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  • Grace Owsley

Updates - Probiotics Blog, Western Dressage, Virtual Shows, What's Coming Up

DJ the arabian cob loves his post-ride stretching for cookies!!

You would think that with a lot of things being closed and canceled, I would have more time to breathe and get unfinished projects done, but I have been extra busy these days! Hence why my blog, which was meant to be something I work on often, has become a back burner project. I vow to work on that! In fact, scroll to the bottom to see the next blog post subjects coming your way soon.

For this blog entry, I'm going to update you on a few things that have been going on that you may be interested to hear, see or read. Also I'll be sharing what is in the works for me in equestrian world and the horses I have the pleasure of working with.

The Prebiotics & Probiotics Blog Feature

Are you interested in reading about pre- and probiotics for horses? I wrote a blog feature article for Riding Warehouse recently that addressed what they are, what they can do for horses, and also a personal review of some products from BioEZ Health. Definitely be sure to check it out by clicking on the link here: Probiotics: Healthy Digestion Makes a Happy Horse

If you're interested in trying BioEZ supplement or the treats with probiotics, you can use my code GOWSLEY during checkout at Riding Warehouse for a discount. I definitely believe in the products and use them myself.

Western Dressage - My New Equestrian Discipline Fixation

Western Dressage. Yes, this is a real thing. In fact, it is an official USEF equestrian discipline and it is growing fast.

From USEF:

Western dressage integrates the historically validated principles of dressage with the best of Western stock horse tradition. It is a systematic and progressive system of training for the Western horse and rider in traditional stock tack with the purpose of enjoying a safe, pleasurable, versatile, and useful working horse.

Basically, it utilizes and encourages traditional dressage principles and systematic levels of training, but with the gaits and suitability of western stock horses in mind. I have heard some people scoff at the idea of it, like it's sacrilegious to classical dressage. I personally find it very encouraging that western riders are showing increased interest in the systematic and historically tried-and-true fundamentals of dressage.

I'm thinking about doing a future blog post and dedicating it to what western dressage is exactly, how it works, what the levels are like, the shows, etc. I'll add that to the future plans. In the meantime, I'm having fun exploring this new discipline.

I judged a schooling dressage show last year and had to judge a few western dressage tests intermingled with the traditional ones. I basically had to do a crash course just before the show (and even at the show) to make sure I could judge it appropriately. That alone made me realize that I needed to be more familiar with it. It's growing in popularity out there! One of my clients purchased a quarter horse last year (Vandy) for her pony clubber granddaughter, and he has had some western training in his past. My pony clubber student is now very interested in western dressage as well, so we are both having fun working Vandy in western tack and practicing the Intro level western dressage tests with plans to show sooner than later.

If you guys know me well enough now, I can get a bit...enthusiastic...when it comes to tack and apparel. A new discipline means new outfits and gear, so naturally I have been going a little overboard to be outfitted for schooling and in preparation for future show opportunities.

Hello, lovelies. Took this shot of them myself.

I was really excited to get a new pair of boots. Even if I wasn't a rider, I would still adore these boots. These are the Ariat Women's Jackpot Square Toe Western Cowboy Boots (use code GOWSLEY for discount). I LOVE them. They are super comfortable, too. I even wear them with my English breeches when I teach and walk around the barn. When they're cleaned up, they look great out and about with jeans or a dress. Cowboy boots are an amazing outfit staple if you ask me.

Vandy got outfitted with a new headstall and I acquired one of a different color just for variety (why not). He has a new pad on the way, and I got myself some new spurs with (of course) matching spur straps to match his browband.

I just ordered bootcut jeans for riding (Ariat & Wrangler), I got a fancy new western belt + buckle, and I'm looking into having a selection of different collared western shirts. This all may sound excessive for somebody just beginning to explore the discipline, but I'm enjoying researching the sport itself AND indulging in new gear :) I'm not new to western riding - my dad grew up riding western so naturally I began there, and I actually used to be an assistant for one of the top ApHC trainers so I got to learn, ride, teach and show a little in that world. Western Dressage is a new thing, though, and I'm excited to explore it and share the journey with you guys.

Current goals for Western Dressage:

  • Schooling and WDAA recognized shows over the summer/fall in Intro and possibly Basic Levels. This will be virtual and/or physical shows.

  • Coach my student successfully at Intro showing.

  • Join WDAA and learn all about the sport.

  • Near future plans to get Western Dressage official judge designation (judge education and licensing to judge at western dressage schooling shows AND wd recognized shows).

Updates on Other Horses & Shows on the Horizon

A few interesting things have happened recently with some of my training string and clients. Toes is getting a new saddle. Her previous saddle had been professionally fitted over its lifetime, but we have the suspicion that it has never really fit her correctly, or at least it hasn't for a while now. Her owner and I have been trying demos of new saddles and I believe "the one" has been found. More on that later. This is a significant step for the progression of this horse's training and development. Never ever underestimate the power of a properly fitted (or ill-fitted) saddle. We are all very excited to get her a new one that fits, and one her owner gets to customize to her liking! In the meantime I have to ride her either bareback or in a (awful) Bates/Wintec AP that just happens to fit her.

DJ the Arabian cob superstar has continued to surprise me with his willingness and trainability. Straightness is still a major struggle, but overall he is becoming more and more consistent and I can feel power and swing that was definitely not there this time last year! He recently offered a clean flying change on my whim to cue it, but I'm going to wait to school those until I can get Tara back from Florida with us to be my help and eyes from the ground. Today he offered forward and consistent canter half passes, which were quite difficult a few months ago. We are hoping to show him in classical dressage in virtual and/or physical shows over the fall months, probably at Training and First levels, and there are plans to possibly do an Arabian show with different class types next month! Another totally new thing for me, and for DJ and his mom, which is also exciting.

I talked about Vandy above, as we are hoping to break into the western dressage with him, and perhaps some other activities and class types as well. He is meant to be a versatile horse for his girl, and he will be quite capable of the job. Right now we are working on consistency in the contact as well as strength and balance, especially at the canter, which is his weak point currently.

I have another client I'm working with right now with retraining mounting. When we mount a horse, we are at our most vulnerable state, so it's super important to make sure this process is a safe one. We have been utilizing clicker training, since her mom has taught her this concept already, and we are using it for positive reinforcement and to eventually establish a routine set of steps that are stress-free for both horse and owner.

There is also another horse or two that I have worked with before that I may be working with more often in the near future and coaching their owner. I find it bad luck/bad form to talk about things before they happen, though, so perhaps more on that later. The equestrian world changes quickly, so I try to be flexible. That is one of the reasons I only take on a handful of clients and horses at a time.

Lastly, I will be judging the October schooling show for the Central Texas Dressage Society. It will be interesting to do it with masks and protective barriers. I'm not entirely looking forward to having a mask on while trying to judge in Texas heat (yes it's even hot in October here), but I'll do whatever they need me to in that regard.


I hope you are all well! Please share my blog with anybody you feel would benefit from or enjoy my posts. I do everything from training blogs, clinic coverage, book reviews, equestrian workouts/fitness, product reviews, and a lot more. Stay safe my friends, and enjoy the ride.



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