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Showing posts from 2019

The Quest For A New Heart Horse

The challenge of finding a new heart horse when you've unexpectedly lost your horse of 16 years is not for the faint of heart. Feelings of guilt, abandonment, recurring waves of mourning and the ebb and flow of tears for the horse partner you have lost will haunt even the most stoic soul. In fact last night I was dreaming and was shouting in my sleep for Charlie. Evidently I am nowhere near 'over it'. Even if it that is a possibility. Charrington WVH   2000 ~ 2019 Is there such a thing as rebound? Taking on a new horse is a big decision and the common psychological idea that one should never make major life changes when you are at an emotional low is perhaps valid, even when it comes to the fact that you are torn between wanting a new riding horse and waiting until you are in a more 'normal' frame of mind. And let's face it, have saved up some money to make the purchase. People say that time heals loss but I don't agree. I do believe that over tim

Live Your Best Life ~ Loss Of Your Heart Horse

As many of you know we recently had to make one of the toughest decisions that any animal owner has to endure - euthanasia of a beloved pet. In our case our Grand Prix DWB horse Charrington WVH, aka Charlie. We had owned him since a three year old. Recently gelded at that time and full of stallion antics, he knew nothing about riding and hubbie Paul and I enjoyed the 16 years of owning him and teaching him all about dressage. Both of our twins sat on him over the course of the years as young teens/adults for an occasional lesson, but throughout his life he was very much my horse. Everybody loved Charlie. He was the 'go to' horse for photos. Always completely trustworthy with neophyte horse visitors of all ages. Charlie never had an unsound day in his life, and was always willing to play and loved to be ridden. Never a colic, but an occasional choke that we were able to resolve without a vet visit, caused no doubt by his amazing vacuum abilities and cathedral l

Riding Dressage Tests On Grass ~ Good Idea or One To Be Avoided?

Back in the early '80's when hubbie and I competed in the NE USA, the use of grass rings for anything but the FEI classes was common. The rings were quickly set up on any available flat spot and it was up to the competitor to negotiate any issues that such footing provided. This was true back then of recognized events, that thankfully are now more carefully monitored when it comes to the footing in the arenas including the warm up. At Willowview Hill Farm we often school outside on grass One particular event that did not go so well on a grass footed ring comes to mind, a show at King Oak in Springfield, MA.   Our entourage that attended included our twins under two years old, our five year old son, plus the show horse and ourselves. We arrived late at the event in pouring rain delayed by traffic on I84 in Hartford. We had minutes to unload our horse and tack up, hit the office for our number and ring info. The assigned ring was down a relatively steep incline. The

Clinic Tours in Reverse

At Borba's, Lisbon.. It used to be that dressage competitors like my hubbie Paul and myself, spent many dollars traversing the pond to visit Europe to elevate our dressage knowledge by working with big name trainers and to buy big moving horses to bring home. Trips to the Iberian Peninsula are common for us...and we love them! Everything now is seemingly in reverse. European riders are commonly seen here in the U.S.A. taking lessons with our team riders and buying our horses. Meantime we are conducting clinics abroad as well as here at home. In the past few years Paul and I have been pleased to give clinics in Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland and Switzerland. Our sometimes twice or three times a year sojourns over the Atlantic in addition to our U.S. schedule, keep us very busy indeed, and we never know quite what to expect on our arrival in foreign climes. Repeat bookings are always appreciated by any clinician, as it tells us we have done a good job an

And Then There Was 1

It's never easy to go with your gut and turn down someone that is interested in buying your horse. But know when you have found the right fit for your horse you will know it immediately and so will the buyer. Midi and her new owners! As many of you know hubbie and I are retiring from horse breeding, or more correctly, we have retired. Clinics and working our private yard of horses will be our focus for the future, that and our organic hay business where we home produce all the hay we sell. After an off/on again marketing of our broodmare band we are thrilled to announce we have sold Gambol's Middernacht WVH, aka Midi - and even better we once again have sold one of our horses to folks that we know well as both students and as friends. It truly doesn't get any better than that! Patience has paid off. Following the visits from prospective buyers on Midi during the marketing period, I turned away two parties that were interested in buying Midi as we didn&#

Ignoring Reality - The Lame Horse In A Clinic

Grand Prix Clinician/Competitor Paul Alvin-Smith Unfortunately from time to time horse riders are faced with a difficult decision. They have worked hard to train and prepare for a clinic riding experience with a noted name with their daily trainer, and their horse has been going reasonably well as far as they can tell. The moment they enter the arena to participate in the clinic, it becomes clear to the clinician that the horse is not sound. The horse may act up in frustration at the demands that are being asked of it by the rider, and the rider and their daily trainer may have not recognized it or if they have, perhaps have chosen to ignore it as a 'training issue.'  My husband Paul and I give dressage clinics internationally, and work as a 'duo' in training horse and rider at these events. When we are faced with a horse that we see is clearly not 100%, it is difficult for us to point it out in such a public venue to the rider and their trainer. We fully appr

Dressage Duo On The Move _ Clinic Giving Abroad

Hubbie and I have been out and about giving clinics as usual. We just returned from our last tour which was in England and Scotland, which naturally included staying in a castle. It was awesome and fun but also very tiring. I think we've just about recovered! It was grand to work with fellow Brits again and their wonderful horses We traversed more then 1600 miles in our gallant rental vehicle. The roads were sometimes single lane and difficult to navigate, especially across fells and around lakes in the Lake District.  Our trip took us from a clinic in Buckinghamshire up to Lincolnshire, then onto Scotland just South of Edinburgh. We crossed over to the West coast of Scotland to Aye, before heading South to the beautiful Lake District for another clinic and then on to Shropshire for a day or two. Then it was back down South to Buckinghamshire before we headed back home from Heathrow.  The horses and riders we saw were a broad mix of talent, from those starting out thei

Is It Best To Walk Like A Horse, Talk Like A Horse?

Hubbie and my daughter with our young mare I recently showed a young mare to a prospective buyer who brought along her daughter who was also her trainer. The couple were searching for a dressage horse that they could also use in their lesson program as a therapy horse. Against my better judgement and wealth of experience I agreed to allow the trainer to work directly with the young mare from the ground. Well, at least. I agreed to allow her to longe it when she made the request on the phone. The mare was bridled with a bit in place, and the longe line attached to the bit as is our usual practice. The horse was home-produced at our farm and kept for our breeding program and to date had received perhaps 24 or so longe lessons and been sat on just a few times in preparation for sale as we are retiring from horse breeding. She had never put a foot wrong in all those sessions. Our training involves much patience to achieve relaxation and the voice is an important tool Afte

Excellent Rule Change - Double Bridle NOT Mandatory in 2019 at 4/5/6 star CDI's

Finally, the folks that control the rules of dressage as a sport are acknowledging that we need to allow the use of a snaffle bridle at higher levels of competition. The official 2019 FEI rule change: 2.2. For CDI 3 * / 4 * / 5 * / U25 and Championships / Games (except Ponies and Children), a double bridle with cavesson noseband is mandatory ie bridle and curb with curb chain . A combined noseband may be used without the lower "flash" The curb chain can be made of metal, leather or a combination. Lip strap and rubber, leather or sheepskin cover for curb chain are optional. Neither a cavesson noseband nor a curb chain may ever be so tightly fixed so as to harm the Horse. 2.2.1.: A snaffle bridle or double bridle is allowed in CDI1 * and 2 *, CDIJ and CDIY. 2.2.2.: For CDIP / Ch, Ponies and Children Championships, and marked on test sheets, a snaffle bridle is used. A noseband is still mandatory when a horse/pony is ridden in a snaffle: 2.2.3.:  A plain snaffle