2016 show info coming soon!

April 17 by Letha

We’ll get the 2016 Pacific Northwest dressage event info up soon, folks. Sorry to keep you waiting!

Clinic Season Is Underway – See Our Calendar

November 15 by Letha
santa fe clinic

Photo courtesy of santafe.com.

It’s education time! Here in the Northwest, winter winds carry with them some wonderful learning opportunities. Clinics are a great chance to not only work on your own riding but to learn from watching others.

Take your focus off of competition for a while. Strengthen your foundation. Remind yourself of the core principles that create harmony between you and your horse.

See our calendar for clinic opportunities in your area. You and your equine will be glad you did!

Travers Down Memory Lane: Steffen Peters & Ravel, 2009

November 13 by Letha

This unforgettable pair always makes my heart dance. Here are Steffen Peters and Ravel doing their Grand Prix Kur at Aachen in 2009. The 80s music adds some fun nostalgia!

2015 Dressage Test Movements

November 11 by Helen Dunn

Bonjour, Dressage Fans! ¬†Here’s a link¬†to the 2015 Dressage Test Movements at USEF.org:

2015 USEF Tests

Photo credited to lake effects.net.

Photo credited to lake effects.net.

USEF Rule Changes Affecting Dressage

November 11 by Helen Dunn

The USEF has released 2015 rule changes. They’ve altered the guidelines for:
– observation classes (many changes, including ponies, mules, equipment)
– attire (allowing integrated stand-up collars)
– spur length
– bridle and bit requirements
– dressage sporthorse breeding class details

Here’s a link to a detailed list:


2014 Shows and Clinics!

January 12 by Letha

2014 is here and we’re just getting started adding show and clinic information. Many Pacific Northwest dressage organizations have set their show dates for the 2014 season. We’re adding those as quickly as we can. Meanwhile, the clinic schedule for the winter is steadily filling. This is going to be a wonderful year for dressage.

Handy Tips and Resources for Winter Clipping

December 9 by Letha

Keeping horses fit in cold weather can be challenging and time-consuming thanks to dense winter coats. It can take hours for a sweaty horse to dry if her hair is very thick. Clipping is a great option for horses who work through the winter. They don’t get overheated during exercise, cool off faster after a workout, and avoid the chills and misery of a wet coat in frosty temperatures.

Here are some great articles and references for choosing a clip pattern:

Superb body clippers earn their expertise through years of experience. But here are a few tips that can help every groom succeed:

  • Bathe your horse before clipping her. A dirty horse results in a shabby clip job and overheated or damaged clippers.
  • Lay a cooler or blanket over the part of your horse you’re not currently working on.
  • Use chalk to sketch the lines of the planned clip on your horse’s body. If you make a mistake, it’s better to do so with chalk than with clippers!
  • Stop the clippers and place your hand on the blades every one or two minutes to check the temperature. Don’t burn your horse with hot blades!
  • Apply oil to your blades every 5 minutes. Dry blades overheat, can pull hairs, and can seize up.
  • Take a break every 15 or 20 minutes. Let your clippers cool. Walk your horse in the fresh air or put her in her stall. She might be growing a bit tense. She might need to pee. Come to think of it… You might be growing a bit tense. You might need to pee.
  • Take your time. Move the clippers slowly against the hairs. Then cover the same area at a slightly different angle to reduce lines.
  • There’s nothing wrong with clipping in phases. Some horses get antsy in a long clipping session. Try to keep the experience positive for her. A full clip might take 3-4 sessions.

In this video, Wayne Garrick demonstrates excellent clipping skills on the lovely Travis:

Wayne illustrates a critical element of successful clipping: a sense of humor. Relax and have fun with the process. Remember: bad clipping jobs don’t last too long, so don’t sweat it!

What makes a dressage rider?

May 2 by Letha
Me, very clearly not riding dressage!

Letha very clearly not riding dressage!

I never call myself a dressage rider. I call myself a rider, certainly. I say that these days I ride trails and dressage with a little jumping and foxhunting when I’m feeling up to it. Or I say I’m an all-around equestrian or multi-disciplinary… or multi-UNdisciplinary! In my 40 years of riding, I’ve done plenty of h/j showing, eventing, breed shows, trail competitions, and of course dressage competitions. And I am not nearly as serious about dressage as a great many of my friends. I haven’t shown in a few years. I registered for some 2012 shows but cancer botched those plans.

Why am I writing about this? Because recently someone mockingly told me I’m not a dressage rider because she hasn’t seen me show since she met me a year or so ago. She shows regularly and with enthusiasm. For this gal, dressage is about the competition, about the test scores. For her dressage is first and foremost a competitive sport, your goal to be better than other horse-rider pairs.

Her comment hurt my feelings, I must admit. My horse and I work hard at rhythm, suppleness, connection, impulsion… I have a trainer to help me improve. I take lessons. I go to clinics. I read to continue my never-ending education. It’s true that I have not shown in quite a few years. I’m not a very competitive person and don’t love the show environment. Does that mean I don’t ride dressage?

Perhaps competition is the only true way to ensure that one’s training is producing the right results? Without competing, how do I push myself? How do I know I’m headed in the right direction? Is the advice of one trainer and a few clinicians enough or are multiple judges necessary for correct learning and advancement?

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Am I foolish for thinking that I can say I ride dressage when I don’t have any recent test scores to show for it? Set me straight!

That first time back in the saddle

October 27 by Letha

Everybody knows that a major illness sucks, but only equestrians know the true reason why: it keeps us off our horses! For many of us, horseback riding makes us sane. Nothing compares to the joy of harmony with a horse. Experiencing that harmony reminds us that there is beauty in the world, that the little stuff doesn’t matter, and that we are capable of sustaining at least one loving and healthy relationship!

We’ve all had injuries, perhaps, that have kept us for riding for a week or a few weeks. But this year cancer knocked me out of the saddle for many months. Between abdominal surgery and general weakness from treatment, I was unable to ride for more than half a year.

I can assure you I saw nothing positive in this whatsoever… until I did return to the saddle after all that time. The elation of climbing onto my horse’s back and settling into that oh-so-comfortable position was overwhelming. Never has belonging felt so pleasurable, comforting, and also thrilling. This wasn’t the ho-hum ease of familiarity; it was a glorious homecoming. Tears of gratitude trickled down my cheeks as I walked my horse around the arena, feeling the warmth rise from his body, moving with him. I was where I belonged but somehow also in a new place, loving it with the freshness of when I first rode as a toddler.

I am still working to get my strength back. Last week I took my first post-cancer trail ride and did my first bit of trotting. Each milestone is a new joy, but none so glorious as that initial return to my happiest of places. But I have made a new promise to myself: I will never again take a ride on my horse for granted.

It occurs to me that there are many equestrians out there who have had to take off significant periods of time from riding due to illness or other factors. Did you have a similar experience upon your return? I’d love to hear about it.

Colbert declares dressage the sport of the summer!

June 13 by Letha
The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mitt Romney’s Blue-Collar Equestrian Pastime
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