Wednesday, October 21, 2015

GAIG USDF Region 5 Second Level Freestyle Champion!

Frisco and I have developed into a Freestyle team that gets noticed. It is a fun way to show off your horse's highlights. I have enjoyed learning the process of choosing and editing music, and, creating choreography. I have zero musical talent or knowledge, beyond a love for many kinds of music. Listening to music always makes me happy. I have had lots of help from clinics with Terri Gallo hosted at Cooper Ranch Las Vegas and sponsored by Las Vegas Chapter of the California Dressage Society, along with lots of telephone and email advice from Jan Lawrence of Millbrook Farms, who creates many freestyles of all levels. At the most recent Freestyle clinic, I mentioned to Terri that while I loved my canter music and it had special meaning to me(Soul Sister by Train), I didn't feel as though it had enough dynamics that would help give impact to each movement being performed. I was also at the time considering changing the trot music, which is The Piano Guys performance of a mashup of Beethoven's Fifth, and, Secrets by One Republic. The Piano Guys are a St. George, Utah group that I just love. They are so creative with the pieces of music they put together. Terri and Jan both agreed: do not change the trot music, it is perfect for Frisco. Most judges agreed, except when we were really off our music. Terri suggested that I try to find another piece by The Piano Guys that would suit for the canter. That was much earlier in the year, and, I couldn't find anything I loved, so I continued through summer with the first music I'd put together using the two pieces featuring OneRepublic, and, the piece featuring Soul Sister. Somehow, I overlooked The Piano Guys' version of Over the Rainbow. About a month ago, I decided to try again, because I wanted to go to Regional Championships with music I knew would highlight everything about Frisco. I was playing various pieces while watching video of Frisco canter, and when I played their version of Over the Rainbow, I burst into was PERFECT. That music says everything about Frisco that there is to be said. I downloaded it to my iPod, and rode to it the next day. There were so many shifts in the music that I could really just have creative license, to ride whatever figure worked at that time. That makes it so much easier, when riding your Freestyle, to catch up, or fix an error, or even if you just miss your mark to fudge it and find another mark to ride to. That was the beauty of the trot music that I'd experienced all along, but never had found in the canter music. Jan had a great suggestion, since editing is not something I have a lot of skill with yet, and that was to use the same music for walk and canter, because the dynamics of this piece easily allowed for that. It made for a really nice adjustment to my choreography, because I just never loved my walk and canter choreography, and frankly never rode it the same way from ride to ride. 
To make it all even more perfect, Frisco was bred, born, raised and trained right here in St. George, Utah, and, The Piano Guys are also from St. George, Utah. In fact one of our very dearest friends worked at The Piano Gallery for Paul Anderson for quite a few years. It is really fun to bring the title of GAIG USDF Region 5 Second Level Freestyle Champion home to St. George, on a horse from St. George, using music by a group from St. George. Judge Bill Warren said "Creative ride and interpretation was spot on." Obviously, I chose the right music. Here is a link to video of the ride:
I'm excited now to move on to Third level, try to earn the score needed to allow us to ride the Freestyle, and begin putting together Third level choreography to this music. 
In addition to being Region 5 Champion, Frisco is also the 2015 Westfalen Horse Association's USDF All Breeds Second Level Freestyle Champion, as well as the 2015 Las Vegas Chapter-California Dressage Society Second Level Freestyle Champion.

Linda and Cazador RHR on the left. They had a GREAT show together, earning a fourth and a fifth place her Training level classes. They've only been a team since April and Caz had only very little dressage training. They are a great team and Caz is a super influence on Frisky Boy. They are both the same age, but Caz is wise beyond his years.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Latest News and Happenings

I have not updated in quite some time, not because there has been no news to report, but mostly because I have just been very involved with my clientele and horses on the ground instead. Lots has been going on. I introduced Ashley Adams and her daughter Jaeli some time ago. They leased Beau Dazzler until he sold in March to a wonderful "active retirement" home with Jeanine Rush, DVM, of Overton, NV. Prior to his sale, Ashley and Jaeli showed Daz one final time at a schooling show in Las Vegas. Ashley and Daz currently stand ranked Reserve Champion with the LVC-CDS in the First Level AA Opportunity division. Jaeli and Daz were adorable in their Intro B test. You have never seen a more nervous trainer than myself, reading her test from the sidelines, completely unable to step in and help if needed. Daz was a superstar and Jaeli was extremely focused and poised. I am SO PROUD of them. Anyone who has followed my blog knows of Daz, the beautiful grey Arabian gelding brought to me by Sarah Glidden in 2009. Sarah learned how to ride on him, and the two were very successful in the Intro/Vintage category locally. I trained Daz through Third level, and he schooled the entire Prix St. Georges before age began to catch up with him. Oh to have had that horse to train BEFORE he was 14 years old! SCWDressage is very happy for Jeanine on her new ownership of Daz. Every horse deserves this and I admire Sarah for allowing Daz this opportunity to live out his life as the King that he is.
Daz' new home with Jeanine Rush, DVM

Jaeli, Ashley, Daz, Chris, and Sage at their final show with Daz

Ashley began her search in earnest for her own horse, and found a diamond in the rough in Olathe, KS. Dulce is a stunning grey, 16.1 hand 2008 KWPN mare by VDL Prestige out of a Riverman Hilltop daughter. Dulce is very talented, but also very quirky and quite green. The two are working hard to form a strong and trusting partnership. Mares usually take longer to develop this, but the two of them get along marvelously. I work with them regularly, and ride Dulce on a regular basis to help the training progression. Ashley took Dulce to a show at Millbrook Farms in August and showed in the Opportunity classes. It was great exposure for Dulce, and a good chance for Ashley to get to know how Dulce acts away from home. Dealing with horses outside their home environment is perhaps the most difficult part of training them and it was a positive experience for both.
Ashley and Dulce, photo by Pam Olsen

SCWDressage was ecstatic to see the return of Linda Thompson to the program. Linda rode with me years ago with her Trakehner gelding, Master. However Linda took a fabulous opportunity to go work as a full time groom in the training program of Carolyn Heaton in Las Vegas, and since Carolyn had been Linda's trainer from the beginning, it was a great opportunity for them to work together again. Linda learned a lot while working in a training barn, with lots of exposure to good training methods. Linda decided Master needed to be retired a little over a year ago due to ongoing soundness issues that she had managed for years. She searched for her new partner for over a year. Master's shoes are impossible to fill, so it was a slow and hard process for her. It has been a very emotional journey for Linda. She finally found her new soulmate in Arizona. Cazador RHR is a 2008, 16 hand bay Andalusian gelding. His name means "bull fighter" and he certainly has the heart to match the name. Caz' only problem is trying TOO hard! He is gentle, intelligent, friendly, athletic, and a joy to be around. He had very little Dressage training prior to Linda purchasing him, but had been exposed to many other things, making him a super all around horse with the aplomb to handle any situation with poise. I am very excited to report that after only owning Caz since the end of March, and in only two shows, Linda and Caz qualified in the Training Level Adult Amateur division for the USDF/GAIG Regional Championships. This can be a daunting goal at times. It's a feat she sadly never accomplished with Master, as I never did with Charisma, in spite of the fact that both horses were the catalysts for both our deep commitment to this very difficult sport. I am so very happy for Linda, and happy that she was able to provide a loving and active retirement for Master on her sister's horse farm.
Linda and Cazador, photo by Pam Olsen

Linda, Steve and Cazador, Photo by Dow Williams

Karen Martz and Tanner have made more progress in the past six months than they have in the prior six years. Karen was finally able to retire in December, and after recovering from some planned shoulder replacement surgery, she was back in the saddle full time by April. I am so happy to see how quickly the two of them are progressing now that Karen can come to the barn every day.

SCWDressage was the program chosen by Barbara Derksen of Heber City, UT, to assist in the selling of her beautiful 2002 Morgan/Friesian mare, Kleine. I was honored by the decision, and did my best to represent the horse, the owner, and the entire transaction well. Kleine was trained to Grand Prix by Dallas Sweat, and her earlier training was by Annie Sweet, of Sage Creek Equestrian. I began riding Kleine the first of November, showing her at Prix St. Georges after only two weeks of getting to know her. She and I had a very successful show season together, qualifying for the USDF/GAIG Regional Championships at Prix St. Georges. Kleine helped me clinch the remaining scores I needed to earn my USDF Silver Medal. And I was fortunate to have her in my training program long enough for the two of us to gel on the Grand Prix movements. I showed her in May at Intermediare II and Grand Prix, earning 65% and 59.7% respectively. It was a fabulous opportunity for me to catch a ride on a trained horse, a real luxury for me when I am used to always having to develop every horse from scratch. I am happy to report that Kleine found a most wonderful home with Kara Pack of Henderson, NV, who rides with the Cooper Ranch team in Las Vegas. 
Stacy and Kleine, photo by Robert Schmidt

SCWDressage was also the program chosen by Sussanne Felleson of Draper, UT, to assist with the rehab and eventual sale of her older Lusitano/TB cross, El Nino. Due to a longterm lease situation that did not go well, Nino had quite a bit of mental and physical tension when he came to me, resulting in a horse so unhappy that he was nearly unrideable. Nino was placed on a very specific program of therapeutic lunging which later progressed to classical lunging with the help of my student Ashley; a great deal of body work from Anita DeLelles and Alissa Grover; removal of shoes and placement on a frequent and therapeutic trimming program; an overhaul of his nutritional program; and eventually, when his body and brain would allow it, daily riding by me. By the time he left, Nino was working Third level very competently, confidently, and most importantly, soundly.  "Nervous Nino" became Schoolmaster Nino: a most gentlemanly lunging lesson horse for quite a few students of varying capabilities. And now, Nino has become the Junior division partner for Jade Thomas. I am very moved on a deep spiritual and emotional level by the dedication and commitment of Sussi to this gentle and kind horse. Nino deserved EVERY chance, and Sussi gave it to him, no matter the cost. I have never been so humbled to be allowed to be a part of such an important project. I have the deepest respect and admiration for what Sussi did for this horse and wish Nino and Jade all the best in their journey together. Jade rides with Margo Gogan in Heber City, UT.
Stacy and El Nino, photo by Ashley Adams

SCWDressage has been chosen by Persis Hammon and Sam Zitting of Hurricane, UT, to develop their stunning young Friesian/Morgan gelding, Seazzar. He will be three in January, but has the presence and poise of a much more mature horse. He is small but mighty-a gigantic energy in a nice compact 15.1 hand package. I predict he will finish taller, but not more than 15.3. He is very dark bay and one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen in my life. He came to me the middle of August to be started. We have gone from the first day of wearing tack to trotting under saddle solo in the dressage court in six weeks. I cannot claim great skill in this rapid progress, this is a testament to the brain of this fine young gelding. Every single day sees progress-he never regresses. All I provide each day is consistency, kindness, and the ability to stay out of his way. His gaits are very expressive, he is naturally very balanced and carries himself with a lovely, round, uphill balance. I am thankful to be chosen by his owners for his development and am very excited to watch his bright future unfold. Seazzar is the same cross as Kleine, and if these two are a normal representative of the cross, I am now a huge fan of the Moresian.
Seazzar Day One

SCWDressage has seen an influx of new students this year. Suzie Floyd moved her beautiful 17 yr old Lippizaner/Hanoverian cross mare to Lava Bluffs this past spring. Suzie moved to St. George from northern California a couple of years ago, and it is so fun to work with someone who has ridden with more experienced and advanced trainers, and knows how "it" is supposed to look. Suzie is enthusiastic and has an undeniable spirit. She is quite possibly the friendliest person in the barn and we are happy to have her being the one who is always first to speak and smile at every person who shows up, every day, no matter how bad HER day has gone. 
Diane Johnson recently moved to St. George from Texas with her family. She is the mother of EIGHT!! What a woman!! Diane brought with her two horses, Legolas and Ebony. Legolas is a 13 yr old 16.1 hand bay AQHA gelding by the legendary Rugged Lark. Diane is transitioning from the AQHA circuit to Dressage with Legolas, taking twice weekly lessons. She stated her goal as First level, and I see nothing to stop this pair from achieving that, and more. Ebony is a sale barn purchase, which as I know from my own past can net quite the wonderful find. She is a petite, pretty, black Arabian mare of somewhat unknown age. She is gentle and kind, blind in one eye, and the perfect kid's horse. Jaeli can tack her up, groom her and bath her all by herself. It is very kind of Diane to share Ebony with Jaeli now that her kids are too big to ride her. She's also serving as Diane's Grandkid horse. 
Pat Matthews is a local trail rider who was referred to me by my farrier, JB Rex. Pat is a brave and independent woman with two AQHA geldings, Montana and Blue. She has quite a bit of horsemanship experience, but wanted to learn about Dressage, to see what it could bring to the table to round out her knowledge. I am having a ball working with her and her two horses. 
Alison Salone is a former trail outfitter who moved to St. George this past fall. She has been there and done that, leading all manner of rides with clients, managing a full string of trail horses. She is intelligent and knowledgeable, and is working with me also to round out her riding knowledge. After a freak accident with her  young mare just prior to moving here that caused her a pretty significant injury, I am helping Alison regain her bravado by giving her some arena training that she can take to the trails later. 
SCWDressage also thoroughly enjoyed working with Rick Crockett and his Hanoverian mare L'Gitanna M this past year. Rick and GT were the Intro High Point at the January schooling show in Las Vegas. Rick will be working with Blondie Brimhall going forward, but we remain friends and I am thankful for the chance to work with Rick, whom I refer to as The Renaissance Man.

SCWDressage has been chosen to be the agent for the gorgeous 2002, 15.1hand jet black AQHA gelding Black Jack Smooth, AKA Eboni, owned by Carylon Stone-Ruethlinger. Carylon is a very accomplished horse woman, earning many accolades in her long career of developing horses, most notably in the Appaloosa world. Unfortunately Carylon has a nerve problem in her right leg that now prevents her from riding any longer. Eboni has so much knowledge, and so much more to offer, that Carylon has decided that while it breaks her heart, the best thing for Eboni is for him to find a new home with someone who will see him through the second chapter of his life. I have been working with Eboni since the end of June and he is a joy. More details can be found about him on my Sales page.
Photo by Ashley Adams

Last by not least, Frisco Bay and I continue to chip away at progress. My heart beats for this horse. He's had a very successful show season this year at Second level, particularly in the Freestyle. We are currently listed as the Champion USDF All Breeds Westfalen Horse Association Second level Freestyle, with a median score of 71.167, two points higher than our median last year at First level, and again using music and choreography I designed myself. Assuming no corrections are submitted by other riders, this standing will be made final on October 15th. Frisco and I are also currently ranked as Champion with Las Vegas Chapter of the California Dressage Society, Second Level Freestyle. This standing is final. Frisco earned his Second level Horse Performance Certificate this year. He did so with all of his scores from the hardest test of the level. He is also currently ranked third and only two points off from first in the USDF All Breeds Westfalen Horse Association Second Level division, again achieving this very solid median score of 66.281 from scores earned exclusively from the hardest test of the level. Frisco qualified for the USDF/GAIG Regional Championships in the Open Second level, and Second level Freestyle divisions. Region 5 Championships will be held in Scottsdale, AZ in two weeks. We are very excited to go with Linda and Caz!! It has been a while since I have had a show buddy and it has been so nice to have Linda and Ashley joining me at some of the shows this year. I look forward to many more, with both of them.
Frisco and I have been working with Jan and Gary Lawrence of Millbrook Farms in Fairfield, UT these past couple of years. Everyone needs a mentor, someone they can trust wholly, in this journey. I have found this in the entire Lawrence family and clientele. I have been welcomed as warmly by all of them as any of the regular boarders who are there every day. I cannot thank Jan enough for all of the long phone and email conversations, discussing all aspects of the life and roles of a trainer. Jan and Gary have been down this road a few times, and their students have a great deal of success, on horses the students have developed themselves from Training level to Grand Prix. It is this depth of knowledge that I admire and respect. I am beyond grateful to be able to work with them whenever I can find time, resources, and energy to make the nearly ten hour round trip with Frisco.
While two full months remain of this year, it has been a very full and positive year already. The rest will be icing on an already very full cake. I will be leaving for the Region 5 Championships on Tuesday, October 14th. Upon return, I will have just a few days to rest up and catch up on training home horses and riders before heading north to serve as a scribe during the Teaching Workshop of the Utah Dressage Society's Instructor Certification Workshop Series. I look forward to learning from the experienced and knowledgeable Sarah Martin, and gaining insight into how my colleagues in Utah would handle various training situations with their riders. I also plan to attend the USDF Convention in Las Vegas the first weekend in December, and, the USDF FEI Trainers Conference in Florida in January.

I can't do any of this without the love and support of my husband, for whom I am so grateful, or without the continuous levity and cuddles provided by my horse show kitty.

Photo by Pam Olsen
Dow and Femke, contemplating the meaning of birds.