Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Choreographing a Kur

1)   The Dressage Diva software package arrived and has been really fun to experiment with and explore.   At this point, I would recommend it to those who want to plan their kurs or just practice dressage riding on their laptop!

2)   Today was the first day that all of my 20x60 metre outdoor arena was usable.   The snow has finally melted.

And   3)   should read:   "My Kur is ready for the April dressage competition I entered!"

Hardly.   Not even close!

OMG I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time!   My music, which I quite like, now needs 3rd Level / Advanced Medium choreography that flows with it.   Or I need new music.   Anyway, now the hard fun really begins in earnest.

Choreographing a Kur.   The whole thing feels a bit daunting.   But, nothing like a challenge & looming deadline to get the adrenaline pumping again!   Eeeck!   :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Planning My First Kur

In October 2003, I submitted to British Dressage the details of my first Dressage Kur or Musical Freestyle.   The music selected was from a collection of German folk songs and fit Jeddien quite nicely.   However, I never actually rode the Kur in a competition.

Five and a half years later, I'm now FINALLY planning to ride my first Kur.   Ever.   (Not counting Quadrilles.)   But imagine my surprise when during a practice run I found Jeddien's gaits and paces no longer match the music!   Her tempo has slowed just a tad with time & dressage training.   So now I need to "stretch" her music or redo it all together.   Hmmmphf!

While browsing the web, I discovered that Equitech Software in the UK has provided the dressage world with a great little software package called "Dressage Divas".

I purchased the package from the USDF (click on the image to go straight to the USDF store!) and am now playing with it.   Looks like a good software package.   So, we are back in business and looking forward to our Kur debut in 2009!

There's no business like show business, like no business I know....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Vaccinations

A critical part of the preparation for competition involves Spring Vaccinations & Coggins Tests.

Today, all of the horses in our barn were vaccinated.   Each of the owners at our barn are completely & proactively supportive of regular vaccinations.   And those planning on competing also had blood drawn for testing for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) aka the Coggins Test.

All of the horses are generally good for their jabs.   Even the younger ones.   Our vet knows each horse, goes through the barn efficiently and compassionately.   And she's happy to give each horse a mint and a scratch after everyone is done.

Comically, Jeddien voices her dislike of cold wet cotton balls with mareish squeals and insertion of needles with very unique grunts, but stands for the medical attention.   It's hard not to laugh as she vocalises her opinion.   Piper, however, makes the experience more unpleasant than any of us like.   He suddenly becomes quite the drama queen!   However, he survived yet again.

Vaccination Day behind us, now we await our Coggins results.   Once in, we are ready to rock and roll!

Monday, March 9, 2009

USDF "L" Education Program

What does the USDF "L" Education Program got to do with getting to the USDF Regional Championships?   Directly, not much.   However, indirectly, TONS!

I am one of the dressage riders currently in the USDF judge training program known as the L Education Program.   The specific session in which I'm enrolled is very kindly being hosted by the Central Vermont Dressage Association.   (Thank you, CVDA!)

In the "L" program, we learn how to evaluate the performance of horse and rider in dressage tests, how to score the movements, and how to provide constructive feedback to encourage training progress along the correct lines.

However, as a competitor, it also provides me with a more indepth understanding of what judges are looking for when I ride in front of them.   It helps me to understand how to better interpret my own test results and the feedback provided on each test sheet.

Will the "L" Education Program get me to the USDF Championships?   No, of course not.   But armed with a better understanding of the sport of dressage, it certainly improves the odds a wee bit.     :-)

Entrance into the "L" program as a participant includes meeting criteria (including proven success at 2nd Level) and fairly hefty fees.   However, auditors are accepted, get the same information and training as the participants, are often allowed to ask questions, and all for much less money.   So it comes as no surprise that our sessions have had a lot of auditors from all over New England.   It's really cool!

For more information, check out the "L" Education Program Blog.

Training in the Snow

Winter continues.   Meanwhile, Jeddien is just getting back into the swing of things.   And as part of her training, we have been taking advantage of the soft snow on the ground before it all melts away.

We never got a hard crust layer in the snow this winter, so riding in the snow is quite doable.   However, depending on the depths, it can be hard work for the horse.   I know.   I have walked out there myself without snowshoes.   It's a real slog to walk through snow that is more than a few inches deep.

So, as part of Jeddien's work to get back into shape, we have been doing figures in the indoor arena interspersed with walking outside in the snow.   Interestingly, the more difficult work is the latter of the two.   To walk in the snow, which currently varies from 3 to 15 inches deep, she lifts her legs higher, takes extra care in balancing, really uses her neck and back, and is soon breathing fairly hard.   It is slow, hard work, but provides a good whole body workout.

And that's exactly what the old mare who wintered way too well needs right now!   :-)