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!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Riding Camps

Last year, I spoke at the Oregon Dressage Societies overnight dressage summer camp.  I had a great time and envied the kids sleeping out in tents and waking up feet away from the barn.  How many of us have dreamt of making a bedroom out of one of the stalls in the barn?  The facility at DevonWood is amazingly beautiful in that lush green way that only the Northwest can achieve. All the kids I spoke to and got to know said it was a truly great experience.  I emailed them this week to ask if they needed any help this year. It’s August 4th-7th.  Wouldn’t it be cool for us to all get time together, helping young riders, and sleeping under the stars after chatting until the early hours?
When I emailed them about volunteering they asked if I could post about the camp.  And then I thought what a great idea for a blog.  I went to the web to get information on all the other Region’s youth summer camps (and not private facility ones) and thought to share all the info with you.
Well I didn’t find any!  Region 6, it looks like from the web; is the only GMO sponsored youth camp.  If there are other USDF/GMO sponsored camps please post and let us know.  Use this blog or my FB!  The ODS site is www.oregondressage.com/youth-summercamp.html You can also contact the Region youth coordinator, my old Chef Jodi McMaster at jodimcmaster@yahoo.com. She is really helpful for all things youth in Region 6. They also have many scholarship opportunities!
Then I went to Lendon’s Dressage4Kids site to get all of her summer activities.  And as usual here is where I find the jackpot!
June 26-27th at Hampton Green Farms in Michigan she is holding an EDAP clinic.
June 28th is the Midwest Youth Festival also at Hampton Green Farms
For both of those dates see http://www.hamptongreenfarm.com/news-single/items/id-2014-lendon-youth-dressage-festival-midwest-features-an-excit.html#1
July 29- August 3rd is the Courtney Dye Horsemastership Clinic at Hassler Dressage in Maryland.
August 8-10th is the event , I think, started it all with Lendon’s Youth Festival.  The Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, NY.  Opening registration date is June 11th and closing date is July 8th.  This is a competition based youth event but they have really amazing and unusual classes.  They have leadline, handler classes, judging sport horse conformation, a trail class, an art contest and even a tack room contest.  This sounds like so much fun.  I know many Junior and Young Rider champions like Bebe Davis and Isabelle Leibler grew up hanging out at this very festival in the summer.  I hope to be there this year helping in some capacity!
I didn’t see any USDF summer clinics planned.  Probably because of Gladstone and NAJYRC!  They are so busy.  However, there are more clinics and youth events after summer for both D4K and USDF.  Just check out their sites.
Finally, don’t forget the USEF high school equestrian athlete program which is a fun way to keep track of your time in sports activities like other high school athletes and get really great stuff!  I love my jacket and sweatshirts that I earned participating in this program all four years of school.  The website to check it out is https://www.usef.org/highschool/.

Well have a great summer and stay cool in the saddle.

On the www.dressage4kids.org/events/ site you can find out her ever updating schedule.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

San Diego Fires

This is a special update on the evacuation around San Diego.  The last few days have been some of the most dramatic and amazing events in my horse life.  I have never been so proud of people before.  Everyone came together to help the horses, dogs, cats and other animals needing shelter.  There were so many volunteers I think they outnumbered the horse people!  
It all started with a text from my friend Anna Buffini.  She wondered how we were doing as she had heard Albert Court was evacuated.  I had just gotten home from my morning at the barn and hadn’t heard anything.  I literally hung up from her and got a call from Korie.  I skipped my shower, jumped into clean clothes and head back to the barn.
By the time I got to the barn there had been a frenzy of packing and loading of the basics of what we thought we might need.  It is amazing what you select to value when you’re limited in space.  Really it was just the animals and their food and immediate health needs.  However, we didn’t know for how long we might be evacuated or if there would be anything to return to so we had to take enough for a few days.  Korie had us in the trucks and moving in under 20 minutes.  It was almost like an army going off to battle; we got in the trucks and headed to Del Mar.  There we were met with full barns and a ‘no room for you at the inn!’ I never realized how many horses there are in this small region of Southern California! So we headed to Del Mar race track where we found refuge.
My grandmother was worried during the evacuation that I hadn’t been home to eat all day and that I would pass out from hunger.   I had a case of water in my car, and Sheryl brought us some great snacks.  The excitement and high energy of the day, I think, had everyone working on fumes.  However the camaraderie, the feelings of accomplishment at handling a crisis so well, the stories bouncing around the barn, the unusualness of the situation made it a truly unforgettable day.  I am so proud of Christine’s barn manager Korie Hanseth.  She rocks!  Thanks to all the volunteers and to Del Mar l for taking us in, and thanks to Heather for lending us her trailer to transport our horses!
As you know the fires kept flaring over the next few days.  Although the horses were back home relatively quickly the fires moved to near grandma and my apartment.  I was at the barn with the horses and I was so worried about her.  She tends to be old school and, “stick it out” in her attitude.  Also I had the car so if they asked her to evacuate she had no way to leave.  I called my friend Owen who lives in our complex and had him on standby to rescue grandma.  When she received the reverse 911 to be prepared to evacuate she packed a small suitcase and was ready to go.  We did have some long discussions about the choices you make about what to rescue when you have only minutes to pack and you may lose everything.  What do you take?  Grandma wanted to rescue photo discs and my FEI medals!  I told her to just get herself out nothing else mattered.  She stubbornly packed the photos though.  Maybe it is age that makes memories of the past so precious but I was worried as without my parents here she is now becoming as much my responsibility as I am hers.  
Well we are back to a regular schedule and only a little smoke lingers in the air.  I want to take a moment to say thank you to all the amazing volunteers and especially the emergency response teams and our amazing firefighters. 

Monday, May 12, 2014


Mother’s day weekend was so special.  I got to go home for the first time in almost two years and be with my family (and even though it was mother’s day weekend that meant papa too)!  I flew to DFW late Thursday night and my parents greeted me at the airport with big smiles and our traditional ‘family sandwich’ which is basically just a giant threesome hug.  It was a bit sideways so I don’t know if I was a piece of bread or the cheese this time, but it still makes me feel warm and loved!  I was so hungry after the long flight and I had a list of Texas foods I was missing.  I made it a bit of a mission to have Sonic, Schlotzsky’sand real sweet tea while I was home. Unfortunately, it was so late I had to get In and Out burger but at least I got sweet tea!  The next morning, I dropped mom off at the university to teachmaymester while I had appointments.   She had my morning scheduled down to the minute.  This weekend can explain a bit about my mom.  She gave me a piece of paper like a schedule with the names, phone numbers and physical addresses of where I needed to be and when.  She also adds things like what to ask and ‘don’t forget to’ notes.  She is an organizational queen.
I ran a bit late from my last appointment due to traffic so by the time we got to meet up with everyone going to the lake we were over an hour late.  This meant the usual 2 hour drive out to the lake took almost 4!  I think everyone was really frustrated by then and I know that mom, who also thinks lateness is rude was having a hard time not trying to make our car into a teleportation device.  Her driving, I will admit, reflected her impatience.  But once we got to the lake its natural peace and beauty had us all relaxing.  It was around 7 so we all jumped in the water for a late swim (yes in Texas in May it is still in the 80’s that late in the day).  Mom ran to the store for food and we all began to relax.  Mom came back from shopping and whipped up, in her usual gourmet way, pesto pasta with sundried tomatoes and bacon, spinach strawberry and spiced almond salad withraspberry vinaigrette and for dessert we had homemade cookies which she later made into ice cream sandwiches with mint chocolate chip ice cream. Later we went down the road for a walk in the graveyard.  It is funny how something you see regularly becomes scary in the dark and every branch becomes a ghoul’s arm reaching out to get you.  We sat up playing slapjack and BS until the wee hours.  It was fun to get a chance to be a kid again.  Most everyone there was either just graduated from high school like me or a senior this year.  We are at that stage where we are in a hurry to be adults and sometimes embarrassed to act 12 again, but under certain conditions it is almost a relief to be able to be a carefree kid again.
Saturday, even though we probably didn’t fall asleep until around 3, we were up by 8 and eating stuffed French toast and bacon.  Then mom scooted us out the door for more swimming, volleyball, water balloon fights and just lazing in the sun.  It was a totally unique and relaxing day full of all my favorites.  I am such an outdoor athletic kid that I don’t like to sit it watching tv or playing games.  I have to be moving.  Ok, I am not always graceful and I really made a fool of myself doing a high kick and falling on my tail bone; but at least I am up and moving!
Mom taught us all to expand our horizons when she put apples, spinach, pesto, turkey and provolone on our sandwiches for lunch and taught us how to make hobo pies.  Another thing I love about my mom, she is the ultimate hostess.  She makes sure everyone has what they need and feels included.  She wants everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves.  So she spends every minute taking care of the details like the food, making a trash can full of water balloons, hanging the towels to dry and pulling weeds on the volleyball court.  It is like she mothers everyone simultaneously.  Papa came in the afternoon and we allsat around either napping or just chatting.  I got to really build some new friendships bonding over sunburns and injuries.  
I think going to the lake is like leaving your life and taking a break to be in another life.  You set aside your regular cares and focus only on the sun, the sand, the water and the people with you.  I really want to thank mom and dad for making this weekend possible.  I want to thank all of my new friends Hudson, Ashlee, Noelle, Chavius, Alex, Jordan, Lizzy, Sabrina, Jake, Ryan, Zane, Katherine, Brenna, Winston and my old friends Timothy and Marisa for an amazing weekend home.  I’m sorry my eternal klutziness made me have to be carried half the weekend!  Now you know why I like to be on the back of a horse most of the time; it keeps me from injury.
A final mother’s day thanks to my mom, you like many other amazing women out there do not have to be the birth mother of a child to fill (if even for a while) the role of a mother.  Over the years I know I have shared my mom with dozens, heck hundreds, of other kids.  She genuinely cares about people and their burdens and fears.  She genuinely wants to help people to grow and become happy and fulfilled individuals.  She works tirelessly not just to help me but everyone she meets.  You are amazing mom and I (and your hundreds of other ‘kids’) love you and thank you for helping us to become the adults we will be!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I'm Coming Home

So much to share with everyone this week!  I had my first photo shoot.  Elma Garcia-Cannavino the highly acclaimed photographer graciously rearranged her schedule and on less than a week’s notice brought her whole crew out to Albert Court for a full day of action.  I never realized photography required so much equipment.  Everything is so technical now.  Her computer guy James was really amazing.  I think he may have my grandmother convinced to actually get rid of her old film camera and try digital!  Grandma was in her element being everyone’s ‘assistant.’  She ran for water.  She wiped Sjapoer’s mouth.  If you know my grandmother’s extreme fear of horses you would know what a big deal that is.  She has been trying to conquer her fear for years and I think Sjapoer is growing on her.  We did so many different settings and backdrops.  Nike was really amazing and had (on a day’s notice) a blanket made and shipped down for SJ so he could wear his official Nike gear too!  Christine and I had a really great time on our dual shots.  She is so beautiful.  Elma kept raving about her cheekbones.  Christine said she had a sister that was a model.  I could see that!  
I am heading to Texas this weekend.  My yearly visit home for eye doctors and dentists and the dreaded physical is upon me.  I fly down really late Thursday so I can ride Thursday morning.  Friday is a day for appointments and then Friday night we are driving out to the lake house.  Mom is throwing a really late graduation/19th birthday party for me.  I think it was just an excuse so that I can see everyone at one time.  I only have one day and really want to see everyone.  So if all y’all Texans in DFW have Saturday off come on out.  FB, text or message me for directions and info!  We will be playing sand volleyball, swimming, having a BBQ and a bonfire.  I have to head back to town Saturday night to fly home Sunday and probably won’t be back for at least another year.  That is one of the really tough parts about living and training away from home.  Friendships at a distance are hard to maintain.  They take a lot more work and commitment than the ease of the person next door.  I have been blessed to have so many great friends all over the country who really stay as close as we can.  
I bought my tickets to Gladstone and to Hampton Green Farms for my June trips. I have to thank the KWPN-NA for awarding me the 2014 Willy Arts Grant for developing young pairs.  This money is going to allow me to travel to some really great competitions and educational events this year.  I am so excited to see Anna, Bebe and all my friends compete at the Festival of Champions.  It is going to be a new one for me going to a competition I am not competing in, however Sheryl Shade and I have coordinated some exciting things I can’t wait to share with you.  This summer is going to be crazy busy.  I hope to be taking a buying trip to Germany this summer.  As so many of you know I really need a new horse and that is the number one priority for me and my support team this year.  Then in the fall Nike is coming with me to the WEG! We haven’t worked out all the details yet but this is really exciting.  It will be a chance to show our industry off at its finest.
Next blog from Texas! I hear they already had triple digit weather this week.  I may have to rethink my suitcase.