Monday, April 30, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I had to make two separate posts to cover my weekend. The first one can focus on the clinic, and this on can talk about the other event of the weekend.

The ponies came home.

I pulled in to the farm around 4 Sunday evening and after unloading Delight (who travels like a champ... even though she's not a fan of the slow feeder hay net) and making sure that she was all settled in, and enjoying her new found freedom,calmly grazing, I made the executive decision that I would rather haul for an extra hour than have to go get the other two on Monday.
By 7, all three were on home turf.

Now, RC and Delight know each other. They have been turned out together in Texas, at my farm, and lived next door to each other when boarding. They do not know Tilly, as she wasn't stalled or turned out near them all winter. Of course, Tilly's an easy going girl, but there are still going to be those scuffles over who's who in herd hiarchy...
Fortunatly they were all too focused on grass to do anything Sunday night. This morning there was a little scuffle, but so far the only actual injury had been a bite make on Deli's forehead. 

Most underwhelming First Turnout ever...

Whoo Hoo! Some action! Except for RC...

"Let's go graze over THERE!"

Tilly's part of the herd! RC's still eating.
When I brought them in for dinner after a hour or two of outside time, they were all ready for some quiet time. RC was the only one who really appreciated the 'welcome home' gift that I had for them....

What IS this thing???
Come.... Back.... Here!

 Today, his whole face had molasses on it. Good look, RC. Good look.

Knowledge is Power! Pony Power!

Ahh... I am basking in my short lived post clinic glow. There's nothing like a great weekend of lessons with a good trainer. Makes me wish that I had more than one lesson a day. The facility was beautiful and Delight was a gem. She was calm and confident the whole time, and got better and better. She was a totally different horse than the one I've been riding all winter.... What a nice change!
I won't go into all of the nitty gritty details which would probably bore you, but I'll throw in some screen shots from my filed lessons (Thank you, Donna!) and a few good quotes.
"Half halt with her hair! When it flies half halt!" Good thing I didn't braid....
"Is she gets hurried, come down quickly with your booty"
"Move your butt crack - that's a technical term - more to the outside"
“You’re a very good student. You listen well and feel well whats happening underneath you with your horse” Awwwwww!
"Even though she's not tall, she's quite wide... like a draft horse!"

I will say that I had a great time, and Ken Borden was very very complimentary of Delight. He had some very nice things to say about her quality - even if she is a pony. All in all, Delight and I weren't outclassed. We belong in the dressage ring.

Also, when someone is fliming their ride, it's probably best not to get to gossipy near the camera. Just sayin'...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Just relax....

So today was a "relax" kind of day. I got my trailer all prepped and ready for the road trip tomorrow, hay bags filled (trying one of the slow feeder kind. Delight's gonna hate it), new shavings down, shipping wraps washed and rolled. I should be ready to roll out tomorrow at oh'dark thirty. Well, by my guesstimate (which is a totally legit planning technique), everything should be just peachy if I roll out of the barn -pony and minions in tow- by 7:30 or 8 am.

Sure. That'll be easy....

Anyway, the whole point of my ride on Delight today was to get her to just relax. And it kind of worked. I have also been riding her in the brown Crosby dressage saddle instead of my super plush Schleese (with banana panels). Upside is that it gives her broad pony shoulders room to move, downside is that there are absolutely no knee rolls or thigh blocks or any other cushy amenities to hold my in my saddle. I have to actually ride my pony... even through the 'creative' and 'expressive' moments. Drat.
But with a plenty of changes in directions and seeing how long I could get her neck in front of me -without losing the connection, because then Ponita tends to try to whirl out from under me at random intervals- Delight gave me a very good ride. There were moments where she wasn't bent quite enough through the corners, but at least she wasn't popping her shoulder out; Her canter transitions were 150% better though, which might be a combo of relaxation and saddle fit changes allowing room for her shoulders to come up again. Gone were the tail swishy, head tossing, balky transitions; replace with nice calm upward transitions. Whew.

After such a good ride on Delight, I followed suit on Tilly. She has just joined the party and has only started really shedding out this week. Of course ponies couldn't coordinate their shed out dates so that I wouldn't spend two whole months covered in horse hair; first I spend three weeks covered in little red RC hairs, followed by black velvet-y Delight hairs and now ling soft Tilly hairs. My coworkers wonder what I do in my spare time... there are horse hairs all over everything I own - computers, coats, bags, everything has some horse hair on it by now!

Moving on, Tilly has taken her return to work quite gracefully. Unfortunately she has lost quite a bit of fitness in her week and a half off, but she must have been doing some thinking on her own time because she was really quick off the aids today. Not to say that she rushed around the arena at MACH 2, but rather I asked and she answered immediately. It was quite nice having prompt w-t-w transitions and even prompt trot canter transitions! Woohoo! I've been a little down on our canter work because Tilly tends to rush through the corners and lose her balance  atad (worse at the moment because she's a little out of shape), but and my sister recently pointed out to me, maybe all we need is a big enough area to actually canter a straight line. I'm going to hold on to that idea... but we shall see, after all, all of the ponies will be home in three days (yay!).
Of course by the end of half an hour she was huffing and puffing and even broke a sweat (it is a balmy 45 degrees out today), so we went for a walk and called it a day. But what a good day it was!

And poor RC, he's been neglected this week. I'm afraid that he's been shuffled to the back of the pack what with the fence building and barn prep work to get ready for the homecoming. I figure he's been working in lessons four days a week, so a few days without me riding him wont be too bad. He'll live.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So today's post isn't ging to be about how super amazing the Tillner was on her first day back to work or how bratty Delight was when I forced her to work around all of the jump crap left in the arena for a change (hey, I did6 acres of fencing in two days.. I doubt I could lift a ho-ho today, let alone jump standards). 

Now I really want a ho-ho. 

Anyway, I was forced to ask the question "is there a penalty for killing a bluebird?" when talking to my sister over the weekend. 
The answer to that is "No. You cant kill a robin though... but what the hell would prompt you to ask that?!?!"
"That's right. I'm the baddest bird around!"
Whoops. I guess I've been in the UP for too long. As it would turn out I have a robin (not a bluebird, as previously thought) who thinks that he's a total bad ass. The only one who could ever even think that they could threaten his particular brand of bad-ass-ery  is that douche bag who seems to live in the front of this big fancy horse trailer. 
"You want some more?!? I've got plenty where that came from!"
So, this poor little bird spends about half the day alternating between posturing and attacking the shiney aluminium front of my gooseneck. It was funny for the first day. Now I'm gonna be mad if he actually dents the front of my trailer....
Side note: the bird is blue with a red chest... what is it? Other than annoying (and dead if it dents my trailer)

Oh, and I saw a sand hill crane when driving out to go get sawdust for my stalls... You know, in anticipation of my ponies homecoming...
Now, I've seen quite a few of these guys awkwardly flying around recently. And they are massive!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Good Fences...

So, my Uber fence is *mostly* up.

"Uber fence? What makes your fence so special?" you ask.

It's a freakin' beast!

So, on Saturday I took a nice little drive to a 'real town' to the nearest TSC and Lowes (~100 miles, give or take). I bought electric fence supplies, returned the short posts and bought T posts that are actually tall enough to keep inquisitive ponies contained. Unfortunately for my great plans, TSC was out of 6' posts. And only had 20 6.5' posts... but had plenty of seven footers, which just so happen to be on sale, as the cashier helpfully explained to me.

Perfect. Load 'em up.

So here's the problem with 7' t-posts... One has to lift the 25 pound driver over one's head and slam it down with enough force to actually drive the post straight down. There's the rub. If I'm anal enough to string a guide line so that my posts make a straight line, you know I'm gonna make damn sure that those posts are in straight.
Enter the unconventional tool:

Yep. I drove fifty, seven foot tall t-posts while standing on my kitchen step stool.
(all the while my neighbors 6 kids watched from two fence lines away. Creepy children of the corn... *shudder*)
What am I doing? Two stepping this post into position?
Surprisingly, I managed to wield the t-post driver effectively enough to not fall off my step stool in front of my audience. Also, the poodles alternatively froliced around (with Tempi pushing her tennis ball right into my workspace) and laid on the nearest hill top to supervise my progress. Oh, and Bacon rolled in cow poop while exploring the fence line.
Helpful poodles.

Also, one more thing....
(Be prepared for a little bitty rant...)
I had a friend come out and help me lay out the t-posts (I had to borrow the driver from a friend, so didn't get them pounded in until afternoon/evening) and dig four holes for my 4"x4" support posts. When moving the t-posts from the bed of my truck to their future homes along the fence line, I moved a bundle at a time (a bundle is five t-posts secured together. Like they arrive on the pallet at TSC); he moved two at a time. Two posts, not bundles. I felt like a freaking She Hulk. I dug three of the holes, and he did one. I was honestly concerned that he might expire from the exertion. Is it shallow of me to add "must me able to lift more than me" onto my list for dateable criterion?
This is NOT a good look for me!

Because, really, the She Hulk is not a sexy feeling.
Also, my arms really hurt today. Ow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Farrier Etiquette

Ok, So, as I mentioned in my previous post RC threw a shoe in this muck.

Well, only kind of in the muck... He threw it by acting like  an idiot when turned out in the big field and running through the muck. Because the BO is adamant that geldings ONLY go out with other geldings and mares ONLY go out with other mares, RC and Delight were turned out in seperate pastures with buddies of the same gender.
Delight gets on swimmingly with everyone she meets, so that was no biggie.
RC is a dork and didn't get turned out with all of the other geldings, just older hunter pony who largely ignored him in favor of those few brave prigs of green grass. RC ran around like an idiot. At first he was playing... then he figured out that Delight - his bestest BFF EVER- was in another pen. With other horses!
An off came the shoe. Even when he was turned out in all of his booted best...

Since my farrier isnt from this area and only comes up every 6 weeks, I had to call someone else. I tried the guy who's always at the barn... but has been MIA recently (in hindsight that kinda should have been a clue). No return call. So one of my students called her farrier to come out and tack on the shoe, with the warning that he was slow.
Sure, farriers like to chat. I get it.

This guy took TWO HOURS to tack on ONE SHOE.
No trimming.
A little straightening the shoe.
Lots of putzing around.

RC stood like a boss and didnt get lippy or start fidgeting around. And this guy did do a great job for pretty cheap... But still, two hours? By the time that I convinced the farrier that I really had to get to work or get fired, it was too late to ride Delight.

There are tons of pointers for proper farrier etiquette...

  • Be on time
  • Pay on time with non rubber checks
  • Train your horse not to act like a 5 year old child all hopped up on Mtn Dew and skittles
  • Have clean horse feet for the farrier to work with
  • Have a neat, clean, safe and comfortable area for the farrier to work in

Ok, so farriers can be the prima donnas of the equine world. They know we need them. Sometimes it seems that they don't really need us**...
How about just a touch of customer service?

  • Be on time, or at least give us owners a heads up
  • Return those messages we leave for you. Really, I'm trying to give you my money to work on my nice safe horses
  • When you show up to work, actually work. We can be buddies when my horse isn't standing on the farrier tripod thingy...
  • Recognize that us owners have outside lives too. Letting other customers 'cut' because they forgot to call you might make you and extra $30, but it irritates us responsible owners. 
  • Let me know if you are going to be out of town for two months. My horses need shoes, and I need to be able to make other arrangements
  • For the love of cripes... Don't go on and on about what crappy feet our horses have. Yes, I know, my poor guy has been standing in mud for two months. Deal with it; I have to. 
I'm sure there are other things that I'm forgetting at the moment... But I feel better having gotten that out there. 

**My normal farrier is excellent. Great customer service, etc, etc... Norm, if you read this: RC loves you... Even if he did rip off a shoe. 

T Minus One Week (plus a few)

So all kinds of exciting stuff happens next weekend.
First off, I'm all signed up (and paid for) two of the most expensive lessons of my life with Ken Borden Jr. I am, however, magnanimously going to hand over that giant check for two wonderful hours of getting my (and Delight's) butt whipped into shape. I know that after 8 months of no lessons that I am in pitiful condition, with all of those bad habits that seem to creep back into a person as soon as the instructor turns their back.

I swear I try hard! My legs are better... But I'm sure that I'm spending half my ride staring into the back of my ponies heads as if they hold the answers to life, the universe and everything.

(Which is 42, BTW)

Anyway, stay tuned for an in depth report of clinic experience. Unless I died, in which case... No more blog.

Reason Numero Dos for next weekend to be exciting:
The ponies are coming home!
That's right. Everyone will now be living at home so that I can watch their shenanigans while sipping my morning  coffee and eating my breakfast granola bar.
Of course this means that I won't have access to an indoor anymore and I'll have to find a new workout class that will better fit my schedule, but I'm sure I can handle it.

And now for the bad news... It's been wet as all get out this week. Snow that then melted and was followed by rain. Long story short: horses are back to standing in mud. Of course, RC threw a shoe (which is a blog post in and of its self)... And Tilly has developed an awful case of scratches and now one of her hind legs is all blown up even after careful treatment so its time to up the ante, as they say.

"Scratches? Isn't that a poor horse problem?!?!" Thank you Courtney for those kind words of sympathy. Really.

As you can see in my blurry cell phone picture (what? It was 30 degrees and I had to hose the mud off her poor swollen leg! My hands were freezing!), poor Tilly's left hind isn't looking so good. I sissored off all of her pony feathers - because I keep forgetting to throw a set of clippers into my truck- so that I could smear her poor pasterns with water resistant triple antibacterial cream
After cold hosing to reduce the swelling, Tillys leg looks a bit better, but I still feel like a terrible horse owner for letting her experience any discomfort whatsoever. The fact that the swelling was so reduced by a few minuted of cold hosing calmed me down. Like any horse owner with the internet or too many books/subscriptions to Equus, i was imagining that poor Tilly had developed cellulitis or was suffering from Lymes disease as well as her scratches. Fortunatly, It looks like I'm just a worry wart. 


Since the normal thing to do during my stint as a vet tech was to wrap to help reduce swelling and to help keep grime/shavings/poo out of Tilly's sore, I brought a trusty role of off brand vet rap and a few diapers that I had lying in my car (left over from RC's brush with abscesses! Sheesh people....). I do believe that this was Tilly's first experience with bandages or wraps of any sort, based on her reaction to seeing this giant blue thing stuck to her leg (she doesnt know how lucky she is that I didn't choose tie dye). Tilly stood like a champ for me to medicate her scratches sores, wrap her hoof, pastern and leg in diapers then seal everything up with vet wrap - while checking obsessively to make sure that nothing was too tight. 
Now, I don't want to toot my own horn here, but I will say that I can do one heck of a good job with a bandage. I take wrapping a limb to an art form. Beautiful, isn't it?
Maybe it was my stint as a vet tech (doubt it) or my time as a working student at a show barn (professional polo wrapper just didn't fit on my resume), but there is something satisfying about  nice neat smooth bandage. 

Even better news: When I removed her bandage this morning, all of the swelling was gone! I know, I know, it's probably only temporary but I'll take any win I can get. As for Tilly, she went out today, sans bandage but with her water resistant triple antibiotic cream liberally slathered on all four pasterns (better safe than sorry!). Tonight I'll rewrap her - in hot pink vet wrap this time. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


I'll start this one off with a What the Heck, Michigan?
I mean, all weekend it was 60 degrees and sunny. Horses got to go romp around in the big field (where RC threw a shoe), eat grass and basically be horses for a bit. Life was great.
There are 10 deer in this picture. More were there, they just wouldn't scootch in for the picture...
Even the deer came out to play when the horses went in for dinner.
Side note: how can these creatures be difficult to hunt? I mean, they repeatedly try to play chicken with cars, hang out in large groups in populated areas, and generally have no visible appreciation for life.

Today, it started at 35 degrees and rain. Now it's 28 and snowing those hard little ice pellets that really make a person mad because they sting a bit as they pelt you in the face.
Thanks Michigan. Thanks a lot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Changes are A-Comin'...

I'm not talking about new farm improvements or swanky new club clothes (come on, you mean to tell me that horse slobber shows up under the black lights?). I'm talking clean flying lead changes while prepping for third level.

'Whoa, whoa, whoa... Third level?', you ask 'Whatever happened to second level? I stalked your CenterlineScores and nothing you currently own has so much as even tried a test with a shoulder in in it!"

Well, as a pro (snicker snicker, cough, cough *regain composure*), I feel that it's high time to start schooling above second level. I mean, lets face it, RC's a pro and second level with all of it's busy changes of bend and whatnot is nearly tailor made for him. So, time to up the ante and learn some changes.
No sweat, right?

Good changes, on the other hand, might take a while.

So, I asked my sister, the Flying Change Guru, for some good exercises for improving the changes from the current flinging-legs-around-randomly style to something a tad more... sedate. I've had reasonable success with the half pass to counter canter to flying change in the corner, but in the itty bitty indoor that I've been confined to, I needed to find something else that might work.

Enter Exercise One: Counter canter a half circle , flying change to true canter, and back to counter canter. Rinse and repeat.

Well, we tried it.

And it was a spectacular fail, so I guess we'll revisit it in a few days.

Now, RCs first instinct to anything new is to tighten his back and launch himself forward. While this kind of works for the changes (except for that tight back bit), it makes for some pretty creative moments.
Our first change (counter canter to true canter) was uneventful, giving me hope that I had stumbled upon some magical exercise. The second change (true canter to counter canter) was a little sticker but still clean. The third change - back to true canter- RC started thinking. And problem solving. Changes four five six and seven happened without any rider input, and were rapidly degenerating into sideways crooked leaps.
Circle the wagons, change directions and get a relaxed canter.
Good, good... Now try the exercise this way.... unasked for, out of control two tempis on the circle.

Guess it's back to trying for those single relaxed changes... And this was supposed to be my 'day off of riding'. Sucker.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Made the Leap

In case anyone has noticed, the tagline on this blog is "A twenty-something's journey to becoming credible". Why do I bring this up?

Because, as of today, I have made the tentative leap towards credibility. I paid for my first USEF professional membership.

Yep, I am now a card carrying professional and have to compete against the big dogs now. Damn.
So, that's the downside.

But, since my relocation to the UP, people have been asking me to give lessons, and since the area is sadly lacking in any intermediate or advanced trainers, I've agreed. Now, I am in no way, shape, or form promoting myself as the next hot thing out there, since I don't consider myself advanced (in the dressage world, at least) either. I do, however have lots of experiences and training that I can share with others and help fill the holes in basic knowledge up here (I'm in no way disparaging the entry level trainers I've met up here... but let's face it, there's more to riding than sit and steer).

Did I mention that I have to compete against the pros now?

That's the part that's psyching me out. Not the buying of insurance, or the actual giving of lessons (I kinda like that part), or even the tax headache that this is going to cause next April. Having to 'man up' and show my little ponies in the Open classes is what's causing my current anxiety (can you tell that I'm planning my 2012 show season)...

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breath in. Breathe out.

So, what's next... Team logos? I think so!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cough, Hack, Weeze, Nap

Well, the title sums up my weekend in a nutshell.

Oh, yeah. I got the flu.

So instead of spending the weekend working the ponies, pulling manes, and just generally enjoying the sunshine, I was laying on my chaise, wrapped in blankets having an epic movie marathon/nap time.
The poodles were all for it for about the first two hours. Bacon was characteristically concerned for me and took up his post as my protector, keeping watch should anyone try to intervene on my convalescence. Tempi heaved a huge sigh and curled up on my legs.

Of course, unlike Bacon, Tempi is just not the cuddling kind of girl. Her patience for sickness is even shorter than my own (of course, I was still moping in self pity and hacking up what was left of my lung) and in no time at all (or so it seemed to me) she was squeaking her squeaky tennis ball and pushing it at me to try to entice me into a rejuvenating game of fetch. I was not amused and curled even deeper into a ball of self pity. Even then, Bacon didn't abandon his post curled above my hip. He believes that positive thinking and cuddling are all a person needs to get better.

If only those poodles knew how to brew tea, make soup and do the dishes, we'd have been set.

Instead, there is a mound of dirty soup bowls and tea mugs sitting by my sing waiting for me when I get home today, along with two hyper active poodles who spent the weekend watching Disney movies and old action movies (come on, who doesn't like a little vintage Will Smith?)

"I coulda been at a barbeque!"
Of course the natural progression after Independance Day is to move on to Jurassic Park. After all, Jeff Goldbloom has the same line in both movies!
"Faster, Must go faster!"

So now that I'm back up on my feet and moving back at 80% efficiency I have to focus on getting Ponita Uno up to shape for the Ken Borden Jr clinic in less than three weeks. No sweat, right?

Anyone have  a weed whacker handy to get her mane to a manageable thickness? No? Darn.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One Hundred And Sixty Two

That's how many days have passed since I've ridden outside. Not that I'm counting or anything...

But today I broke my streak.
Oh no, not an awkward picture from horseback!
I took RC out on a trail ride down the snowmobile/outdoor enthusiast trail next door to the farm. I wanted a lazy walk along the trail, and he was so. freaking. excited. to be outside that I knew we were going to have a "find those manners, you asshole" moment or two. Like when he decided that he simply could not walk up the hill. THAT hill required nothing less than a full out hand gallop! Of course, I was not thrilled with this newly found independent thinking that RC acquired and he found out that I can in fact make him lengthen and collect in a 20-ish (Who says that Dressage Queens don't let loose?) meter circle and leg yield and half pass around tree limbs on the trail.
Another one? Find a friend with a camera!
Of course, RC being RC, he settled down and I had a really good ride on the guy, for all we only trotted for about five minutes (what? It's been a long week!). I'll admit that I haven't just dinked along on my WonderPony in such a long time that I forgot how much fun it was...

Now for the impressive part: I rode Tilly in the outdoor!
Yep. The outdoor arena, which - for some poorly planned reason - is no larger than the tiny indoor I've been stuck in for the last 6.5 months. But that's enough for Tilly. After all, practicing steering, transitions and accepting the bit becomes 10X harder when there is so much in the outside world to look at! Tilly was a little bug eyed at the prospect of being ridden all alone in the big wide world (or 40m x 20m fenced arena), but she pulled it together, and we had a very good ride... Except for those fist sized rocks in the arena. Good thing all of those bored bark kids were idlely hanging around, waiting for someone to give them a job...

Delight got today off, since, as mentioned, it's been one heck of a week (not to mention, I feel a touch of the flu coming on.... Dagnabbit. I was hoping that I'd miss this round too). So today was a "hand graze any green tidbit you can find" kind of day. I feel that Delight didn't mind her day of leisure but if she plays her cards right, we might work outside tomorrow. Lucky, lucky girl...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Up, Up and Away!

So today was my second jumping lesson on Delight.
Much as I predicted, it was more of a case of paying someone else to pick up and move poles after we hit them. I will admit that I don't feel nearly as secure in a jumping saddle as I do in my trusty dressage saddles (even the flat knee roll-less Crosby!), so an eye on the ground was helpful.

There is something about shortening my stirrups by two holes that automatically reverts me to my 13 year old self. Gone was the secure dressage rider who solves problems by applying bend or a tactful shoulder fore, replaced by the out of balance, clinging with my thighs, plow reining 13 year old version of my riding. What gives? I had to actually think about my legs for a change! Me! Thinking about basic position!

"Sit to the inside" Duh... Oh crap. Why am I careening about on the outside of my pony? 
"Bring your legs back to stay in balance for when Delight shoots forward" Puh-leeze. My legs are... Aw, damn. She's right. I'm riding like a monkey with a wicked case of vertigo. 

Plus side? Delight and I jumped our first vertical.
Pretty sure that it was roughly that big. Or maybe it was 24". Either way, we were freakin' flying.
Also, it was ridiculously easy for Deli, hampered though she was by my "flopping like a dead fish" impression on her. She could leap it at the trot, walk and canter. Even the 'bounce' cavalettis were a piece of cake for her. Of course, she started getting sloppy as she got more and more tired (she wouldn't be so tired if she would just calmly canter past the open door, as opposed to attempting a spook-buck-spin every other time we rode on past.

Some times, I yearn of an old BTDT horse. Times like that especially....

Now I just have to master the 24-36" course for the "fun" jump show this summer.... Goals, right?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Club: Dressage Style

You know, the funny thing about moving up here where there is absolutely NO dressage instruction is that I am finally reading all of those training books that are cluttering up my shelves. Really reading, not just skimming through wishing my horses looked like the illustrations (the "correct" pictures, not the "your dressage horse looks like a camel" picture). It's amazing how much more I appreciate the written word when other avenues are closed to me. I've hit an inspired week (probably because of that clinic I signed up for isless than a month away), so I pulled out a few of my favorite books and a few old Dressage Today's to brush up on where exactly a coming five year old should be, and where I'd like to be by this summer's shows.
Go get your own book....
I love Klimke's Basic Training book. While it's not the best book for fixing mistakes, it's a wonderful book for making sure that my young horses are on track. I don't want to become one of those people who has a 10 year old horse who still cannot canter with a rider because "Oh, she's just not ready yet...". Phooey, I say. My ponies are just as ready as any of Scott Hassler's young horses. Or close. At least that's what I imaging we look like (FEI five year old test, here we come! Or Training level. Either one, really...).

So what is a poor dressage addict stuck in the UP wasteland of speed event and pleasure horses supposed to do when she runs into a problem? Enter my second favorite book (stolen from my sister over Christmas break. Merry frickin' Christmas....)
If you don't own this book, you probably hate your horse.
I you ever want to ride a dressage horse, like dressage, train dressage, or have just admired the Blue Hors Matinee freestyle that cycled through the internet a few years ago, you need this book. I can't just sit down and read through it, but as soon as I'm having an issue (why is Delight's shoulder in funky?) I can read the "shoulder in" chapter and voila, the answer lies within. Somewhere. Ok, so maybe it takes a few reads through to really get it, but the point here is that this book is helpful.

Now for my "Just for Fun" book. Every where you read there are people crying "oh, you'll ruin your young dressage horse if all you do is train" and "Everyone with young horses just rush them through training to the show ring. Probably with Rollkur"... So I vowed to not fall into that trap (which leads to the 10 year old who cant canter because trailrides are more fun... But that's a whole other blog post). So what will shake up my young horse's routine without letting their training fall by the wayside? Jumps!
Oh, I can't jump...
Perfect. So what, I just place poles around and trot over them right? If only someone wrote a book of exercises for this....
Ta DAH! Now don't fall off!
Ah, another of my favorites. It doesn't have any ground breaking information, but its written in such a way that poor little ground-pole-neophyte-me isn't just going to scrap cavaletti day in favor or more 20 m circles.  Also, I'm trying a 'jump' lesson with a resident trainer at my barn. Now, I realize that really I'm just paying for someone else to move the ground poles and jumps for an hour, but at least it'll be fun for Delight and I to try something new....

Worth it?
So the next addition to my equestrian library is going to be "Dressage for the (no so) Perfect Horse" by Janet Foy. Now, I love Foy as a judge; I feel she's fair and (most importantly) encouraging to those of us with "non traditional" horses, like RC. Since we cant all start on big warmbloods - or, in my case have to learn to train on a cheap horse after starting on my big beautiful warmblood- I love it when a judge doesn't always knock a "5" mover into the 50% ranks. So, who wants to buy this book first, then let me know if it's a 'must have' or just a 'would be nice' type of book?