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, March 30, 2014

Birthday Week!

Friday was my 19th birthday!  My family has a tradition of having cake for breakfast and opening presents at the beginning of the day and not at night with dinner.  I think my mom started it because she could never wait.  She has no patience, but she said it was to start the day great!  I have to agree it starts things out right.  
Since I left home at 16 I haven’t had a birthday with my parents since then.  I have to admit it is one of the bigger sacrifices for the great opportunities I have to train out West.  It is strange that you don’t really think about it until you don’t have your family there with you for your special days.  Then when it happens it kind of stinks.  But we have come up with some creative ways over the years to celebrate together.  This year my mom took cake to one of her classes.  They took a video with everyone singing happy birthday to me.  They were actually pretty good. I hope the cake was payment enough for the performance. When I got up the morning of my birthday it was already posted on FB so I woke up to singing!  My grandmother had gotten cake here too so I ate cake here (with the two hour time difference) at around the same time they were in Texas.  I want to send them a warning that mom’s exams are really really tough.  Hear THS dual credit students have their first one Monday.  All I can say to you guys is, “may the odds be ever in your favor!”
I think my parents went a little crazy on posting old photos of me online.  I think they are starting to feel the full effect of me growing up away from home.  The empty nest is becoming more long term now that I am 19 and won’t come home as a kid again. I have to say I am glad they restrained from getting out any of the fat baby, or naked baby, or bath tub baby type photos.  Ugh!  Why do all parents love those?
I am going shopping today with Grandma at Nordstrom Rack to try to find an outfit to wear up to Oregon next weekend.  I am going to visit the Nike Campus!  I am so excited.  I will finally get to meet everyone and I can’t even begin to imagine all the great things I will see.  Sheryl is meeting me there and I’ll definitely keep everyone informed to any news they have for me.  For now I just swing between imagining all the possibilitiesand being terrified I’ll say the wrong thing or let people down.  I will be spending next week deciding what to pack for the Nike trip.
We didn’t do anything exciting Friday night.  I was at the CDI in San Juan after taking care of the horses at ACL while everyone was away.  There was a huge traffic jam on 5 and it took hours to get home.  I could never have imagined when I lived back in Joshua a highway with literally 12 lanes being like a parking lot of stopped cars as far as the eye could see.  So after going back to the barn to blanket we called in our favorite order (sausage penne and a Kelly pizza) to Crust and picked it up on the way home.  Crust is this really great Italian place just at the bottom of the hill from our apartment in Carlsbad.  If you are ever out here, stop in. Yum!!!
One amazing thing that happened this weekend was that I took a stalker type picture of Mitt Romney.  He was at the CDI watching his wife ride and I got a photo for my grandma.  Next time I will have to work up the courage to ask for a photo with him.  OK, I know it is geeky to stalk politicians instead of celebrities in California but I come from Texas and a very (loud) political family.  I know his wife has health issues with having MS so it was inspiring to hear she is out riding dressage! Anna had another solid ride this weekend I hear.  I unfortunately didn’t get to see it!  Sorry Anna!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

California Dream

Last weekend I attended my first CDI in California.  While I love Texas and I miss the hometown air, the CDI here in San Juan Capistrano was something to experience.  It felt like a completely different world.  At times I even felt like Dorothy in OZ.
I was sitting in the VIP tent (ok that alone is really new).  My trainer, Christine Traurig had a table and I got to be her guest.  I remember at one point looking up and I realized there were 2 Olympians at the table where I was sitting, Gunter was at the next table, directly behind them was Akiko Yamazaki.  Walking between the tables was Robert Dover and Debbie MacDonald.  I had died and gone to dressage heaven. I was just tingling as the air around me filled with all my heroes and heroines, my friend’s heroes and heroines and all the people whose videos I have watched in awe for my whole life.  I wondered, like Dorothy I bet, how I ever ended up here?  What decisions, what twists in my road led me to this point?  I have no idea; but I am so very thankful and awed to have these opportunities.  I really hope that everyone in California and Florida realize how unbelievably lucky they are.  I mean when I got to the show I looked at the day sheets and there were 21 CDI PSG rides!  That isn’t even including the open show PSG rides.  Back home we were lucky if there were half of that in any FEI high performance level class. There were only a couple riders that regularly rode FEI level classes.  Just having the opportunity to watch these people ride is an education.
And did I ever get to watch some amazingly beautiful rides.  Anna Buffini had the most gorgeous Young Rider test!  So proud of you!  Steffan’s ride on his new horse Rosie was enough to make me pray for a horse with half that potential someday.   To just sit in the saddle of a horse like that is what all of us dream about.  I heard Debbie MacDonald say she would put money on Rosie holding major international titles in the next 5 years.  The quality and breadth of the horses here is phenomenal.  I hope we are all thankful for the opportunity to have these amazing athletes, friends, and partners in our lives.  We had better not take them for granted.
I have to say I am thankful for the ability to be here and experience so many new and wonderful things.  I am awed and thankful for the opportunity to grow in my sport, but at times I miss Courtney and hanging in the RV.  Sometimes I miss eating too many NAJYRC cupcakes and feeling sick.  Sometimes I miss running errands for Kathy and the HDS. Miss you guys and the cupcakes!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My First Week

My first week as a Nike athlete has been more than I could have imagined.  I got to fly to Wellington for the USET fundraising dinner.  What fun.  And they raised over 300,000 for the WEG team.  I got to see my friend Bebe ride, dress in a cute new dress and talk to lots of amazing people.  On the other hand, the airline flights were delayed on the way to Wellington and I had to fly through the night and got no sleep.  Then on the way back they had not re-ticketed the return when they changed my flight so what was a quick flight arriving back in San Diego by 10am now didn’t get me home until almost 9 pm!  I missed a radio interview!  Sorry Reese!  I promise any time you want me I’ll make it up to you.  The flight mess ups meant no sleep in over 48 hours and I am a bit slap happy. 

I did get to show Sheryl Shade, my agent, a few Wellington landmarks.  We met Sue Weakley at Cilantro’s for an amazing lunch interview.  Although there were no polo players there (bummer) the food is so amazing.  I can’t live without their prosciutto!  Then we ran over to the GDF and watched a few rides of Sheryl’s first ever horse show!  Right away she caught on to some of the details of our sport.  I was impressed.  The juniors were riding their tests at that time and we saw some of my friends ride.  Good job Bebe and Cassie.  Then we ran back to the hotel for a quick change before dinner.  At the dinner Sheryl and I got to take some photos and talk to Ken Braddick and Sue Weakley.  Sheryl was kindly introduced to people by Mike and Sarah Davis.  Thank you for opening up our dressage family to her!  I really appreciate it!  The best part was getting to spend time with my little sis Bebe!  Miss you already.

After dinner  and as the party was coming to a close, Sue, her assistant Meg and I had some real off the mike ‘girl time.’ I laughed so hard my gut hurt.  It was fun having some social time when I got to kick off my shoes (literally) and just be silly.  That is a rare thing in my everyday life. 

So as I was stuck with a nearly four hour layover in Newark thinking about what this week has meant to me.  In all the motion the thing that struck me this week was how quickly the news of Nike’s involvement in dressage circulated around the horse world.  Equine websites from the Netherlands to Sweden and Australia posted the info in the first days.  By Saturday afternoon, I was looking up web codes like .ws and .nu to figure out where some of these places were.  I found out that there must be a big equestrian community on the Island states of Samoa and Niue.  I must admit that I had heard of Samoa (Hurst, Texas has a big Tongan and Samoan community) I had never even heard of Niue!  I mean had you?  After the excitement of just imagining some young girl dreaming of horses and dressage while riding on the island surf died down, I reflected on what that really meant to me.  What I felt was that our shared love of horses made the world a much smaller place.  They weren’t interested in me directly.  They were interested in the idea that our love of equestrian sports might be seen for the unifying world force it is.  On my first plane ride today,  I read a story about the Saudi Arabian jumping team, an Irish trainer, a Brazilian breeder and a German jumping legend.  What could tie all of us together economically, politically and spiritually in all our diversity was a shared love of horses. Many cultures around the world, on every continent have hundreds if not thousands of years of equine traditions embedded in their histories.  It is a shared history beyond conflicts and religion.  It is a shared love beyond financial imbalances.  As the news spread, I saw for me a new understanding of what Nike could be starting here.  I hope this Nike wave grows and everyone can see what a shared love of horses can do to unite us.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Big News

  On Monday I signed a contract to become Nike's first ever equestrian athlete! 

How this amazing thing came about I'll leave for another blog.  What it means for me I imagine, is the support, opportunities and recognition that the world's premier athletic company can provide.  It means access to mainstream media and sponsors.  It means awareness and perhaps a growth in the fan base for equestrian sports.  I have had the last few months to get used to the idea and to make a lot of changes in my life to be able to maximize on this opportunity.  I want to do and be my best for Nike,  for Sheryl Shade, for myself and for dressage.  I want their experiences in our industry to show them the beauty, discipline, power and harmony of our human and equine competitors. I want them to be proud of their faith in me and perhaps increase their participation and involvement in our industry. 

In this generation of increasing recognition of niche sports, Nike focusing a lens on us could bring great change for us all!  In the immediate future Nike sent me to some great agents. I really hit it off with Sheryl Shade of Shade Global.  She is so amazing!  In the Sochi Olympics she represented 6 athletes, 5 medaled (6 total medals!).  She will be with me at the USET dinner this weekend in Wellington. I hope everyone can help me welcome her and Nike into our industry with a warm heart and show them all we have to offer!

I am so excited for the future!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rule Changes!

    So I decided to do what Janet Foy told us to do at the RDHMW and read the USEF Rule Book!  Ok so the dressage section is 96 pages!  It often refers back to the General Rules so I read those too!  But I learned a great many things.  So thanks Janet for your advice.
    I will admit that at times my eyes glazed over and I had to put down the seemingly endless lines of words strung together like patio lights.  I got blinded by the details at times and had to put it away and come back later because there were many gems hidden in among the rules.  I mean what can better give us an idea of the goals, the motivation and the thinking of an organization but what its rules are?
   I also admit I spent a few days on the USEF website.  I opened every link and read every line.  I have to say that although there is lots of information the site is difficult to find if you don’t know what you are looking for.  If you are a teenager who just wants to see what is out there and get some motivation or information it is hard.  This website is definitely geared toward people in the know. However, given that if you want to find it and are willing to spend hours in front of the computer screen reading everything; you will find it.
    Before I get to any of the specific details I found.  I want to start with DR rule 101 which is about the purpose of Dressage as a sport!  I love the way it describes what the goal of our equine partnerships are all about.
    DR 101 (excerpts) The purpose of dressage is to develop the horse into a ‘happy athlete.’ This is demonstrated by freedom and regularity of gaits; harmony, lightness and ease of movement; lightness of the forehand and engagement of the hindquarters originating from a lively impulsion; acceptance of the bit with submission and thoroughness without any tension or resistance.  This all results in an image of the horse doing, of ITS OWN ACCORD (my emphasis), what is required. Confident and attentive and submitting generously to the control of the rider….the horse responds to the slightest indication of the rider and thereby gives life and spirit to all the rest of its body.  By virtue of a lively impulsion and the suppleness of the joints, free from the paralyzing effects of resistance, the horse obeys willingly and without hesitation and responds to the various aids calmly and with precision, displaying a natural and harmonious balance both physically and mentally.
  I LOVE THAT description.  It sounds like live art in motion.  It sounds like effortless poetry.  

One interesting thing I found in the rule changes from the convention was related to sponsorships.  We now have three places according to 120.15 and 120.1 DR. and GR 1306 to place individual sponsorships and logos.  We have the 200 cm 2 on both sides of the ‘saddle cloth’.  We have 80 cm2 on either side of the jacket or top garments at the height of the breast pocket. We also can have logos appear on headgear although size doesn’t seem to be mentioned.  This is in the paragraph with the breast pocket so I would assume it is the same 80cm2 but I may have to check on that!