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Zeppelin has quickly progressed from work on the lunge line to the long-lines. The first day we introduced them he got quick when the lines were behind him. Most horses will react that way and start to run away from them. Instead of trying to hold the horse with the reins the trainer should try to run and keep up or let the lines go so the horse can get used to them dragging behind them. It is to my advantage that the indoor arena is smaller and I was able to keep up with him almost the entire time. I did drop them at one point when I was a little slow but he calmed down quickly and I was able to pick them back up again. It is important to have  no contact on the reins because the horse is so much stronger than you and he will quickly learn his strength. The trainer must be clever and use their body and quick half-halts to communicate with the horse. My coach Carolyn Rose is instructing me in the finer aids of long-lining to prepare Zeppelin for driving. I have done a lot of  long-lining with young horses in preparation for riding and now she is showing me how to further balance the horse for ground driving. She introduced Zeppelin to the outside rein and we practiced diagonals in the walk for a couple of days.  With Carolyn he did some trotwork on a smaller circle yesterday. He is doing great and today worked on walking straight on the rail with Carolyn directly behind him. He has been calmly carrying a rider at the walk with me leading him to make sure he behaves. We walk multiple circles in both directions with the rider leaning forward and back to pet his neck and his hind end. At the end of every training session we do some piaffe work to help him learn to engage the hind end. I start with walk to halt and then rein-back. We add the trot slowly because he is very willing to trot and sometimes tries to get too close to me. He is very affectionate and tends to crowd the handler so the piaffe training is teaching him to respect my space and keep his weight back on the haunches. Overall he is learning quickly and having a great time!!

Zeppelin (3 year old Friesian gelding) trailered over to Isaac Royal Farm on Tuesday to begin his full-time training.

Zeppelin

He has adjusted well and seems to enjoy his sessions. He has a  focused mentality and really tunes in to every aid I give him. We start out with free lunging on side reins to help him find his balance and develop his topline. He has a nice, high neck but that makes it harder to have him stretch over the back. The side reins are helping him find the way and his balance has improved over the past few days. He has a lively jump in the canter and shows great promise. The first day he had some difficulty with cross-cantering but since then he looks strong and balanced. We put him on the lunge line and he cantered for the first time on the lunge. During the summer I was easing him into it with gentle trot work so he wouldn’t get excited on the line. He cantered on the lunge like he had been doing it for years. He is respectful of the line and easily stays on the circle. Kaylee Clark will be assisting in the training by sitting on his back. She is an advanced young rider at Isaac Royal Farm on the Aspirant Program. The first day she just lay over him, patting him all over. The second day she sat on him, leaning forward and back, and shifting her weight around in the saddle. Today (the 3rd day) we repeated the same. Zeppelin’s training is under the watchful eye of Carolyn Rose, the head trainer/owner/instructor, and she helps to guide me while I work with him. His owner Jody is videotaping his progress which will be so valuable in the future to see his advancement.

I am rarely ever sick, I don’t think I have stayed home with a head cold for years. But as fate would have it, I got one. On Valentine’s Day of all days, very romantic-just napping all day with a fever and headache. Come Monday morning and I just didn’t feel recovered enough to venture outside. So I stayed in bed all day and finally finished the new website for Pegasus Bellydance! I teach basic bellydance classes and perform with my friend Lydia Rose. Pegasus Bellydance is the name of our dance troupe. Morgan Smith, Wendy Grave, Valerie Warren, and Julie Day are a few of the other dancers that perform group routines with us. Lydia is also an amazing artist and her digital painting of a bellydancer (seen below) was the inspiration for the layout of the site. Check it out: http://www.pegasusbellydance.com

Painting by Lydia Rose

The internet is such an amazing tool. I have always heard that to run a business your success depends on “location, location, location”. How quickly the times have changed! Now you can manage and market a business from anywhere, as long as you have a computer. I did not go to college for business, marketing, or web design. I have been teaching myself to create websites, an online store, a blog, an e-mail newsletter, and how to utilize Facebook and YouTube for my business. I am inspired every day to see that I can reach people all over the country and the world through the little computer in front of me. Living in Maine actually is an asset to my business because I am promoting Maine Made products and supporting the local economy by only using small businesses. I hope you will find more and more businesses that market themselves as local business supporters. There is definitely a shift amongst Americans to support locally grown food and buy products Made in the USA. I see people making a conscience effort every day to check their labels, go to the organic food section, and even pay a little more for products that will stimulate our home economy. I would love to hear how you are taking steps to make your life and your business a success in Maine. Now I am headed outside on this gorgeous February day-I am not kidding! The warmest February I have ever seen!

I found out yesterday that I am officially accepted into the United States Equestrian Federation’s “r” judges program. I am currently an “L” (learner) judge through the United States Dressage Federation and this is the next step up. I have been judging dressage shows since 2001 and have been working towards this goal for 8 years. Along the way the requirements changed and were made much more difficult. Instead of earning 5 scores at Fourth level at 60% or higher they raised it to 65%. That may not sound like a lot but at the upper levels this can be a difficult score to get when you

Max at PSG

have limited shows to go to. I live in northern Maine so shows are very few and mostly very far away. Luckily my trainer hosts a couple recognized shows every summer that I help organize. This gives me the opportunity to compete without the extra expense of travelling. I had earned three of my scores by 2007 and was very excited to compete in2008 with Max and Vanidor. Max, a Percheron/TB gelding was schooling Grand Prix and we had gotten a 65% at Prix St. George the summer before. Vanidor, a Lippizzan/TB gelding was schooling Prix St. Georges and ready to do a nice Fourth level test. So I had two ready horses and was feeling very confident. Then tragedy struck, we lost Max to complications of colic in January and then Vanidor in February due to a rectal tear caused by a vet examination. I was down and out for the count……shocked and depressed I tried keep it together and train Rory, an Oldenburg/Cleveland Bay cross that was just beginning Fourth level. My friend Lydia generously offered me her Lipizzan mare Vienna to ride who she had shown at Grand Prix a few years before.  But then the week before our first show I was unexpectedly bucked off Rory and could hardly move. (I guess that saying is right that bad things come in sets of 3….) My tail bone was broken and my pelvis was a mess, causing extreme pain in my left thigh. I had never experienced that kind of physical pain and limitation before. But that is another blog entry all together….I did try to compete at our last show but I was only able to ride a week before and

Vanidor at Fourth level

that was definitely not comfortable and I was in no emotional state to be level competing.  I didn’t get my score (I didn’t really expect to anyway) and was even more depressed. Another year passed and I was able to compete Vienna at Fourth level and just squeak by with the two 65%’s that I needed. Needless to say I was relieved and ready to take a break from chasing scores. I love to judge but boy do I dislike competing. Kinda odd I think but that’s the way it is. Anyway, I feel like I can finally close that whole chapter of my judging career and start new with the hard work and training that lies ahead. I would love to hear about other people’s hard earned goals, I love hearing about the journey, the roadblocks and then the sweet victory. Pursue your dreams because they are what keeps you growing as a person!!

Victress

Dec. 31 was another breakthrough day for Victress. During the week I rode her in a quadrille class and she was the leader with another mare named Mirage who looks so much like her. They both have the same father and similar markings. The quadrille is wonderful to keep horses focused and give them a “job”. I feel like many horses get bored with dressage when riders stay at the lower levels for too long. There is no challenge, they just trot around in circles and try to get that perfect moment. I used to want to do that but my trainer, Carole Rose, always had me start a routine or a test so I had something to follow. That way she could gauge our progress and the horse had a “job”. Most horses are pretty happy when you put a jump in front of them or aopen field and you say “let’s go gallop!”. It is clear what you want and they are happy to do it. But dressage gets a bit controlling and frustrating for the horse because there is so much information coming in every single stride. Usually the signals are unclear and then the horse gets upset. I used to dislike practising my tests because I felt rushed and overwhelmed. But now I utilize the test as seperate exercises that prepare the horse for the next movement. It is all in the way you look at it. Horses like to know where they are going, where they will rest and walk, and also when they are done and get a reward. The dressage test accomplishes this goal. I rarely have had a horse that anticipated a movement and performed it poorly. If a horse is expecting a flying change or transition  then you can just move it forward or back a letter until they anticipate opposite of what you want, making them pay more attention to you. So to get on to my original thought….I have been “playing” around with the Prix St. Georges test with Victress so she can start to become familiar with how the moves go

Lovely medium trot.

together. She did two beautiful trot halfpasses off the wall on both sides and both canter half-pirouettes yesterday. That was the first time we had done the half-pirouette left because that has been her weaker side. She actually felt stronger on that lead today then the right, staying active and connected. We need to work on the counter canter corner because she would prefer to change leads when she meets the rail instead. So, for now, I will be keeping the counter canter all the way through the short side, flying change, and then circle back towards the next pirouette until she maintains her lead. We have not finished the canterwork with the tempi changes or canter halfpass change in hand. I am leaving that for awhile to get her more confirmed at her changes and halfpass on a regular halfturn.

Her big breakthrough today was starting piaffe under saddle. She is pretty good at doing piaffe in-hand so I asked her using the same clucking & whip rhythm.  Just a couple baby steps at a time and eventually most horses love doing piaffe. I find it interesting how each horse likes to be asked in a different way. Some horses like the seat to lighten into piaffe and others like a deeper, holding seat. I tend to lighten a little with the bounce and then deepen around the horse for passage but you just have to feel what the horse needs. Hopefully I can get some video on a warmer day to show her progress.

Piaffe in-hand

Zeppelin at Home

Zeppelin enjoys a wonderful life with his family….Jody, Ric, Sarah, Ben, and Sam. He lives out on a beautiful farm with two other horses, Ekko (a Fjord gelding owned by Sarah) and Oliver. Zeppelin is given attention all the time and loves to interact with people, even more than with horses! Here are some pictures of him with his family (human and horses). We recently got a lot of snow up here in Maine and Zeppelin loves it!