Two steps forward and one back

Published May 25, 2012 by gofullthrottle

I havent posted a long post in a while so thought this would be a good time. For the first time in our partnership Welimingh is actually going better in the trot than the canter, thats progress I guess. The quality of the canter struggles with his balance and me expecting him to lift more through his shoulders in true self carriage. That will come with time. My biggest struggle this week has been that Susan asked me to lengthen my stirrups one hole. That means a quick adaptation is needed on my part in order to stay balanced. At first my lower left leg would not sit still. It drove me absolutely crazy to be so disconnected from my body.

A great friend of mine told me to close my eyes and ride it intuitively. So I sat in my bed and rode it. I feel like my balance is slightly more on my right seat bone than my left., when I addressed this with Susan today she suggested I am blocking through my hips somewhere. So the quick fix was to drop the weight in my left stirrup and open up and relax my pelvis and allow it to move with my horse. Today was better.

Susan says it takes 28 days to break a habit. I know that using sports psychology and visualization is as effective as riding itself. I am giving myself a week to be rid of this problem and back on track. I will keep you posted on who is right.

Changing to the new stable was a very good decision, they are very attentive with the care and have helped me with a lot of adaptation issues that have come up. Although the temperature has not gotten much hotter the humidity has certainly picked up. The other bonus to moving is having both Susan and Kim around as GP riders to bounce questions off of.

Its the first time in a long time that I have trained under a coach that is willing to help out or give advice when she is not under the clock. Such a novel and selfless concept. I was struggling with some canter pirouette exercises earlier this week and Susan was more than happy to offer a bit of advice, then we school it in the lesson. She is also willing to throw out a “that looks good” every once in a while as words of encouragement. I am very fortunate and happy to have found such a positive learning environment.

I am off to a “very special olympics party”  this weekend with some very big names in the horse world. I am told there will be ridiculous games like the egg and spoon race (no horses) for all of us to play. With this crew it is bound to be the most competitive egg and spoon race the world has ever seen so I will try to get some video.

Now I just need to decide what kind of cake to make!


The Process

Published March 20, 2012 by gofullthrottle

I know I know Every post says amazing lesson. Today’s ride (not a lesson) I have started to discover how much I am enjoying the process. Coming to Florida I was having a lot of difficulties with my left canter piroutte, he would anticipate each exercise and drop the left shoulder and rush the piroutte. It was a major frustration for both me and the over achieving Welmingh.

My first lesson with Susan I said the two main things I would like to focus on our pirouttes and getting his amazing trot to be amazing under saddle. Until I met Susan I dont think I have had a coach that really got the most out of his trot. Not once have I been told to kick him to make him go forward and get him light off the leg. We do that through the exercises asking him to balance, sit and go forward. Without kicking in the past 6 weeks I am finding that my horse is significantly more ridable. I am using less spur and less leg, he is so responsive to the leg that we are able to school medium trot in a shoulder in with ease. (I am sure if Susan is reading this it still needs more) He is moving more through his shoulders in all of the lateral work than ever (Krack C half pass here I come).  And most of all exciting is that he is letting me ride each and ever step of the left piroutte now, he is patient and listening to my aids. (piroutte pictured below for my non horsey readers)


Welmingh has finally put on enough weight that he looks like a normal horse again. He lost a lot of weight on the trip down. Overall I am very happy with our progress and cant wait to see where we are 6 months from now!



1 yr Anniversary

Published March 14, 2012 by gofullthrottle

It was one year ago today that Welmingh and I had a major dismounting miscommunication. As I confidently rode around around the pond today on a long rein I started to think about just how far I have come in a year.

I want to tell this story because riding in Wellington I rarely see a rider without a helmet, top hats are no longer the norm in the show ring.  I often still read things on the internet that say “I am a good rider, I dont need a Helmet” I see trainers on my Facebook without helmets and I cringe to think they are a role model for the next gen. I am a good rider and I have a relatively safe and well trained horse, what happened a year ago is a moment in time that every rider knows about and dreads the day it could happen.

It was a cold winter day and my horse tends to be a bit inattentive in the cold to begin with. There was a lot going on in the arena and I made the decision to get off in order to be safe. I dropped both stirrups and swung my leg over, and in the very moment my leg was over his croupe he moved. My leg kicked him and off he went like the well trained dressage horse he is. In the few seconds it took me to fall to the ground we had made it to the center of the dressage ring, I could feel each of my fingers leaving the reins one at a time although it were slow motion. My final landing point was near B  on my head. I was wearing a helmet and I remember laying there in the dirt struggling to remain conscious. Thinking about how many horses were in the arena and that I was now in additional danger of not only a loose horse but also the other riders. I couldnt move. I didnt want to move.

My coach came running and there was another rider and friend that was a physiotherapist that came over. All I wanted was to get my helmet off, it had smashed my glasses into my face and was now very uncomfortable, not to mentioned filled with dirt. Turns out I could feel my toes! Yay! I lay there for a really long time and finally managed to move. I was met with a glass of water and some asprin and a car ride to the ER. My poor dad. Another trip to the hospital due to my antics. Although I must admit he has been great about not giving me lectures on all of the crazy things I do that end me up there in the first place.

Lucky for me when I head to the ER I have generally done a good enough job I dont have to wait. So for those of you thinking our medical system sucks I can assure that it works the way it should.

They told me I could go home but was not allowed to stay alone. My dear friend Maureen ended her date early and came over to spend the night. Thats a good friend. I woke up in the morning with the worst headache of my entire life. And I still have it today.

The next 3 months were the worst 3 months of my entire life. The pain was horrific. When I was high enough on painkillers I could sleep for a few hours and I spent most of the next 3 months between sleep and misery. I tried everything I could to get the pain to go away. Every treatment under the sun. Nothing worked. I remember taking two percacets and crying because the pain was so bad. Crying only makes it worse so it was not a good situation. I spent most days thinking about delightful ways to end my life so I would no longer be in pain. Yes even on the antidressants. Pain sucks. To top it all off the pharmacy tech when questioned failed to check the book when I asked her to see if I could combine two drugs because the pain was so bad. That led me to a drug overdose. I am pretty sure that I can say that spending a day on the bathroom floor puking in intervals, with both what I call “inside headaches” and “outside headaches” was an all time low.

I am not telling this story so that you can feel sorry for me, I tell this story because until a year ago I had no idea what it meant to have a concussion. If this story helps people ride in helmets every ride then I am more than happy to share it.

On July 4th I got the Ok to ride. Much to the dismay of my father I was in the car and headed to see my horse just a few days later. I didnt even know if I was going to be able to ride but I certainly wasnt about to share that!  Knowing full well that Welmingh is not the horse you can ride when you are not grounded or present I took a moment before I got in the saddle. He was extra patient with me as I am sure not only was there some tension but I am pretty sure I held the reins a bit to tight. My coach started yelling directions almost instantly and off I went without even a moment to think about what had happened. And after 3 months in bed on pain killers I was certainly not fit enough to ride an FEI horse in a lesson for 45 minutes!!

Things that came out of this mishap, the realization that if I had gone through all of that just to ride this horse I had better make it worthwhile. We are both happier than ever in what I have coined as pony paradise. The ponds, the birds the large oak tree in the paddock it all seems a bit surreal but worth every moment.

Today my headache is very mild. I think it actually went away for a bit, unfortunately while out on a Friday night Irish dancing I hit it on the interior light in the car and it came back. Yes thats all it took.

Wear your helmet!

So much to do

Published March 4, 2012 by gofullthrottle

I am not sure how I have no schedule at all yet I am busy all the time. The shopping at the Derby is definately a step up from the rest of the shows, all the normal vendors are there plus a few more. The trilogy saddle people were there and the browbands by design are the two to take note of, the browbands are stunning and I am not sure that the website does them justice. The owner is also quite funny and awesome to talk to. I now have one of these browbands on my wish list. At her booth you can mix and match pieces and make your very own unique browband which is kind of fun.

I didnt stop at the Trilogy saddle booth, I still have one more saddle to try and I need to start making some decisions, I met with JRD again today but I waiting to get my boots back before I finalize anything, The zipper went in my boots on Wednesday so I am waiting to get them replaced.

I must admit I am disappointed in the Albion Saddle fitting, most of the saddle fitters here have been happy to come by and suggest saddles, they even leave them for you to try without taking any money etc. The Albion saddles were not working and as the saddle fitter realized she was not going to sell me a saddle she informed me that there would be a fee for the fitting. I was not informed of this upfront and since the norm in Wellington is not to charge a fee I didnt ask specifically if there was a fee for this service. Not only did she charge me a fee for the consulting she also charged me for travel, I was at the show grounds and she was there setting up anyway. Which is why I booked it on the day I did. I dont mind paying someone for their time. In this case I just would have liked to have been informed that there was a fee when I asked: What needs to happen in order to do a saddle fitting and trial? (Lesson learned)

I was out at the stable in my jeans and half chaps and my coach said “what is going on with this outfit” I laughed and responded “I live in Loxahatchee” which I have come to know is a bit on the red neck side. So she laughed and went on her way. I love that she is not so pretentious that its a big deal but is fun enough to call me on how ridiculous it looked,

So given that I had no riding breeches Welmingh and I went for our first ever gallop across the field. First ever mostly because in Canada the bugs are so bad the poor guy has a meltdown just being ridden outside. It was a lot of fun and I can assure you that we will be doing it again soon!

There is a new Cavalia starting out in Miami, I am hoping to go see it next week.

I am off to watch the Olympic GP tomorrow morning then I am going downtown to city place to explore the sites and perhaps play on the beach. It has been a perfect 30/80 degrees outside so perfect weather to spend some time on a patio socializing.


Busy Busy

Published February 19, 2012 by gofullthrottle

Its been a crazy busy week for me here in Florida. On Wed I went to the USPRE sponsored dinner at the global dressage festival, it was a lot of fun, there was an amazing dinner then a demo of some of the PRE horses in the US, there was several great horses and riders. This new facility is going to be amazing, not only is it well equipment for horses and humans as a showgrounds, but when it is completed it will have an onsite hotel! They have done an amazing job of getting this project underway and I am sure it will get better and better as a facility.

After that myself and most of the dressage crown headed over to the Dressage Under the Stars. It is an FEI costume Kur night. The judging is american idol style, with a technical judge, a creative judge and a celebrity judge so anything can happen. The dressage ring is on grass and under big spot lights. The series runs 8 weeks and the winner of each week gets invited back to the final. The best part is that you can watch it all from the patio at a local bar!

One of the White Fences Trainers Susanne Hamilton was in attendance an won with her pop rock Kur! I did take some video but it will not upload from my phone. Sadly I may be trading in the BB for an iPhone.

On Friday I watched the Grand Prix from 11 am until 5pm, it truly is amazing to watch. Jaqueline Brooks’ mom is a wonderful dressage statistician and has been discussing the finer points of the GP with me, she knows everything about everyone and has been a wonderful person to get to know while watching. And she has a cute puppy named princess that keeps us company. Friday was above 30 all day, a great day for watching, perhaps not so much if you are riding.

Friday night we went out Irish dancing then ended up at an Italian festival that was a full on carnival and rides and cotton candy! I am back in Kansas! So when there is dancers and music everyone started swing dancing at the carnival. Then more dancing last night, I am going to be a dancing machine by the time I leave Florida!

Sunday back to the Grand Prix special for more watching. Ashley, Heather and Todd did an amazing job of their tests and all were in the 70s.

Having So much fun! Wish you were here!

Lesson Summary

Published February 14, 2012 by gofullthrottle

Let me start by saying I am really enjoying my lessons with Susan Jaccoma. Most of you know I am very picky and very protective of my partnership with my horse. I have gone through a lot of trainers unhappy with the results. Welmingh love’s the exercises Sue has presented us and I do as well. There is a lot to take in during a lesson so I will summarize some of the exercises as per your request.

Today we are working on engaging the hind quarters and getting more swing behind.

1) Start in the walk, Half steps, Collected trot, medium trot, collected trot, half steps walk (on the circle)

– I love the engagement as an end result of this exercise

2) Walk piroutte 2 steps to leg yield 2 steps off of the inside leg, canter transition to piroutte

– my horse got stuck in the canter pirouette so we modified it to a volte with 2 steps shoulder in 2 steps shoulder out (medium to refresh the tempo)

3) Leg yield to x then medium in trot

4) Trot haunches in on the circle to collected trot. repeat.

If you have questions please feel free to post them on the Facebook page and I will do my best to answer them. This all sounds so much easier typed!

Painting the picture

Published February 10, 2012 by gofullthrottle

I want to try to paint a picture of what its really like to be here in Wellington. My horse is located on Hanover Circle . You can check our the google map to see all the stables, although it really doesnt do the Lars peterson horse castle justice. It feels a bit like the old west gone dressage style. Horses have the right of way and there is traffic signs stating that pretty much everywhere. Horses are always being ridden up and down the roads to or from lessons or just on a simple hack. Everybody greets you with a smile and a nod, and perhaps a wave if they feel like dropping a rein and their horse is safe to do so on. It really is a bit surreal, in saying that it is hard to describe. Especially coming from a small dressage world where nobody smiles and nods but is likely more willing to put a knife in your back.

Everything is built to be horse friendly first and people friendly second. I went to the grocery store and a kind lady let me in line in front of her because all I had was carrots and I was wearing my breeches. She said you must have a horse, and smiled in appreciation. The young store clerk noted the 5 lb bag of carrots and stated ” he is one lucky horse” my response was “I am one lucky rider”.

I appreciate every ride on my horse. My coach came back from her ride today and stuck her head in her horses’ stall and said thanks for the fantastic ride today. A novel concept from the local trainers in Alberta and SUCH a refreshing change.

I dont want to bore you with details but trying to paint a picture of the atmosphere here is not an easy task.

I had my first lesson yesterday and although the fundamentals were the same the approach and objective were quite different. Upon giving it some thought I decided I like the approach. Then I rode my horse today, and clearly he liked the approach as well. Not only was he happy to be back at work but in one very easy lesson we have him moving differently through his shoulders! Bring on the Krack C half pass (sideways movement/video link for non horsey people) I have been dying for!