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Dressage Test (Horses)

cor_rumbaI suppose it’s telling that lately we’ve had more posts about horses than about diving. Then again, a horse takes out a huge chunk of your time. We have to take care of him every day, to make sure he gets enough exercise. Luckily the stable we house him at performs all the heavy work of cleaning the stables, feeding and keeping an eye out for him (and 100 or so other horses).

Julie and I want different things out of a horse. She wants to ride in the adjacent forest, and dressage comes second. I like to learn to fine tune the horse, which is not going to happen in the forest, although I do like riding there.  Actually, this is great for Rumba, as now he gets to do different things. Even better, we have another rider who likes jumping, so he gets to do that as well.

Today we had another dressage test at the stable. This is just a stable contest, as opposed to the national level contests (which we also have at our stable, but I don’t do those). It’s mostly a personal thing. You perform a test, and if you succeed you can continue to the next level. The test consists of a bunch of manoeuvres you have to show, and you get graded for each one. On top of that you get graded for overall appearance, style, etc.

I was kinda nervous about this test as Rumba has been difficult last week. Monday during a private lesson he was very stiff, didn’t listen at all, felt sluggish, and just balked at everything I wanted to do. This then turned into a vicious circle, as I got frustrated for nothing working as planned. This continued for the rest of the week, and only on saturday afternoon I got a bit of cooperation from him. But today, it all disappeared. He shined, both during preparation (it takes hours to make him and me presentable!) and during the test. Even before finishing I knew I was going to get enough points to continue.

This reminds me. We also got a saddle fitted last week. This was supposedly a really exciting event, as Rumba has thrown off 2 experienced riders during previous fittings. So everyone was telling us we were going to fly off the horse. We asked one of our instructors (the one that rides him once a week) to ride him first with each new saddle, and she agreed. So when the moment was there, we were ready for a rodeo. It all went up in smoke. There was no rodeo. It was a non-event. He took every saddle without problems, and after 2 saddles we even stopped having the instructor ride. So next week we have a brand new saddle.

So anyways, back to the test. I finished first in my level. Unfortunately more than half the riders did not get enough points. I personally think the judges were a little bit too strict. These are stable competitions, and we were being graded like national competition riders. Silly if you ask me.  So for all my colleagues, this is the only time you’ll even see me in a suit like that!

Out Riding (Horses)

cor_rumba_webFor a while now we’ve had our eyes on a horse named Rumba. We leased him for 2 months, and this week we finally bought him. He has been vetted, passed inspection, and is now 100% ours.

Today I did my first solo ride on him. Normally we take lessons and an instructor is there to teach you, but part of the fun of owning a horse is that you can just go out and ride when and where you want. It was a very nice and sunny day, and Rumba behaved very well. Next phase is to take him out into the forest thats adjacent to the stable.

Rumba is a KWPN horse, or a  “Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands“. He’s got papers with a nice lineage, including a well known father named Great Pleasure. He’s a much higher level than we are, but he was a stable/lesson horse for many years, so he’s used to people fumbling on him. At the same time,  as we become better, we will be able to find his old schooling again. This is already happening, as we have him ridden once a week by a very experienced instructor who is bringing it all back up. It’s so much fun!

Buying a horse? (Horses)

Julie and I have been doing dressage riding for a few years now.  Julie especially has been very interested in buying her own horse.  We’ve been looking at a specific horse for a while, but never took the plunge. Recently we heard a possible sale of that horse fell through (they bought another one), and he was back on the market. So we decided it’s now or never. We talked to the owner and have come to an agreement.  Unless the horse fails a medical examination, we have bought our first horse. The examination has to wait until we’re back in Amsterdam, as we obviously want to be there.

It’s quite a nice horse, and a favorite at the stable we ride at. It’s actually a mystery to us and others why he’s never been sold. This does make us nervous a bit, but for now we’re confident he’ll pass the exam. One reason could be that he’s can nip at you as you saddle him up, so prospective buyers may be discouraged by that. We think though that this can be fixed by proper fitting material, more personal care, and trust.  He has a nice heritage, has performed at levels much higher than what we’d ever reach, and is an awesome horse to ride.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything works out, especially since Julie has already bought a whole library of books about horse care!  Here’s a video of him with another rider in our stable riding him in a jumping event.

We don’t just dive (Horses)

If you’ve read this journal before you probably know Julie and I dive a lot. But we’ve got other hobbies as well. One of our other serious hobbies is riding horses. In Amsterdam we ride at a stable and take dressage lessons 2 or 3 times a week . In the US Virgin Islands we only ride western, as they don’t really do dressage here.

Last week I did my first dressage test and managed to get first place. A dressage test is where you must show proficiency at specific figures you must ride in the arena. You get graded on 35 elements and that gives you a final score. If you score higher than a certain amount you have passed and can continue to the next level. The person with the highest marks has won the event for your level, but this is more honorary than anything else. It doesn’t really mean much.

Julie snapped my test with a Flip Video Eric Cheng gave us. I should be getting a proper video of it later. For those that personally know me, this is the only time you’ll see me all scrubbed up like that!

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On the Beach (Horses)

We had a great day on the beach today taking some horses into the ocean. The horses seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. Click on “More” for some more pictures.

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Sunset in the caribbean (Horses, Photography)

 In the winter Julie and I head to the US Virgin Islands to visit Julie’s mother. In the past we did a lot of diving during those weeks, but in the last two years we’ve started horse riding. It’s a nice change from riding at home in an arena. Here we can ride freely, on the beach and through the hills. Today we went to the top of a small hill to watch the sunset over the North Shore of St Croix. It doesn’t get much better.

This is Julie’s favorite horse named Pirate. It’s a stallion, that most people that ride here can’t handle, but somehow Julie manages with her soft touch.

Back home to the Virgin Islands (Diving, Horses, Photography)

Every year Julie and I go to the Virgin Islands for about three months to visit Julie’s mother. Unfortunately it’s really warm there as well, while here in Amsterdam it’s cold, rainy and gloomy. But we’ll just have to sacrifice ourselves. We’ll be on the island of St Croix, which is by far the nicest of the US Virgin Islands. Ok, maybe St John is nicer, but just too small for us.

We normally do some diving there, but last year we actually got into horse riding as well. We know a local cowboy there who we helped out taking care of about 15 horses. We had a blast, so hopefully we can do that again this year. We started to take more advanced riding lessons here in Amsterdam just for that occasion.

VI, see you in January!