Barn Cat, dressage, Miss Kitty

We’ll Miss You, Miss Kitty

It was a sad day at the barn yesterday. Miss Kitty, barn cat extraordinaire, was euthanized following a run-in with coyotes and/or barbed wire. Regardless of the cause, her injuries were too extensive to save her.

I will miss the sight of Miss Kitty savoring saddle pads of all shapes and sizes.

I will miss the sight of Miss Kitty savoring saddle pads of all shapes and sizes.

Miss Kitty had been a fixture at the barn for many years, dutifully protecting the feed room from tiny intruders. When not guarding her domain, she was in the habit of telling each and every boarder that she had not been fed, in hopes of adding to her already curvy frame.
Despite the fact that she’d lost most of her tail to a very naughty dog, Miss Kitty didn’t take it out on the rest of the canine world. Miss Kitty tolerated the many dogs who visited the barn, with only a warning bop on the nose to the young and over-eager.
When in the barn aisle, Miss Kitty especially loved our sweaty saddle pads. Lounging on them was one of her specialties. In fact, Miss Kitty had a way of making all surfaces look comfortable, as she stretched out and napped in that wonderful way cats have perfected.
Miss Kitty, we will miss you. You were a sweet and gentle girl. May your kitty-cat heaven be generously appointed with smelly saddle pads and all the canned food you desire. Sleep well, little friend.

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Adult Rider Camp, Camping with horses, Central Oregon Chapter, dressage, Ernst Hermann, Nicki Grandia

Notes from Dressage Camp

My new riding checklist goes like this: heels down, legs back, sit on back pockets, use core, shoulders forward (since I tend to lean back), hands together, chin up.

Micah & I relax before our first ride of the morning

Micah & I relax before our first ride of the morning

Yes, I focused on POSITION at last week’s Adult Amateur Dressage Camp, held in Tumalo, OR and hosted by Central Oregon Chapter of the Oregon Dressage Society.
Twelve intrepid riders attended, many of them choosing to camp onsite. Camping was the only way to go, as that’s where we really got to know one another, over morning cups of coffee and evening cocktails.
Solbritt & her eye-catching youngster, Pandora

Solbritt & her eye-catching youngster, Pandora

The gals from Grants Pass/Klamath Falls showed us how it was done with first-rate beverages, appetizers, amazing homemade mini-quiches, naturopathic remedies for our aches and pains, plus Olympic-level hospitality.
Jill & her handsome 'boys'

Jill & her handsome ‘boys’

My campmate, Lisa B. and I learned several valuable camping lessons along the way: don’t camp near the horses being one of the most important. While they looked adorable snuggled in their paddocks, Friday night’s squealing mare party made sleep a matter of wishful thinking. On Saturday, we slept with deep satisfaction, thanks to the fact that the horses were too tired to karaoke.
Lisa and I also learned the importance of location when camping. By late afternoon our cute little campsite simmered in the summer sun. Fortunately, the Grants Pss contingent offered to share their shade with us. Next year we’ll pay more attention when setting up camp.
Lisa &  her young horse, Apollo, made big strides in his training

Lisa & her young horse, Apollo, made big strides in his training

As for riding, clinicians Ernst Hermann and Nicki Grandia offered their expertise. The two had very different approaches to teaching but, for me, this worked well. I started off with Ernie and his very technical approach to position and ended camp with Nicki, who allowed me to pursue the same issues at a more self-guided pace. Here’s hoping muscle memory kicks in and I can make these lessons last long term.
In four days we had six lessons each, something of a total immersion course and — thanks to the heat— a bit of an endurance test. As we and our horses grew more weary each day, our warmup times shortened from generous to hasty.
On Sunday afternoon I was sad to see camp clearing out, trailers pulling away and riders saying their goodbyes. This was the best vacation I’ve had in years. I loved sharing a strong cup of morning coffee as the sun warmed the air, listening to the horses enjoy their hay. Since Micah lives in a boarding stable, hearing his whinney as I brought him each meal was music to my ears — and what a trooper he was through the whole adventure. I was very proud of him.
A big thanks goes to organizer Lisa Koch, who helped make the magic happen … bringing together riders from throughout the region for a truly memorable experience. We bonded.
Will I go back next year? It’s at the top of my list for much more than just the riding. If you have the chance to attend a riding camp giddyup and go!

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Adult Rider Camp, dressage, Ernst Hermann, Niki Grandia

Cleaning Tack in the Kitchen

When some womens’ spouses leave town they really live it up.
As for me, I had a glass of wine and cleaned tack. On the kitchen counter. Granite is ‘impervious’ (or so they say) and the evidence will be gone by the time Al gets back tomorrow night.
Just so you know, I’m cleaning tack for this weekend’s Adult Rider Dressage Camp. This is a huge deal. Four days of fun with women obsessed with dressage. (Men are welcome but none signed up.)
Imagine this: horses, terrific instruction, camaraderie, camping, food, wine — and no other distractions! Our instructors will the fabulous Ernst Hermann and Nicki Grandia.
I had a major vacation scheduled for April of this year but my husband’s unintentional achilles tendon rupture put an end to that. So, if you think my tack cleaning on the counter (which he wouldn’t be happy about) is over the top … think again.
Check back in for my reports from camp! I’m so happy that Micah is recovered enough from his April injury to be able to go. I’m also thrilled to get to spend time with other dressage fans in an informal, non-competitive setting.
I say this knowing that most of the instruction will be a critique of my position. Which (just sayin’) sucks.

Related posts
We’ll Miss You, Miss Kitty
August 29, 2016
Notes from Dressage Camp
August 26, 2016
Odysseo Delivers Magic
August 2, 2016
dressage, Odysseo, Odysseo Discount

Odysseo Delivers Magic

If you can catch Odysseo on tour, jump at the chance. The show offers a magical combination of entertainment and horses that will capture the imagination of even your least horse-crazy friends. Plus, there’s eye candy for everyone: gorgeous horses, beautiful but not scantily-clad women, and hunky guys.

Call me shallow, but I really enjoyed watching Fabio work at liberty with the horses. He was an expert handler with a real rapport with the horses.

Call me shallow, but I really enjoyed watching Fabio work at liberty with the horses. He was an expert handler with a real rapport with the horses.

Then there’s the mind-boggling set. Choreographing an equine ballet inside a tent is no small feat. Of course we expect an arena of sorts, but when horses appear over a ridge and make their way downhill to the forefront of the arena, it’s a marvel of engineering and imagination. To further the illusion, the backdrop changes throughout the show from day to a star-studded night, woodland to savannah, and through the seasons from summer to winter.
For the less than equine enthused, when the horses aren’t stealing the show, aerial artists, acrobats, and dancers entertain and amuse, creating a visual wonderland. Live music, lighting effects, and stunning costumes add to the appeal.
Horses on a hill, Odysseo's incredible, mind-boggling set

Horses on a hill, Odysseo’s incredible, mind-boggling set

But what about the horses? For the equine obsessed, Odysseo is a box of chocolates to be savored. A herd of 49 geldings and stallions take turns sharing and stealing the stage, showing off their strengths and personalities at every turn. Likewise, the trainers exhibit admirable fitness, skill, and technique in every act. The rapport between horse and handler as they demonstrate jumping, vaulting, roman riding, dressage, and working at liberty, is captivating.
The horse/handler relationship was at its most entertaining in the liberty work. In my favorite act, the curtain opened to find horses sleeping on the hillside, each snuggled alongside a handler. The horses woke up, rolled, and began following their handlers on cue through a choreographed routine, unaided by bit, bridle, or halter.
Sleeping horses awoke and joined their handlers to perform at liberty - with varying degrees of cooperation

Sleeping horses awoke and joined their handlers to perform at liberty – with varying degrees of cooperation

Throughout the act, new horses joined each handler, until horses were grouped in teams of three and four, gracefully moving at the walk, trot, and canter throughout the arena, winding in and out of one another in formation. The best of the riders/handlers elicited prompt responses and respect from their horses.
However, despite years of training, horses will be horses — with minds of their own. One handsome gelding left his group several times to go on walkabout in a harmless bout of naughtiness. My non-horsey husband loved the unpredictability of this. We watched with amusement as the outlier was deftly returned to his group, more than once, by skilled handlers.
Sitting in a tent in Portland, Oregon I thought of the hundreds of urban dwellers who were seeing horses with fresh eyes — cheering and applauding an animal that can be asked but not forced to comply with human handlers.
For me, Odysseo celebrates the spirit of the horse and the magic of the horse/human bond, making it accessible to those who may never before have recognized the power and grace of the equine athlete.
Spend an evening in Odyssey’s tent and take the opportunity be entertained and delighted.
For a special 10% discount to your Odysseo tickets, please use this code.

Related posts
We’ll Miss You, Miss Kitty
August 29, 2016
Notes from Dressage Camp
August 26, 2016
Cleaning Tack in the Kitchen
August 17, 2016

O Odysseo!

What a grand surprise when I received a VIP invite to attend Odysseo’s ‘Social Media Night.’ The event coincided with our wedding anniversary and Al, non horse husband extraordinaire, was game to go.
I’d seen the ads and trailers for the show, plus got a brief review from Linda Martin (owner of Portland’s Glisan Street Saddlery) when I made a quick (yet fruitful) stop in her shop on my way into town from Bend.
Linda raved about the set and overall continuity of the show. With two new flattering yet functional breeches in hand, I left her shop really excited about the evening’s adventure.
How fun to see gleaming white circus tents in the urban setting of Portland, OR — just under the Ross Island Bridge. I knew the horses were stabled in tents just a breath away. I would love to watch the set-up and can only imagine how much work is involved. The behind-the-scenes workings are intriguing.

In Portland's urban setting, white tents rise up against the sky inviting us in.

In Portland’s urban setting, white tents rise up against the sky inviting us in.

We were ushered into the VIP tent, thankful to find that everything was well air-conditioned since it was 80-something degrees outside, which is hot for Northwesterners. After a lovely happy hour and beautifully presented buffet dinner, we made our way to our third row seats. Third row!!!
The lights dimmed, the curtain slid gracefully out of sight and the show began.
As with any equestrian extravaganza, Odysseo begs the question, “How are they going to pull this off? How many horses? How big of a venue? What kind of riding?”
I felt certain I would be entertained and amused, knowing the work and caliber of talent Cavalia invests in their shows. The question remained — how would they pull it off?
The answer is “Beautifully.”
Today I’m going to leave you with a bit of a teaser. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I most loved about this show, knowing that what horse people and non horse people take away from it may be quite different.

p.s. Tomorrow I’ll also include a special code, giving you a 10% discount should you want to purchase tickets. You should. 🙂

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dressage, dressage humor

Dear Edward Izzard

Dear Edward Izzard,
Thank you so much for your commentary on Dressage, comparing it to a brilliant plan to train horses to commit burglary.
You have a point — in that dressage is a bit hard to understand for the untrained spectator. I admit that it’s a bit like watching golf, if you don’t know what’s going on.
Your “Dressage a la Burgaleur” is a fantastic concept for making the sport more appealing to the average American mind. Thank you so much!
I thoroughly enjoyed your perspective and will recommend it to all of my friends, equine or otherwise.
Please check out comedian Edward Izzard’s entertaining take on our sport!

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