Saddlebroke's Blog (19)

I'm Gumby, Dammit!

They say life is what happens when you make other plans. (I know...there I go quoting "them" again. One day, I'll figure out who "they" are.) Recently, I heard someone comment that dressage is a metaphor for life. It seems Sammie caught wind of the concept, because my grand plans for Sammie's debut into the local dressage show scene have gone to hell in a handbasket.

At the beginning of the year, I vowed to set the dressage world on fire. My… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on April 29, 2010 at 4:00pm — 2 Comments

'Tis the Season

No, it's not Christmas in March. And I'm not even talking about the dressage show season. I suspect my mare-owning friends (at least those situated in the Northern Hemisphere) know exactly what I'm talking about. It's that season.


When mares are in season, life can get interesting. I hear so many stories from friends with mares who become…


Added by saddlebroke on March 17, 2010 at 9:30pm — 3 Comments

My Ride with Jane Savoie

I had a birthday last weekend, and I got the most incredible gift. It was given to me by Sammie, but when I really think about it, the gift was made possible by Jane Savoie. (For those of you who have been living under a rock, Jane is one of the most well-known names in dressage, with a list of accomplishments too numerous to detail here.)

You already know that I have had my share of challenges with…


Added by saddlebroke on March 2, 2010 at 9:18pm — 3 Comments

Lessons Learned

My trainer doesn't know everything. This, of course, is no surprise to her. It came as somewhat of a revelation to me, however. I've become so insecure in my own horsekeeping skills, that somehow I managed to convince myself that those I rely on know it all, and that my own pool of knowledge was more akin to a quickly evaporating puddle.

In our lesson yesterday, Meg and I discussed Sammie's recent training. In mid-December, I handed the reins over to Meg for full…


Added by saddlebroke on February 21, 2010 at 11:46am — 1 Comment

More, Please

Today is a special day. Exactly one year ago today, I brought Samba home. That is a day not to be forgotten...the excitement of getting a clean vet check on a horse you've already fallen in love with, loading onto your (or in my case, my trainer's) trailer, and settling your new horse into her new digs. What a great day that was.

Today also happens to be the three-year anniversary of the day my wonderful husband proposed marriage, while we were waiting for dessert at an…


Added by saddlebroke on February 12, 2010 at 6:46pm — 2 Comments

Staying Connected

As dressage riders, we strive constantly to keep our horses "connected" - that is, working "on the bit." A truly connected horse has a relaxed back, with power that comes from behind, moves over the back, and gets recycled back to the hind legs. When a horse is truly connected, riding is pure joy.

This is, of course, a state of being that takes correct training of both horse and… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on January 31, 2010 at 6:00pm — 4 Comments

Looking Back...Moving Forward

While it may be cliché, somehow I can't imagine any more appropriate post on New Year's Day. As I sit here, watching the Tournament of Roses Parade (and pausing the DVR frequently to admire the equestrian units), I can't help but look back at 2009 and everything I've gone through with Samba, and build upon my plans for us in 2010.

Samba became mine in February, a few months shy of her fourth birthday. Although all horses "turn" a year older on January 1st, I just can't bring myself… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on January 1, 2010 at 1:30pm — 2 Comments

We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I am a compulsive list-maker. Always have been. I get substantial satisfaction from crossing an item off my "To-Do" list. I admit it: I have, at times, added an item to my list after completing it, just so I could ceremoniously cross it off. This is why I was so happy to have formulated a goal for Samba and I to begin competing in 2010. With a concrete goal, I could formulate a training plan, and begin to check off items as we progressed.

Before Sammie broke out in hives, we… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on December 6, 2009 at 12:04pm — 3 Comments

Sesame Street

Tonight's episode is brought to you by the letter "D".




Seems I'm not the only fan of Sesame Street. Monday night, Sammie conjured up the above adjectives in our workout, reminding me of what used to be one of my favorite childhood TV shows. I should have predicted the outcome. It was so predictable that it was practically scripted. But what seems patently… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on November 25, 2009 at 9:59am — 3 Comments


With apologies to Aretha, I've discovered a new spelling for Respect:


Of late, it has become crystal clear that Sammie simply does not respect my leg. Upward transitions and forward energy were easy things for our trainer Meg to get from Samba, but whenever I hopped on, fuggedaboudit. Here I was, committed to showing at Intro level in March, and I had to enter into negotiations with Sammie any time I wanted her to pick up a trot. Intro… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on November 14, 2009 at 7:03pm — 4 Comments

I'm All In

OK, I hear you. Color me persuaded, if not convinced. The chance at riding in a Debbie McDonald clinic is one that should not be passed up. So I just went to the California Dressage Society website and handed over $65 for my 2010 membership dues.

The CDS regional amateur clinics are an interesting phenomenon. I don't know if other… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on November 10, 2009 at 3:00pm — 2 Comments

Manna From Heaven

Manna is defined as (among other things) any sudden or unexpected help, advantage, or aid to success, because as biblical scholars will attest, manna was the food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness during their flight from Egypt.

It wasn't long after Sammie and I fled Clancy's backyard to the upscale boarding facility that I was blessed with my own manna from Heaven. Just two weeks after we moved in, our trainer Meg asked me to reschedule our usual Saturday… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on November 3, 2009 at 4:30pm — 1 Comment


dressage court Dressage tests are a formalized sequence of movements, with transitions between the three gaits (walk/trot/canter) at designated points along a 20 by 60 meter arena, marked by letters. For instance, the rider and horse enter the arena at A, proceed to X (the center of the arena), halt,… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on October 31, 2009 at 8:00pm — 6 Comments

Movin' On Up

Dressage competitions are comprised of a series of levels, and tests within each level increase in complexity. The "official" starting level (in the U.S.) is Training Level, though there is an "unofficial" Introductory Level for those who want to get their feet wet with a simpler test, without cantering. After Training Level comes First Level, and this is the earliest stage at which you can qualify to perform Musical Freestyle. Let me get one thing clear: I have no illusions about my abilities,… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on October 25, 2009 at 5:30pm — 3 Comments

Dressage Two-Step

Dressage is often compared to dancing with your horse. I soon learned that with a young horse, the choreography involves two steps forward, and one step back, if you're very lucky.

My dance with Sammie had us tripping over our feet a bit at first, but we soon established a rhythm. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, once I adopted a more confidant attitude (even if I had to fake it), we started making progress. Lisa was very happy with my improved longeing skills, and… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on October 18, 2009 at 7:30pm — 8 Comments

Second Thoughts...Second Chances

So if you've been following along, you know that I brought Samba home to her stall in Clancy's 2 acre backyard on February 12, 2009. Based on her stellar behavior during our introduction, the vet check, and the transport home, I had boundless optimism. Sammie was, I was certain, not just a great horse, but the perfect horse for me. Visions of flawless musical freestyles danced in my head. (OK, I know the expression is "visions of sugarplums" but I have no idea what a sugarplum looks… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on October 2, 2009 at 9:56pm — No Comments

Honeymoon in Purgatory

In my last post, I mentioned the new home I had picked out for Sammie, in Clancy's backyard. Amazingly, though I live in a community with loads of equestrian zoned real estate, bridle paths that wind through the streets, miles and miles of trails into the foothills and mountains, and even a public park with two large arenas and a round pen, when I bought Sammie, I had only three public board options within 10 miles, and none of them would be suitable.

There was one nice facility,… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on September 20, 2009 at 6:30pm — 3 Comments

There's Nothing Like That New Horse Smell

Buying a horse takes an incredible leap of faith. You hope that this will be your "forever" equine partner. And yet, you are ready to commit after less time than you would spend on a typical first date. How many people do you know who got engaged to be married after a coffee date at Starbucks? Ask any horse owner how much time they spent getting to know their horse before purchase, though, and the answers will probably range from an hour or less to a few days, on the high (and rare) end. I… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on September 9, 2009 at 11:30am — 4 Comments

Does This Horse Make My Butt Look Big?

Between the first time I saw her ad on Dreamhorse, and Lisa's phone call to her seller, somebody else put a deposit down on Samba, taking her off the market. But the morning of Lisa's call, mere hours before the scheduled vet check, the buyer forfeited her deposit, canceling the sale. "My trainer saw the video, and told me this horse makes my butt look too big." Seriously. I was getting the opportunity to buy my dreamhorse, because someone… Continue

Added by saddlebroke on September 7, 2009 at 11:00am — 4 Comments

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