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!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Info and an Update!

I have had a fun (not) few days. First, I woke up Monday feeling really crappy. You know the signs, feverish achy and overall crap. Then in the afternoon as I am blundering in misery about the apartment, I somehow mysteriously, totally wrenched my back. So within a matter of hours I am at the chiropractor getting electrode treatments, getting iced, and the usual ‘yanked’ around. Tuesday, I was supposed to have a lesson but the Dr. said no way I should sit in a saddle and get bounced around. I had twisted my lower lumbar and pinched a nerve. The inflammation and pain is not the worst part however; that is the boredom that comes from lying around all day doing nothing! I can’t stand to be inside all day. I have definitely realized I could never work in an office job. I literally felt like my body was pacing while I was sitting on the couch. I don’t do inactive well. I think after two days of this my grandmother might be ready to call in reinforcements.

The worst part is worrying about SJ. I haven’t seen him for two days. That is tough. I get worried that he misses me. That he wonders where I am. I guess this is how people feel about their soul mates; mine is just a horse! All you horse people out there know exactly what I am talking about. Ok, and you dog people (that means you Aunt Julie) know exactly what I mean.

I also feel anxious because I want SJ and I to be working on our goals. We have a lot of work to do if we want to be successful next year at Brentina or I1. I don’t want to miss a single day of working toward that goal. I also get frustrated because I have this AMAZING trainer in Jeremy Steinberg and I hate to miss even 5 minutes of his knowledge. So Wednesday, when I still couldn’t ride I at least got to go watch Jeremy ride my baby. It was the first time he sat on SJ. I was really excited to watch him.

Another positive thing this week was that International Riding Helmets did a featured rider FB post on me and it was so cool. One thing in the last few years I have been working on is getting sponsorships and assistance with the many costs and supports that are needed in our sport. I know this is a huge question for a lot of you junior and young riders. How to get help? My first advice would be to ‘brand’ yourself. You have to let companies and individuals know what you stand for and what you represent. Companies that have the same values and want to have the same image will be whom you seek out or who seek you out. I will have more on this strategy next time!

Another announcement this week; EDAP again in January! I am really excited. I have to say this is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite events in the year. It is better than a lot of holidays for me! I can’t wait to see everyone and get to spend noncompetition time together. Every year at EDAP I make new friends that become such a big part of my life. Genay, my big sis and I really solidified our friendship there last year. My great friend and the best ever Groom Jessica I met there my first year. You all know how imperative she has been to my success this year. Brandi, I met the first year and she gives me great competitive strategy advice! She even called me at NAYRC from Europe after watching my first ride to straighten me out for the second day! I visited her last week at the local show and we talked about our long term goals in dressage. It really helps having a peer group support network of fellow riders. I made these at EDAP! I already have visions of the new friends I will make and the old ones I will cement. We are going to have a lot of fun everybody! Let me know when you guys are getting into Wellington. I will be there a few days early so let me know your plans and we can all get together.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Some News!

I have moved to California! My trainer Jeremy Steinberg relocated from Kirkland, WA to Del Mar, California. I came with him to this more competitive market as it was a great opportunity for my dressage career. While the choice was not hard for me and I jumped on the chance, there were some ‘issues.’ For example, my parents were a bit distraught that I might give up my full ride education to Seattle University a private four year 40K a year institution! However, I called SU and the Redhawks graciously deferred my enrollment for up to two years with my scholarships intact. This gives me a bit of time to see where this opportunity leads me and the safety net of school later. I also intend to apply at UC San Diego and several other schools here for the spring. I also still have the transfer option to Cornell as well through my sophomore year. The next issue was expense. We had just moved grandma and I into a new apartment literally the day before Jeremy announced his move. That meant a broken lease, new deposits in California….ugh! But my amazing parents and grandma stepped up and continued their support of my goals by making all the pieces come together. THANK YOU!

The tricky part was heading to KY for the Festival of Champions; sending SJ back to CA not to WA and moving me and my stuff while I was in KY. My mom and grandma didn’t attend the FOC this year because instead they loaded everything into a Uhaul, made the 22 hour drive and unloaded the UHaul in the new apartment in Carlsbad in 3 days! They are amazing women. Ok, so they had a little help as mom brought Ryan Jordan, one of her former students and I got a friend of mine to help with the heavy lifting. They somehow managed to get it all in and have nearly everything but my boxes unpacked before I got home on Tuesday.

SJ got in Saturday morning. He is doing well and seems to love his new home. It is so beautiful here and the weather is perfect. I hear it is like this all year, sweaters in the evenings and morning. Shorts in the afternoon! I cannot wait to get to the beach. I am really excited to be at Ridgemar Equestrian center, mere minutes from the Del Mar horse park. Jeremy will have less flight time and be home more so I will be getting 3-4 lessons a week from him and when he is gone there are so many wonderful trainers here I have a plethora of amazing clinicians to see. I met the dressage trainer here Marie Medosi and she seems very sweet and welcoming. I am going to start working for her a few days a week.

I spent the morning working on my submission to the new owner’s website. I spent the day just hanging around the barn all day watching SJ. He isn’t known to be a great hauler so I have to literally sit with him all day to keep an eye on him. No one knows him like I do and they might not catch some change in his behavior as quickly after a long haul. I did have to meet the shippers at 7 am and I left without a coat, or having eaten so I learned a lesson about that…

A few glitches about moving in, exhaustion from the FOC and the move put me firmly on the couch most of the week! I felt mentally and physically depleted. But over the weekend I started getting my energy back and even started running every day. I need to build up my endurance. My knees hate pounding the pavement though. I may have to think of an alternative. Grandma keeps trying to encourage my getting out and about by telling me there are cute guys in our complex. However, I have yet to see one so I think she is making it up!

I saw Caroline Roffman is leasing Pie. My mom spoke to her about it but he has to stay and show in Wellington. She was really, really nice and the next time I get down there I am going to visit her facility. If anyone is going to be there I think he would be an amazing investment of your time and money! Also if you haven’t heard Tina Konyot is looking for working students. If I hadn’t already committed for the next few years here that would be a great opportunity! Check on it.

Jessica Hainsworth finished her applications for college this week! Good luck Jess. I have my fingers crossed for you. I know how hard it is to try to pursue dressage and an education for a lot of riders our age. I got an email from Megan Heeder from the same EDAP clinic I met Jessica at. She also has lots of questions about this subject. It seems to be perhaps one of the biggest issues that loses dressage so much young talent. I know it is becoming a bigger discussion topic with so many of the coordinators and supporters at the highest levels. Stay tuned for more on this topic soon.

Friday, October 18, 2013


So it has been another eventful week! It seems like these big shows are about months of planning and preparation and then days of frantic execution. No matter how much you plan ahead something always isn’t how you thought it would be. You forget your warm-up boots. Your horse refuses to go near the awards arena because he is terrified of carriages. It rains. It pours.

On Tuesday, after a morning lesson with Jeremy we had an EDAP dinner at our house. It is always so fun to get everyone together. I think one of the great benefits of many different junior and young rider programs are the friendships you build at noncompetitive events. I have gained such great support and understanding from other riders like my big sis Genay Vaughn. We rented a house together at FOC this year so we got to spend a lot of time reconnecting. I love her mom so much. She and my mom have got to be the two highest energy women I have ever met. Genay and I spent some time swapping mom stories you can be sure! I also wanted to say I am so PROUD of Genay. Her first year at Brentina Cup she and DW were Reserve Champion! You set a high bar for those behind you to live up to (and I don’t just mean in competition). I stumbled upon a deck of cards at the EDAP party and lets just say we are a group of very competitive people!

Wednesday was the jog and they are becoming a lot less eventful than they used to be for SJ and I. Maybe I shouldn’t jinx it. As you guys know, he and I have had a few moments in the past. He has lifted me several feet off the ground. My feet have somehow gotten under his. He gets so nervous and he keeps trying to move in closer to me. He is such a big guy though it is really hard for him to physically jump in my lap! Sometimes I think he has the spirit of a dog and not a horse.

The first day of competition I was not pushing him too hard. He really wasn’t feeling right and he gave a decent ride but I didn’t push him for brilliance at all. I went for accuracy and then messed up my counts. Why is it at home I can count to 3 and 4 but in the ring sometimes I leave the counting to SJ?

Friday I had a few baubles that were not too major and we ended up Young Rider Champions. It was really an amazing end to an amazing two years with SJ. Even our first difficult year together was part of the thrill of doing so well these last two years. We have come a long way together and he has given me such opportunities.

I went to the launch of the new website to match owners and riders on Friday night. Amazing idea! I will definitely be signing up soon. Be sure to check it out on FB and their website. ExperienceDressage.com

Saturday was the charity celebrity mounted games to raise money for USEF. It was so fun. I was horribly slow. I guess dressage has trained me for accuracy not speed. Anyway we raised I believe over 20,000 for USEF and had so much fun doing it.

I have been hanging out in Lexington ever since waiting for Brookledge to pick up SJ and take him home.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Well the 2013 Festival of Champions adventure has begun. I flew to DFW on Wednesday morning. A lovely 4 am wake-up call for a 6 am flight. I arrived and walked out of the terminal and started to melt! My first order of business was changing into shorts to deal with the 50 degree weather change. Then mom had a dozen errands to run before the trip which was exhausting. We met papa for dinner at Olive Garden and then early to bed. It was time to start adjusting to the three hour time difference for FOC. In the morning it was off to get straightened by Dr. Bell. Every equestrian had better find a good chiropractor early the are worth their weight in gold. I see dr. Bell every time I am in DFW. Then it was off to shop for shoes for my jog outfit. Directly after we hit the road for a fourteen hour haul to Lexington. I wondered what mom would do this time to try to kill me, it is a family joke that every time we go on a long haul some event occurs where I get injured! I have had my head shut in the hatch door, been fed walnuts that I am allergic to and all sorts of trauma. It didn't take long until I found out this years. She spilled concentrated liquid ant killer in the car. Even after having the carpets scrubbed twice the fumes burned all the hair out of the inside of my nose. Friday bright and early we pulled in to Lexington. We went straight to Reese's Maple Crest Farms where SJ stays before we are in Ky. I just love her facility and dream of some day having such a place to calmly own. Everyone there is just so nice. They dote on SJ and with the deep thick green grass and the huge pastures I don't think he ever wants to leave. Then we were off to the house we rented for dinner and early bed. Mom found a different place then the one we normally stay at while in KY. It is even closer to the KHP but smaller so when we aren't here for region team events it is a perfect size for us. We are sharing with my sister-friend Genay Vaughn her mom and my groom Jessica Hainsworth. I am so excited to see them both. Part of the fun of these big competitions is getting to see them.

Today it was back to the barn to feed, ride, clean and talk to my fellow Washingtonian pony rider Nadine. We had fun talking about what she can expect this week at FOC. I can't wait to meet my fellow mounted games team riders. Go team George Williams. Check out my FB to get the link to donate and help the United States Equestrian Team. The week will get crazy fast.

I have a lesson with Reese Sunday and Monday then it is off to the KHP. The jog is Wednesday and then directly after a jr/yr meeting and then the welcome party. Thursday is the team test and Friday the Individual test for Young Riders. Saturday is the mounted games charity event and the competitors party. Then Sunday off on a new adventure I will tell you all about soon!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Kentucky again!

   Well I am getting packed for Kentucky!  Everything is getting washed, boxed and ready to go.  It feels like I did this only last week for NAYRC.  One question I wish someone had an answer for is how to keep barn Gremlins from making off with everyone’s stuff.  I mean when you get that pink embroidered bedazzled whip you thought it was the only one on the planet.  Yet inevitably there are 3 in the barn and none are yours!  So Jeremy and I have been having four lessons a week for the last month. One of the things I really do work and concentrate on is trying to implement the corrections and changes that he and the judges suggest.  I try to be open to exploring different ideas on how to tackle a problem or training issue.  You would be surprised where some of the biggest ‘ah ha’ moments come from. It is also amazing how long it takes to fix bad habits.  I have historically skinny chicken wing arms.  It has taken a very long time to get them tucked in!  I think because they grew before my body.  
  In the last few years you may have observed that I like to do research when I have a question.  I like to gather information, make lists and think about things for a while before coming to decisions.  Maybe this is a reaction to living with my "jump off the cliff without looking" mom, but I like to make powerpoints and files.  I also like to collect things.  I kind of horde and can’t stop collecting things until I have the set.  For example, remember happy meals at McDonald’s?  I always had to get every action figure in the set  Anyway, I have all my Breyer horses labeled with their model number etc. and I kind of laugh at myself about this.  My point is one of the suggestions I have to youth riders is to do the research.  Before I go to a show I look up who the judges, stewards, vet, show secretaries, and other personnel are at the show.  If I don’t know them already I google and try to find a picture.  I want to be able to say hello and call them by name or perhaps know something about them.  For example, the name of their horse or dog is always a great piece of information.  This helps me to relax around strangers and to make people of ‘power’ seem more human and less scary.  Try it and see if it helps you other shy people.  I know most people don’t think I am shy and I am not; AFTER I have that first opening to meet people.   
   Finally, I have been making jewelry for the last week.  I am so excited to see so many people in KY that have been so helpful to Sjapoer and I this last year.  We will be staying at Maple Crest Farms with Reese Koeffler-Stanfield again.  I have to say everyone listen to her radio show the next few weeks!  I can’t wait to tell everyone on her show about some big changes in my life coming up soon.  I won’t spill the beans until then so tune in to the Dressage Radio Show! See you all next week in Kentucky!