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I am waiting to go to dinner with everyone from the "L" Program and trying to process the day. I think I am still processing and might not actually be able to post too much information for a few days... When they tell you that a judge needs stamina and focus, they certainly were not joking.
Picture this: Sandy Howard lecturing from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with a 1 hour lunch and 2 brief breaks. With nothing more than our "L" binders, a powerpoint and a couple dozen video clips (about 5 seconds each) to show examples.
She managed to keep everyone's attention, answer every question happily and maintain her energy for the ENTIRE time. I used to think a 3 hour, University lecture was impressive... this takes it to a whole new level.
Granted, we got a little punchy when she climbed on the table to show us what happens when a horse's weight is moved back, more onto his hind end. But, everyone managed to maintain their focus for the marathon lecture.
In my book, at least, Sandy Howard has proven she has the stamina and focus required of a successful judge! I hope that getting through hours of judging material today also starts to prove that we (the participants) are starting to build those qualities too.
I arrived in Park City around 8 p.m. tonight, ready to start my A session of the "L" Program (in case you haven't heard me talking about it the last 30 times). Wouldn't you know that I ran into one of the greatest horsemen in the world already. Not at the USDF Program, but... at the sushi bar next to my hotel.
His name is Suki and he is the sushi chef at a little place called The Last Samurai. Suki is Mongolian and when I told him I trained horses, mentioned that he used to ride horses. After spending 5 minutes trying to convince me that I must be a superior rider, because I jump things, I found out that Suki competed in his first horse race at the age of 6. I put two and two together and realized that Suki is one of those famous boy jockeys that you hear about on NPR, National Geographic and pretty much anything else talking about Mongolia.
So tomorrow, when I recover from eating way too much sushi and sit down for my first day of the "L" Program I will remember two things:
1. I can only work hard and hope to be half the horseman that Suki and his fellow riders are in Mongolia.
2. Even though I think it is one of the best sports in the world, it is still just a sport. Just when you think you are Ms. Serious Horsewoman, you will run into a Mongolian horse racer in a sushi bar in Utah. Not only will he be able to ride circles around you, but he will also be able to make better sushi than you.
I managed to find just enough clothing in my closet to put together to appropriate outfits for the "L" program. It made me realize that it has been a really long time since I wore trousers (think: Capitol Hill when Obama was in his first months as Senator!).
Everything is packed, the travel plans are set and I am ready to learn a LOT this weekend... and take some great photos. Stay tuned for my blog posts and photos throughout the weekend. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything in particular you would like to see.
ALSO: Stay tuned next Tuesday for some VERY exciting news about the blog.
Utah here I come!
New students seem to be coming out of the woodwork and there has been a jump in my blog readership, so I have been trying to keep in touch... but I also have this massive pile of reading that I need to get through before Saturday morning. I opted for the "L" Program's flash drive and went to printing it out on our home computer. It took a looong time to print and made me even more nervous about reading it all. Once upon a time, I was an English major with the standard ability to read/write at record speeds. Now, as a horse trainer, it has been a while since I have encountered educational materials - almost 4 years, if you count my graduate school days :/ Anyhow. Wish my luck! I wish I could write more, but I have to go do my homework.
Jennifer Foulon, her horse Ferrero bedecked in ribbons, and coach Hilary Moore at Lendon Gray's Youth Dressage Festival. The Youth Festival is a flagship event for Dressage4Kids.
PVDA’s Jennifer Foulon at Lendon Gray Youth Festival in Saugerties, NY
By Hilary Moore
You simply cannot understand the experience of going to Lendon Gray’s Youth Dressage Festival without actually being there. Mix two parts riding camp with one part horse show, add a touch of the World Cup and a sprinkle of boot camp, and you can begin to imagine what it was like to be at Saugerties, August 7-9, 2009.
Dressage4Kids is not just a dressage show for Young Riders. It scores each junior/young rider’s ability in a dressage test, as well as an equitation class and a written exam. Individual prizes are given for each portion/overall score, and teams are also placed for highest overall average. Riders are encouraged to present themselves for a scored turnout inspection before their first ride and all competitors above Second Level must participate in a mock vet jog.
This year, the PVDA’s own Jennifer Foulon attended and we are very proud to announce that she placed in every aspect of her competition! This was Jennifer’s first trip to Saugerties and she came home with SEVEN ribbons. She earned fourth overall in the Training Level and seventh in the First Level divisions for ages 15-17, scoring a 92% in written, placing 5th after a tie for 1st (94%) and a tie for 3rd (93%); 95% in equitation and placing 3rd; and for the dressage tests, a 64.722% in First 2 and 64.8% in Training 4 placing 6th.
Awards also were given to recognize horsemanship and Jennifer missed placing for best turnout of the entire show (225+ competitors) by 1 point!
To prepare for this unique horse show Jennifer had to read specific books on horse teeth and horsemanship, as well as prepare her equitation and dressage tests. This included a book club (that we organized with the Sugarloaf Chapter); equitation work without stirrups and on the lunge; and
running through the dressage tests at home and at shows. After long hours of studying, an equitation win at the Region 1 Youth Team Championship and a whopping 76.8% in their Training Level test at the Spring PVDA show, Jennifer and her horse Ferrero were ready.
In addition to the hours of testing, there was lots of fun to be had. We browsed the tack sale and vendors, watched the Prix Caprilli classes and Friday evening went to dinner with members of the WPDA team and their coaches (Krista Tycho Noone and Amy Hoffield). Saturday evening brought a Grand Prix freestyle and demonstration by 2009 Brentina Cup
rider, Jocelyn Weise, aboard Lamborghini. She rode to music from the Wizard of Oz and performed movements with commentary by Pam Goodrich. Jennifer’s classes were guest judged by Kathy Connelly and Michael Barisone, and the show also hosted Margaret Freeman, Pam Goodrich, Liz Austin, and Lendon herself.
Between stable management, competition and the required two hours of volunteering, Jennifer had quite a busy weekend! However, I do believe that only junior/young riders truly interested in learning every aspect of this sport can succeed and this Festival encourages every competitor to be a wellrounded horsewoman from the time they arrive to the time they leave. Of any other junior/young rider event I have ever attended, The strict rules and tightly run show encouraged excellent horsemanship or sportsmanship. Not once did I see a kid sitting around while their groom mucked a stall. Quality riding, horse handling, sportsmanship and effort were generously rewarded with prizes like new dressage saddles, embroidered coats and recognition from U.S. Team riders.
Lendon Gray’s Youth Festival is a perfect environment for teaching a younger rider how to correctly succeed in this sport. A postevent quote on the Chronicle Forum sums up the feeling I left Dressage4Kids with: “If you had more people like Lendon (Gray) in every area, the Dutch and Germans would have some real competitors in the future."
The other day I was driving by the new shops on 28 and saw a horse trailer full of riding helmets parked out front. I knew The Surrey was moving in, but I nearly drove off the road in excitement! Tonight they are hosting their reopening party and I have already been in 2 times, but I am definitely attending. I would like to imagine that I supporting the local economy when I buy any/everything at their store, but it is mostly because I have this nasty shopping thing. Ask anyone who has run into me at a tack shop and they will tell you that they left with at least $200 worth of stuff they never knew they needed. Maybe that is the real reason I w