Non-Intentional Absence

Well life here at the farm has been crazy! Wild adventures from MI to VA, horses going to a stable for a short while, jumping adventures with the Heidi Ho, and now winter weather. Time has flown by it seems, but it is for the good. There has been a lot happening. I have to stop myself sometimes to just enjoy all the positives going on now. It is easy to get lost in the fast pace life sets and forget to enjoy what is happening  in the moment.

Some happy moments:

Heidi has progressed quickly with her jumping skills, although her and I still have a lot to work on. She has been mastering gymnastics and beginning to see and experience oxars, while putting together small courses. She is quite a bold little horse. A very brave jumper and it seems once I point the horse at a fence she boldly approaches it with more confidence than needed. A great natural foundation to be a confident jumper.  We have been working weekly with a local trainer until the snow came and now we have been on a break from jumping.

With the winter weather I decided to take the two horses to a local boarding facility for the month that I had my trip to virginia.  I was able to work on Heidi and I’s dressage while Frank was just living the life: eating, sleep, poop, repeat.

The trip to Virginia was amazing, there were many beautiful farms on the way to Chantilly, VA. I drove there because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a road trip. I chose to go to Chantilly for my school residency.  A lot was learned in regards to basic counseling skills, as well as information pertaining to the doctorate program.  Honestly I have my reservations about applying to the doctorate program. Right now I just want to survive my masters program. My schedule has been eat, sleep, work, homework, horses repeat. Which leads to how I have lost track of time.

For this spring and summer, I am planning on taking Heidi to some local jumpingshows to gain experience in the show ring.  While also attending my second residency in Chicago, Il. There testing and measurements will be discussed.

Happy winter riding everyone!






4 Loop serpentine is AMAZING!

It is the end of August and typically in Michigan this is a very HOT time of year, not just hot but HUMID. Luckily the last week or so has been exceptionally cool. With the cool weather my horses have been extremely sassy and full of themselves which is very cute to watch while they are in the paddock, frolicking around kicking their heels up. What I am not fond of is when I am the person who they decide to inflict their frolicking on while riding. So Miss Heidi Ho, the worst instigator, thought it would be so much fun to be so naughty. I thought to myself, OK stop for a second, straight lines are not helping at this moment and circles are not any better. So my solution, 4 loop serpentine.

The 4 loop serpantine: What a lovely, splendid tool to use. The change of direction helps to keep her supple and less chances to kick up her heels and takeoff or buck. Not only that, but what a great exercise to focus on our balance, throughness during changes of direction, our difficulty with falling out on her heavy left shoulder, and our rhythm.

wpid-imag2249.jpg So to successfully ride this, depending on the rhythm of the horse, Heidi is always too quick and needs to slow her rhythm and extend her legs. Beginning from the bottom x. Heidi is always too quick so a light half-halt before the turn to the left, while using the inside leg to send her to the outside shoulder. This direction Heidi tends to cut-in so emphasis is on the leg out to the shoulder and at times we have to do a step or two of leg yield out so she does not completely cut the corner.  One the second curve Heidi really drifts out on her left shoulder so my outside leg is firm and I also will have her take a leg yield step to the right to correct her shoulder here. Then a half-halt to correct the bend as well as stabilize the rhythm.

Repeat x 1,000,000,000

Then I like to throw in there smaller serpentine that consists of 2 or 4 loops or try and get an insane amount of loops just for fun.

Frank my older guy, well he is too smart but this is also very helpful for him in the sense of it focuses his brain versus a balance issue.

Happy riding everyone,

frank and heidi july 7

A Very Dry July… and I Am Not Talking About The Weather

So, good news is I have started a new job that is AMAZING. It is at a drug rehabilitation, very informational for my future career in clinical psychology. I did have a wonderful weekend in June that I took Heidi to a schooling show. heidi rattlewood 3

July though has been very dull in the riding area, I have mostly been adjusting to my new job and working around the farm and preparing for my vacation in September. I do plan on taking Heidi to a smaller schooling show to get her off the property again in August. This time I have Regumate! YES! She was fine the whole competition until the last day when the combination of being tired and having a stallion across from her. So now I have a helpful pharmaceutical. My vet agreed with me that she should benefit greatly with this.

Not only have I begun my new job, but I also have started my next class for my Master’s program, it has been amazing so far and plan to have more horse adventures soon.  For now I am enjoying my summer and will hopefully be able to plan some adventures for the  rest of summer and fall.

frank and heidi july 7

Happy Horse showing!

Well, it has been interesting…

So, this week has been very interesting to say the least. We have had a few bad storms around Michigan that destroyed a dairy farm as well as scaring the crap out of me. We didn’t have any damage at my home, but I am seriously considering developing floaties for horses.

Our house was an island with two mini islands being the horses stalls.


I mean, we were slammed with the rain. My jumping poles, mounting block, and standards started to float away. I had to slosh through the water that was up to my knees to get them.


The only safe place was for the outer paddock where it is high ground for the horses to get out of the rain.



    I suppose we are lucky though, as there was a small tornado a few miles down the road that touched down. I will take flooding any day. There was an incident about 4 years ago when we built the barns, we left for Rolex weekend and when we returned a tornado had picked one of our barns up and moved it a couple feet and turned it. It was an eerie feeling.


One positive is after the storm it was beautiful outside.  Funny enough my neighbor took two pool inflatable sharks and tied them where his driveway was so he didn’t drive into the ditch. In situations like this humor is the best route. The horses had fun, well Heidi had fun, frank was a tad irritated with all the water. Heidi however thought it would be funny to canter around in it and roll. I was not amused by that.


Before the storm we had a visitor checking out our fish supply. He must have approved because he stayed there for over an hour.

Luckily the weather held off after the show this past weekend, I was happy Heidi’s first competition was not in flooding weather. I want her to enjoy showing, and create a positive experience. Well needless to say it has been a week and I am still waiting for the arena to dry enough to ride. Hopefully soon.

Happy riding, until next time.

Schooling Show Madness

This past weekend has been very informational, and quite the learning experience for my mare. It was Heidi’s first time away from home overnight. She stayed two nights and two days on the show grounds, and she was wonderful! Some of my hair fell out, but she was awesome! Heidi  I thought that being away from the farm and Frank she may be anxious, or moody (Mare problems) but she was wonderful, calm and level headed. So here is the summary of what happened over the weekend.

Friday was a tough day because we stacked our hay for the year in the loft, that took most of the day. My ma and I loaded the trailer and got Heidi on around 7 pm then was at show grounds at 8 pm, found my trainer, and immediately tacked up and rode. Luckily because it is summer, it stays light until about 9:30 pm. My trainer and I rode and were the only ones in the ring. This allowed me to acclimate Heidi to all the weird things about a dressage ring. The judges booth was not as big of a challenge as I thought it was going to be, neither was the canopy tent or the signs that were hung on the wood. She was a doll! It was very odd that Heidi did not spook at anything… Then the fun began, once the horse was settled in the barn my mom and I had a “Mother-Daughter Bonding Time” by setting up the tent, in the dark, with not flashlights, and the worst part of it was, we were so tired that we could not  sleep. It was HORRIBLE! Total of sleep = 3 hours.

Saturday went well, mane was braided, horse brushed, saddle cleaned, test one rode, received a respectful 4th place, she was really uphill and moving forward, but consistency was the problem down the sides, we are still working on consistency for transitions. Test two rode and received another 4th place, this was her best test of the weekend and the score confirmed it. After her second test Heidi was dead tired, and so was I, no caffeine was drank so we substituted for wine at dinner and met up with old friends to sit around and talk horse talk, met new friends who we enjoyed talking with. We met a really nice lady who was explaining the whole back story of western dressage and how she learned of it. heidi rattlewood2< Photos taken by my friends husband, they both were very sweet to take photos for me.

Sunday everyone was tired. Heidi was exhausted, this is her first show and she is not used to riding and all the pampering, it made her a bit moody today. Also today she seemed to have gone into a cycle of heat, coincidence that her neighbor was a stallion? I  am thinking biology started to take over and her hormones kicked in, the stallion was such a good boy too. Well her test today was not as forward and smooth as the first two and we had a behavioral incident, but she placed 5th and overall she had a fabulous first show and weekend away from home. heidi rattlewood 3

In the end it is not about the placing or the scores this time. This time was mainly about her being away from home and going in the ring and performing. I did find out that I have to put a red ribbon in her tail, and that not many riders know that it means my horse kicks. Saturday Heidi did fine, but Sunday she lost her cool and kicked out at another horse. No one was hurt, and my suspicion was confirmed that she needs the red ribbon and I will do my best to keep her away from others.

I am so proud of her though, she did fabulous!

Next month though her jump training is being increased, to move her along.

Happy riding! Namaste!

A, Down Center Line!

With my mares first dressage show coming up, we have really been focusing on accuracy. Accuracy of transitions as well as turns. We have this major issue with our left shoulder drifting and our right shoulder cutting corners. As well as swinging our hind quarters to right when the right shoulder is the outside lead. On the other hand The transition down has naturally been easy for Heidi because she is easily collected and maintains a connection, while our up-transitions are not as clean. The upward energy and connection is not as stable when going from walk to trot or trot to canter, Heidi typically will pop her head up. She has gotten better this spring, but she still is not a firm true connection. One of the ideas my trainer and I have been working with has been the idea of body mechanics in relation to the horse’s progression. There are many positions we evolve through with training which typically advances our progress in training both rider and horse.

Any ways my little Heidi Ho and I have been working on our turns to centerline and making them accurate, and precise. The exercises that I have been using to do this are turning to center line at A as well as doing turns from B and E to center line. When doing the turn at A the initial turn should begin preparation at P and be done between and A. At P the half-halts begin as well as the balancing to the outside rein with the horses weight balanced. 11 What I have noticed with Heidi is how she typically drifts out to the left outside shoulder once on midline and when the right shoulder is the outside she cuts corners. An exercise I used to combat these issues is to leg yield right when we drift out and leg yield Left when we cut in with the right shoulder. 2 When leg yielding either direction it is 1-2 steps, if turning is a major issue then leg yielding will be from center line to wall. Typically for Heidi leg yield 1-2 steps helps to straighten  her enough to not drift past the center line and when cutting corners it helps to make her seem as though there is straightness. It is also important to note that when you leg yield the 1-2 steps it is because you are not on center line directly therefore it corrects the mistake.

Another exercise: If the leg yielding exercise is not working in this fashion then I have done spiral-in and spiral-out exercises on a 20 meter circle.

Spiral-in starts off in a 20 meter circle, have the horse collected and on the outside aids. Then ask the horse to take 1-2 steps to the inside creating a smaller circle while maintaining connection and body alignment on the curve. With  the one time circle then ask the horse to step 1-2 steps more toward the center. Spiral in  Focus on maintaining balance and rhythm (every horse differs this may take a half-halt  a simple shift in seat) and continue to do this until a 10 meter circle is achieved. Each circle is done within one complete circle but the 1-2 steps does not need to be rushed. I found that I have to take time for quality, take note of the horses body as well as my own and to not focus so much on the horses head.

Spiral-out is done  as the second part of spiral-in, now while starting on the 10 meter circle you focus on moving the horse toward the outside. Maintain rhythm, balance and not allowing drifting to occur. When you ask the horse to move out the lines need to be clearly established with the outside leg and rein. I have found it easiest to ask for the 1-2 steps then half-halt with the outside and if drifting occurs then a counter bend for a step to stop the momentum of drifting. Work my way to the outside and take a break. 4

What I have found is that as irritating as the fine details can be, they are what makes the exercise effective in two ways: 1. Me realizing what I am doing, and what my body is doing to make the exercise effective or a failure. 2. The horses quality of gait, balance and rhythm while being calm, and collected.

This seems to be three great exercises for Heidi Ho and I, so  thought I would share.

Happy Riding! Girls have to work on our yoga skills horse and myself 🙂

Test Riding Clinic with an FEI Judge

FEI-5* Judge Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode Dressage Test Clinic

Early in the month of may, I went with my dressage trainer who rode in a test riding clinic with the wonderful Eddy de Wolff van Westerrode. I was able to audit and he had riders from training level to prix st. George ride their tests. He scored them as if they were actually showing, then he left the judges stand to give them a lesson. What I love to see with this level trainer is he does not degrade your horse, try to sell you a brand of tack (that had happened at a different clinic with a different professional), and he was very willing to work with you, and your horse in the most constructive way. He did not simply stand there as you rode around. He followed you as you went approached you to show you what he wants and for the upper levels even helped in development of movements right next to you. He was fearless as some horses did not respond well to his proximity he had with them while on foot. Is it to say in the horse world our trainers are too distant and focus too much on quality of horse and tack and do not focus on quality of instruction?

An interesting thought from listening to him coach others was when he said that there are many ways to get the test ridden and have it look nice, but lets today work on not only looking nice but on winning and creating a horse who stands out. He is a very constructive trainer with a wicked sense of humor and provides results with his training.

If ever you get the chance to ride in a clinic with him, do it! He was a pleasant man who knows what is wanted in the dressage ring and knows how to coach.