August 4, 2021

More TOH

Last week I recorded a schooling ride for the first time in a while, and noticed he was running through me in the ToH again.


For some reason, it's really hard to feel when he's doing that, but I can clearly see it in the video. So, we're working on it.

You can see him trying to run through me a couple of time

It's hard, because I'm finding it difficult to balance having enough inside hind leg activity (inside leg should be marching up and down in place) and keeping him contained. I suppose that's the whole reason this movement is in Second Level - how do you generate enough impulsion and teach them how to sit?

My trainer would probably tell me him not picking up the inside leg enough means my inside leg isn't active enough. I know it in my head, and I can explain it here, but the execution is hard. 

I felt him shift his weight back and called it good for the night

As we were working on these tonight, I had the thought that just as soon as we get these perfect, we'll move on to something else that's hard. There's always something, which is why I am never truly upset with where we are right now. There is no destination in Dressage, only the journey!

August 3, 2021

USEF Proposed Amateur Status Changes

As some of you may remember, several years ago I went pro in the USEF because I monetized this blog as an ambassador/influencer in order to help pay for showing costs at a time that I was making hardly any money at work. Earlier this year, I went through the process to get my Amateur Status restored, and am now legally showing as an AA again.


I say all that to remind you why I was so excited for the USEF's proposed Amateur Status change webinar last night, and I'm going to recap it with my thoughts below for you guys.

 

The USEF recognizes that three of the biggest challenges facing them are how to make participating in equestrian sports more affordable, how to attract new people to the sport, and how to keep people participating in the sport once they've started. To that end, they are proposing some early draft changes (that they know they will fine-tune over time, so get your comments in!) to help with those challenges:

 

Change #1: Allow amateurs to get paid for barn duties at home and at shows.
 


This change would allow amateurs to get paid for grooming, tacking, clipping, lunging, bathing, braiding, stall cleaning and tack cleaning, but they still couldn't get paid to ride. It would take effect this December.

USEF rationale: By eliminating the $300 rule and making these activities explicitly allowed, this would help amateurs defray some cost.

My thoughts: A lot of this is permitted already as long as you're not also riding horses that aren't your own, but removing the limit changes things.

 

Change #2: Allow amateurs to teach up/down lessons for money without being a pro.

 


This change would allow amateurs to teach "introductory level lessons" at their "home barn" under the supervision of a professional. They would have to work no more than 20 hours a week in this role, would not be allowed to coach at rated shows, and would have to keep a work log book so that if they were ever challenged, they could prove they were compliant with the rule. It would take effect this December.

USEF rationale: This benefits the USEF because it gets more people teaching intro lessons, something that is sorely needed in many parts of the country, and it benefits the amateur because they can teach some lessons to defray the costs of riding as a side hustle.

My thoughts: I have friends in this exact situation, both friends that went pro to teach up down lessons and friends that are amateurs but would jump at the chance to teach up down lessons if they could. I do think this rule is the one most likely to get abused, but I applaud the USEF for putting a 1.0 version of this out there, because it's needed.

 

Change #3: Allow amateurs to act as social media influencers and brand ambassadors and receive money and free product.

 

First two would be allowed for amateurs, but you could not be a sponsored athlete.

This change would allow AAs to act as social media influencers and brand ambassadors, but not sponsored athletes. You could receive free product and commission checks from manufacturers and still be an AA, with no financial limit. What you can't do appear in actual ads for the manufacturer, have them foot the bill for your showing/etc directly, or walk around the showgrounds with a big after-market embroidered logo on your saddle pad (standard manufacturer's marks are okay though).

USEF rationale: We need to introduce more people to our sport, and that means taking advantage of publicity, including leveraging the reach of social media influencers. This benefits the AA because they can now accept an unlimited amount of money and product in exchange for promoting it.

My thoughts: It's about freaking time! I am so happy with the way they wrote this one. They very clearly laid out when an activity is "being sponsored" and when it's not. I've seen people pick apart this rule for being complicated, but as someone who has done this stuff, I think the lines are bright and clearly marked and make a lot of sense.

 

Change #4: Raise the age limit for juniors to 21


 

USEF rationale: They said they lose a LOT of people permanently when they go to college, when kids have to decide whether to buy a new horse in order to be competitive in the adults (sounds like H/J probs) or go to college, not both. They want to make it easier and cheaper for kids to stay in the sport longer, through a time in their lives when it's very hard to stay in horses.

My thoughts: This one had the least resistance from everyone in the chat, except - and I laughed my butt off at this - one Zoom commenter who said, "This puts undue financial strain on the parents who would normally sell their kids' eq horse to pay for college". That's the most risky college fund investment I've ever heard of, but okay!


 

All in all, I love these changes. I expected the USEF to be a lot less self-aware than they proved they were at least on this topic, and I think it's a great start. Since these topics affect us as bloggers directly, I strongly encourage you to send feedback both positive and negative to the task force at amateurtaskforce@usef.org.

What are your thoughts?

July 30, 2021

Foal Friday: Blogger Throwback Edition

Sitting in Lisa's living room with Erika after Pony Cup, we both flipped through the many photo albums she keeps out on her side table of all the ponies she's bred over the years. I've seen them all before, but one photo caught my eye in a new way:

Erika's Gavin on the left and Connor on the right

"Oh my gosh it's Gav and Connor together!" I said. Gavin, who's younger than Connor, looks sweet and innocent while Connor looks like he's about to start playing, which is funny because as adults Connor is the sweet one and Gav is the mischievous one.

And of course a baby Connor post isn't complete without my favorite baby picture of him ever:

Someday I'll get this scanned to where it doesn't wash out quite as much, but it's still cute.

Happy Friday, everyone!

July 29, 2021

NDPC: Sunday

There was an open show held the Sunday of Pony Cup, but I decided I'd rather get home a day early than show in it, so on Saturday evening me, Lisa, my mom and Erika piled into my truck.

Leah saying goodbye to Connor. PC: My mom

The closest my horse will ever get to Baseball Heaven! I hope he waved. PC: My mom

Rather than try to drive all the way back home, the plan was to stay the night at Lisa's house so that we could play with babies and Erika could ride Connor before she flew home.

Connor: "Unexpected, but ok." PC: My mom

The next morning I woke up to the sounds of two whinnies I know well: Aeres screaming at Connor from her paddock outside the barn and Connor answering. They couldn't see each other, but you knew they knew each other. Lisa said she guessed Aeres was in heat.

The best girl, look at how round she is again!

All that is to say, by the time I took Connor down the driveway and around the pond to tack him up at my trailer for Erika to ride him, he was jumping out of his skin. 

Connor: "WHERE'S MY LADY, I CAN HEAR HER" PC: My mom

Which on the one hand was awesome because he was clearly feeling great after 10 hours on the trailer and 3 days at a horse show. But on the other hand...

PC: Erika
 

That's me on him, not Erika. I wasn't dressed to ride, but I quickly realized I didn't have a choice. If I'd had a lunge line I might have thought about it, but I didn't need it. Even on his worst days (and this was one of them) he's not THAT BAD.


Still have never come off this horse in 10 years

Now the fun thing is, in between being tense as hell, skittering sideways and threatening to take off with me, it was a good reminder of how much impulsion matters in Dressage and how often I don't have enough of it.

PC: Erika (and all vids are from Erika too)

It was one of those rides where getting against him did nothing, I just had to sit down, plug in and wait him out.

Even when he got a little squirrely.

Lol

I tried wearing him out, I tried making him use his body, I tried making the work itself harder, and nothing was taking the edge off.


It was quickly becoming clear Erika wasn't getting on him, and I said as much. We've talked about how nervous we both are about getting on strange horses, and there was no way I was going to put her through getting on my spicy pony in an open field while he was doing his very best Chestnut Stallion impression.

He sure is pretty even when he's being a twit

So that established, I did a little more work - with slightly more control - and called it a day.

When I saw the pictures later, all I could do was shake my head. Why can't I get THIS extension in the show ring?!

And that's how Connor convinced Erika to make a return trip to Indiana this fall! #doover