3 Questions with Stressage Stories

For me, dressage can actually be far more scary than hunting. (My OTTB makes sure of that.) It doesn’t feel great when your horse has a complete and utter tantrum when you insist he respect the outside rein, or when you get about 3ft of lateral steps when trying to leg yield across the arena. Even if you can gallop a 3ft coop or navigate a ditch that would make most DQs pee their pristine white breeches, dressage can make you doubt you have any riding ability at all.

Photo credit Pat Michaels. This trot brought to you by dressage. (Bracing neck brought to you by the fact that we are about to gallop off into a field)

So when I came across Lucy McKeown’s Stressage Stories blog, I knew had found a kindred spirit. She is a young UK-based rider and writer who covers her dressage adventures and the psychology behind success. We’re doing a little exchange where we ask and answer the same 3 questions:

Describe how dressage makes you feel in 3 words

Dedicated, inspired and elegant

What are your favorite parts of your sport?

Firstly the satisfaction of nailing a certain movement. Knowing that you have set the horse up ready to be able to dance and move effortlessly underneath you

Which leads me to my next favorite… the feeling that my horse starts to relax and trust me. The correct communication just feels like magic (even though we all know it actually comes from a lot of hard work!)

Are there any common misconceptions in dressage that you want to clear up?

A common misconception of dressage is that it is elitist and only for those with loads of money and the fanciest horses. However dressage is french for the word training and so this training can benefit any horse and rider no matter who they are.

There is also the misconception that it isn’t fun and friendly. I have noticed quite the opposite. So many people know the struggles of the sport and want to encourage you.

Have you or do you ever suffer with nerves and if so, what are your top tips?

I do get nervous a lot. Especially for big competitions. My top tips would be to view nerves as excitement (your body does the same things in response), plan loads (and plan some more… Then accept that there will be some things beyond your control, so make sure your plan is focused on what you can do and what solutions you can bring to the table.


Thank you Hand Gallop!

As you may have noticed…this blog has been pretty quiet lately. Here in Maryland we’ve basically had three months straight of rain, which means almost no hunting. I think I’ve gotten out three or four times this entire season, when ordinarily I’m out every weekend!

Then my horse Lefty got kicked in the head, rearranged the bones in his face, and got some Frankenstein’s monster-esque staples in his head for Halloween.

A friend of mine lent me a very nice horse to hunt, and I promptly ran my face into a thorny vine in solidarity with Lefty.

(photo by Pat Michaels)

Things seemed to be going well, and Lefty and I got back to some light riding in December…then his OTHER eye blew up due to a tick borne infection. So now he’s on a course of Doxy that finishes up this week.

All of this is a long way of saying–I’ve kind of been in the riding dumps, with so many horse health setbacks and busy times at work for me. So after visiting my family for the holidays, I was REALLY grateful to come home to this Secret Santa gift from Stephanie, a fellow foxhunter and writer of the Hand Gallop blog.

I LOVED the Hunt Seat Paper Co. card and foxy notepad when I ripped open the box at 11pm after a 5hr flight!

She also included a tin of  balm for small cuts and scrapes (inevitable with a TB!), stick-tite spray for the saddle, delicious-smelling cookies for Lefty and Ghiardelli chocolates for me in a small horsey zip-up bag. The chocolates didn’t last long–Ghiardelli is my favorite! And I think I will use the bag to hold my braiding supplies and other small doodads at the barn.

Thank you Stephanie!  The great thing about your gifts is that they can be used whether I’m riding or just toodling around the barn with my Frankenhorse. And thank you Tracy of The Printable Pony for hosting and organizing the Secret Santa exchange. Make sure to hop on over to her page to see who else participated!


Thank you! and proof that I’m fueled 100% by spite

Just wanted to send a sincere thank you to Nadia at 3day Adventures with Horses, my Secret Santa! She gave me a C4 belt with a nice foxhunting scene!

The scene is a little more gruesome than your average hunt though, which I find pretty amusing.

There’s a funny story behind this whole blogger gift exchange for me this year. I signed up at The Printable Pony blog in November, but I didn’t see my name on the final list of participants, and I didn’t get any info about my Secret Santa via email. The rational side of me said, “Oh well. Must have been a technical glitch.” But the rest of me said, “SCREW THEM! If they don’t want me in their stupid little blogger club, I’ll make my own!”

Hence, the Equestrian Pen Pal program I’ve started. No joke. Of course I had the idea kicking around before then, but good old fashioned spite and resentment was what truly motivated me to get the thing set up.

Anyway, last week I received the C4 belt and a lovely Christmas card in the mail from Nadia. Uh oh. I frantically emailed The Printable Pony. Was someone expecting a gift from me? Then checked my Spam folder…yep. There was my Secret Santa assignment, and I was just seeing it the week before Christmas.

So I baked some last minute Toll House cookies for the East Coast Equestrian and some oat, carrot and applesauce cookies for her horse Donner and mailed them Priority the next day. Hopefully they enjoy my frugal gift!

And maybe I should learn a lesson about being less quick to jump to the worst possible scenario and take vengeful action…but it ended all good in the end, so why bother?

Thanks also to The Printable Pony for organizing the blogger gift exchange. It is no small feat.

Merry Christmas, bah humbug, etc.

5th Annual Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange Participants

3dayadventureswithhorses Fraidy Cat Eventing Stampy and the Brain
A Enter Spooking Go Big or Go Home The $900 Facebook Pony
A Soft Spot for Stars Grain Before Groceries The East Coast Equestrian
All In Gray Flannel Horses The Equestrian Stop
Amateur At Large Hand Gallop The Frugal Foxhunter
An Optimist, A Pony, and a Pug Hellomylivia The Horse is Not Black
Because Pony House on a Hill The Midwestern Eventer
Bel Joeor Marescara The Printable Pony
Breeches and Boat Shoes May as Well Event The Roaming Rider
Clover Ledge Farm Me Jump Pretty The Thrifty Equestrian
Cob Jockey One Bud Wiser Thoroughbred Adventures
Ctrl+hAlt+Del OTTBs and Oxers Three Chestnuts
DIY Horse Ownership Paperchases & Petticoats Two and a Half Horses
Draft Mare Pony Reboot Two Points, Tacos, & Tiaras
Equestrian at Hart Poor Woman Showing Viva Carlos
EquiNovice Quantum Chrome/The Scientist Mom Wilbur, Ellie, and Emily
Equinpilot Rocking E Cowgirl Zen Baby Horse
Eventing Saddlebred Style Saddle Seeks Horse
Feeding My Heart to the Hawk SprinklerBandits