What's Happening at Team Symphony
I am delighted to announce that I have been invited to participate as a clinician at this November's Western States Horse Expo in Pomona, California. It is such a great honor to be asked to return as a presenter. I'll be in the Spirit Arena at 9:15 on Saturday morning and again at 10:45 on Sunday. This is a well organized event full of a variety of presentations and excellent shopping opportunities.
I'm actually sitting down (not in a saddle, in a chair!) working on my Western States Horse Expo presentations. I thought I'd share a sneak peek with you.
The concept is imagining what picture frame your horse should be able to fit nicely into depending on their stage of training. Here, I'll show two extremes of development: a Grand Prix horse in piaffe and a very green OTTB in trot.
For the Grand Prix horse you should imagine a circle or a portrait style frame.
For the Training Level and First Level horse, you can imagine a landscape or rectangular frame.
Here she is in a square frame. You can see that she is not yet ready to imagine a square frame. Putting the frame around her shows that she's not quite in front of her rider's leg enough to push the balance uphill. . The picture frame gives you more information and a better image to reach for in your next ride.
I've been thinking about this concept and working on it with my clients. It's really helping them to understand the importance of keeping the frame to develop the horse's topline and self carriage. Let me know in the comments what frame you're riding your horse in and whether this idea helps you.
Wow! Was 2017 ever a great year for Team Symphony. Just check out a few of our accomplishments:
Rule #1. Breeding is always a risk. Never forget that while imagining the gorgeous foal that you will take to the Olympic Games in 2020 ...
Here at Symphony Dressage Stables, we have a small, but mighty breeding program. The first 3 mares we bred are now competing in the FEI levels, and our Rocky just broke that barrier last season with his first Prix St Georges and Intermediare 1! This story is all about Rodarte, aka Rocky. I started calling him Rocky after watching him fight to live from from his very first day.
Jan Handlers and I bred Free Spirit (7th in the nation in her Hanoverian mare inspection) to Rousseau (need I say more?). We had dreams filled with sugarplums and Olympic medals! Spirit conceived right away, and the pregnancy stayed on track. We sent her to the local vet hospital to foal. She gave birth to a magnificent black colt on July 21, 2010. When I got there, I gasped, he was so beautiful! But then he tried to get up...
That was not so beautiful. He had severely contracted tendons in both front legs. The tendons running along the back of his front legs would not stretch enough to let his heels touch the ground. He stood like a crab, with his knees out in front, on his tippy toes. The next day, he could only get one front leg out, the other dragged under his body. By the third day, he just shuffled around on his knees with his butt in the air. It was a pretty awful sight. Fortunately, he was tall enough to nurse from his knees.
We agonized over the vet's recommendation to consider euthanasia and breed again. Our regular vet was out of town. After a day or two of diagnostic tests, we had a healthy foal except that he couldn't stand up. I finally got my vet on the phone to update him on the foal's status. Dr. John Halford said to bring him home, he would meet us there.
We got Rocky up into the trailer and drove the 10 minutes to the barn. I carried him to his stall with a frantic mom in tow. Then, all of my clients started crying! He was a really pitiful sight shuffling on his knees trying to keep up with mom in a 24 x 24 stall. They settled down quickly though, the horses, that is. The people were in varying states of despair.
When Dr. Halford arrived, he calmed everyone when he said, "We can fix this." That was when Rocky started to resemble Forrest Gump. We wrapped enormous rolls of sheet cotton around his entire front legs from hoof to elbow. Then at least an entire roll of vet wrap was added to each leg. Finally, a length of a PVC pipe was secured with duct tape to the back of his legs for support.
We found a halter that could be used as a harness. The nose part went around his neck while the buckle went around his girth. We then had a handle on his back. This was necessary to help him stand several times a day to put pressure on those tendons. At first, the PVC splint was positioned so his toe and the splint touched the ground at the same time. Over the next several weeks, we gradually re-positioned the splint so that the toe and the heel would reach the ground more and more.
For the first few weeks, he could not get up on his own. We moved our travel trailer to the barn and lived there 24/7 to get him up every hour. After a week or two, we attached the halter to a lunge line looped over the rafters in the barn. This allowed him to walk a little with support.
Jan, his owner and breeder, was going through her own issues with a frozen shoulder. She felt terrible that she couldn't help while everyone at Team Symphony was helping so much. No one minded the time spent; we were all set on the same goal.
One day, we had a little bit of an argument about whether to give him more time to get better or to euthanize him. Of course no one wanted that, but it was hard to see him struggle and be so dependent on us for everything. On top of that, we didn't really know if it would help him in the long run. While we were having this mildly heated discussion, Rocky got up on his own for the first time! I'm sure that he knew what we were talking about, and he said to himself, "I'll show them!" That was the last time we talked about euthanasia.
After that, Rocky improved steadily and didn't need as much help. At 3 months, he and his half brother, R Star from our Grand Prix mare Nova, went to their American Hanoverian Inspection. For Rocky, this was his very first time running at his dam's side. We were all holding our breath. I was hoping that he wouldn't trip and fall or otherwise injure himself!
He was amazing! The judges starting talking about his nice suspension, etc. I don't think any of us really listened. He TROTTED! That was the AMAZING part.
He proceeded with growing up, and then it came time to start him under saddle. His forearms were still under-developed due to having the wrap around them in the first months of his life. In the beginning, he tripped often. My assistant trainer, Jackie Duncan, had the ride. She did a beautiful job and even took him to CDS Junior Championships and won her division!
Earlier in the season, I had ridden him in the FEI Young Horse 4-year-old class at San Juan Capistrano. His first time out he ranked 7th in the nation! He and I continued on to Second Level coming in 3rd with a 70% at the CDS and USDF Championships. This past season, we took a show break to get some concentrated training in. He showed PSG for the first time earning a 64% and is now moving on to Intermediare 1. At home, he is schooling one tempis and piaffe/passage.
He loves his work, and he loves to please. One clinician almost made me cry. After hearing his story, she said, "He seems to know how much you have given him, and he wants to give as much back to you."
Watch Rodarte, aka Rocky, as he continues moving through the levels. He's going to knock your socks off. He will have his ears up with bright eyes while doing it. He definitely has the eye of the tiger!
Thank you to all of Team Symphony, past and present, for your help and support of this wonderful miracle baby!
It's raining in California! It's great for the environment, but not so great for riding . So, I got on my yoga ball to show you how I ask for leg yield, shoulder in, haunches in, canter, and counter canter. I hope this helps you practice your riding on a rainy day!
I know you've been eagerly awaiting the next video in my yoga ball series. It is finally ready! This session is on the last two steps of the Rider's Training Pyramid: Riding with Relaxation, Focus, and Intent. After a short review, I do a commentary on my own riding. I hope that you can ride through me and "feel" how relaxation (discussed in the previous video) allows me to ride with Focus and Intent. Let me know what you think.
I hope you've been enjoying my latest Yoga Ball Series focused on the Training Pyramid for Riders. Here is the third installment. This week I am focusing on muscular stamina while riding each gait of the horse (walk, trot, and canter). There is even a cameo appearance by Loki the puppy.
Questions? Let me know in the comments, and I will be happy to answer!
The newest Yoga Ball Dressage video is now available! I made the Rider's Training Pyramid my own by switching steps three and four. Why work on muscular stamina (Step 3) if you are not in the correct position and balanced (Step 4)? So, I switched them.
Let me know if you are using any of these exercises with your horse. And as always, please feel free to ask questions.
I would like to introduce my newest Yoga Ball series in which I will be demonstrating the Training Pyramid for Riders. We're going to be posting weekly videos, starting with Step 1 - Flexibility and Step 2 - Core Engagement.
If you have any questions about what you've seen in this video or if you particularly liked something, please let me know in the comments.
I recently had the pleasure of traveling to both Gilroy and Bakersfield over the same weekend for riding and yoga ball clinics. All I can say is What a weekend, and thank goodness for Starbucks!
On Friday evening, my daughter Morgan and I drove 300 miles from Moorpark to Gilroy, California. I spent Saturday with some lovely ladies, first working on the yoga ball, and then moving on to under saddle work.
The ladies in Gilroy were attentive and enthusiastic. I always enjoy working with different breeds, and Donna's OTTB and Stacy's saddlebred didn't disappoint.
Many thanks to Lehanne and Donna for arranging the Gilroy clinic, and additional thanks to the rest of the riders and yoga ball participants. I would be delighted to come back for more yoga ball and clinic fun!
After finishing up on Saturday afternoon, Morgan and I made a quick detour to the Ariat store at the Gilroy Premium Outlets. From there, we headed the 225 miles back down the valley, arriving in Bakersfield at nearly 10:00 p.m.
Lessons in Bakersfield were to begin at 7:00 a.m. Even after stopping at Starbucks and dropping Morgan off to check on her pony, Louie, I still made it right on time for Sunday's marathon of a day!
The Bakersfield clinic was actually a series of lessons that took place at four different barns! Throughout the day, I worked with 10 riders and their 13 horses.
It was so wonderful to see dressage thriving in the mid-state! To my Bakersfield ladies, thank you so much for having me; I look forward to future clinics.
If you or your CDS Chapter are interested in a yoga ball or riding clinic, including western dressage, please contact me here. I'd love to meet you and your horse!
Team Symphony continues to shine, this time at the Dressage Association of Southern California's Championship Show in Santa Barbara, California.
Jersey Beach and Sophia won again! That team has been so successful all year. They just walked away with yet another First Place Championship win. Sophia and Jersey Beach earned DASC Junior/Young Rider Champion at First Level with another 68% and Training Level Freestyle Champion with 70%!
On Sunday, Dazzle and I scored a 68% in her first Intermediare 1! Then, Jackie Duncan killed it with Habanera in their First Level debut with a 71% and a 74%!
To finish the day, Sarah Bishop and Enzo brought home Reserve Champion at Training Level!
As always, I am so proud of both my juniors and adult amateurs. Way to go, Team Symphony!
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Chemaine Hurtado, owner of Symphony Dressage Stables, professionally trains horses and riders of all levels. Chemaine holds her Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals with the United States Dressage Federation. In addition, she has also earned her USDF Gold, Silver, and Bronze Freestyle Bars, a feat accomplished by very few riders. Team Symphony, her group of junior and amateur riders, has also enjoyed many years of success in both English and western dressage.