Finally! Prix St. Georges!

My horse, Fling (Flying Colorz) and I got our Fourth level scores toward the USDF Silver Medal in 2013. Since then, we’ve been struggling to ready ourselves for PSG. Many roadblocks along the way – a full time job and grueling commute, parents in separate elder facilities, an incredibly rainy 18 months, sporadic lameness due to the incredibly wet weather. I initially was going to show her PSG at an annual schooling show championships that Houston Dressage Society hosts every December at our local, large show complex. The on-again, off-again slight lameness due to the wet winter scrapped that plan.

In February,  a local farm where my trainer has clients had a schooling show, and I was finally able to show PSG there, with the help of my trainer schooling me. We had bobbles, but put in a respectable ride for a 57.5%. Not bad for our first time, and not bad for a horse that was trained up the levels by her amateur owner, with no professional training – just coaching from many great people through the years. The plan now is to go to a few more schooling shows, then hit the recognized shows this summer. The goal is to finish my Silver before the end of the show year Sept. 30, and pick up my Silver medal at the USDF convention in December. I always said I would pick up my Bronze, when I got it, at the convention. I didn’t – I had it mailed. But I am definitely showing up in person to collect my Silver!

2016 Fling Mirror

Ready or not, Prix St. Georges, here we come!

I showed Fling Fourth level in 2013 and got our two 60%+ toward our Silver medal.Since then, we’ve been plugging along, but it’s been slow progress. My job, a killer commute, farm maintenance and having two elderly parents in two separate facilities sap my time and energy. Often, it seemed like I was not making any progress at all toward being ready to show Prix St. Georges. Always, it was the flying changes which gave us the most trouble. I’d started changes myself on Fling, having never even ridden changes on a trained horse, and I think I made every mistake in the book. It’s taken a really long time to untrain the bad training, and try and change Fling’s muscle memory and mine. But finally – just when it seemed we were going backwards, I see progress. We’ve been able to do 5 changes across the diagonal – not as straight as they should be – but clean, and without her taking off with her.

The Houston Dressage Society has a schooling show championships in December at our regular show facility, Great Southwest Equestrian Center. Whether we have changes or not, I’m showing Fling PSG there. I have friends going, my trainer is going, and you have to start somewhere!

Her trot work is very good. Her canter pirouettes are good, and her canter half pass is getting much better. Fling has learned to quit pulling , and to be lighter and in more self carriage. Pati often remarks “this horse really loves to work.”  Yes she does, and I love my little workaholic girl to the moon and back!

Our trip to the 2015 Arabian and Half Arabian Sport Horse National Championships

Trainer Liz Petty and owner Cyndi Craig with Faeth, Reserve Champion, Sport Horse in Hand, Half Arabian Mares, Dressage Type, at the 2015 Arabian and Half Arabian Sport Horse National Championships.

Trainer Liz Petty and owner Cyndi Craig with Faeth, Reserve Champion, Sport Horse in Hand, Half Arabian Mares, Dressage Type, at the 2015 Arabian and Half Arabian Sport Horse National Championships.

Competing in the Arabian/Half Arabian National Sport Horse Championships has been a dream of mine for a long time. Back when I had Faxx, I went as a spectator to the championships in 2011 when they were held at the Kentucky Horse Park. I was planning to take Faxx to compete the following year. But, those plans were dashed when I got laid off my job of 21 years two days prior to making the trip.  I got a new job quickly, but it was a 106-mile round trip commute, and I had to move my aging parents into a retirement home, and, instead of 4 weeks of vacation, I now only had two. I had less and less time to ride, and no way to keep three horses ridden, so I reluctantly sold Faxx, the best horse I’ve ever owned. And, then, I bought Faxx’s full sister, even though I had no idea how I would have time for her. I just had to have her. If you’ve read previous posts, you know that Faeth was unhandled and not weaned at 15 months, and has huge scars on her ack legs from getting hung up in a fence at 3 months old. But she is a wonderful mover, just like Faxx. And so, after Faeth won both her amateur and open in-hand classes at the Region 9 Sport Horse show in June, I had a wild idea. In July, I texted Liz Petty, my Arab trainer, asking if she had any clients going to Sport Horse Nationals. With two weeks of vacation a year – and even less now, since it was June, there was no way I could make the 4 day round trip haul AND the 5 day show. I would need someone to haul Faeth to North Carolina, where the show was this year, and I would have to fly in a meet them. Yes, Liz did have a client going. So, I took a big breath, and asked her to send me the cost breakdown for hauling and caring for and showing Faeth. It was a big chunk of money, but I still had most of the money I got for Faxx. It was fitting some of it would be used for this dream.  So, it was on. I filled out my entry forms and sent them to Liz for her signatures, and started planning and packing.

Liz and crew left Dallas on Saturday, Sept. 12, and arrived at the showgrounds in NC Sunday evening. It was very, very hard for me to send Faeth off for that long trip without being there with her. I worried every minute they were on the road. I am a very hands on owner, and I rarely send a horse off for training, so this was new to me. I was very relieved when I got the text saying they arrived. The show started Tuesday, Sept. 15 and ran through Sunday, Sept. 20. Faeth endured the two day, 23-hour haul just fine. I flew in Tuesday – as I only had 4 days of vacation left – I had not planned on this when I planned my vacation days back in January!! It was a very busy place, but Faeth was incredibly good for a 3 year old!  Liz showed her on Thursday in the open classes, and I showed her Friday in the amateur. I was hoping Liz would do well so it would take the pressure off me! LOL! At Nationals, they split the sport horse in hand into dressage type and hunter type. I entered her in both classes, in both open and amateur, since that’s all she could show in.

And Liz and Faeth DID do well, capturing Reserve National Champion in Half Arabian Mares Sport Horse in Hand, Dressage type! Quite the Cinderella story!! You can still see the massive scars on he back legs from her ordeal as a foal. Some judges would totally discount her just because of those. There were two judges judging each class, and the senior dressage judge had her placed first, but the second judge had her placed lower, which brought her down to Reserve CH – but I was not complaining! I showed her Friday, and was Top Ten in the amateur class. I just cannot run fast enough as Liz, to show Faeth’s really good trot!  I still can’t quite believe it.  I’m already thinking of taking her back to North Carolina in 2017, when she will be 5, and well under saddle. They have dressage at the Nationals as well. I’m not ruling it out. Hopefully I’ll still have some “Faxx money” to finance the trip!


Stolen trailer! But happy ending!

Memorial Day weekend, a friend and went to a dressage show at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy. It’s our usual place for shows. I unhitched my trailer Friday evening, and we took my truck to the hotel that night.

We got to the show grounds around 6 a.m. Saturday since we both had very early rides. I drove along the long row of parked trailers, looking for mine, so I could stop and pick up my tack and stuff. I made one pass – no trailer. We thought we’d just missed it – it was parked right next to Kathy’s. I drove around again. There was nothing but a trailer-sized empty spot next to Kathy’s trailer. My 2013 custom-ordered 4Star horse trailer, that I had JUST paid off, had been stolen.

I was just devastated. I couldn’t even cry. I was just numb. I called police and filed a report while my friend went to get ready to show. After the police left, I sat at a table, and on my phone, proceeded to blow up Facebook with photos and descriptions of my trailer. My friend hauled Faeryn home for me – I could not even show since all of my gear was in the trailer. So, on top of the trailer, $400 in show fees plus $40 to braid her plus hotel.

When I got home Saturday evening, I got on my laptop and continued to post about my trailer on every horse group I could find on Facebook. Sunday morning I continued my quest. And then I got a phone call from a braider who was working at the horse show. She saw my post and said she was fairly sure she witnessed my trailer being stolen! She described a black Dodge dually diesel that pulled into the parking lot after midnight with no lights, hitched up to a trailer and left. I thanked her and immediately called the Harris County sheriff department to update my report with the description. Then I went back to as many of the Facebook posts as I could find, and updated my post to include a description of the vehicle.

Monday, Memorial Day, as we were sitting down to eat at Cheesecake Factory (drowning my sorrows!) I got a ping on my phone. A Facebook instant message from someone I don’t even know, saying they were 99% sure they’d just spotted my trailer in Cypress. It was so loud in the restaurant, I had to go outside to the patio to make the call. Dubious, but hopeful, I gave the  Harris County Sheriff’s dispatcher my case number and the neighborhood where the truck and trailer were spotted.

And then went back inside and tried to eat. Yeah. Amazingly, within about 30 minutes, I got a call from a deputy. “Ma’am, I think we have your trailer.”

To make a very long story short – they nabbed the guy, my trailer was towed to impound storage and it was 4 days before I could get it back. Fortunately most of my stuff was still in the dressing room, but they had broken into it and tossed or stole about $1200 worth of stuff. I had to pay $350 in towing and impound fees to get my trailer back, lost my entry fees AND the suckiest part — the guy didn’t even get any jail time, despite the fact he had prior arrests for theft, including heavy equipment from oil field companies.

It was truly a miracle I got it back – and it never would have happened without the help and incredible community of Facebook.

Me riding Faeth first time

I’ve been really been bad about keeping up this blog, and I resolve to do better. It’s not that I think there are hordes of people out there reading it, but it’s a good tool for me to look back and see my progress, see where I’ve gone off track and generally keep a record of my journey with my horses. But lately, I’ve no had time to WRITE and RIDE! So, to get this blog up to speed…..

In April, I sent Faeth, who had just turned 3, to Erika West Danque in Montgomery, to start under saddle. I had done some ground work with Faeth, but not as much as I generally do before sending a horse off to a trainer. We had a terrible, wet winter, and I had a dental implant in December that abscessed, and I spent 4 weeks on antibiotics, which, in turn, trashed my immune system, and I was then sick with one cold or sinus infection after another for 3 months afterwards.

 Faeth did very well in her under saddle training,  and she soon was doing walk/trot/canter with no fuss and no muss. She is a big mover just like her big brother Faxx, and seems to enjoy her work. I rode her once while she was there, and will ride her more this winter when she goes back to continue her training. She’s getting a much-deserved break for a few months. She’s still only 3!



Faeth has a great show at the 2015 Houston All Arabian Show in January!

2015 HAAS Faeth and me

Faeth will be 3 on April 13 and she’s grow into a beauty. This was a totally candid shot the photographer got while I was waiting for the judges to finish scoring Faeth’s conformation before showing her on the triangle. On April 1, Faeth goes to a local dressage trainer to start under saddle.

2015 HAAS Faeth and me trotting

Proof that the old gal can still run. I’m 58 years old and I sure did hurt the next day. Next time I need to hit the gym a week or two beforehand to get in better shape!


2015 HAAS Faeth head with garland

This was a double judged show. Faeth was in four classes, and won three of the four. She was in two championship classes and was Champion in one, and Reserve Champion in another.

2015 HAAS Show Bronze

In addition to the class placings, Faeth was the highest scoring Half Arabian in hand and won this neat bronze trophy, plus a huge blanket of silk roses – like the race horses get!


It takes a village to make a dressage horse and rider!

I’ve been struggling with flying changes for years, and it’s what’s been holding Fling from advancing. I take all the blame for our problems – when I started teaching her flying changes, I had not even ever ridden a flying change on a trained horse. Since Fling is a ‘one person’ horse, sending her to a trainer to put changes on her was not an option.

I have been training with Marie Morgan for a number of years now and she is great – patient, correct and classical. And she coached Fling and I to our Bronze medal and to Fourth, earning both scores I need at Fourth for my Silver medal.

But we were definitely stuck. And I really needed to start working on flying changes with Faeryn, but I was afraid I would make the same mistakes as I made with Fling, and  didn’t really want to send her away to someone.

Pati Pierucci had been coming to a friend’s farm for a few months and she suggested I try to see if she could help me with Fling. Pati really helped me with Fling and with just a few sessions we were finally getting clean single changes reliably. So now she’s helping me with Faeryn. Pati has ridden her a few times and we are in the ‘making the canter better’ phase before Pati will start asking for changes.

I had never shown above Fourth 1 due to the difficulty, but I showed Fourth 3 at several schooling shows and at the HDS Schooling Show Championships. Four 3 has a schooling canter pirouette and one canter half pass zigzag. She still can’t do the tempi changes – but that is what we are working on and hopefully this year she will be ready to show Prix St. Georges and we can finish our Silver medal. Here are a  few great shots of her from the HDS Schooling Show Championships. She was a freight train during the class because she was scared of the arena – the canter photo is from Saturday and you can see the tension – but look at how she is sitting. I am prepping her for a canter pirouette here.

Bad, bad blogger!

So it’s been more than six months since I posted here. Life gets in the way! I’ve been riding – just don’t have much time to write about it. Most day I don’t have enough time to ride and write! But I have been riding, and the ponies have all bee making good progress.

Faeryn had her recognized show Second Level debut in July, with scores all in the 60s, with one 65. She qualified for the Region 9 USDF Championships. Unfortunately when the show rolled around, she was showing in heat for the first time in her life. My husband  got a new horse – a gelding – and Faeryn fell in love! She did not perform to her usual standards, but she managed to capture the brown 8th place ribbon in the USDF Second Level Adult amateur Championship class. So our goal over the winter is to start flying changes and show third level at schooling shows next year sometime.

Faeryn 2014 Region 9 Champs Award Ceremony

Faeryn during the 2014 Region 9 Dressage Championships award ceremony.

Fling is still working steadily toward Prix St. Georges. The flying changes are better, and her self-carriage has improved greatly.I am hoping to get her qualified for the Houston Dressage Society Schooling Show Championships in December. I am showing her fourth level – I’ve never shown Fourth Level Test 3,. which is almost as hard as Prix St. Georges, since it has sets of 3 and 4 tempe changes. We will have to show 4/3 in the Championships, although we’re allowed to qualify at any test of the level.

2014 Faeth w rose blanket cropped2

Faeth modeling the garland she won in January for being Champion Half Arabian Sport Horse.

Faeth went to the Arabian/Half Arabian Region 9 Sport Horse Championships and was a good girl and was Reserve Champion Half Arabian Sport Horse Mares in Hand Open, with Liz Petty from the Dallas area handling her, and in the Amateur class, with me handling her we got a Top 5.  I have started bridling her and she is not impressed at all with that. I am having to take the bridle apart to get the bit in her mouth, but once it’s on her, she’s okay with it. I have already booked her with a super good young trainer north of me for next April through June.She is already over 16 hands, but I think she’s almost quit growing because she finally got fat! Hoping she stops around 16.1. I seriously doubt she will grow to 17H like Faxx!