Monday, 7 May 2018

Horse Expo Recap

Last weekend was a busy one, so let's finish the recap! (Sorry, bit of a monster post)


In the morning I took Kachina to vet for scope - and as I already wrote about, no ulcers!

At around noon I left to drive up to Red Deer. I took my beast of a truck because I was delivering a custom tack cabinet to my friend and fellow dressage rider Pam in Red Deer. I can't believe I haven't blogged about this yet, but my SO got into woodworking and started making and selling tack trunks and cabinets, he's gotten really good! (I help with the design side but construction is all him). I'll definitely have to post some photos of other ones he has built.

Once Pam had filled it up with all her stuff

My friend and I then went to check out the Mane Event for a few hours that evening. We checked in with the dressage association booth and found out that it was pretty much directly across from the Dubarry booth. I was scheduled to volunteer at the dressage booth for a couple hours on Saturday so I made an offhand comment that I was lucky none of their boots fit my calves or else the proximity could be hazardous to my bank account. That's when Pam (who has similar size calves to me) said that she had tried on Dubarrys that fit her so they would fit me too. I was skeptical, because I had been looking for new winter boots this year and had looked on the website and the dimensions listed for their Extra Fit Galway boots still didn't sound wide enough for me. Pam dragged me over to the booth to try, and my leg slid perfectly into the boot. My first thought was "crap, this is going to be an expensive weekend!" haha. I took the boots off to think about them overnight, and we did some more wandering around to find other shops we wanted to go back to on Saturday.

We had missed the dressage presentation earlier in the day but we went to a very interesting talk about concussion protocols by Equus Physio. The whole "concussions are bad, wear a helmet" spiel is well ingrained in me, but this went much further than that. As well as having information about return to sport schedules for people recovering from a concussion, they also went through the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool - 5th Edition (SCAT5) that was developed by a multi-discipline, international group. The SCAT5 gives you tools to help even non-medical professionals evaluate whether someone has suffered from a concussion or not. As a show organizer and the mandated first-aider for my dressage show, this really interested me. Equestrian Canada has developed rules about not getting back on a horse in competition until you have been cleared by a medical professional if a concussion is suspected. The problem is, how do you know if a concussion is suspected? The EC wording is pretty vague. Last year I had a plan in place where if any rider fell and appeared to hit their head, I would send them into town to be evaluated. However I had a niggling worry in the back of my head about what would I do if one of those falls happened where the rider comes off and hops back up immediately in a way where it's hard to see or determine where they made impact. I've seen those types of falls before and the adrenaline involved can make it tough to determine whether or not the rider actually hurt themselves. The SCAT5 gives me a tool to objectively test the fallen rider's memory, balance, motor control etc. before making a determination. It's not foolproof, especially without baseline data for the individual, but it's better than nothing. I would still err on the side of caution and send someone to see a doctor if there were any questionable results, but this tool can give me some measure of confidence to allow a rider to continue if the fall really was a minor one. I'm glad to be armed with more information but please let nobody fall off at my show! I don't want to have to put this plan into action!


Saturday was a busy day. I volunteered at the dressage association booth from 9-11am, had the executive meeting for the ADA from 11am-2pm, and the Annual General Meeting from 2-4pm. These meetings are where I was acclaimed as new VP and also got to discuss lots of what is going on with dressage. It was really interesting to hear the reports from each area group and what different regions are trying (there is a lecture series that has been successful in Edmonton that I really want to try in my area). We also got a report from the Equestrian Canada/Dressage Canada world (the Dressage Levy Symposium in Langley BC in November sounds fantastic!). A major message I would like to put out there from these meetings is: Please become a member of your local dressage group and volunteer if you can. I'm sure this applies in places other than Alberta, but we as an organization want to contribute to the sport as much as possible and we are willing to change direction based on feedback from members as required, but we need members and volunteers to do so. It's quite likely that your dressage association does more than you think they do, it's not just about rated shows.

I love discussing dressage, but I was pretty tired after 7 continuous hours of it. I appreciate that they schedule the meeting for the weekend of Mane Event so we don't need to make a separate trip, but it's a lot to cram into a day. I met up with Pam to watch the next dressage clinician segment: Diane Creech on Basic to Medium level dressage. I didn't learn any brand new concepts but it was still a good session. The things I most took away from it were:

  1. My eye and knowledge for the sport is improving. There were multiple times when Diane was trying to get a horse to move forward and was telling the rider to "Go on, go on!". In those moments, even before Diane spoke, I could see that they did need more impulsion and forward. As a somewhat tentative rider who doesn't like excessive speed myself, I have historically been bad at spotting when a horse needs more go, but my eye is getting better.
  2. "Don't think it's hard" - this was a phrase Diane used a few times during 15m canter circles, counter canter etc. I really liked it. I could really see that the riders were tensing up and riding differently when they were attempting a movement at the upper end of their capability. It would be so much easier to execute the movement if they could just "Don't think it's hard". It's one of those concepts that is simple in theory but really hard to execute. I'm going to try it in my own riding though.  
  3. Everyone has bad days. The Mane Event is an extremely challenging environment to clinic in. There are thousands of people, big metal bleachers that people are clinking up and down on throughout the whole time you are riding, and many other distractions. I give huge props to anybody who decides to bring their horse. One of the demo riders in this particular session is a EC Dressage Judge, one that I have shown under before, judges fairly, and I have a lot of respect for. She was riding a young horse who had very little off-property experience and it showed. She was using a German martingale to constrain some antics, and tension also came out in the horse through a busy mouth and some sideways scoots. The thing is, I know that feeling. I know it really well. In fact I remember in detail how demoralized I was when I had a ride exactly like that at this show. I remember reading my low score and how much I wanted to explain to the judge that I'm not that bad of a rider, my horse isn't that uneducated, we can do better, we do do better, it was just a bad day. The rider that I was watching have a bad day right then, and the judge who I had wanted to explain myself to a couple years ago were the same person! In that moment, I realized: she already knows. Just because you understand the sport of dressage, just because you know what you are supposed to do to ride your horse back to front in a relaxed way, doesn't mean that you can physically make it happen on every day in any situation. I've always beat myself up about how I know dressage better than I can do it. If I understand something in my head, why is it so hard to just make my body do it? I finally figured out that I'm not the only one with that problem. Coming to that realization felt like a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. I'm still going to work as hard as I can to be a better rider, but I don't need to feel so damn embarrassed and guilty when I have a tough day. 

After watching Diane Creech, we spent the remaining part of the day shopping. I always love wandering though all the booths at Mane Event. Some of it doesn't apply to me, like Western gear, or stuff related to keeping horses at home rather than boarding, but I like seeing all the new products and at least knowing what exists if my circumstances change in the future.

I hemmed and hawed about the Dubarry boots, but I was actually looking for boots like that last year (ones that could be worn to work and social events but that could still handle mud and snow) and couldn't find any that fit me, in any budget. It was a lot of money but they did fit nicely and the quality was evident. My friend Pam also kept trying to talk me into it, in fact she made such good arguments that she unintentionally talked herself into buying a pair too! Besides, I had been budgeting for a course of ulcer treatment for Kachina if she needed it, so that made the cost of the boots seem reasonable #canjustifyanything ;-) .We both ended up with a purchase and got champagne to celebrate! I felt like such a high roller in that moment lmao.

Other than the boots the only other thing I bought was another Horze Blair collared short-sleeve sunshirt. I have 3 of these already (2 long sleeve, 1 short sleeve) that I absolutely love and use equally as much for work as for riding. They had a beautiful new plum colour and so adding it to my collection was a no-brainer.


Sunday I left Red Deer bright and early to go up to Edmonton for a 10km run. If that news surprises you, that is understandable. I am not really a runner. But for a multitude of reasons it was a pretty big deal for me to complete this 10k. After that I met up with some friends in Edmonton and made the long drive home.


  1. What a busy weekend. I loved reading about your epiphany re: not having a great day. We all need to realize that. Congrats on the boots- they are beautiful.

  2. oh man that tack locker is #goals! also what a fun event, esp getting the feeling from being in such a big environment that your knowledge and eye for dressage really is getting better and better. that's always such a reassuring feeling!

  3. Oooh those new boots are pretty! What a busy/fun weekend :)

  4. Wow, what a busy and fantastic weekend. Love your clinic take homes, and the tack locker and boots are both gorgeous! Congrats on doing a 10k!

  5. Congrats on the 10k and an otherwise really awesome weekend!