Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Holidays...already!

Hi Everyone!!

I can't believe how fast the past few weeks have gone by!  Time for a quick update, for sure.

The clinic went really well.  Sharon ended up getting the flu, and could not come out - so I worked with Missy both days.  Dylan did pretty well.  We had been going through a pretty frustrating phase of spook & bolts...but as soon as he was at Little Bit-Woodinville he was great.  Makes me wonder if a lot of that behavior was related to the indoor arena at Little Bit-Redmond.  It is on the small side, and pretty dark.  The end opens to the parking lot, and there is a lot of somewhat unpredictable foot traffic.  


Had good rides at the clinic, working quite a bit of getting Dylan into a more "grown-up" frame - really keeping his poll up, and working for more expression in the trot.  It was a challenge for both of us...those muscles are not completely well-developed for Dylan, and I have a tendency to maybe not ask him for as much as I should.   Missy also had some ideas for Dylan's unique personality quirks (ha ha) - that perhaps we should investigate whether he has an upset tummy (ulcers).  It isn't too far-fetched, his previous owner had thought he might have ulcers, and had even gone so far as to have him scoped (which was negative).

So, we'll probably try him on a trial of Gastro Guard, or one of it's slightly more affordable equivalents. ;-)

She also suggested a supplement that apparently a lot of the FEI jumpers use on their horses.  Dylan does have phases where he just gets so amped he doesn't quite know what to do with his again, probably worth a try!!

After the clinic, Dylan made the big move up to Trilogy Farms - home of Roxanne Christenson Dressage.  He is in HEAVEN.  He gets to out in a giant grassy pasture, he gets his blankets changed - he is so happy!

I just finished up school for the quarter, so I am hoping to have a bit more time to spend up at the barn, and get to know all the people and horses up there.  So far everyone has been great!  

If I don't get a chance to post in the next few weeks, Merry Christmas to all, and here's to an AMAZING 2010!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Big Week Ahead!

Hi everyone,

Very excited for this upcoming week.  Monday and Tuesday I will ride with the US Team coaches, Missy Ransehausen and Sharon Schneidmann.  Sharon has not seen Dylan since Nationals in May, and Missy only saw him briefly in June before he threw a shoe during our warm-up.  So...I'm hoping they like what they see, and the direction we're going in.  

My greatest concern is that he has been a little fresh - and when he gets fresh he gets a little unpredictable.  It's sort of like riding a roller coaster...slow to start, but you better hang on for what might come next!!  I worked with my trainer Jenny Nell on how to warm him up in such a way that I keep his attention, and get his energy focused in a better way - it isn't just a matter of getting him forward and through, I have to add in a shoulder-fore, or a transition, to make sure he's not looking for more "exciting" things to do!

He moved over to the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center facility on Thursday, so hopefully he will be relaxed and ready to get down to business come Monday morning.

After the Thanksgiving Holiday, I will be moving Dylan up to Trilogy Farms in Monroe, home of Roxanne Christensen Dressage.  I'm very excited about this opportunity!  I am also incredibly grateful to have the support of not one, but two great trainers, as I forge into the year ahead! 

On to WEG!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rolling right along...

Hello Friends -

Just a quick update.  Nothing too exciting going on.  Getting ready for the USEF clinic in a few weeks.  I hope that Dylan brings his "A Game".  Lately we've been a bit hit & miss - fantastic rides interspersed with rides where Dylan alternates between his feet being glued to the ground, and his favorite trick, the "spook & bolt".  The most annoying thing is that he doesn't actually's more like a convenient leap followed by an all out run to get out of whatever task we're working on at the moment.    I can almost hear him singing "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys R Us kid....".  

We're starting work on the medium trot.  He has gotten to the place where he can actually "push" instead of "pull" his way through them, and we are now trying to teach him that if he keeps his poll up, he can really reach through his shoulder.  He enjoys it, to say the least.  Canterwork is coming along.  Sort of the same phenomenon - he is now initiating the strike off from the hind legs, and "pushing"...but there were a few weeks where he would strike off, then his legs would get all tangled.  Did some work on the lunge to help him sort it out, and we're in a good space now as far as that goes.  We're able to approach the subject of walk to canter now, without too much drama.

I am feeling more confident that we'll get the pieces together in the next few months.

Going to start working on timelines, budgets, and plans soon (exciting!).  Hoping the financial aspect will all come together.  

Until next time....heels down, eyes up, and keep riding! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Holy Cow, it's almost November!

Time flies by...Fall is officially here this morning, as evidenced by the ridiculous rain, urban flooding, and the closure of the road I usually take to school due to a fallen tree.

Dylan is managing...we're working on how to manage a cold back - probably both his and mine.  Now that he is learning self-carriage, it seems I am having to re-tool our warm-ups.  It's really now about warming up muscles before we go to work, instead of a conversation about all the things we could do INSTEAD of work.

Little Bit Redmond is closing down the boarding aspect of the business in preparation for permitting & construction of the "new" Little Bit.  The public announcement of the capital campaign was on the 17th - I rode Little Bit horse Raphaelo (Raffi) at the event and it went really well.  He's a beautiful big grey german warmblood, donated by the Rattner family (Devonwood Equestrian Center) - I had so much fun riding him.  Dylan will be able to stay at Little Bit Redmond, but I am exploring other options for us as well.

Last week Roxanne Christenson hosted Conrad Schumacher at Trilogy Farms in Monroe, and invited me to audit.  I really enjoy watching him teach, he has such a keen understanding of what the horse needs, and how the rider can make it happen.  After the rides, she and her clients had organized a wine & cheese reception, where she put me on the spot and asked me to talk about Para Equestrian, WEG, and what I'm up to.  !!!!.  I was mortified, but spit something out.  Conrad then spoke about his experience with Para Equestrian, and how much sheer will disabled riders have.  I couldn't agree more!  

This week I've been invited to clinic with Kathleen Raine.  I rode with Kathleen last year, shortly after I had gotten Dylan.  She had also worked with Dylan when Leigh Cochrain (Bear Creek Farm) was working with him.  She understands him and his quirks really well, and was not at all phased by working with me (and my quirks!).  Hopefully  I can shuffle my schedule to make this work!

In November we have the USEF sponsored clinic with our team coaches, Missy Ransehousen and Sharon Schneidmann.  USEF is providing transportation costs for the riders who have their FEI certificates of capability to come to the clinic, so I am hoping to get the chance to see some of my teammates!!   Dylan conveniently threw a shoe during the last clinic, so I am excited that the coaches will get a chance to see how he's coming along.

Wow...I guess I have been busy! :-)

Lastly, still looking for sponsorships & help fundraising.  I'd much rather be riding than fundraising....but it's become very apparent that in order to keep this adventure alive, I will have to do both :)  If you have ideas, as always, please feel free to contact me.

Until next time...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall is here -

It always seems like the beginning of Autumn feels more like the start of a new year.  Show season wraps up with Region Championships, kids go back to school, and generally everyone starts changing routines.

There has been a lot of change in this corner of the world, for certain!

My very close friend, who has also groomed for me at all my major competitions, has made a major life change, and is moving across the country to be closer to her boyfriend.  I am so excited for her, but in a very selfish way, am wondering who is going to help keep my nose clean (so to speak)!!  Not to mention who am I going to make starbucks or thai food runs with!!  

On top of that, my teammate who I have trained and competed with for the past 4 years also decided it was time for change.  She thought long and hard about the decision, and in the end, packed her things and also moved cross-country, for a chance at a fresh start.  

So...our longtime "team" - two riders, a groom, and a coach, is now down to a duo...and my coach is currently recuperating from a very significant surgery.   I admit I would like her back in action as soon as possible...but in my heart I know that she needs much more time to rest & recover than either of us probably want to think about!!

However, I forge ahead!!  I am more or less in charge of Dylan's training.  He is going well, but I am lacking a bit of confidence at this stage in the game.  When we are having a good ride, I feel like I should try and introduce something new, but am not that sure of "what comes next". When we are having a less-good ride, I start questioning myself, and wondering if I have taken him astray in some way.  I suppose these are things every rider goes through.

On the upside, FarmVet and I are on our way!  I received great feedback from the press release they put out, and my college (Sweet Briar) turned around and posted a story about me and my quest for WEG.   Dappled Grey has also continued their support.  I continue to try to keep the momentum going!! looks like my lesson this week is to embrace change, have patience, stay confident and keep on keepin' on!!  

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Change is in the Air!

Hello Friends & Followers,

It has been a crazy few weeks!

I had been wanting to wait to post until I had all the news in order - but things seem to be changing by the day - so I will post what I know, and update as other things come together.

First things first - Dylan is going really (really) well.  I had a sense a few weeks ago that the struggles & some of the tension he was having during the work were sign we were about to hit another "phase" in his training...I just didn't know how long it was going to take for him to find his comfort zone.  He seems to have settled, and he's really got a good handle on how to carry himself in the trot.  No more jigging, no more leaping into canter at any opportunity.  I have to remind myself how difficult not only physically, but mentally the work of collection is for a horse, and on top of that, a horse that is learning it a bit later on in his life, when he is perhaps a bit more set in his ways.  I am so thankful that he ultimately enjoys the work.  

Next up - the road to WEG is HERE.  Seriously.   I have a CPEDI3* in 6 months.  Selection Trials for the Team in 9 months.   Tickets go on sale in two weeks.  No time left to talk about things in the hypothetical, things have to happen NOW!

My plan is to keep Dylan in solid, steady, training through the winter, and just keep bringing him up and along as he is willing & able.  He will be ready, I have no doubt.  A few things may look different in terms of his "team" over the next few months - Jenny & I may be adding a new trainer to his mix.  More on that as I know more. 

My greatest challenge in the next months is fundraising.  I am hoping to reach out to my community for help in raising the funds to keep us pointed down the road to WEG.  

How can you help?

Let's get creative.  The economy has been tough for everyone.  It all comes down to money, but $10 from 100 people works the same as $1000 from 1.  Would you be willing to help organize a fundraiser?  A bake sale or a pot-luck dinner where we could watch videos of Para Equestrian athletes?  Would you be willing to give informational fliers to friends or family?  Do you know anything about website design & maintenance?  

Even if you are not able to commit time or money, I still greatly, hugely value your support.  It truly takes a COMMUNITY!  

Thank you everyone, more news soon!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Training Pains

Dylan is and has been a lot of "firsts" for me in terms of my equestrian education.  The two biggest "firsts" are probably that he is the first horse I have owned, and he is the first horse that I am training (with the assistance of my coach/trainer, Jenny Nell).

Of course, there is the adage that any time you ride, you are training...(or un-training!)...but for the most part, the equine companions I have worked with were pretty set in their ways...I could influence them to small degrees, but not really change their life view.

Dylan is much younger than most horses I've worked with (10), and while he sometimes thinks he knows all there is to know about the world...there is still a wide range of experiences I can bring forward to him to shape his future.  He had a pretty solid start as a youngster, racking up the blues with his teen-aged owner at training & first levels.  His second owner absolutely adored him, but was perhaps a bit intimidated by his antics - and Dylan learned that being a bully would sometimes get him out of doing things that were perhaps a bit hard for him.

As we move up the proverbial training scale, and as the work sometimes gets a little tough, Dylan will sometimes want to show me all his old tricks, to see if I, too, will feel a little bullied and back down.  In times like these, I resort to an old wisdom I learned from a riding instructor as a teen:  "don't pick a fight with your horse.  best plan is to find a way of compromise"  - if your horse absolutely refuses to go past the letter "A", and you are dead-set on getting over are better off going to letter "C" for awhile until the two of you can find some common ground again.

I'm not sure how "Dylan the Bully" feels about "Erin the Zen Master" in these moments.  I can only imagine it must be a bit frustrating for him when he is trying to push all my buttons, and I'm "Ohm Mani Padme Hum"-ing through our trot-work.  But at the same time, I would like to think that he might be learning that the "bully-buttons" just don't work the same way they used to.   

Anyway...things are clickin' along.  Need to start getting sponsorships & fundraisers in order for next year.  Going to be a couple of road trips!!  Contact me if you have ideas! 

Monday, August 3, 2009


The hot weather seems to have broken, and with plans for Norway scrapped, and no real show schedule planned for the rest of the summer, I find myself with a bit of the ho-hums.  Kind of an odd mix of relief and let-down.  

Relieved in a way that I will be able to stay home and finish summer classes at school, and spend time at home with loved ones, and maybe take this chance to get my health re-organized.  I have been sweeping a number of things under the carpet for the past year that really need to get addressed in terms of my ongoing well-being.  My condition has been progressive in the past, but I was going through a period of "plateau", and my fitness was great, so it even appeared to some that some aspects were perhaps improved due to my increased fitness.  Unfortunately, things are slipping a bit right now, day by day.  It's a scary place to be, kind of like you suddenly realize the gentle slope you were walking on is suddenly a bit more steep than you thought, and you are having a hard time keeping your footing.


I will ride in a demonstration this weekend at the Evergreen Classic - I love doing demonstrations, both because I love supporting the organization I typically do them for (Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center), as well as I love having the chance to educate about what it is that I do...but it also helps give me my "mojo" back without the pressure of a horse show.  I don't need a qualifying score, no one is judging the roundness of my circles or the throughness of my trot (Except perhaps my coach!), I really am just out there to enjoy the moment with the horse.

Hope you all can find those moments to enjoy today, as well!

Demo is Sunday August 9th, just before the Grand Prix - come watch!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hot Weather Riding

It's been ridiculously warm here in the Seattle area, which has put a bit of a damper on my usual summer-fun riding.  Too hot to ride outside?  Seriously??  I gave Dylan 2 days off in hopes he might acclimatize (well...maybe in hopes that I would acclimatize!), then rode him yesterday, when it was 100+ degrees in the barn.  I couldn't believe how spunky he was - my plan was to have a nice quite walk and do our lateral work, a few circles at the trot, and a nice long walk to finish up...that got thrown out the window in a hurry.  Needless to say, it took about an hour to get him fully cooled back down after probably 20 minutes of riding - whew!    Better today, it was cooler, and I tried to work on activities that would work his brain a little more, and his body a little less.

I tried a product we had originally purchased for my previous competition partner, who was sometimes a bit finicky about water on the road - "Equitea".  It's basically electrolytes in a slightly sweet base - the idea is that the horse gets used to the taste of it at home, and therefore has no problems drinking it on the road.  I tried it with Dylan as he was doing a lot of sweating, and not a lot of drinking or salt-licking.  He absolutely loves it.   LOVES it.  Like...pushing me out of the way while I'm mixing it to get at it.  And...drum he drank a lot more "regular" water, too - yahoo!  The things we celebrate as horse owners!  He pooped and drank lots of water, I'm a happy horse mom :)

What do you all do with your horses in hot weather??  I'd love tips & ideas!!

Interview is up....

I did an interview with - a very cool blog about the sport horse world.  Molly is doing a couple of stories on Para Equestrian, hoping to get the word out, do some education about what the heck it is we're doing...right up my alley.  I think I got a little too wordy for my end of things...but what can I say, I love what I do!!!

Interview can be found here:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Welcome Friends!

A great deal has happened in the past 2 months, and I realized I needed to join the rest of the world, and make an attempt to be a bit more "tech-savvy", and start keeping this page as a place where friends new and old could come to get updates on all that's going on.

I must admit I tend to get a bit hyper-focused in my "day-to-day" - school, clinic, barn, it will probably take some practice to make sure to include this piece!

I figured I would start by giving everyone a quick update, as well as my general plans for the next months...although a lot is up in the air at this moment.

In May I competed at the Para Equestrian National Championships & CPEDI3*, with my now 11 year old SWB Dylan.  It was his first big competition, and his first big "road trip".  He did amazingly.  I am so SO proud of how he handled everything.  The weather was poor the first day (the footing was more soup than sand!), but it just didn't even phase him.  I was concerned he might "burn out" by the end, and just get a bit tired or cranky, but his attitude was superb.  We ended up 4th overall in the National Championships, and won the freestyle for our Grade - absolutely incredible.  My parents were able to come down and see the freestyle ride, and they have not seen me ride since my disability onset in 2000.  Really an incredible day.

With that finish the US coaches thought I should consider taking my horse, Dylan, to compete at the Open European Championships for Para Dressage, which are taking place in Norway in August.  I am a "new kid" on the international scene - the more I can get in front of the international judges and ride well, the better.  There is something to be said for name recognition.

Sending a horse from Seattle to Norway is not exactly easy on the horse, or the pocketbook, though.  I didn't have the fundraising resources, and beyond that, I was a bit concerned about the length of the journey on Dylan, whom I have only had a year, and who is just now "coming together" in terms of his training & development...he is 11, but a "young" 11...I worried that such a long journey would unduly stress joints & muscles that are maybe not as strong as they could be, or would be in a few more months.  I'm certainly no expert, I'm not a horse trainer was probably just more a feeling coming from a concerned "horse mama", knowing that we still have a lot of training to do before we are solid before next year.

So, I decided to try and borrow a horse in Europe, so that I could compete.  And this, is where little miracles have begun to happen for me!!  Mary Phelps of posted an amazing article on my behalf when nothing had come to fruition on my end.  I was contacted by a number of incredible people - Rick Silvia of DreamStallions offered one of his amazing horses, Robert Dover posted my request on his website, I was contacted by the farm of Victor Alvares, and finally by Regina Moldan, who offered me 2 incredible horses to try.  

Trying to secure a borrowed horse before the entry deadline was challenging...but as it turns out, that was only the beginning.  The horse I submitted on the entry was for sale...and as it turns out, had a buyer shortly after the entry went through.  So, and appeal had to be submitted to change horses.  The organizing committee has been very helpful and supportive, and approved the appeal, so I was able to switch to Regina's other other horse.  

I learned just this week, though, that my coach has injured her shoulder, and will not be able to travel with me, and due to her injury & the required surgery & rehab, will need the assistance of my groom to help keep things running smoothing at home.

So...I am brainstorming options to find another groom & travel companion, and hoping to find someone at the competition who may be able to assist in coaching me.  

The latest news comes this evening, that the horse I am planning on competing on may have a health issue that would prevent him from being ready to compete.

Who ever said it was easy?

Who ever said it was supposed to be this dang hard? :-)

While I have not *yet* thrown in the towel...I definitely have pulled one out of the linen closet!

If I do stay home, I hope to spend some time with Dylan in training, I'd love to see his flying changes come together, and take him to a schooling show at 3rd level.  

Thank you so much to all the folks who have been performing miracles for me the past weeks.  I hope it comes together for a European adventure...but if not, the adventure surely doesn't end here, and I hope you'll join me on the road to WEG!!