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, August 21, 2016

Holland and the WBDC

I am in love with Holland.  Everything is green, the cheese melts in your mouth. Everyone bikes.  Dressage is everywhere.  Two girls at my hotel rode dressage, and one’s family were breeders.  The tickets sold out to the horse show.  Can you imagine that!  Sold out seating weeks before a young horse show?  I swear this place is perfect.  In fact, I was in the market buying thumb size blackberries, rolls and cheese for a picnic and a 6’7’’ guy behind me and I struck up a conversation.  I said something about how tall the men were in Holland and how I normally don’t feel so short.  He said that, it was recently announced on the news that the average height of Dutch men has increased 20 cm the last 10 years and they are now the average tallest men in the world.  I mean what more could you ask for? I can wear heels and not feel like a stork.

So I love Holland, and I became kind of officially Dutch because I bought a used bike.  It even has a granny metal basket on front, reflectors and a bell!  That way when I need to run up to the market or I want to take a train on my day off I can pedal to town or the train station.

While I was here I went to the World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses in Ermelo, I just finished an article for California Riding Magazine about it, be sure to look for it. It was an amazing experience and made me want to get a facility and start breeding horses. On Monday after the show I headed early to Cologne, Germany to the federal administration office to work on my paperwork to stay in Germany.  After an entire day of government offices I did have a little time to visit a German friend.  He lives in Cologne and met me at our hotel to take me around the sights.  The Cologne cathedral is amazing.  Mom said when she came backpacking at my age here, she walked up the over 1000 steps to the top, I didn’t feel compelled to so instead I sat on the balcony of the hotel and just looked at it!

It was an early night at the hotel.  I partly wanted an early night because the Excelsior hotel has the greatest shower ever.  I had to arm wrestle mom to get to use it first.  My environmentalist heart felt guilty for the 20 minute shower, but it was heavenly.  The floor had geothermal heating as well so my toes were even warm after.  We had three balconies that opened onto the square.  Our room actually had a little foyer with a door bell.  Can you imagine, a doorbell in a hotel room?  I mean what is that point in that?  

It was up before six am to head to Voerde in time to help feed the horses and start my next adventure.  I was nervous but didn’t want to show it which tends to make me quiet.  I had been to Voerde before but now looking through the eyes of someone living here for months verses visiting it felt different.  Now Voerde is part of my story.  My time here will, like all my adventures, become part of who I become. My time here will change me. 

I have been here a few weeks now and I am blissfully happy.  I am riding lots of horses.  It has been cold and rainy so that makes you miss home a bit but for some reason (and don’t get me wrong on this) people just can’t replace horses for me.

Monday, August 8, 2016

     Well I haven’t had a lot to say in a few months.  This is not because nothing has been happening.  It's because I have been really busy resettling my life.  Last fall, after competing in the Young Rider European Tour I was back in SoCal with my idol Christine Traurig.  She is truly amazing and I am very blessed for every minute I get to train and work with her. 
     I think some of you may have heard before, I am on an a plan that my parents and I devised to wean me into financial and career independence.  I am really gung ho at times about the plan as I want to have control of everything in my life, but at times it kind of stinks.  For example, I get to decide what to eat every day but I have to do the grocery shopping.  But it has been a really good process and has been really helping me and my family to meet expectations.
    I am also taking classes online and I am glad I don’t’ have to get back up after a 10 hour barn day and get dressed to go to school.  I can comfortably work in my pj’s on the couch at night.  I am so glad they invented this online college thing.  Some of you may want to think about this!  I don't do a full load but it is better to get in two or three classes every semester online than not to move forward at all!  I may be switching my major soon though.  I love psychology but there is a specific reason I may switch to business.  I don't want to give away the plan but I may soon have news.
     Another aspect of the plan is paying all the bills for living, riding, school and life myself.  This might be a little early because I am not even out of college yet, but I like having set phased plans and having things spelled out. I like having a path.  If I do I am focused on that plan, without one I get a bit unfocused.  I have been working on my budget and paying vet bills and shoeing bills.  I guess you never truly realize how expensive this sport is as a junior or young rider until you make this transition.  I would like to suggest that if you have or are a J/YR you perhaps start to keep a monthly accounting book of every item that is spent.  I mean every penny for spurs or socks or massages and this will begin to give you an idea about what you will need to continue after ‘independence.’  It also helps us to appreciate our parents, family and sponsors more!
    I had to miss the Region 9 EDAP clinic in Houston and I am still bummed about that.  I really wanted to see my friends and to stay with Dawn at Isabella farms.  I did get back on my feet in time to ride in the Developing Dressage clinic with Debbie McDonald.  I was thrilled about that because so many of my friends were there. I got to see my sis Genay!
    After the move to Florida for the season last spring it has been a whirlwind!.  It started with settling in at the equestrian center just across from where the GDF is held.  The facility is great and there were so many great riders there. The first week we were there mom and grandma came down with my friends Fernando and Jack. They spent two days in a rented kitchen cooking up yummy homemade BBQ, and vegan and vegetarian dishes for the RDHMW dinner.  The dinner was at Devon Kane's beautiful facility.  I got to catch up with Reese, Nina, Johnny and so many other friends it was really a beautiful night.  The only scary part was when Lendon and Robert had me stand up front with them and speak.  But even with my nerves it felt really good to give back and to try to help other young riders like me through these programs.
     Shortly after the dinner party was the Young Rider Graduate Program.  What an amazing amount of material packed into 2 days.  Roz really understands the fears and needs of young riders wanting to make a career in our industry.  Everything was really helpful and I wished I didn’t have to leave a little early for the USDF Trainers Conference.  Riding in the conference with Johann Hinnemann was the biggest crowd I had ever ridden in front of; and the viewers were primarily FEI trainers so I knew they could tell when I messed up.  I was a bit nervous at first but after the American Equestrians Got Talent crowds last year, this was a lot easier.  He really gave me some great advice, which I believe is available through the USDF web training site. 
     In the spring season I rode my first ever U25 GP tests and Sjapoer did great.  He and I had traveled a long way together since 4th level.  I had a heart breaking summer when I had to sell him.  This was one of those hard lessons in life between the tough choices of what you 'want' and what you need and can afford.  Adulting is so hard.  Christine really helped me through the loss of Sjapoer and to place him in a good home.  I spent the next six weeks mentally and physically adjusting while absorbing as much as I could from Christine.  
     When my lease was up on my apartment in Carlsbad I headed home to Texas for a few weeks.  My mom always schedules an intense round of all my check ups.  You know; the dentist, the eye doctor, etc.  I also got to spend a fun and rare weekend just hanging out with friends.  We had a very eclectic group at the lake house of friends from elementary and middle school, family friends and riding friends.  It was a blast of kayaking, sand volleyball and just chilling.  Then I headed out to Holland for the World Dressage Young Horse Breeding Championships in Ermelo.  I got to be Christine's assistant and Kim Miller got me press credentials so I had a truly unique experience.  Look for the article in California Riding Magazine soon! :)  
   In the first weeks of June and July I heard that I had received the KWPN-Willy Arts Grant for developing dressage a second time and the Women's Sports Foundation travel and training grant.  This was amazing news as it gave me an great opportunity to go to Europe for training.  So after the WDYHBC show I headed to Germany to train with Johann Hinnemann.  This is a truly amazing experience.  I am riding so many horses my muscles hurt and I go to bed on my couch happily exhausted every night.  I am TRULY blessed to be here and it is exactly where I need to be in my training.  Thank you Christine for making this happen.  (I'm working with immigration to get to stay as long as they will let me).  Thanks papa for being a German and thanks to KWPN and the Women's Sports Foundation for the money to make this possible.  Please look up both groups for future grant and scholarship opportunities!
     Now I am trying to ride and train and sneak in updates on team USA while not yelling too loudly when we beat the Germans!  But, I want to say good luck to my fellow Nike athletes and to my Shade Global family competing in Rio.  Stay safe and have fun.  
     Stay tuned..... in the future I have some interesting things in the works and can't wait to share some new ideas and fun with you.  Sorry for the long drought!