Travel and other subjects

Well for all of you who think the life of a judge, coach or clinician is romantic here is my story.

Remember we don’t get paid for the travels day. Remember that!

Last night I needed to go from Madison to Colorado Springs. I was canceled from my original flight from Denver to Colorado Springs. Since the worst weather was over Monument Hill I did not want Mike to drive to Denver to pick me up. So I called United (hint to all- fly on one airline and get priority or else you are sunk )….so I changed to go thru Chicago instead of Denver. Long story short is that all flights were delayed due to weather in Chicago and due to my priority I made a standby which was not my scheduled flight but one that allowed me to make my connection to Colorado.

I had 12 hours at home which is a blessing for me. Then at 11:30 am I headed back to the COS airport to go back to Chicago for a meeting. I finally left at 3 pm. I landed in Ohare at 6:30. Due to bad weather and lots of lightening the airport shut down. Good news we were not diverted to Madison. But we sat for 3 hours waiting for airport to open and ramp workers be allowed back to work (due to lightening).

So a 2 hour trip became a 9 hour journey. I was not paid for this. Then for the Dressage Committee meeting we pay our own food and hotel. Did I mention my air was $900?

Then due to chaos in COS after take of for some reason my boarding pass scanned upon boarding and I made the manifest BUT my reservation did not show up on United. They thought I never took off so they canceled my return. Good thing I get lots of alerts and could call (why not when sitting on Tarmac), and make sure they did not cancel my return tomorrow!

So I know I chose this job which I live BUT it is all not a romantic trip!

Cowboy Dressage

How does cowboy dressage differ from Western Dressage? I am not an expert having only done one session but I was interested to see the tests today. There are some differences from dressage as I know it too. Here is what I found out.

The arena is 40×20. However the space between the letters is different. Also there is no X just an 8. There are also letters N,J,Q and Y on the quarter lines.

There is a free jog which is sort of like our stretch circle. They call halts “stops” and say the horse must hesitate. One test has an entry, a stop and a rein back then the salute. Turns on haunches can pivot. They have turns on the forehand. The caller has a microphone and you can have your friends park their horses around the ring for comfort. The reader can also say V as in Victor or E as in Edward.

Errors are not elimination rather 2 points off on each movement.

They don’t wear helmets. I wish they would.

It was different for me but I could see the benefit. First , unlike a group class, you had the judges full attention. Second you got a score sheet with comments. I used to be so frustrated in a group class of Western Pleasure horses because you never knew what you did right or wrong.

I think these tests are challenging and will improve horsemanship skills.

So, IMO anything that helps training improve and riders learn more skills and improve their positions then I am good with that. Yes the terms they use don’t match our definitions but they are talking about balance, and good reactions to the aids.

I am going the the lecture on judging tomorrow!

Lots of learning!

So where do 40,000 horse folk go to learn? The Mane Event. Today I watched driving, jumping, cowboy dressage , skill drills for barrel racing, and a Trainers Challenge session. I also conducted my own session on FEI movements with three excellent demo riders.

Thank you to Sheri Cameron, Lynley Cook and Crystal Kroetch for really a super job. All three horses were well muscled and correctly trained. They were all a bit buzzy due to the atmosphere, and this showed a bit in the contact. As the demo proceeded however, they all got more supple and confident. We were able to show flying changes from 4x to the one tempis, half and full canter pirouettes, piaffe, passage, transitions, the difference between collected, medium, extended trot and canter as well as good half passes and all the different zig zags.

I think what was fun for the audience is that the three horses were different. One was a bit greener, one was more mature and one was solid and ready to show Grand Prix. Very fun and rewarding.

Bye France

Had a super time judging the CDIO GP freestyle! Gave a 10 for a canter pirouette and my first 79% ! Great rides and really fun to judge! So long to my judge family- we will see you soon! Now back home to work out and lose all those pounds from the great food and wine!

Pony Riders

Here is a big shout out to European pony riders! The ponies were not used to the lights and atmosphere-think Global on a Friday night! When the first pony started spinning and cantering when she was supposed to be trotting the rider just kicked that puppy in the ribs and did a nice long gallop around the arena then proceeded with the canter choreography. Of course we had to give zeros for the trot movements but she deserved a 10 for determination! These kids sat like their butts were glued to the saddle too! There were one or two adults with naughty horses, but nothing like these evil pony tricks and the adults just excused themselves! I was super impressed with these kids!


I think I saw the best pony in the work today. Some were not used to lights and other distractions. But wow I gave a 79% today and I have not done a lot of pony freestyles but this was so awesome! Of course maybe if your parents had both been Olympians!?

Truffle heaven

Started with Chestnut soup with truffles. Then toast with shaved truffles. Next sea bass with artichokes and truffle mashed heart. Orange and cream desert then vanilla truffle ice cream. Also pink champagne and red or white wine. Delightful dinner! Bruno’s is the place to visit. Also a wonderful hotel. The address is Campagne Mariette, 83510 Lorgues look for chez

You must come! About 75 euros per person and they use 400 kg of truffles per year!

Better or not?

One big difference between shows in Europe and the United States is that judges and competitors are free to talk and even mingle here! I love being able to walk through a crowd and talk to Kyra or meet someone new! It is so much more friendly. I am not sure why in the USA we are all so suspicious ! Talking to a trainer or rider does not mean I will score them higher. I think we need to be able to trust each other’s moral standards.

The atmosphere is much more friendly for sure! I have to say at this show the bleachers are pretty empty, mostly standing by the rails are the grooms and family. I think Florida is on the right track with the full house on freestyle night!

Today is the CDIO Grand Prix and I would expect more spectators as well! Sunny to start but rain and wind for later in the day. The booths are very comfy all enclosed and with heaters. No computers.

First day at Vidabuan

Great first day with warm and sunny morning but turning colder in the afternoon. Had an awesome scribe both in the am and the afternoon with a young girl Anna from Russia!

The horse shoe nail trophies and magnets etc are wonderful and available at or visit their site at

Also contact Stephanie Conte on FB. I love them and bought a few for gifts

The young horses were top quality and well ridden. Fun to give 9’s. Bretton Woods ridden by Mathias Rath is a wonderful horse. They rode in the 7-9 PSG.

There are 6 teams in the CDIO which starts tomorrow. The show also has a CDI***. The setting is beautiful with good footing and we are surrounded by vines. I do a FEI test of choice tomorrow with Hans Christian where we both sit at C and have one scribe! Have not done that before so looking forward to a new experience!

Thanks you to the organizers who are providing wonderful hospitality for us!

Canada names CDIO Teams

Dressage Canada has announced the two teams that will represent Canada at the upcoming Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI-O3* February 18 to 23, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida.

Canada Team 1
David Marcus (Campbellville, ON) / Chrevi’s Capital, 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Deborah Kinzinger-Miculinic;

Belinda Trussell (Stouffville, ON) / Anton, 14-year old, Saxony gelding owned by Robyn Eames;

Brittany Fraser (New Glasgow, NS) / All In, 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Brittany Fraser;

Chris Von Martels (Ridgetown, ON) / Zilverstar, 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Chris Von Martels.

Canada Team 2
Megan Lane (Loretto, ON) / San D’or, 8-year-old Westphalian gelding, owned by Deer Ridge Equestrian;

Evi Strasser (Sainte Adele, QC) / Rigaudon Tyme, 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, owned by Evi Strasser;

Tom Dvorak (Hillsburgh, ON) / Ribot, 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carla Bahr;

Jill Irving (Moncton, NB) / Dio Mio, 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Windhaven Farm.

Canadian Team Reserve: Maya Markowski (St. Clements, ON) / Lumiere, 11-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding owned by Maya Markowski.

The Canadian teams will be supported by Chef d’Equipe, Liz Steacie, Team Manager, Christine Peters, Technical Advisor, Dr. Volker Moritz and Special Advisor, Desi Dillingham.

The Adequan Global Dressage Festival will play host to top equestrian talent from around the world. Since its inception this event has gained a reputation as an important event both nationally and internationally.

“We have two strong talented teams representing Canada, a great mix of big tour and small tour horses and we are looking forward to a successful competition.” said Team Manager, Christine Peters.

To learn more about the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI-O3* click here.