Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Really, thanks

I wasn't implying that you guys aren't supporting me, because I know you are. I really do.

This is just hard for me because I'm not the kind of person to say "Hey! Look at ME! Look at what I'm doing over here! Woo! I'm great!" Self promotion is not something that comes easily to me, and I blush something fierce when I get compliments.

That doesn't mean that I don't believe in myself, because I do. I know I could do this blog-o-spondant thing and do a great job with it. I'm busting my ass trying to make the contest blog a good one. I want it to be entertaining and informative. I also want to learn something along the way, and I think I'm accomplishing all of these things.

But right now that is not good enough. I need to get more connected or I'm not going to stay in the running. And run is what I'll do, right up to the end.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Okay guys, I really need your support right about now!

I fell from second place to third today, and third place will not get me to the WEG. I'll notifying all the networks that I can think of asking them to post some help for votes for me. Arabian Horse Association, Equestrian Collections, Northern Ohio Dressage Association, all my FaceBook friends, the SCA, all these people are on board but it hasn't been enough.

It's getting serious now. I need votes, and you guys can help. Plaster this link everywhere -


Thanks everyone. It will really be something special if I can go. But third place won't get me anything. So help if you can!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm still here...

...but really, I'm there ->


And I still need your votes.

And I'm really tired and sore. Tuesday I did the jumping phase of Sheri's Great 8, and tonight (two days later) the vaulting phase. Let me just tell you that my stairs and I are not friends. Who would have thought that jumping would make my calves hurt?!

All that aside, I'm having an absolute BLAST doing all these riding disciplines.

Now I need a shower and some sleep. *yawn!*

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tweet it

Okay dear readers, I need your help.

I have a blog. I have a Facebook account. I don't have a Twitter account. Someone else already has twitter.com/dressagemom, and has had it for awhile. I never made an account, so I'm not connected to the twitter community.

Here is where you come in. Can you Dressage Mom fans tweet this link and ask folks to vote for me? - http://blogs.livefromlexington.com/?page_id=43. Hopefully I'll get some re-tweets, and then some votes.

I've gotten a few emails from you readers out there showing your support for me. I'm really touched and blown away by some of the things you guys have said. So thank you for believing in me, reading my stuff, and voting for me.

If you want to say something to me but don't want to leave it in comments here, feel free to email me - dressagemomblog{at}yahoo{dot}com.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Two down, five to go

Well it's been an interesting week.

Thursday I went and got some reining instruction. You can see my blog post all about that here -


Then on Friday I had a meeting with an eventing professional. Yes, I jumped. And it was fun. That post is coming. I've got video to edit and a writeup to do.

However, my butt hurts! Seriously. Two days in two different, unfamiliar saddles and my tush is really sore. Not just on my seat bones, but all along the back too. Sitting down and climbing stairs are not my favorite activities right now.

But I have to admit, I'm having a super time with this whole thing. Next week I'm doing jumping and vaulting. I'm excited and a little scared too.

Kind of like going through this Live From Lexington contest.

Don't forget to vote for me, readers of Dressage Mom. Every vote is going to count, and for every five votes Purina is donating a dollar for NARHA to provide Equine Assisted Activity and Therapy programs in the U.S. and Canada. It's just a click, they don't want your email or any other personal information.

Vote here, every day -



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Viva la Groundhog, Part 2

Part two of the giant rat (well, giant hoels too) story is up on


Click it and enjoy. And vote too, please.

Also, I have a really fantastic series planned for that blog over there. It's going to be awesome. I'm excited, but also a bit scared. This is really going to stretch my boundaries as a rider and a blogger. There will be photos. There will be video. More details later, hopefully by Saturday.

So stay tuned. You won't want to miss it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Viva la Groundhog

I have a new blog post up on the Purina page. Go there to read it. You can click on "View Sheri Israel's Blog Posts" or scroll down to see them. They can also be found at the bottom of the right sidebar. Oh, and while you're there you can vote for me!


Part 1 of 2!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Live From Lexington Voting Starts Today!

Okay, so here is my blog site on the Purina Live From Lexington page -


You should be able to see my most current blog posts on the right side of the page. I should have one up there right now. It's a little blurb about me, as a sort of introduction. Click over to the page to read it, and while you're there VOTE FOR ME!

Vote every day! I'll keep reminding you, don't worry.

Thanks. Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Changes of different kinds

Changes of the Horse Kind -

Little Albert and I have been working on flying lead changes. It it hard for both of us, because I've never tried to teach a horse to do these before. My trainer taught my horse to do them over six weeks when I had hurt my back and couldn't ride, so I never had the experience. Let me tell you it's mush easier if the horse already knows how to do them!

The problem is he knows how to do them. He's just anxious about them , and would rather panic and avoid the whole situation. At first he would just throw his head in the air and run when he knew the change was coming, but now he's invented other ways of not doing the change. He will just continue to counter-canter and not offer the change. He'll throw in a quick scrambly trot step and then pick up the new lead. Or he'll just simply stop and throw his head in the air and try to back up.

I'm trying to do the exercises that my trainer showed me in our last lesson, but I don't know if I'm doing them properly, or at the correct times for his actions. She has me establish the canter with a slow, even tempo and take him across the diagonal. Before X I change the bend and ask for the change. What I do next depends on how he answers the "Please change your lead" question.

1) If he changes the lead, I praise him like crazy and let him continue across the diagonal and then around a 20 meter circle. Then we can go across the next diagonal and ask for the change the other way. This does not happen very much. :(

2) If he tries to change the lead, but fumbles a little and is late behind, or in front, or scrambles, then I continue across the diagonal to the short side, where I walk and change directions by turning him into the rail. Then we head across the diagonal again where I ask for the same lead change that I asked for but didn't get.

3) If he does nothing and makes no effort to change, then I stop him on the short side, tap firmly with the whip to tell him "Hey, I'm up here, you must respond with something when I ask." Then turn around into the rail and repeat the same diagonal change.

4) If he stops and throws his head up in a tantrum I get him going forward and turn right around on the diagonal and ask again.

All this is frustrating for both of us. I keep telling him he's a good boy, that he'll figure it out. I also keep telling myself to be patient, not to push too hard, and to make a huge deal about him when he's good. He's just resisting out of anxiety, and I think that if we keep working steadily on it he will see that it's not the end of the world. It's just a flying change, and he can do it.

Changes of the Blog Kind -

I don't have all the details, but I think that I will be blogging from the Purina site starting on Monday. At that point the voting starts for the Live From Lexington contest, and you can vote for me daily until July 12. I don't have a link yet to the Purina blog site, but when I do I'll make sure to post it here.

So I probably will just blog over there during the voting period. I'll post full details when I get them. This afternoon I'm supposed to have a conference call with the folks from the contest (and the other semi-finalists - awkward!) and I'm sure I'll get more information then.

I'll keep you all posted. It's going to be a crazy busy month! If any of you have ideas of things you'd like to see me write about in the next month, pertaining to the World Equestrian Games or not, feel free to email me - dressagemomblog{at}yahoo{dot}com. I'll try to use your ideas.

Unless you ask to see video of me riding my horse in the Princess Leia slave costume. I can't do that. I don't have a costume.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I'm a Semi-Finalist!

Purina picked me as a semi-finalist for their Live From Lexington World Equestrian Games contest! I'm so excited, I don't even know where to begin.

Well, actually I need to begin by asking for all of your help. On June 14, next Monday, I will start blogging from the Live From Lexington site along with the other three semi-finalists. Visitors to the page will be able to vote on the blogger who they think should be one of two Purina blog-o-spondents at the World Equestrian Games.

So I'll need you all to visit the page, and vote for me. Visitors can vote once a day, and the voting will go until July 12. I know it's almost a full month of voting, but I can't do it without your votes! Come on, you know you're on the internet every day, even if you're at a horse show.

I'll post more information as I get it, and I lot should be happening between now and the start of voting. I have two phone dates set up with the folks at Purina already. Since it's a big contest there is a lot of legal stuff that needs to happen, even at this stage.

On last thing...I don't usually get all mushy around here, but I want to give a big thank you to all of the readers of this blog. Without you it's just words on a page. You guys make it mean something.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

No news is...

..bad news? Or not news at all?

I'm not really sure, actually.

I haven't heard about the semi-finalists for the Purina Live From Lexington contest. The website says they will announce the four semi-finalists on Monday, June 7. Well, it's Tuesday, June 8 and I haven't heard anything. The website says they are picking the semi-finalists, and there is no other information listed.

So since I haven't heard, I can come to one of two conclusions.

#1 - They have not picked me as one of the semi-finalists, but have notified the four chosen semi-finalists already.

#2 - They had so many entries that picking the four semi-finalists is taking longer than expected.

I hope it's #2. I'd love to be chosen!

You can be sure that I will post here as soon as I know what's going on.

In other news, I had an excellent lesson on Albert this evening. I'll write more about that tomorrow.

Right now it's time for bed. I hope I can sleep. It's hard not knowing what going on with the contest. I really would love to have the chance to win this thing!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Two days until results!

The Live From Lexington Contest, sponsored by Purina, will be announcing their four semi-finalists on June 7th. I think there are 223 entries, including mine.

If I'm lucky enough to be chosen as one of the finalists, then the voting begins! The semi-finalists will blog from livefromlexington.com and visitors will be able to vote (once per 24 hour period) for their favorite semi-finalist between June 14 and July 12. That's a lot of time to vote! Then the two semi-finalists with the most votes will get a trip to the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, to blog live from the event.

I'll post here with the names of the semi-finalists when they are announced. Hopefully, I'll be one of them.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Educating Albert

Last week I had a lesson with my trainer on Albert. He's my friend Susan's 18 year old Arabian gelding, and last year I showed him Training and First Level. My trainer has had him in training in the past, but it's always been for a few months at a time, and never anything consistent. Since I moved Kaswyn back to our old barn where Albert is, I've been riding both horses (well, when Kaswyn isn't hurt, that is). Albert has always had tons of talent and is very willing to work, but this is the first time that I've been able to work with him for a long period of time.

After the show season last year, I started trying to teach Albert flying changes. He got so nervous about it that he'd just throw his head in the air and run as fast as he could. We did exercises that my trainer gave me, but he was still giving me problems. Also at the right lead canter he was bearing down on the bit a lot, so that needed some work. My trainer suggested putting him in the double bridle, which would give me a little more control when he bolted, and would also give me a little more elevation when he went to bear down at the canter.

I was hesitant. This horse had something happen to him in his past that made him very scared when he didn't know what was expected of him, or while he was learning anything new. For example, when we were preparing for First Level and we started schooling leg yields, the moment I put my leg on him to ask him to move sideways he threw his head up, grabbed the bit, and flew sideways. I knew from his reaction that he had anxiety about what was expected of him. Most of the time this horse is a cool as a cucumber, and super submissive. But when I put him in a situation where he was unsure, he panicked.

So I didn't want to put these big bits in his mouth and possibly make him more scared of the whole situation. My trainer assured me that since I was always patient and kind to him that it would all work out okay. We set a lesson day and time, and I brought Kaswyn's double bridle to the barn.

Just holding that bridle brought back a flood of memories and emotions for me. It's the bridle that I used on Kaswyn when we won our first National Championship. It's the bridle that I used to ride him in every day while we trained and worked hard. When he wore that bridle, he was at the top of his game. Now, Kaswyn is injured and is only allowed to walk. It kind of felt like passing the torch in a way. I told myself not to be upset, and that Kaswyn will wear that bridle again if it is meant to be. Then I punched a ton of holes in the bridle to get it to fit Albert's tiny head.

We started our lesson just walking and warming up. Albert did not seem upset about the additional bit and weight in his mouth. I tried to stay off of the curb , but every time I took up on the snaffle I was automatically taking up on the curb. My trainer had a suggestion for a new way for me to hold the reins. I had always held the snaffle outside my pinky finger, and the curb between my pinky and my ring finger. She suggested moving the reins up one finger, so that the snaffle was between the pinky and ring finger and the curb was between the ring finger and the middle finger.

I was surprised how much of a difference this made. It felt a bit weird, but it allowed me better control of the curb rein so that I wasn't making it too tight. This made Albert much happier, because the few times I got the curb a little snug he tossed his head up and got anxious. It wasn't tight, but for his first time he wasn't ready for any sustained contact with the curb.

My trainer had me run through our usual workout, making suggestions and fixing things as we went along. Then we got to the part where we school piaffe. I find with Albert that he more I do something new, the less upset he is about it. I just keep reassuring him that he's a good boy, and eventually he calms down and is able to get to work. So I've been working just a little piaffe every time I ride him. I don't have mirrors, or anyone to watch me ride, so I wasn't really sure if he was getting it or not. I knew he was doing something with his legs when I put my legs back on him and did the half-halt, but I couldn't tell if it was correct or not.

My trainer said that he was getting the idea but he was coming off the bit and freezing the front end, therefore not moving his front legs at all and just kind of bracing. He was certainly moving his hind legs, and at times got the correct rhythm, so what I needed to do was make him stay round, which would keep the front end soft, and allow him to move his legs.

Well, Albert didn't like that very much. He wanted to throw his head up and brace with his neck. So my trainer had me take contact with with curb just a little bit. Albert did not like that at ALL. He starting fussing big time, tossing his head and and even running backwards a few steps. My trainer just said "It doesn't matter. Just get him going forward. Don't over-react, but make him go forward and stay soft in front."

Easier said than done! But in the end, I was able to keep him softer in the front and then all I had to do was think piaffe and he was active in both front and behind for a few steps. It still needs a lot of work, but now I know how to tackle it.

After a walk break, my trainer watched us run through trot half-passes and medium trots, which she said were pretty good but could be better. I'll work on getting more bend in the half-passes, and keeping him slow and a bit more up in the forehand for the medium trots.

Last were the flying changes. They were much better than the last time we worked on them eight months ago, because now at least he's not totally running off with me. He is still nervous, and wants to invert his neck and break contact, toss his head in the air, and rush forward after he attempts the change. My trainer had me do the same exercise that we've been schooling, which is to do a ten meter collected canter circle to one side of X, then at X change directions and ask for the flying change.

The first thing she had me visualize is to think of myself as a Barbie doll. I need to just sit there, and not react or change my seat when he takes off. I must stay in as perfect of a position as I can, and maintain it so that he gets the idea that he can fuss all he wants, but I'm not going to change. I'm going to continue to ask the same things of him, without punishment, but I will make him go forward when he resists and I will stop him with a big half halt when he runs off. No matter what though I will return to my Barbie doll position and calmly ask again.

So I became Barbie. I tried really hard to be steady and firm with my seat without being too demanding with my leg or hard with my hands. It was a struggle at times, because he was resistant and nervous, but finally he settled down and we got some clean flying changes. The best part is he wasn't freaking out, and my trainer said the changes were jumping and through, very expressive without being out of control.

I will continue to ride Albert in the double bridle from now on, unless he's on a trail ride or we have an easy hack day. I have a lesson next week, and I'm really looking forward to it. I always seem to make a lot of progress when I have a lesson.

It feels like Albert graduated from Elementary School, and is now in Middle School. He's starting his big boy education and he's 18 years old. Better late than never!

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr