Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Snappy Dressing

There's been so little riding over the past month, it's felt tricky to scrape together exciting things (and pictures!!) for sharing here. But finally, finally, we're settling back into the riding routine. #feelsgoodman

this painted horse head lives on the side of a barn at OF
Which is perfect timing bc, as usual, we've got plans coming up. And not just the typical fall competition season kick off, either.

oh yea. that's exactly what you think it is. 
Oh no no, there's more. Always more! Perhaps you recall that my friends and I occasionally like to participate in horsey adventures that call for dressing up (and tailgating). 'Tis the season again for more shenanigans, and we're going in a whole new direction this year lol.

haha and there are even more where that came from!
Because we're adults, dammit. If we want to play dress up with our ponies and braid feathery boas into their manes while wearing tutus, ain't nobody gonna stop us!! (But I promise: plenty of ppl will hopefully take pictures lol)

such a nice matching set!
Back on the side of more, uh, classic styling - we have this lovely new USG bonnet and pad set. Liz from Clover Ledge Farm hosted a great contest in anticipation of her and Snappy's championship event - an event in which they had an absolutely fantastic time (even if the cross country course design was a tad underwhelming for Snappy's prowess).

and socks, i <3 socks
I was thrilled to win the contest, and even happier follow along as they had a great event. Unfortunately while it was always planned to be Snappy's swan song before retirement, it proved to be more final than anyone expected, as Liz had to say goodbye to Snappy not long after.

works surprisingly well with charlie's berry+black DJD browband. too bad he wouldn't be still for a pic
So Charlie will wear this set with a little more gravity and respect - hoping to do justice to the memory of a versatile, talented and dignified Standardbred mare!

i swear he's a generally happy horse, but he's got that pitiful look down pat. as evidenced on that right side pic of him a week and a half ago sporting splint juice on the RF, an abscessing LF, a silver-sprayed infected shark bite front and center, plus a broken halter just for kicks. long suffering soul!
So far he's been coming back into "regular" work feeling quite good, actually. Each ride starts with at least one moment of his head up in the air, turning back to face me with bared teeth - asking if I'm serious about going. Maybe homeboy thought his time off meant that the whole "retired" part of retired racehorse was finally coming true. Sorry buddy, nope! Now get to work!

he's all better now tho!! cleared for takeoff!
And he's basically acquiesced more or less immediately. I've been trying to focus very hard on my own position - my seat, my torso and shoulders, my arms and hands, legs... yea, all of it. And focusing on riding the horse's body rather than getting baited into an argument about where he holds his nose (a trap I constantly fell into with Isabel too).

fun new thing from Mary's in San Diego!
And ya know what? He's doing pretty well! It turns out (and I'm sure this will shock you) that if I ignore where his head and neck are, and focus on riding his body where I need it to be - straight, balanced and riding forward, while also holding my own position - Charlie has this nice way of kinda just.... settling in to a reasonable frame and carriage.

Ya know. That whole "form follows function" thing. Groundbreaking news over here, I tell ya!

back on track crown pad
We've been schooling almost exclusively in our dressage tack too. In a weird way, it's almost like my default tack choices have changed right in line with the barn move.

At the last place, the black tack always felt a little.... out of place. And like bc we were the only people in dressage tack it would kinda be expected that we would "go" like a dressage pair. But Valegro Charlie is not. So idk, maybe it felt plain old presumptuous?

fits right over the crown piece but basically changed every single dimension of fit for this bridle lol
Now tho, we've got this lovely dressage court to ride in. Plus, basically everyone else habitually schools flat work in dressage tack too. Instead of sticking out, wearing dressage tack is just part of the accepted and commonplace rhythms of training the event horse.

It's weird bc if you had asked me directly whether I made my tack choices at the last place based on my thoughts re: external perception of us, I would have denied it. But considering I've ridden in my dressage saddle more in the last month than in the previous couple months combined... well. It's undeniable lol.

Hopefully tho this change is as beneficial for Charlie as it is for me. I am really getting comfortable in my dressage saddle again and am maybe making some (very incremental) progress on my seat - something that perhaps regressed after a year at the h/j barn. And Charlie feels like he's reflecting that progress in his own work.

Have you ever felt similarly - that your style of riding or choices in tack or equipment are influenced by riders around you? Or maybe it's less about tack and more about what you work on? Or do you pretty much just do your own thing no matter what?

43 comments:

  1. OH hell yes, tutus. I have a black one I dream of jumping in one day for a photoshoot. With regard to tack - it's whatever I want, whenever I want, so long as I have it on hand. Case in point, forgot I'd taken pads home to wash and hadn't brought them back yesterday so my saddle riding plans were foiled and I rode bareback. *shrug* I also routinely ride in a cut off Tshirt, tights, and crocs at home. I'm on much better behavior when I'm around the general horse public though, as you've witnessed lolololol

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    1. ha yea, i know what you mean. these days my riding wardrobe is pretty well established, and the outfits don't change overmuch for schooling vs lessons vs clinics or whatever. back in college tho? basically the only time i wore breeches was for shows, the rest of the time it was all jeans always lol.

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  2. I am not sure if where i boarded affected my choices- I think it probably did in the sense of dressing more 'nicely' rather then with what i found at the thrift shop. :D
    Charlie looks awesome in his new pad and bonnet. Congratulations on winning!

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    1. ha yea it's funny how subconscious some of that stuff can be!! like i basically always wear the same stuff now - but i also basically always feel like pictures (for le blog!) could happen at any moment too lol #priorities

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  3. The green looks good on Charles! I pretty much do whatever I want, even if it got me labeled as "that crazy girl with the pony" at our last boarding barn filled with H/J riders. Heaven forbid that I ride bareback, western, in the snow, or trail ride down the road! I am in much better company in our current barn with fellow eventers and foxhunters!

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    1. i was surprised by how much i liked the green on him, actually! and yea the h/j place had the most *uniform* dressing and tack practices of literally anywhere i had ever been, ever. all breeches were tan. unless they were navy or dark gray. all saddle pads were white (any color highly discouraged - tho if you must, contain it to piping on the saddle pad). all belts were those leather ones with the horse name plates on them. and the only time you left the ring was for that one careful lap through the grass surrounding the outdoor lol.

      nobody really cared what i wore or did... but the fact that the aesthetic was SO STRONG there, that everyone and every horse dressed EXACTLY THE SAME, it definitely highlighted anything that looked even a little out of place. luckily at the new eventing barn basically everyone lets their freak flags fly - we fit right in!

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  4. hm i could totally see why you'd feel self conscious in dressage tack at the old place

    of course the solution is to trick everyone by getting a brown dressage saddle....

    I haven't used my dressage saddle on the giant yet but it's only been 2 months. the canter is still a little bit too... uh... objectionable for some people.

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    1. lol poor charlie, i told him early on that if he didn't fit into my bates jump saddle i was gonna get rid of him, bc i'm keeping that saddle #4lyfe. and my dressage saddle is basically exactly the same thing except with cair panels instead of wool. so... yea. no saddle shopping for charles!

      also i'm surprised you haven't tried him in the dressage tack yet!!! pretty sure i started playing dress up with charlie on like, day 3 haha ;)

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  5. Sorry to read about Snappy (she sounded amazing, now i have another blog to follow and catch up on) and yay on you winning. OHHH I am interested in that BOT crown piece. That is the one area Remus is very fussy about. Let me know how it goes. Tutus???

    I love the green on Charlie btw!!

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    1. charlie has had moments of being sore in his poll and we suspect he could have had some past minor injury there - perhaps from hyperextending during intubation from his tieback surgery? BoT stuff has come so highly recommended from so many different quarters - peers, professionals, internet strangers lol. plus it was surprisingly affordable (relatively speaking, let's be real) at around $30 after tax. so we'll see! only worn it once so far but i'm willing to get it a try!

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  6. Ah a dressage saddle... one of these days I'll get one. Since Phoebe lives at home I don't really get any influence from fellow boarders, mainly because there aren't any haha! I'm sure in the future if I boarded out that I might unconsciously be influenced by. Add me to the list of people who want to know how the bot crownpiece goes for you! The poll is one of the areas always more tense during Phoebes massages

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    1. i actually really like my dressage saddle but apparently only seem to remember this after riding in it regularly for a while. bc it's one of those minimalistic type saddles, no big blocks or anything. plus it's actually incredibly cheap, an old school bates that's half plastic with cair panels and an interchangeable gullet system. but like. damn, i freakin love it haha!

      and yea the influence is honestly realer than i would have ever admitted even a month ago. but the transition between barns has made it really obvious. sometimes it's a really good thing too - like when i happen to drive past the dressage ring on my way down to the barn and see ppl schooling 10m circles or lateral work, it inspires *me* to stretch myself a little bit and make sure i'm really putting charlie through his paces. considering at the h/j barn nobody ever EVER left the arena rail haha (there was a legit gutter carved into all the arenas) even just circling or going across the diagonal felt like fancy dersage lol. but now i want to up my game and that's a good thing!

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  7. But you must believe Charlie can BE Valegro and he will BECOME Valegro! Interested to hear how his new space helmet works for him--keep us updated.

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    1. maybe that'll be my strategy the next time we enter at A: "behold, my faceplanting beast! watch him transform before your very eyes into VALEGRO!! (just ignore all that other stuff, m'kay?)" lolol...

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    1. inorite????? i'm so ridiculously excited it's entirely possible that i'm bedazzling my shirt right at this exact second. i feel like this is the moment i've been training for!!! except... uh.... this weekend's forecast is.... not promising. blargh. if we get rained out (again - already happened to our baller ass planned team outing this spring) i'm gonna be soooo mad >:[

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    2. Nooooo eff you weather! I want to see what Emma & co have up their sleeves!! I will do an anti rain dance for you.

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    3. thank youuuu!!!! i am so so so hoping we don't get rained out!

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  9. LOL I know what rider influenced the BoT purchase. I am curious with how it helps him re: the rubbing

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    1. lol charlie's massage therapist?!? haha srsly tho yea i'm glad you were able to uncover that one bc it was way better than the dinky little pad i had found first, and probably gonna last longer than the sheepskin stuff too

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  10. The costumes! Oooo I cannot wait! Tack purchases ARE influenced by my trainer but are also very practical as well. It's too easy to blow way too much money - Mae would rather I do that on her shoes instead womp womp

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  11. I love the bonnet/pad combo! Excited to see the costume (omg tutus!!!)

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    1. i'm seriously hoping this one gets to see the light of day! our last big team outing when we had organized matching outfits and everything (including matching stock ties!) got rained out. we shall see!

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  12. He looks good in green. I can't wait to see what you do with those tutus!!!! When I was boarding in WI, we were at a really nice classical dressage place full of expensive, imported horses and 50+ year old women too scared to ride them so they just groomed them and made up lamenesses so they didn't have to ride. Very cliche, but true. Anyway...there I was with my little arab mare in bright red biothane tack and an endurance saddle. Talk about sticking out!!!!

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    1. omfg i totally know what you're talking about in describing that barn!!!! haha one of the places what i've gone to for a bunch of clinics is like that - and it was always pretty funny when i'd show up in my stock trailer with petite little isabel in our plastic dressage saddle and walk into that arena to lay down some seriously legit work haha

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  13. First of all, he looks smashing in green. LOVE IT. Much elegance. So Charles.

    At the old barn I did feel a bit odd on weekends in my English tack wanting to work on stuff. It was hard because the arena was terrible but I found myself slacking off a lot because I was the only one in English and everyone else was mostly riding older horses western or barrel racing so I found myself not riding very seriously. It's been nice at our own place because it doesn't matter! I find myself schooling dressage most week days and have found it really helps. So I totally understand!

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    1. omg yea it's so easy to slack off when you feel like you're already kinda going way above and beyond what anybody else is doing! in that way it's really nice to be back at a place where i'm surrounded not only by ppl of my own discipline - but ppl who are pretty talented and advanced in it too!

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  14. I ride in whatever I want to practice that day :)

    And I love the new saddle pad and bonent!

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    1. that's definitely a good way to do it!!

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  15. Tutus! I really liked switching up tack to keep me on task. So if I had my dressage saddle, I had to work on dressage and not get distracted by jumping. Now I only have a jumping saddle for Levi and I find it harder to do dressage plus I get distracted by jumps.

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    1. yea that makes sense, i think a lot of ppl do it that way. personally i'm pretty comfortable schooling flat work in both saddles, since i go through the same paces to warm up for jumping as i do for warming up for a dressage test. so it was easy enough at the h/j place to keep on the jump tack even tho i was planning a flat ride.

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  16. I'm in love with the bonnet and matching pad! I'm in a barn with very few other riders, but I think it's very easy to be influenced by those around just by virtue of curiosity (say for training equipment or gear) -- as far as my own stuff goes, I definitely have a bit of a uniform for riding these days, makes life and laundry easy!

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    1. lol omg the kids at the h/j place basically had zero training equipment or gear - all homogenous all the time! then when we'd show up with so much as a dressage whip (gasp! but so different!) it was easy to feel out of place haha.

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  17. Dang I love BOT products, and now you have my jonesing for that crown cover! Let me know how you like it!

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    1. i'm pretty excited about it, honestly! it's on his jump bridle instead of his dressage bridle bc the dressage bridle has that standard PS of Sweden suuuuper wide crown piece and i'm not sure this would fit well over it. but logically... it perhaps makes more sense to reverse the situation. we'll see tho - i'll try to make observations all the same!

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  18. Hahaha yeah, no, being the only English rider at a Western barn kinda cured me of caring what other people think of my tack, if I had any impulses like that left after years as a lesson kid. I love when things match, and I try to arrange it, but if I can't, whatever. I can, will, and have happily wandered around in a leather English bridle with no noseband, bright blue nylon split reins, a black nylon girth, and a brown AP saddle with an oh-shit strap - in blue jeans, paddock boots, and whatever shirt I found first that morning. Actually, come to think of it, I think I went to a Western Dressage-ish clinic that way...

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    1. ha that's a great attitude! i can't say i've ever really cared much about what ppl think of my tack, and had you asked me a month ago whether i let those perceptions influence my tack choices i would have denied it. and yet.... here i am changing my habits at the new place. go figure!

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  19. Thank you for sending some love to my mare and for Charlie wearing the saddle pad and bonnet so well! <3

    I definitely prefer my dressage tack for 90% of my ride. And while my horses live at home so there is no audience (other than my husband who would probably only notice what my horse or I were wearing if I were stark naked hahahaha), I totally understand the "When in Rome..." mentality. :-)

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    1. <3 Snappy, and i'm thinking of you and hope you're doing ok! thanks again for the contest - the green is very becoming on charles.

      also tho, lo-f*ing-l about what would make your husband notice your riding outfits!! when in rome, indeed!

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  20. That's an interesting takeaway and one I never thought much of. I very rarely ride in my dressage tack (only eventer in a sea of hunters), and if asked, just say that I prefer my jump saddle. But every other eventer I know rides more in their dressage tack than in jump stuff. Maybe subconsciously it's the same thing for me- if we're in dressage tack, are we expected to move like a real dressage pair? Because, uh, that's unlikely.

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    1. yea i think that's kinda exactly how i was thinking too. it was a very subconscious thing, and i definitely would say the same about preferring my jump tack too. plus when surrounded by riders who are explicitly riding for a specific style of equitation (and are getting constant feedback from their trainers about position) it kinda seeps into my own mind too. honestly tho i've really liked getting back into the groove of riding more frequently in my dressage tack!! (even if, uh, yea... our choice of tack does nothing to magically morph us into anything other than a training level dressage pair haha!!)

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  21. I ride alone at home so...I don't think I am effected haha. My friend swears by those BOT poll guards, she has one on every bridle.

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