Monday, January 28, 2008

Getting Back on Reo

Back in December, Grand Prix rider Glenda Needles was kind of enough to let me ride her FEI horse Reo.

Most FEI horses are not only extremely athletic, but also intelligent. If they want to they like to play around with the rider. What I mean by that is, unless you know what you are doing, the horse will basically have its way with you and start doing anything it wants (i.e. breaking from the canter, throwing flying changes at anytime, etc).

Since my skills at that time were extremely rusty (and still are), Reo, took me for a ride. Here I was on a nice horse and basically having to ride on a 20m circle over and over at the canter as if I were a beginning rider. This was humbling to say the least, but this was also the first step in me deciding to make a comeback as I knew deep down I wanted to ride again after this ride.

Well, this past Friday Glenda let me on him again. It went much better!! Although it wasn't show quality or really nothing to write home about, I was able to get him through and balanced, especially at the trot. We had a couple of really good half-passes to the right!

All in all, I'm excited to be doing this again and look forward to really getting it in the near future!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What The Hell Is Dressage Anyways?

I've had a lot of people ask what the hell I am doing since dressage is not a well know sport here in the States. Below is a brief definition:

"Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet" (cf. nl:Dressuur). Although the discipline has ancient roots, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit in the West during the Renaissance. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage."

Here a link to a Grand Prix Freestyle ridden at the 2006 World Equestrian Games (World Championships) by Anky Van Grunsven ridding Keltic Salinero:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Date Set

The date I will be moving will be Thursday, May 15th. Ironically, I think this was the day I moved to Boulder 11 years ago.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Fortunately, all of my athletes have responded positively to the news and so far all are on board for the remainder of the season. This has been a huge relief.

The response from friends has been extremely positive mixed with excitement and sadness. All are very happy that I'm going back to something I truly love and know I can pursue for the rest of my life.

My family's response has been slightly hilarious marked by my brother's tepid response believing it initially to be a practical joke. Over the years I have played some practical jokes on my family, including one having a girlfriend pregnant. Having been burned over the years Ross was skeptical to say the least. My sister was too a little cautious. Ironically, my sister will be moving back to the Seattle area, from Santa Cruz, a couple of weeks after I do.

Overall, they are excited for me to be moving back to Seattle and to be riding again.

Decision Made

After the holidays, I returned to Colorado from Seattle. Immediately, I was engulfed by a wave of emotions about riding. The passions that had driven me for so many years were now back and I wanted to ride again. I lost so much sleep thinking about the riding I probably only slept 3-5 hours a night (instead of the usually 8) for about a week.

I began contemplating what it would take for me to return to not only ride again, but to try to get back on track to be an FEI rider again. The logical option would be to return back to Seattle. The first reason being the quality of riding in the Northwest is much better than in Colorado. The second reason, and the most important, is the level of support that I would receive. I would obviously have the backing of my parents, have the guidance of my first trainer Wendy Meyers, and a network of old friends and colleagues from when I used to ride in Seattle.

This past weekend, I flew back to Seattle for a friend's funeral. By that point I was heavily leaning towards riding full-time again, and while I was in town I threw the idea out to some close friends and family. The idea received an emphatic YES!

Flying back on Sunday, my plan was to start telling my athletes of my change in direction within a week or two. This was the most agonizing part of this decision as I was leaving guys I have worked with for a couple of years and watched them develop into stellar athletes during that time. My hope was that I could continue working with them remotely (via email and phone) through at least the 2008 season. I did not want to abandon them as I feel I gave them my word to coach them for at least this season. Additionally, I wanted to help them achieve the goals we set out for this season and future season too.

Back In the Saddle

After 10 years away from the sport, I started riding casually in October of 2007. A friend's sister rode dressage and invited me out to ride her husband's school master. After two rides, I started to get that "itch" again and began riding 2-3 times per week as my schedule would allow.

When I went back to Seattle for the holidays, our friend Mary Frizzel asked me to ride her young horse Jobim. I rode everyday that I was in Seattle (8 days). The big highlight was being allowed to ride an FEI horse named Claudius. I got a lesson on him from my first trainer Wendy Meyers and that's when the juices began to flow. Even though it wasn't a flawless ride to say the least, I had moments on him where I began to find the passion that drove me for so long.

It felt "right" to be riding again and it felt right to be trying to ride at the lower levels of FEI.