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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2002
    Southern California

    Default Hey gals! Looks like I'm moving into your neighborhood! (EEEEeeeeek!)

    I posted over in Off Course about my recent back surgery (9 days ago now!). This is my second microdiscectomy in 16mos, and if the disc re-herniates again I'll need a fusion..."real" back surgery, eek! The pain this last time around su-UCKed to say the least, but the procedure provided immediate nerve pain relief. I'm still all kinds of honked up, but this is easy in comparison.

    Once I am back in the saddle--probably 3 months or so, depending--I'm planning on dabbling in dressage. There's a dressage schooling show series that goes through my facility every year, and it's strong motivation to get in there and do something that has long interested--and long intimidated--me. Plus, I can do the entry level classes and thus not risk my back to the rough canter transition my mare has on the downward. I do love going to shows, and this way I can walk-trot and not seem as out of place, heh.

    I gotta say, dressage intimidates me. That's really hard to do--I'm usually unfettered and unruffled by all kinds of uncomfortable situations (I teach middle school! And love it!). But when a perfectionist is subjected to intense scrutiny (which is what it seems like to me)....yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! There are all kinds of schooling shows that come through our facility, but the dressage ones make me feel like the little girl who would hide and watch the pretty horses from behind the bleachers.

    I have a 19 (soon to be 20) year old Arabian mare kept in a 100% self-care backyard facility. She cost us a paltry $1500 when we bought her 5 years ago, and has an ollllllld (predating our ownership, and possibly the owner before us) shoulder injury that makes her stiff and resistent in bending to the right, and resulted in a compensationsatory injury of a torn tendon sheath on the same leg three years ago. Additionally, as she has aged, her hocks have stiffened. Regular vet care and chiro visits, supplements, and exercise have helped minimize those problems, but never eliminated them. With all of this time off, she's going to be out of shape herself so there will be work to do once I can get back in the saddle.

    Then there's me. Obviously, my body is a mess. Years of back pain have created some odd compensation issues; I ride crookedly, shifting my weight to my right seat bone and collapsing the left side to protect the injured area. Like my mare, training and exercises helped minimize, but never eliminate, this problem. My eq was screwed up after the first surgery (balance issues, strength issues, etc.) but now it's going to be a disaster.

    But see, that is precisely why I want to do dressage. It will help me more physically than I think anything else, and its focus on knowing your body and strengthening your core are very much in keeping with proper back care. (FTR, my surgeon knows I have horses--and he has horses himself! So I will await his OK.)

    Now, I love showing, but it seems at the open shows I can get by with far less prep. My mare is bright white, clipped (well, face and legs), and show-sheened for every show; my tack is clean, my clothes fresh from the dry cleaners, and I am as dolled up as I can be. But I still feel like we would look like Backyardigans at a dressage, EVERYone has their horses perfectly banded and braided. Tack isn't just clean, it's Fancy. Riders are so precisely turned out, it's stunning. (Dude, white gloves? White breeches? Seriously?? Eeeeeek!) I've been told I could ride in my HDR CC saddle and my hunt clothes (including the oh-so-not-*IN* velvet bubble-head helmet) for the lower levels, but I don't want to look waaaaay out of place.

    Everyone at these shows has always been very kind to me, so the whole DQ thing hasn't presented itself. That isn't an issue.

    I'm just a little excited, and a little scared, to be coming over to...the dark side!

    BTW, I recently put a video clip of my mare playing in turnout up on YouTube. My hubby recorded the horses for me when the pain reached the point I could no longer get to the barn--I missed them so, and this was such a great mood lifter. Anyway, I've frequently been told my mare might be best suited for dressage (we had been doing huntseat on the flat up to this point); when I've done SHIH, I said she was a dressage, not hunter, prospect. Here she is (with my furball mini Firefly):

    So, ladies, there's a new hillbilly (not redneck, thankyouverymuch--I was born in West Virginny, so I am hick-bred and proud!) in the neighborhood. Don't put your house up for sale just yet!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 24, 2000
    San Diego, Ca. USA


    Oh, you guys will do FINE! Watched the vid, love your hubby's commentary.
    Your mare is lovely, and the mini is a crackup! Too cute!
    I"ve been showing dressage since 1989, started off on my instructor's schoolie and inadvertently got BLACK electrical tape to put around his braids, instead of white. No one pointed or laughed at me, so that was good.
    One of the nice things about showing dressage is that it's not a fashion show. You're judged on how you and your horse perform, not on the right color jacket or breeches. I've done hours and hours of scribing and never once heard a judge comment on what a rider was wearing or what kind of saddle they were using. If your tack is clean and you're both neatly turned out, it really doesn't matter if it's a hunt seat saddle or dressage saddle.
    As you get into this dressage stuff and start moving up the levels then you do need to start specializing a bit regarding tack as the right discipline specific equipment will help you progress, but for intro even up into first level you're fine with what you have been using.
    I think you guys are going to do fine, go ahead and jump in! Glad to hear your back is feeling better.
    \"Proud Member of the I LOFF Starman Babies Clique\"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2006
    Seattle area


    LOVE the video and your hubby's commentary! LOL!

    Welcome to dressage. Glad to have you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 13, 2002


    Got the makings of a great pas de deux there!
    Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2000


    No one cares what tack you have - only people who don't get what dressage is try to make it into a beauty contest.

    The only thing that matters is that you show up! Go for it! Don't be intimidated! MOST people in dressage are just like you - enthusiastic and intrigued with dressage, doing it with their favorite horse they love. That's all that really matters.

    Your horse does sound like she may have health issues that could make alot of riding difficult or uncomfortable for her. You may also be interested in finding a horse that eases your back as much as possible. A so called 'leg mover' that doesn't swing her back and shoulder and hips as she moves, and that has a very smooth soft gait with alot of natural flexibility may make your riding so comfortable that you can do a great deal more than you think. top dressage riders love a 'back mover' that really gets his whole body into motion, but they can be very challenging for a person with back problems.

    However, I have very bad discs (one doctor thought I had extensive bone cancer when he saw my xrays, LOL) and what helped me is getting a very supple, springy flexible horse with a fairly short back that doesn't 'roll' me around in the saddle like a longer backed horse. Some Arabians ARE like this, and some are more jarring as they don't have as flexible hind quarters. Some arabians have a longer, lower (hollow) back and high hind quarter, making it hard for them to be flexible there.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 3, 2004


    "So, ladies, there's a new hillbilly (not redneck, thankyouverymuch--I was born in West Virginny, so I am hick-bred and proud!) in the neighborhood. Don't put your house up for sale just yet!"

    Well, come on over and stay for dinner.

    Your horse is lovely! Sounds like you'll have a ball!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2002
    Southern California


    Thanks for the welcome, ladies! Rusty Stirrup, you sent me to Google and Wikipedia with your comment. I'm thinking, "Ooh, she sees potential in my mare for some sort of dressage movement!" Then I look it up...and !

    slc2, getting another horse isn't at all an option at the moment. It's both financially and physically (meaning time and physical care involved--again, the horses are at 100% selfd-care board) unfeasible. My mare has my heart; ours is a forever home for her. She has many years of riding left in her, and she's not ready to retire just yet. We (as in, she and I--there are no trainers at our facility) had been working on her canter transitions, which have been the roughest. I got her to where she rocks back on her butt nicely for the upward, but the downward still breaks into a rough, racey trot (she does it in the video, around 1:53) that pounds my spine in the saddle like a jackhammer. I don't have a trainer or even a friend to ride her to help smooth that out for me while I recuperate, so I figure that for a while she and I can just be w/t buddies. She has a really nice, comfortable walk, and her collected trot is super sittable. My back has struggled the most with the posting trot; seems the muscles involved to rise out of the saddle connect a little too closely to the heart of my problem...yeeeeooouuuch!

    A second horse is certainly in my future, but I'm hoping it'll be 3-5 years and not 3-5 months. So, in the meantime, my mare and I will work on dressage to get us both more fit and more comfortable, and we will still be able to show.

    I think the first schooling show is in March or so, which will be too soon for me. I'm guessing I'll just be getting back in the saddle then! But I can ask around. I gotta say, the cost is HUGE compared to the open shows. I remember looking at a premium and calculating it would cost about $125 for me to do one ride, what with USEF fees, club fees, and whatever else fees on top of the $30 class--at a schooling show! The few class-A shows we've done have cost us about the same, and that was for five classes...and qualified us for regionals. (brag brag brag)

    But this is a very different ballgame. I'll keep you updated!

  8. #8


    I love your hubbie's comments. Reminds me of my own DH out with the horses. LOL. Very sweet of him. Good luck with the surgery and recovery and have fun with your mare. There is something to be said for just enjoying the day with an equine friend. Everything else will seem minor compared to that partnership (and there will probably be at least one person jealous of how much FUN you're having at a show.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 17, 2004

    Smile Hope that you have a speedy recovery.....

    Your mare is lovely and looks perfectly capable of into level. I just wanted to suggest that you consider looking for a Centered Riding instructor, or a Feldenkreist practitioner.
    They may be able to help you with the challenges that you are facing, maybe better than a typical dressage person.

    I feel I owe my riding longevity, body comfort, and fluidity to these people.
    Also, I'm a big fan of Ttouch (Linda Tellington Jones/ Tteam/ Ttouch) for horses. I bet your mare would love it, and you may find the body work helps bring comfort to her stiff shoulder. It's also a great way to connect with her as you're on the mend and can't ride for a while.

    Sounds like you're very eager to show, but IMHO, lessons with the right person would be the absolute best way to begin. AND perhaps be more beneficial to your continued healing.

    Good luck and best wishes from Kansas.
    What's the scoop?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2002
    Dungeon of the Ivory Tower


    I started after trying to get more supple after blowing L5/S1.

    Believe me, if I can do it - you can do it!!! I was totally and utterly clueless when I started.

    Good luck - and let us know how it goes!
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2003


    If that is the Ridge-Riders arena at Covina they do some nice hunter schooling shows there. I know they have lots of flat and even walk-trot classes. I don't know if they have any dressage classes though.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 5, 2000


    Pas de Deux?????
    More like Pas De Une et Moite. (one and a half)
    I loved your hubby's vid. Have fun with dress-age!
    Last edited by OnyxThePony; Jan. 2, 2008 at 12:14 PM. Reason: sp

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2006


    You will love dressage! I have had two spinal blow outs, one at L4-L5 and one at C4-C5. I have had two surgeries and now have a great deal of hardware in both locations. I am stiff and creaky, but have gained so much from my dressage lessons. I am finding myself riding much stronger now, which makes me safer as well.
    I have always wanted to "learn how to ride pretty", but only started lessons last month. So far I have had 4, but I hope to increase to two a week when the weather warms up a little in March. Until then I'll have just one a week. Two weeks ago it was snowing like crazy during my lesson, but I didn't care as long as the arena footing was decent. I have an 11 year old Arab gelding who was an endurance horse before coming to me three years ago. He was never finished in any particular way, so this whole experience has been one of learning for both of us.
    I love how everything counts with dressage. The tiniest detail is hugely important. In four short weeks I have discovered that I really can ride with my stirrups that long!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005


    Welcome to the party. And, yes, you are allowed to ask for translation of some of our vocabulary.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2003

    Default hilbilly

    So, ladies, there's a new hillbilly (not redneck, thankyouverymuch--I was born in West Virginny, so I am hick-bred and proud!) in the neighborhood. Don't put your house up for sale just yet
    Enjoyed the video. You SO was hysterical. Don't you worry about being a hillbilly. I'm one born and bred as well! My much older 2nd cousin used to say that anyone who called him or her selves a mountainier was just ashamed to be called a hillbilly and we should call ourselves what we are and be proud of it. So, welcome to the darkside fellow hillbilly.
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2002
    Southern California


    Wow, ladies, thank you all so much for your kind replies and welcomes! I've been busy and thought this thread was done after about 8 replies, so I stopped checking...but I come back and wow! Very cool, very pleasant surprise.

    "Holly Jeanne"--hee hee, that sounds like hillbilly naming! Heh, my name at birth was Laura Rae. Yeeeeee-hawwww! My grandfather never called us "hillbilly"--he said that was an outsider's term. We are hillfolk, according to him.

    I just had my 2-week post-op this morning and have been cleared to begin physical therapy. My first appointment is Monday morning, and I can't wait! I'm still sore, and the nerve is still healing, but I feel tons better. I got to spend a little time at the barn yesterday, and managed to do some minor grooming on my Arab (hubby picked her feet for me, though, don't worry!). I think she used to be white, but I could be wrong. She might be one of those horses that turn yellow with a brown mane and tail as they age. With a huge rainstorm coming this weekend, there was little point to do much more than brush out the worst of the dirt and put her rain coat on. Ooh, I even lunged her a touch just to check soundness. She's still sound as a dollar, but a little rusty on obedience. I didn't do much because even though I basically just stand and pivot, I don't want to risk ANYthing.

    Neurosurgeon had no concern about me eventually getting back in the saddle--said what is most important to my health is that I get on with my life and forget about them! But still, I'm being reeeeeally careful. I have the next 4 weeks off work, and they said if I'm still not confident in 3 weeks, they'll give me 2 more weeks off. I hope to be back by then, but I'm spooked! No pushing it!

    There's a...erm...what do you call the highest level?...well, Olympic-level dressage rider named Flora Jean (anyone know of her, or know her personally?) who has made the occasional drive out to my arena (it's a city-owned public equestrian park, not a "barn" per se) to give lessons to one or two of the people who keep horses on the property surrounding the park. I might try and schedule a lesson or two with her later on when I'm comfortable getting back in the saddle.

    Yes, lewin, it's Ridge Riders in West Covina. We have a lot of nice open shows of all kinds that come through, though RR itself just has the spring and Christmas show. I really, really was looking forward to riding in the Christmas show this year, but it's just not meant to be. It was rained out and the new date is in 4 weeks; if I'm strong enough, I just might doll up my nearly 20yro mare with the dropping topline and old swollen tendon injury and throw the two of us in a halter class--just for the heck of it! It is all about fun, after all!

    The dressage shows that come to RR are through a dressage club in Pomona, I think. They've come to us for their show series for the last 2 years.

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