Rats. Darn. Shoot.... Went to the doc yesterday for an x-ray, I thought may be my last. But no, the clavical bone has not shown signs of healing since the last radiograph, six weeks ago. It explains why it has been hurting so! The fracture area is still the consistancy of taffy as Dr. Norris puts it. So, I am supposed to keep my arm close to my side (no more shoulder rotator therapy, yay!) and no lifting etc. Then he will put me on a daily bone stimulater. It is a small ultrasound device that I bring home and use on that area for 20 minutes per day... until it heals appropriately. It could take as long as 2 months of daily home sessions. Yes, he says I can still ride (only nice horses)... I must NOT fall off. I sure hope the youngsters are well behaved at the Pinehurst show, May 6-8. Wonder and Sanibelle are going. Neither one has seen the Pinehurst show grounds yet. Ines is coming along as my groom so I will have great help on the ground. Also Susan and Bella, and Dana and Watson are showing. I love my job and the great people and horses I get to work with. I am eager to provide service, hopefully someday soon, without "handicap". I work with the best!
I was reading my husband's Fine Homebuilding magazine the other day and came across an interesting article, "Why good clients lead to successful projects". The general concept of the article is introduced in the first paragraph, "We (architects and building professionals) often discuss the key reasons that one project is successful, but another less so. There is general agreement that the property owner's attitude, intelligence, and approach to doing the work may have the greatest impact on the quality of the services we provide." This last sentence is completely applicable to the equestrian community if you substitute the word "property" for the word "horse" and re-read it.
The article proceeds to outline eight traits that building professionals value in potential clients. With a few words swapped or cut, this becomes a well done outline of desireable traits for equestrian clients too. When you read "project" think "horse project". Almost word for word, this nicely applies to us...
* A steady, upbeat attitude. No one wants to disappoint an owner with whom it is a delight to work.
*Patience. Each step in the process is taken for a reason. The work needs to be done intelligently and with the disciplined care to achieve the highest long-term value for the effort. An owner's efforts to speed the work along, while understandable, rarely come without a price. All too often, that price becomes obvious years later, as problems arise because someone took shortcuts.
*An understanding that their own knowledge has limits. It is said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Familiarity with concepts and skills is always a plus, but judicious owners remember that their intuition has been formed on far less experience and knowledge than that of the people they hired for assistance. Wise clients always contrast their judgement and inclination with that of their consultants before making key decisions.
*Candor. Clear, honest communication throughout a project is critical...During the work, candor between the parties is needed to confirm that the quality of the work is meeting expectations. If not, changes can be made when they will be most effective.
*Flexibility. Often things do not go as planned despite everyone's effort to be vigilant.... flexibility is often rewarded later in a project, when the (trainer) has an opportunity to provide assistance beyond that contractually required or expected.
*Timeliness. ... probably more important for building clients than horse clients, but still worth mentioning.
*Support for creativity. First rate (trainers) view each project as an opportunity that tests their creativity and challenges them to provide the best (training/instruction) for the buck. When these individuals are fully engaged in the project, everyone benefits.
*A desire to pay promptly. Timely payment is an affirmation that the services rendered have been appreciated. That appreciation often means as much as the payment itself to the small business owners who receive it, and often spurs them to provide even better service. Owners should be aware that (professionals) may have different financial and managerial goals that will influence the choice of clients and projects they think are a good fit... Occasionally (a professional) may choose to assist an owner with whom he senses some affinity, despite doubt that the project's financial return merits the effort required to do it well.
Difficult economic times do not diminish the importance of choosing the clients who have the personal characteristics that we value most in our business relationships. In the course of a project, when things are going well, those traits will be welcome, when things are going badly, those traits will be essential.
For the complete and un-edited version of the article, "Why good clients lead to successful projects" see p. 18 of Fine Homebuilding, Houses, annual awards issue. Summer 2011 Written by John McLean.
Thank you Wonderful Pearle, for being such a good girl today at the schooling show at Fellowship farm. Although she said in no uncertain terms that she would not go into the corner where the water had washed out (stoping, backing...one movement=2) all in all she was a total babe and partner(8's). Only "almost" five years old, already a confidence builer! A 70% in Intro A, and no bucks or un-ridable stuff. Thanks dear. We'll do it again. How 'bout Pinehurst training level?
I take one step at a time into the future where I become a whole, confident rider again...because of the Wonderful rides I get. Thank you Wonder! Maybe someday the negative snapshots will stop appearing in my head. Time will tell.
Congrats to my friend who jumped off the second level cliff today. So many of my first's were too low to mention. Yours is so honorable! Good for you. And Bella... congrats. You should be a fashion model.
Ten beautiful young horses ages 4, 5, or 6, attended the USEF Young Horse Training Session with US coach, Scott Hassler at the beautiful facility in MD, Riveredge. Newly opened, and still under construction, the stunning place stands on over 500 acres. The attention to detail and vast magnificence of the place is awe inspiring. Every horse in the place was calm, robust and appeared happy and friendly. All the people, including the staff and the Hasslers, were filled with an honest joy and earnest effort to attend to the needs of the baby horses that were housed in the guest wing for the duration. Susan and I are very proud of Sanibelle. Scott made several favorable comments about her and offered a "keep it real" mentorship in a sincerely positive way. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are a few:
Hi and G'day, Welcome to my Dressage Blog .
During the third ride on Welle, post accident, things were going really well. Really well. I wondered if she remembered the one tempi: ...left, right, left... we did on the last ride before the accident (two months ago.) So, I set her up on a line. Then I asked... and got it. Flip, flop! Clean, confident, straight, and rhythmic. Wow, she remembered. I'm happy. It feels so fancy. That is the type of moment that temporarily makes you forget about the dirt on your shoes from the long, dusty road that got you here.
As a young horse, Welle did not do clean changes while free in the pasture like most horses. She would counter canter or cross-canter but never "fly" a change. It was rather ugly sometimes...and kind of weird. So, naturally, when it came time to teach her changes on the aids, they didn't come easily. It was a bumpy road with the devil of doubt on my shoulder.
When Welle was just a five year old, she started her show career with modest scores. I asked my trainer what she thought about the future potential of my young horse. She said, "Due to the difficulty this mare has with collection in the canter, she may be able to go up to second level or maybe third if she can do a change. But I don't see her potential past that. " Ouch. That hurt. I had believed the mare's positive qualities and assets would carry her further. I wanted my trainer to believe in my horse too. I needed positivity. I wondered if Welle would be able to climb the levels of dressage with me.
Near Welle's six year birthday, I was able to bring her home to our new farm. Here, I began to really study the mare. I explored new ways to gain better balance in canter. Improvements happened. I took Welle to a show. She got her first score over 70 percent : 74% at first level. That was the first confidence booster I recall. Somebody else liked her; somebody else with a "degree in dressage".
In 2006, we had an even bigger confidence booster: Welle ended the season undefeated at second level. It was time to tackle the flying changes... I still had not seen a clean change in the pasture. But, I was not new to flying changes, and I loved this mare, so I thought we might succeed anyway. Early in the effort, I nearly wrecked her canter relaxation. Then I came up with the idea to play around with jumping and ask for changes while in the air over the jumps. She did learn to execute a change of lead while over an obstacle, but didn't apply it "on the flat". After about a year of effort playing around with the subject of flying changes, we were in a dressage clinic with Sarah Geikie from CT. Suddenly, Welle was set up just right. I asked for the change. Something clicked in that moment with her: with no obstacle to jump, she flung herself into the air and executed the change on cue. Of course I threw my arms around her (still cantering) neck. Over many months of re-creating that feeling she became more confident. Maybe they are so expressive now because she has to work at them more than other horses. It is the extra "oomph" we see. Interestingly, Welle started doing clean flying changes while free in the pasture too.
Welle has succeeded in earning scores above 70% all the way through Prix St. Georges. She doesn't always nail her changes; her confidence is easy to shake. When she does, she usually gets an 8, "Expressive" they say. I still cling to positivity. For us to execute a clean, straight "flip flop flip" is a big accomplishment to me.
Now, as I proceed to dig deeper into the topic of canter collection with Welle, I use bounce jumping and hills. I am building a fat "collection" of tools for training. Yes, super collection is taking years to develop. It is a work in progress. I am relieved I didn't pass judgement on her canter quality too early. I would love, someday, for the test movements that require the most collection to become a high-light of her tests. I still believe Welle's positive attributes will carry her further. I hope, God willing, to get the opportunity to prove how much further it is.
In another blog, soon, I will post an early photo of Welle at canter next to a recent one. The difference is very visable.
Sanibelle has been accepted into a USEF Young Horse training session with US Young Horse coach, Scott Hassler. The event will be held at the "equestrian castle", Riveredge in Maryland. Seriously, have you seen the photos on the website? It is very fancy and beautiful. The training session is application/invitation only. Weee! Sleep well, Sanibelle, you're going to need your rest! And I get to skip my painful shoulder therapy session then!
With the evolving warmth of the sun, comes renewed inspiration for fun opportunities and fullfillment of our yearly goals. For those of us who enjoy showing/competition in dressge that comes with preparing and fitting our equipment and outfit. Having spent most of late winter on my back or butt healing the broken bones and ligements of my busted body, I am noodle-like in strength and 5 pounds heavier than my pre-accident weight. Loss of muscle + gain of weight = oh no... time to get fit! I plan to endure my first pilates class (since the accident) this Thursday. I hope I don't throw up. My home therapy routines now include some core and leg strength excersises of my own design. I cannot work the shoulders and arms in strength training yet, but hopefully soon. Fitness affects how we feel and therefore how we appear in show clothes, in our posture, and ultimately in our presentation to the judges. I am sure my NC readers who have seen Stacey Hastings lately have noticed that, along with excellent posture, she has excellent fitness... which contributed to the profound moment in 2010 where she scored over 80%. The woman could wear anything down that centerline and rock it, right!? Well, in my opinion: No. Because it was the horse that rocked that score and Stacy's conservative black and white uniform was a backdrop for his brilliant moment. Had she been wearing hot pink with bling from toe to elbow, like in some other equestrian sports where the fashion is the statement and the horse is the backdrop, we may have missed the inspiring vision of horse and rider working as a willing team, in harmony with enthusiasm for movement.
There seems to be a lot of controversial chat out there about the attire for riders at shows. My opinion on this topic is fairly strong. I really hate the idea of dressage competition becoming some kind of fashion show. But I do like the idea of modifying the jacket, especially for those of us who ride in the hot Southern summers. I prefer to keep the black and white (or Navy blue or cream) formal look. I love a little bling to add a dressy-ness and glam to the occasion. But I hate too much and too phony and bling in the wrong place. When USDF, USEF or Dressage Today poses the question of updating the attire, I encourage enthusiasts of real dressage training to encourage modest changes only. Perhaps the coat could be a vest? Perhaps a pin stripe in the shirt or tie could be allowed? But adding bright colors...no way. Speak up when asked and help our leaders know what we enjoy. I personally enjoy the beauty of a well trained horse performing in dressage. In clinics and regular lessons I feel there is room for some more creativity. The rider's self expression is more welcome and probably won't distract the instructor unless it is poorly fitted. When a trainer is coaching, the eye is sometimes more frequently on the rider anyway. The judges eye remains judgemental of the horse and the rider less of the .
Today was the first day back to riding. The forecast: sunny, but 20 mph winds gusting up to 50 mph by 1pm. So, by 9:30 am I was ready to ride, although suffering from some anxiety. "This is good for me to feel and remember." I say to Susan, my support staff for the day, " This is how some of my adult amateur students feel after a difficult winter and very little riding," I think, as I recall several moments over the years when a mature student hesitates with anxiety in the eyes as I ask them to hold the whip, to drop a stirrup, to canter, to drop the reins, to trot a cavaletti, etc. "because this is how they must feel. One must trust one's skills to be confident." But then, the old confidence mantra dances back to me, "Fake it till you make it...". So up I go. Reins in hands, shoulders square.... I think. These days, I can't really feel if my shoulders are square. Eyeing Susan, I see everything is fine. I proceed. Welle takes me obediently into walk leg yeild, trot transitions and circles. What a dear. Once, she questions my whoa. (Maybe I didn't get the seat right?) I feel the pull of her jaws against the reins. I hold my ground. No pain in my shoulder!!! God bless! And she softens. With relaxation, we trot off. I try to remember all the stuff. You know the stuff... lots and lots of stuff... The wind is howling. Not perfect conditions... "Set up for success. " I hear my innervoice coaching. "This is not a set up for success." the devil on my shoulder whines. Windy days and dramatic barameter drops are the two weather conditions that most upset pro-creative horses. Obvious why: Those two weather things can kill babies the best. Anyway...my best friend carried me to confidence as only a best friend could. Perfection be damned. Tomorrow I would love to tackle more. We shall see. The only two humps on this cammel's back were: the sports bra killing the clavical bone and the bridling session lifting too high for the hand. More therapy! Lots of hope!