Tag Archives: dressage

A Big Napoleon Complex

6 Jan

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We finally started some serious work with the Dukester.  The pictures are unfortunately still in the camera.  Dukie has a small Napoleon complex.  Or is that a big Napoleon complex?

To help with that, he was forced to wear Katie’s fuzzy pink harness pad for ground driving.  I discovered he also takes a smaller bit that I have, so I had to order a new bit.  And thanks to our trainer, his bridle now fits since his head is extremely small even for a mini.  He also likes to bite people so some ground work is in order to build respect.

But he is an athletic little guy.  He is show ring rather than dressage trained, so we are working to have him become more responsive to half halts.   I’m looking forward to working with him more.   Macho is doing really well so he is going to get out and start getting into driving condition again, too.  It is a big challenge to go from a well-trained schoolmaster type driving horse like Macho to a greener, younger horse.   There’s also a bond with the old horse that needs time to form with a new horse.

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How To Be A Grand Prix Parent

20 Dec

I hang around some very advanced parents.  Their parenting skills are at the Grand Prix level (to use a dressage analogy) and they get scores of 93.976 on their Parenting Freestyles and set world records.


I am still at Intro A (walk trot), though I am about to move myself up to Training Level 1.  That may be a mistake considering I am still getting 4s (“Marginal”) at Intro A.  Sometimes I get a 2 when I throw a big tantrum instead of moving forward.

My major fails include everything from Santa Claus to my inability to convey the inherent unfairness of life to a pre-teen.  If I were a Grand Prix parent, my kids would realize that if another child uses up the eraser on their pencil, they can just get another pencil out and use up that eraser as an act of revenge.  Oops, major parenting fail there.  Revenge is not good.  Back to Intro A.

If I were a Grand Prix parent, the kids would not spend lots of work getting out of less work.  They would willingly do their chores and even sing while they did them, like Fraulein Maria in the Sound of Music.   A Grand Prix parent would have a nice teaching story for the kids.  They hate my teaching stories.  Mine usually involve, “When I was your age…”  This type of teaching story gets a 1.  Or a zero.

If I were a Grand Prix parent, my kids would smile and hold the doors for each other instead of holding the door shut and not letting the other kid in.  They would eat stir-fried bok choy.

Yes, sometimes they can be sweet and loving.  That’s when I take pictures and post them on FaceBook so it looks like I am a Grand Prix parent.  Actually, I don’t.  Because I would have to use photoshop.  If I did that, I would just photoshop myself on the beach with a cool drink.

I would also not say things like, “I am not trimming a chicken’s beak!” when they ask if Henny’s beak is too long.  I would say, “Let me look, dear.  Oh, yes, that beak is looking in need of a trim.  Let me get my dremmel.”

The real problem with my parenting is the same problem most dressage riders have.  I just don’t have the right horse.  I have a miniature horse with no work ethic named Katie and need a large, well-trained horse.  One at least 13.3 hands tall.  I would be a great parent if someone would buy me a nice horse. Then I would ride off into the sunset.  I would be a Grand Prix parent.

I am not a Dressage Queen

20 Oct

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I am not a dressage queen, as you can see from my snazzy T-shirt over blue long underwear took.  You, too, can have this look at your next show.  I will explain how.

If you don’t know what a dressage test is, it’s a driven or ridden pattern in arena marked with letters.  You trot, circle, halt (or fall off) at various letters.  The test is approved and published by a prestigious horse committee of some sort.  They reached into a jar of letters, pulled them out randomly, put on blindfolds and stuck them on a prototype arena.  These letters are not alphabetical.  You enter at A, but the next letter is K.  There’s an M and a C and an E and a B  and an F all sitting there in no logical order for you to memorize.

Then you need to look at a test and memorize what to to between or at various illogical and memorized letters.  If you have a reader reading your test out loud you can only hope they don’t suffer from any form of dyslexia or happen to sneeze and lose their place and cue you to the wrong letter.

Then there’s a thing called a judge’s stand.  It’s a fancy table, sometimes with a scary canopy, at the end of the arena where the judge sits. The committee spent long hours figuring out how to make this table as scary as possible for a horse.  As your horse rounds the corner towards the judge’s stand they must pass the scary object and not spook.

So I decided to memorize ADT training test 1 (which I had already memorized since I never have advanced beyond this level) and take the outgrown riding pony to the show for a dressage test.

I packed a nice wool hunt coat to wear over my long underwear shirt.  I got to the show and put on the hunt coat and it was several sizes too small.  I had grabbed my kid’s hunt coat.  Every hunt coat looks pretty much the same until you put it on.  The sleeves were just below my elbow and it wouldn’t button.   Then they called me to go warm up.  I had to wear the long underwear shirt with my number on the back.  Not the classy impression I was hoping to make.

Pony entered the arena for some ground driving warm up and proceeded to whinny and  act like a giraffe with her head up.  This is not a spooky pony, but horses were whinnying in the stalls attached to the arena.  She calmed down in a few minutes and I hitched her up.  Off we went.  I should also admit that I had only driven pony three times this fall.  At a walk, mostly.  So I wasn’t sure what would happen when I asked her to trot.

I got a trot briefly, then an unauthorized walk.  I got her going again with my whip and was looking for the mystical letter X which lays in an ancient vortex in the center of the arena between the letters B and E, which are glued on opposite walls.  The holy grail of X was there somewhere, but apparently not where I was, as I stopped short.  But it was a nice stop.

So I saluted with my whip.  The judge looked at me with no response.  Oops.  I gave a big nod.  The judge nodded back and  we took off at the working trot.  We had to do an arena-wide circle.  I knew this could be bad.  But I had no idea how bad until I saw my own tire tracks.  The circle had an extra bulge like a a solar flare ready to shoot off the sun and decimate humanity.  The second circle lacked the bulge but was reminiscent of the Hindenburg before its fateful demise.

As I headed back to K or was it F the working trot had no momentum, except during a brief canter and lurch after I tapped her with the whip.  Pony generally doesn’t have momentum unless there is food involved.

But her trot was pretty.  This trot earned her many blues as a riding pony and when she collected today she was lovely.  I remembered to nod with my salute at x before exiting the arena and took a deep breath.  I had survived my test with the green pony who just needs better steering and conditioning.  We got a score of 64 which seemed generous, but I will take it.