Monday, October 31, 2011

Ringo's a New Man

Today was a banner day, because I gritted my teeth and clipped a horse for the first time in three years! I only did Ringo (Kiki is slated for Friday) and I was pretty nervous, but it actually went fine. It only took an hour and a half (as opposed to the three hours I was fearing) and, while there definitely are some tracks, they could be a lot worse.

(Ringo amidst the blizzard of white fluff that was his winter coat)

(Not Dually-levels of fuzziness, for sure, but still impressive!)

(Rachel holding Ringo to show off his new 'do - this picture totally does not do justice how much better his topline has gotten. But look! No more ribs! And he's starting to develop a butt! Progress)

I'm set to clip a school horse each on Tuesday and Thursday, and then Kiki on Friday. Looks like I'm going to have a lot of hairy laundry to do on Friday night...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just Like the First Day of School

The season might be over (well, for the most part, more on that in a second) but for the ponies the past week has been like going back to school again: new shoes, new jackets (well, old jackets pulled out for the first time this season), new haircuts, and plenty of homework to start chipping away on.

Because I'm flat broke, I decided to pull Kiki's shoes for the winter to save on farrier bills ($65 verse $225? Yes please). Kiki has always had good feet and was barefoot until she was 6+, and my farrier was totally on board, so I felt pretty good about the decision. So far, almost a week later, she's been FABULOUS. No foot soreness at all (though I have been careful to avoid crunchy rocks while she's adjusting) and her first ride barefoot felt MARKEDLY better than previous days. Normally she finds her balance pretty difficult and I have to constantly try to keep her from falling into her forehand and racing wildly, and while it wasn't a 100% turn around I was surprised at how much more balanced she felt shoe-free. I don't want to jinx myself early, but the shoes might not be coming back any time soon...

(Kiki looking pumped for the farrier)

Ringo's shoes looked pretty weird when I first looked at them, but I think I've come out feeling happy about them. We will see. Ringo's shoeing is always tough, and the amount of heartache I've put into his feet (versus the absolute non-event that is Kiki's shoeing) has impressed on me how important good feet will be for the next horse I end up with. I never want to deal with this again!!

(Pretty good...)

They are also both getting clipped tomorrow, which will be good though I'm dreading the process. There was a time when I was a moderately proficient clipper, but I have never liked the process, never been that good at it, and have not done it myself now for almost three years. Watch out, ponies: you might be looking like chewed up carpet samples before long.

I'm getting excited because, after a few weeks of just riding on my own, it looks like I'm going to be getting some lessons again in the very near future. I've been rebrushing up on all the homework I was left with in my last lessons on Ringo and Kiki, respectively, and can't wait to get a progress report and new instructions as we head into the winter.

But wait, did I say that my season might not be over just yet? It's true! On a whim I decided to enter one day of a show down in Watsonville this coming weekend. I'll just being one test, one day, and am hoping to use it as a low-pressure way of taking a first attempt at Third Level before the year ends. Hopefully we'll get a good sense of what we're doing okay on and what needs work before next spring!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

IDA 101

Niamh noted very astutely in my writeup from the IDA show yesterday that I've never really explained what IDA is, exactly. Whoops! Sorry about that! Here's a quick rundown of what the world of intercollegiate dressage is all about:

The Name

IDA stands for the Intercollegiate Dressage Association. It's a coed, national organization open to undergraduate and graduate students at participating colleges and universities in the United States. While significantly smaller than the other main intercollegiate riding association (IHSA, or the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, which does hunt seat equitation), IDA still boasts over 50 teams from different schools across the country.

The Levels

There are four levels of competition offered. From lowest to highest, they are: Intro (can be asked to do Intro tests A and B), Lower Training (Intro C and Training 1), Upper Training (Training 2 and 3), and First (any First level test). Riders are placed into different levels based on their previous showing experience before joining IDA. There is a set form for determining level placement that takes a wide variety of disciplines into account from eventing to pony club to jumpers to dressage. For example, I was placed into First level because I had shown Intermediate level eventing and was a B level pony clubber. Another girl on our team placed into Upper Training because she had shown Training level USDF shows. Intro is for people with no show experience at all.

The Team

A team consists of one rider from each level. A school can field two teams at any given regular season show (though at Stanford we almost never have enough people). Riders who are not on a team are allowed to compete as individuals.

How Shows Work: General Stuff and the Draw

Each geographical area of the US is split into regions. In California we are Region U, which means that Stanford competes against the other California schools with IDA teams. These are currently Cal Poly, UC Davis, and UC Santa Cruz. Each school hosts at least one show a year. The host school will provide the horses and venue (which means that when we go to Cal Poly we all ride Cal Poly's horses; when they come to us, they ride our horses, etc). What horse each rider gets is determined by a random draw system. The horses are sorted into groups of four with one horse per level (so, a group will have a 1st level, UT, LT and Intro horse) and then a team will draw one of these groups. The rider gets an opportunity to watch a parade of all the horses in the competition before she has to get on for her own ride, but it is likely that she will never have ridden the horse before (especially at an away show).

How Shows Work: Warmup and Riding

10 minutes before each rider's ride time, she is given permission to mount her horse and head into the warmup area. During this time a coach can help you and you can do whatever you want (within normal legal USDF rules) to acquaint yourself with your horse and get it as ring-ready as possible. Often I find that the first thing I assess is the general stop and go buttons, then try to figure how tired the horse is (sometimes a horse goes two or three times so by the time you get on it it's pretty cooked), then tailor my warmup from there. Fresh and minimal breaks? Lots of transitions and harder lateral work to try to get some submission installed before show time. Tired and behind the leg? Lots of walk breaks to try to conserve energy with short bursts of trot in between to get a little pop before it's time to go in. Practicing the test movements is the last thing if everything else is cooking along well (though it is good to test the halt etc just to avoid any nasty surprises). After 10 minutes, the steward sends you over and it's show time!

(As you might have deduced, I don't have any pictures of my riding at the last show. Here I am warming up at my first IDA show ever, also at Cal Poly, also on Dancer, but way back in November 2009. How time flies!)

The Scoring: Tests

The tests are scored just like regular dressage tests, though the rider's position mark is changed from a x1 coefficient to a x4 to try to reward good riding over fancy horses (which obviously in this format we don't have much control over). Good IDA judges also tend to reward clean, accurate tests that might be a little plain over flashy ones with bobbles, because again in this format accuracy and smoothness are something a rider can control, and the fanciness of her mount is not.


The Scoring: Team Competition

Each division is ranked and pinned like at a regular horse show. Then, each team member's place is converted into points and added to the team total. The points go like: 1st place - 7 points; 2nd place - 5 points; 3rd place - 4 points; 4th place - 3 points; 5th place - 2 points; and 6th place - 1 point. At the end of the day, the points from the 3 highest placing riders on each team (meaning that there is one drop score) are added up. This team total determines the team placing for the day. Additionally, the team totals add up cumulatively over the season, and the school with the highest season-end total qualifies to go to Nationals.


I think that about covers the basics. If you have any other questions, please let me know!

(IDA is fun!!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

IDA @ Cal Poly: Small But Mighty!

The Stanford Dressage Team had our first show of the year last weekend down at Cal Poly in beautiful (and I really mean beautiful!!) San Luis Obispo. Despite being just 5 members strong (as opposed to Cal Poly and Davis who both have over 20 people), with 3 of us performing our first IDA (or dressage at all!) tests ever, we had a great showing and came out team champions the first day and reserve the second. Wahoo! Go Stanford Dressage!

(Our haul on Day 1)

I kicked off the competition on Saturday with the first ride of the whole show, doing First Level Test 1 on a bay mare named Olivia. I was a bit apprehensive to ride her because she looked very sensitive, but I ended up LOVING her. Our fearless coach, Rachel, gave me some great guidance in our 10 minute warmup so that I had her as soft and through as I possibly could when we went in the ring.

I was also really happy with my mental preparation. I had actually taken time before I got on to remove myself from the group, zen out, and get in the zone (which is something I always want to do but never seem to give myself time for), and it really paid off: I felt like I rode one of the most accurate and correct tests I've ever done on any horse, ever. We did have one bobble in the medium walk that was totally my fault, but other than that I thought I made crisp transitions, both within the gait and from one gait to the next, and presented a really flowing, steady, nice picture. I had been so nervous because I really wanted to start the year off on the right foot, and so was almost overwhelmed with relief as I turned up the final centerline and made a nice halt and salute. Phew! The season had started in style!

It was a double delight after such a good feeling ride to be rewarded for it in the judging! I won my class with a 69% and got some really nice comments on my test. I also got two 8s and a 7 in the three rider categories in the collective marks which might be a first for me. Very exciting!

(Christy looking great in warmup)

(Rachel coaching Marilu)

The rest of the team also did amazingly on Saturday. In Upper Training, Christy battled it out against a ton of other really qualified well-prepared riders for 4th place and a career high score. In Lower Training, Michelle did a great job with a horse she found challenging and ended in 3rd. Finally, as one of the last riders of the day, our Intro rider Marilu showed off her wonderful poise and tactful riding in her first competition EVER to finish in 2nd place. Yay!! I was so blown away by and proud of how everyone on our team rode. It was a huge icing on the cake to win the team competition against some very good teams.

(Marilu on Honey)

Sunday dawned very early and once again I started the team off in First level (though mercifully this time I was spared the joy of starting the whole competition off). I drew Dancer, who was the horse I rode to victory in my very first IDA show ever two years ago. Unfortunately, I think I took this as an excuse to not quite be as mentally prepared as I had been on Saturday, with the result that I rode the entire warmup and test with a bit less flair and precision than I should have. It still felt very good in places, but I definitely didn't walk away from it feeling as elated as I had after my ride on Olivia. I also made one very large mistake where I allowed Dancer to swap out his lead literally the stride before I was planning to come back to trot (d'oh!! So close!!) which I knew was going to hurt my score.

I ended up second by .5%, which I knew I deserved but was still a little bummed about because I could point to such concrete things that I knew I could have prevented that would have given me the win. Such is dressage! I still got some very nice comments and got another round of two 8s and a 7 in my rider collectives (and we had different judges each day, making it doubly rewarding), so I was very very pleased.

It's also exciting how good the First Level division is in IDA this year. There are a lot of good riders and the scores are really close, so little details of showmanship really count. I really think that riding in IDA this year is going to help my riding as a whole, so I'm seriously looking forward to the rest of the season.

(Christy in Upper Training)

(Michelle and Shawn)

(Big smiles for a job well done!)

Again, everyone else on the team was really inspiring. Christy rode a good test on a horse we all wanted to take home to come 5th in Upper Training, while Michelle rode her horse beautifully for 3rd place in Lower. Our individual Olivia rode a superb test in Lower Training (in her first pure dressage test ever!) to come 2nd.

Marilu had to deal with the most drama of anyone on out team when the horse she had drawn had to be substituted at the last minute for another one with a completely different way of going. She did a great job rolling with the punches and, despite some moments of tension in the ring, came out with 4th place. In the end we were tied with another team for 2nd place and won the tiebreaker with our collective rider marks, which was a great end to a fabulous weekend!

(Big smiles for Olivia too, who was AWESOME in her first ever IDA competition)

(Marilu making her last-minute Intro horse look wicked fancy)

As the show ended, I felt really overwhelmed with how well everything had gone. Cal Poly ran a great show, the horses were turned out beautifully (every single horse was braided!!) and were a pleasure to ride, everyone we talked to was so nice and friendly, there was so much good riding and horsemanship going on, our coach Rachel was fabulous as always, and of course everyone on our team really rose to the occasion and put in great performances. It was a weekend that really got me excited for the next IDA adventure!

(This was how I celebrated a weekend well ridden - grilled cheese (already inhaled by the time this photo was taken), salad (for aesthetic purposes only), and onion rings. It's a good life)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tranter King

Dually used to have a tendency to 4 beat in the canter sometimes when the work got hard, a bad habit we always lovingly referred to as 'trantering.' Well the Dude can rest easy now in his rehab, because I've found a horse that picks up the tranter where Dually left off and elevates it to new forms of glory. That horse is, of course, my new western friend Chulo. Chulo acts like there is no greater glory on this green earth than achieving that perfect balance between trotting behind and awkwardly loping in front.

(Chulo and I touring the dressage ring... we felt a little out of place)

Unfortunately for him, I do not agree with his lofty views on this subject. I DESPISE trantering, especially because it makes me feel even more awkward in the already strange (but weirdly comforting and secure) confines of a western saddle. So, in my past few rides with Chulo (or, as I like to call him, 'Churro'... mmmm, delicious =D), we've been doing a lot of transitions and big circles in what Chulo has informed me in no uncertain terms is a WILD GALLOP (aka a 3 beat canter). Once I get him forward I can actually work on getting him slower, more collected, and more correct for a rail horse. It's a process, but I'm having so much fun! Plus my thighs are getting an epic workout from trying to keep me with the crazy motion of his tranterlope.

(He's so cute!! Plus every time I pull out my camera he automatically starts posing: good pony)

I've also come to appreciate the beauty of a good jog. At first I thought it was just boring and the equine equivalent of watching paint dry, but now I sort of get the zen enjoyment that it can bring. Yeah, it's never going to be as fun to me as a big extended canter or tempis or going out for a gallop, but it's also a pretty nice way to view the scenery, especially since you spend a lot less time trying to stay with the motion of the horse (or in my case with dressage, hanging on for dear life and trying to survive) and a lot more time thinking or watching the world go by. I'm digging it.

(Yes I know I'm holding the reins wrong - we were hacking out at this point and I was just trying to do whatever I could to not drop one of the split reins on the ground)

In my extremely brief western experience (I think I just broke the barrier yesterday of being able to count my total western rides with two hands) I've only ever ridden WP/rail horses. I was talking to one of the western riders at the barn this morning and she was getting me really excited about the idea of doing cow horses or reining and getting to experience the faster side of the western world.

(I'm looking pretttty English with my GPA, Tailored Sportsmans, and Ariat tall boots, but at least I've got the rowel spurs to play the part with!)

This is what I love most about horses: there are just so many ways to have a great time! The older I get, the more I realize that my experiences with horses touch on just a tiny fraction of the many different disciplines, breeds, and styles of riding that exist out there. I want to experience them all! Maybe some day... =)

How to Put a Little Howdy in Your Day

In order to offset costs for the equestrian team, every member is required to do weekly chores around the barn. Usually this means fairly miserable tasks like clipping 25 disgruntled school horses or scrubbing down the outsides of the stall doors with rag and a bucket. It's hardly the worst things things you could have to do in a barn (I've mucked exactly 1 stall in my entire time at the Red Barn, for example, as opposed to the average 16 A DAY I did on my year off), but it's still not very fun.

This year, however, I lucked out in the work department. Besides a few odd jobs and some loads of laundry, I get to ride Chulo, a privately owned horse whose owner doesn't come often and asks the equestrian team to keep the horse in shape for him, a few times a week for work hours. Now, this in itself wouldn't be too remarkable, but...

Chulo is a western horse.

(a very cute western horse, in fact)

Which means that I get to ride western. Yay! I've been itching to learn how to ride western and even considered joining the western team this year, before the reality of the busy shambled clusterf*** that is my life became clear. Now, Chulo is lazy... by Western terms. Which means that, by English terms, he is the laziest horse on the planet. As the lady who helped me get acquainted with him said, "he always walks like he's headed to his own funeral."

After getting used to the fact that WAY TOO SLOW was, in fact, the correct speed, I had a blast! Definitely a good change of pace from my regular riding.

On the 'regular' team front, we're getting pumped for our IDA debut this weekend at Cal Poly. Only one other girl and I have ever ridden a dressage test before in our lives, so it should be interesting to say the least. Bring it on!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lightbulb... Again

Since my last big lightbulb moment with Kiki, I've been kind of at a loss as to what to do. I've ridden her a bit in my jump saddle. I've ridden a ton bareback. I've tried to take a little time to reevaluate.

In general I've been really pleased with the progress of the last few weeks. There are moments when I still doubt myself, moments where it all still seems really hard and fruitless, but also an increasing number of moments where things feel satisfying and right. As long as those moments continue to increase in frequency, I'm ok.

Recently, I've started hunting around for dressage saddles I can borrow for a little while so that I can start adding that piece back in. The bareback has been really fun, but it's whacked out my position a bit (I've gotten stronger in my leg and seat, but it's hard for me to motivate to be really correct in my core and upper body without a saddle... my problem, I know, but there you are) and in the long run I've got to get a working saddle if I want to compete again. Fortunately, I think I've found a saddle that I can borrow for a little while that fits Kiki pretty darn well.

But more than that (and here's the lightbulb of the day), it fits me amazingly. Holy cow. Riding in this saddle has made me realize that I'd never until now sat in a dressage saddle that was big enough for my freakishly long thigh (as in, you may think you have long thighs, but you haven't seen mine: my father is 3" taller than I am (6' versus 5'9") and I'm almost 2" longer than he is in the thigh; the only reason I'm not 6'1" is that I also have a suspiciously short torso).

It was revolutionary. Suddenly I could sit as easily as I do bareback (something which has never been true for me before, because, I'm realizing, I've always been fighting against too-tight blocks and seats). I felt like I wasn't collapsing or contorting my upper body nearly as much to try to stay balanced. It was free, easy, and smooth, even when Kiki was being difficult. Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. I think I'm in love.

I feel like this fall has been the season of saddle discoveries. I'm not sure how many more surprises I can take in that department, but at least this one was a lot more pleasant than the last...

(Kiki peaks in on the activities in the tack room)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In The Weeds

Sigh... it's been a long first two weeks of school, and as you've been gathering the blog has taken a hit as a result.

(But look how cute Kiki is! This was from Twin)

I've been feeling really overwhelmed since coming back to Stanford. It came to a head tonight as I was biking back from team meeting (in the rain... WHY). I have two jobs on campus (both of which I'm excited about and am so so thankful to have... but that doesn't mean they don't take up a lot of time), the horses to take care of, dressage team, polo, trying to start a photography business, getting started as a sports photographer for the school paper (a college dream!), serving as the art editor of one of the campus art magazines, trying to have a semblance of a fun/normal senior year... and school somewhere there too. I feel like I have nothing to complain about because these are all activities that I enjoy, but I just don't have enough time to get everything done with the quality that I want and it really frazzles me.

To ease this off, I decided to drop one class (which I realized wasn't really going to be useful towards my degree anyway) and take the quarter off from polo. While polo was one of the highlights of my fall last year, it's a huge time commitment, especially on weekends, which are my only chance to really focus on Ringo and Kiki at the moment. Fortunately I love the people on polo and so know that I'll be able to keep in touch with them, and hopefully pick up playing again for fun in the winter or spring. I still feel like I have an uncomfortable number of balls in the air, but I'm feeling a bit more settled. I'm definitely excited to start my jobs on campus (and even more excited to start getting a little inflow of cashmoneys as times have been pretty absurdly tight of late).

Meanwhile, because I've majorly sucked at giving updates recently, here are some quick and dirty updates of the ponies:


...Is awesome. Pretty much 'nuff said. He's been ticking along really nicely, and it's exciting to feel him getting stronger and more confident week by week. We had a great lesson with Brian Sabo a few weeks ago that really left me glowing. We did our first real 4 tempis and Brian said that we could probably have done 2 tempis that day if we put our mind to it. The actual changes were great but our straightness was pretty wandering, leading Brian to say that we needed to get that in line so that when we started 1's we wouldn't end up in the next county by mistake. When I laughed and said that I didn't think we'd have to worry about that for a good long while, he smiled and said, 'sooner than you think.' Definitely a lesson to look back on with a smile =)

(Ringo at Woodside)

(Relaxing after a good ride - look at his cute little feet!)

For Ringo's plans, I'd love to take him to one more show in early November to keep picking away at our bronze medal, but don't currently have the funds. So, we're playing it by ear, and in the meantime are enjoying a lot of playing around with the double bridle and many, many, many counter canter serpentines to try to keep building balance and strength in the canter. In other words, we may not get to show, but life is still very, very good.

(favorite bear)

(Prowler, prowlin)



Kiki has been improving in leaps and bounds since the lightbulb moment of a few weeks ago. I've ridden her almost exclusively bareback, which has been insanely fun, and have even jumped her bareback a few times. I tried her in a school saddle today that fit her quite well, and she felt great. I've also had two amazing lessons with Dayna: one where she rode Kiki and gave me some excellent, highly specific advice about what to do next (DO NOT SACRIFICE THE OUTSIDE REIN FOR ANYTHING!! ... And keep kicking!!); and then another where I got to show how well I'd absorbed that advice. The second lesson was one of the best rides I've had on Kiki ever. She was steady in the bridle, not leaning, and showed off this lovely floaty trot that just felt wonderful beyond wonderful.

(Enjoying an evening bareback ride - her topline is getting so nice!)

As I talked about previously, the goal originally was to go to Galway but that has now been scrapped, which means that Kiki is off the hook until 2012. I'd love to get her out hunting this fall/winter, and take as many lessons as I can afford (which is, currently, not many... but we will see). But if we kept moving along in the same way we have for the past few weeks, I'd enter the new year a very happy lady =)

(Takin a tour of the parking lot)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Woodside Mudslide... Almost

Thanks to the ridiculous weather we had over the past week (three days of pouring down rain in a row??! In OCTOBER??! The world is clearly coming to an end) the Woodside horse trials had some serious footing issues to contend with that, for a moment, seemed almost unsurmountable. But thanks to the quick thinking of the organizers and officials, some major time and arena changes, and the cooperation of the competitors, it ended up being the same level of fabulous competition that they always manage to provide. In fact, it was even more exciting this year because they were holding their first FEI competitions in 9 years, which added new levels of difficulty and prestige to what is usually their lowest key horse trials of the year.

I was bummed to not be able to ride due to conflicts with equestrian team and the Stanford Red Barn Festival, but was still very lucky to get a chance to go out each day to snag photos of the CIC*** riders. The division was small but mighty, with a lot of good riding going on, and it was inspiring as always to watch these horses and riders make such difficult questions look so easy over and over again. As I was walking the cross country today trying to find the best places to shoot, I was seriously itching to be jumping some bigger fences again!! One day at a time... but in the meantime, it sure is fun to watch =)

It's interesting to watch the dressage at this level now and think to myself, "gee, I think I could do that!" Before Ringo, that thought never once crossed my mind (before Ringo, I'd only ever done a handful of clean flying changes on command in my entire life! Funny how a horse changes your perspective). I still couldn't ride with the same poise or polish that a lot of the top tests showed on Friday, but the test definitely seems doable (well, if I was sitting on Kiki I might be singing a different tune...). I'd love to do a test ride for one of these events on Ringo, as right now that's probably as close to FEI-level eventing as I'll get in the foreseeable future.

(This horse looked SO FUN TO RIDE. I got to sneak peeks of the warmup ring from where I was standing and every time I looked over these two looked so steady, quiet, and rhythmical. Their test was beautifully soft and expressive and extremely worthy of second place)

(James Alliston led from wire to wire with this horse, who looked seriously special the whole weekend. And such a cute face!!)

(I also loved this horse, who wasn't as relaxed as the other two but still looked seriously fun.)

Dressage and show jumping were both supposed to go on Friday, but the ring was sloppy enough by Friday afternoon that they decided to postpone until the next night. It still ended up being a great evening on showing the next day, with the class taking place in the big grand prix arena with piles of spectators having a good time and enjoying some good competition. The course rode really hard (here was a place where I felt realllllly far away from being able to compete at the upper levels again) and there wasn't a single double clear round all night, though there were some real squeakers. It was fun to shoot in such beautiful evening light, and goodness I wish all venues were as beautiful as Woodside!!

(One of Dayna's other students, Kaitie, had a BADASS clear round on their way to second place in their second Intermediate - goo Undie!)

(The awesome evening light that was going on in the 3*)

(Sick auto release)

(The neatest cutest jumper on this planet)

(The horse I liked from dressage again - SO NICE)

(James Alliston had one rail but still maintained their lead)

(JM on the black stallion)

Finally on Sunday the event came to a conclusion with the cross country. The course had dried out beautifully at this point and was even a bit dusty! Oh California, so classic. The course rode well in general though there were two horse falls, both at the end of the course and caused, I think, by tired horses losing their form. Woodside is the hilliest event in California and it's always tough to get fit enough, especially at the top levels. Fortunately everyone walked away to play another day and the standard of riding in general looked really high.

(Neat and tidy again into the water - Andrea and Estrella made the course look easy)


(Winner winner chicken dinner)

(Woah there, tiger!)

I finished the weekend exhausted but happy. It feels great to be back in California; there's truly no place like it. Now if only I could actually get to ride at the next show!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Twin Photos

I took some photos for the USEA website of the Advanced division at Twin. It was my first time doing this for an event in California, and it was a wonderful day to be back at the horse show =). The division was pretty small so it was a lot shorter day than I'm used to, but I definitely wasn't complaining. Enjoy!

(This horse was seriously cool)

(Nice and neat over the massive drop into water!)

(Andrea Baxter (aka XXX) lookin fly over the big corner in the water)

(Eventual winners Sandra Donnelly and Buenos Aires stepping out towards the first water)

(For some reason I really like this galloping shot - it feels so balanced and the background is so quintessentially California: dry, open, and beautiful)

(James Alliston and Jumbo's Jake, who led after the first two days)

Up next: Dayna rides Kiki, Brian meets Ringo, and I take a dive into (photographing) hunter land! We like to keep it interesting over here... ;)
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