great horse they want me to ride in it for them next year!) But Sjapoer and I plan to move on to Brentina Cup.  This will hold lots of challenges for us but Jeremy, Shauntel and I have already begun to work on the pieces needed.  Friday night it was dinner at Portofino’s with Jeremy and Roberta Williams!  What an honor.  But the best (and worst) part of the night was when I got to save Genay Vaughn’s life when she got stung by a bee.  We luckily had liquid Benadryl and an Epipen in the car and I ran out and got it for her.  Unfortunately, her foot swelled up and she was in pain.  So that was the second allergy related drama of the week.  Anyway I love you big sis and I cannot wait until Festival of Champions.  We already have a house rented to share.  Fun times ahead. 

Saturday because of the Gold on Friday was just ‘icing on the cake’ or as a team mom said, ‘the whip cream on the sundae.’  Again, I didn’t have expectations about the Freestyle.  In fact, I had never ridden it in this entire form in competition or an arena at all.  We had to make major changes to my old one and with such a short show season in Region 6, I didn’t have time to preform it as a whole.  Then when my music when out in the tempe changes I decided to just keep riding my program.  It did mess up my count in the movement I was in but I kept going.  When the music came back on, I finished on cue and felt good about that.  I hoped Jeremy noted it and would give me kudos.  So when we won Gold again and then the Fiona Bann Memorial Trophy for the Pursuit of Excellence I was elevated from cloud 9 to cloud 109!  I was really happy to realize later that Brandi’s name from last year will forever be just next to mine on that one! 

The best thing about the week though was getting multiple hugs from Jeremy!  I even have photographic evidence on FB now.  He cannot deny it.  I felt in those moments that his pride in the rides SJ and I put in at NAJRYC made all the hard work and sacrifice the last year worth it. 

So today I am in route back to Washington with SJ.  I am riding with two members of the British Columbia team that were gracious enough to give us a lift; Sydney Holme and Colby Dodd.  Thank you to you guys.  Without your ride to KY I wouldn’t have been here.  Glad I got to know you both better and good luck in your future dressage endeavors.   Well, I am off to try to get some sleep as Colby tries to steal more candy from me.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Kentucky Update

    Sjapoer arrived healthy, happy and very hungry.  After getting him settled into his suite at Reese’s (he lucked into the big mare and foal stall!) Jessica and I headed over to the Kentucky Horse Park to check on the Canadian horses that were arriving.  We helped get them settled in and after they tried to rope my mom on their team with a red maple leafed flag.  Monday, bright and early; (4 am Pacific Coast time for me) we were headed over to take care of the big guy.  He seemed a little stiff so the best massage therapist in town Jennifer Oliver came by and did some work on his neck.  We met her last year at NAJRYC when Sjapoer really wrenched his neck in transport and we had to have two massages a day all week.  So this year mom had her on call about a month before we came.  To show you what a small world this is, she knew exactly where Jeremy’s friend Reese’s place was because she has been doing their horses for about 6 years.  Her number if you need it in KY is 859-559-1315.
    Jessica and I did a little shopping.  I needed a black skirt for the jog outfit. We picked up the movie “The Call” from Redbox.  Holy Cow!  We had to stop the movie several times and then watch “Bewitched” afterward in order to go to bed.  What a surprise twist at the end.  Colby and his dad came over for dinner.  We had a lot of laughs talking smack about the US versus Canada water balloon fight on Wednesday.  Any American riders from any discipline at NAJYRC please come out and help defend the Red, White and Blue on Wednesday the 19th!  The food will be great too.  Mom’s making peach and brie quesadillas , her famous cucumber and tomato salad, chicken tortas and frozen key lime mousse cake.  Yum!  And don’t forget all EDAP people, ice cream social on Sunday night.
    After a light ride on SJ we headed over to the USDF and USEF offices to see if anyone needs any help.  It is getting a bit too relaxed just hanging at the house.  More horses are arriving every day so maybe we can help with set up.  Just give me a yell if you get here this week.  Then we decided to take SJ some Gatorade and bananas.  It was a little hot today and coming from Washington we have to watch his adjustment to this heat.  I want to make sure he is drinking a lot of water!  I also had to do several hours of homework.  One thing about being online schooled with K12, every year at KY I am finishing the semester and doing final exams and projects at the same time.  It’s a bit stressful.  Anyways, I made my famous pork chops on Thursday, garlic potatoes and corn on the cob.  I invited the early arrivals again.  Maybe we will have time for some board games.  We have Clue, Stratego, Scrabble and Risk here at the house.  There is also a pool table and a poker table.  I guess everyone is trying to artificially relax otherwise it would be a long two weeks until the competition.  Tonight’s movie will be “The Host.” Hopefully, it isn’t as scary as “The Call.”

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Arrival

So after my day with my dad shopping and giggling to the strange books at Urban Outfitters, I got to spend some time with my childhood BFF Madi.  She and I have been best friends since the first day of class together in first grade!  I even wrote a paper in school about the day we met.  Our friendship has never wavered in all these years.  I have so many photographs of so many vacations, parties and events in my life; Madi is in so many of them.  She knows all my secrets.  Some day when I make it to the Olympics Madi is the person who I will have to keep the press from talking to!

Friday was the quiet before the storm.  We drove out to the lake house late last night.  There were fireworks being shot off all along the route.  Traffic  would be hauling along and then come to a stop as people slowed to watch the amazing color spectrum exploding in flashes before their eyes.  The next morning was a late lazy day of tubing on the lake, water balloon fights, great food and old friends.  I even managed a little nap after hours in the sun.  Dinner was amazing; mom always tries to feed her former students well at the lake.  Perhaps it is a surrogate mom thing. We had fruit salad with a secret sauce that my former calculus tutor JJ (now a student at Baylor) named “mama sauce.”  He and I used to eat bowls of it.  Ally loves apples so I kept sneaking her mine.  I am really not a big apple person; except as applesauce on my steak! We had basil pesto pasta with sundried tomatoes and bacon.  I kept sneaking Marisa’s bacon.  In the morning mom and I jumped in the car and headed to Lexington.  I had a book to read, movies to watch and lots of road food!

We finally arrived in Kentucky after a straight 12 hour haul. I read a book most of the way, and jammed to some great tunes.  I think mom is much more appreciative of hip hop after several hours of hearing me singing it!  Just kidding, I think every generation is meant to torment the previous one with their music.  We stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner Saturday night and it made me think of my friend Courtney Bauer.  Her family loves Cracker Barrel.  When we went to shows together we ate there a lot.  I bought a bunch of blue packaged candy for Molly and Sadie’s “welcome to the house” bags I am making up tonight.  I love shopping at Cracker Barrel even more than eating there.  I could spend hours just reading all the strange packages and taste testing the candy.

Well on Sunday, mother and I waited anxiously at Starbucks to pick up Jessica Hainsworth at the airport.  She flew in from NY to be my groom at NAJYRC.  She is a great friend who dropped her summer plans to help me in KY.  Thanks Julia for letting Jessica come on such short notice.  I promise we will stay out of trouble.  J

After we got Jessica we headed to the house to unload, and then went to the grocery store for supplies.  Finally, I got to relax and wait for my guy to get here.  Yes, I am talking about Sjapoer!  He will always be the number one guy in my heart.  I am sure he will love to hang out at Reese’s place this week.  I hope we can avoid the severe heat we have had the last few years here in KY.   PS. No matter how hard you try and how well you plan, inevitably you forget something.  For me this year it was buckets! I have TONS of bucket hooks but no buckets. Looking for a feed/tack shop right now to grab some for SJ!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

On the road again!

It has begun!  The last few days have been whirlwinds of busy!  I had to run get all the last minute things on the list.  I think I made three trips to Olsen’s tack shop!  I needed moreulcerguard, more fly spray, a new whip (I still don’t know how my old one disappeared) and a billion other things.  My legs are full of cuts because I finally broke in my Konigs!  If Robert Dover and Jeremy are right I should have a much ‘prettier’ line with stiff boots than my baggy ankle ones!  I am smiling as I write this because at EDAP this year Robert told me I needed new boots and not a week later Jeremy did too!  They both said I had a beautiful leg line but my baggy soft ankles on my old boots weren’t cutting it!  So after my parents died of a heart attack from the cost and swore if I grew another centimeter they would stop paying for new clothes every three months; I got myKonigs!  We shall see if Robert and Jeremy were right and if the judges notice my enhanced line!
I also had to go to pick up my shad belly from the tailors. When you are putting your coat on after the warm-up while you are still on the horse, it is really tough to button the decorative piece across the middle inside your coat.  Jeremy has a great solution.  He has the tailor sew the two sides on permanently (or use snaps) and then cuts the middle so when you shut your jacket you close the front.  It is hard to explain but come by and seemine sometime!  It so saves time and when you are trying to quickly get your coat on and avoid a long enough period of rest to not let an antsy horse get amped or have to drop reins; it works great!
Then it is check and recheck your list, and load up.  I have to thank Colby Dodd for picking up Sjapoer and my stuff and hauling my love to Lexington.  You know I trust you Colby when I have faith in you to take care of my guy for me.  (Ok I did call and text about 10 times already on the first day; but I feel separation anxiety!)  I cannot wait to meet up in Kentucky.FYI, you know you are a horse person when you go on a trip and your horse has more luggage than you do!
Since the last show I have been doubling up on my visualization.  In fact, I drew a giant blue ribbon on the mirror in my bedroom and wrote next to it; focus and visualize. As I left my room that morning, I wasn’t even alive because the flight was at 6 am!  This meant a 4 am departure.  But I guess with the time difference between Seattle and Lexington I had better start getting used to it.  I think the heat might be more of an issue for Sjapoer and I this year.  Last year when we came from Texas it was actually cooler than it had been at home.  But SJ has really taken to the cooler Washington air.  I think it reminds him of Holland.  
When I got off the plane in Texas around noon today I thought; SJ isn’t the only one who doesn’t like the Southern heat any more.  I thought I had wilted.  My legs seemed to melt into the leather of the car seat.  My mom’s friend Alysee said this is a new spa treatment for cellulite; they sweat it off.  Too bad I am trying to gain weight.  I just feel like a gummy bear left in the window.
I spent my day hanging with the papa.  I haven’t seen him in about 4 months.  It was a lot of fun and  mom and I headed out to the lake house!  Friday it was swimming, beach volleyball and Texas BBQ.  I can taste the ribs now.  Saturday morning bright and early we headed straight to KY.