Saturday, February 21, 2009

2009 NEDA Omnibus

Eecks!   IT has arrived!   Yes, I'm talking about the 2009 NEDA Omnibus.

It is still dead of winter here and we have another snowstorm coming tomorrow which is likely to dump 8 to 12 inches of the white stuff.   But the arrival of the Omnibus, with its listings of USDF recognised dressage shows in our area for 2009, means Spring is just around the corner!

And, EECK!, show season!   It's all so exciting!   Time to start planning the show calendar, juggling the budget, and figuring out which horses will go to which shows.

We already have our hotel booked for the NEDA Fall Festival and USDF Region 8 Dressage Championships.   This was not about ego and high expectations.   It was about not making the same mistake we made in 2007 after a July qualification.   All the hotels were booked and we ended up staying 25 miles away from Saugerties!

Now, it's time to plan the competitions that will get us to the USDF Championships again.   Jeddien needs only 1 more score of 62% at 3rd Level Open.   Piper will need to earn 2 whooping great 68% scores at Training Level Open, or 2 scores of 66% at First Level Open.   And even if only one of them qualifies, we will take both to the Festival for the experience and to keep each other company.

So!   Let it snow!   We have dressage competitions to daydream about, plan for, and train towards.   Thank goodness we have an indoor arena!

(Click here to read about and see our 2009 NEDA Omnibus advertisement.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Months From Now

The Region 8 USDF recognised dressage competition seasons runs from mid August to mid August with the Champsionships in September.   If a rider starts trying to qualify after the long winter's snow melts, there's only 4 1/2 months in which to do so.   In New Hampshire, there are only 2 USDF recognised shows.   So for many of us, that means travelling to other states.   More miles on the road.   And sometimes overnight stays in hotels for the 2 and 3 day shows.

For those who start chasing qualifications in late August, they extend their show season by 2 1/2 months, making the whole show season 7 months long.   A far cry from the year round showing that other regions enjoy.   And a huge difference from what we enjoyed in England where there competitions ran year round and dressage competitors enjoyed Winter and Summer Championships.

Thanks to doing really well at the NEDA Fall Festival of Dressage last September, Jeddien is already half way to her qualification for 2009 at 3rd Level Open (Professional).   She needs one more score of 62% to finish.   However, aside from managing her competition calendar, our biggest challenge right now is her...   ehrm...   heftiness.   Yes, the old lady faired extremely well through the cold winter, grew a massive coat, and under it, laid down a pretty impressive layer of insulating fat.

Two months from now, Jeddien will be back in competition.   To be more precise, I mean the more slender & fit Jeddien hiding somewhere deep inside the fat fuzzy pasture pet.

So, training started today.   As always, mentally she is firing on all cylinders and knows all the work by heart.   Now we just need to lighten the load so she can dance in the dressage arena instead of plow through it.   :-)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Piper's Winter Vacation

We are still in deep winter in New Hampshire.   It makes it very difficult to even imagine entering at A, halting at X, and saluting the judge.   But our first competitions may be only 2 months away!   Mother Nature is going to have to back off a bit first.

Meanwhile, Piper is loving winter and is keeping himself busy playing in the snow.   Little does he know what's being planned...   :-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Starting The Young Dressage Horse

This spring, aside from training and competing with Piper and Jeddien, I'll also be starting two youngsters.

Big Ben will be 3 in April.   Bea Yewtee will be 3 in June.   Since birth, they have both been handled daily.   They were taught to lead within their first week.   And they were lunging (Parelli Natural Horsemanship style) within the first year.

Last fall, both of the "B" babies had their first lessons carrying a saddle.   A couple of times, Ben also wore a bridle with a nice comfy HS KK "nugget" bit under his halter.   Both horses took their lessons in stride and showed no worries at all.   Now, well into their 3rd year, we are working our way towards having a rider sitting astride.

However, maybe most importantly, their dressage education started at birth.   "Move over" is a verbal command that has been associated with pressure placed generally around where a rider's leg will one day be.   "Move over" is used in the stable, in the aisle when on cross ties, when enforcing personal space, and on the lead when opening gates, passing through, and closing it.   Eventually, the words and accompanying pressure will be used under saddle to encourage sideways movement of the front legs, the hind quarters, and the whole horse.

People often talk about when to "start" a dressage horse.   It's a bit cheeky, but I like to say, "Day 1".   :-)