Author Archives: vvonarx

Western Sale November

Mark your calendars! It’s almost here – that sale of sales you’ve been waiting for – the CDS Western Sale and Chapter Social on November 9th!

Receive 25% off your purchases* during this special event and chat with fellow chapter members over refreshments.  Kick-off your holiday shopping with these great savings.  Chat with friends over a glass of holiday cheer and appetizers, and enter the raffle for a Western Saddlery gift certificate for $25.00 or $50.00 to help you with your future shopping needs. This is a great opportunity to stock up on necessities as well as buy that something special you’ve been wanting all year.

 Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013

2:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Western Saddlery

7038 Commerce Circle

Pleasanton, CA 94588

 Due to the quick turnaround between the close of the store and the setup for our event, we ask that you not arrive prior to 2:30 unless you are scheduled to volunteer.

 This special sale is open to CDS East Bay Chapter members only.

 Not a California Dressage Society East Bay Chapter member?

Join Today!

 *some exclusions apply 

Rachael Saavedra Offers Tips on Planning for the Next Show Season

Trainer Tip of the month is contributed by Rachel Saavedra

Now that the season is coming to a close, what are your best practices for preparing for the coming year?

My friends will be the first to tell you that I am not the one for long term planning most of the time.  The old adage that “Men make plans; God laughs” is even more true in the horse world.  I tend to plan for the next week, the next ride, the next exercise, and the next stride or footfall.  But this is the time of year when I do plan ahead for the things I might want to do next year that do need long term planning.

1. Tackle next year’s calendar

My plan includes tackling next year’s calendar. This does not make me feel under control the way it does for some people! But tackling the calendar ahead can prevent me from being blind-sided later. My calendar includes family plans, dressage conferences, conventions, clinics, and shows, deadlines for declaring and nominating for competitions, and mapping out down time for me and my horses.  If I don’t plan for some empty weekends my horses and I will not thrive! This is not the set in stone plan, but the set of possibilities calendar.

2. Polish up your test

My long term planning for next year’s competition is based on one basic rule: If I can do the test pieces roughly right now, then I should be able to do them well enough next year to present them in a test.  I may not have things polished enough to show early in the season, but I will not plan to show next season anything that I can’t do with some reliability now.  The off-season is for polishing what we can do this season so that we can show it off well next season.

3. Off-season means “no pressure”

Next comes the really fun part!  The pressure to keep the horses show ready is off!  The off-show season is the ON training season. Now we can introduce things that may set the boat rocking!  This may mean introducing flying changes or half steps, it may mean introducing the double bridle or a new snaffle or saddle arrangement.  All of these changes can be risky when we only have a few weeks between shows.  The off-season is the time to experiment with changes that might take a little getting used to. It is the time to introduce the things you probably will not show next year, but may be able to show off the year after!

4. Intensify your training

This is also the season to get more intensive training with your instructor, because good teachers will seldom open up the very tricky subjects between shows.  We need to be able to break a few eggs in order to make the next omelet.  This is the season when we can work with our students on the big quality-altering themes that do rock the boat but make it sail so well next season. These lessons often require immediate follow-up lessons to develop the themes more fully before the student practices them on their own.

5.  Clinics, videos, and education

For those of us who don’t get enough help, I count myself among them, auditing clinics or watching online rides and clinics can spark a new sense of purpose and discovery that we can indulge in during the fall and winter months.  This is also the time when I take stock of myself and really tackle the little things that have been nagging at me.  This is habit changing season!  We don’t have to keep all of the movements from the test ready to go.  We can slow it down to walk for days if that helps. We can take lunge lessons, or just work hard, hard, hard to eliminate that pesky habit of piano hands or head bobbing or… Most of us know darn well what those pesky habits are and NOW is the time to not just work on them, but FIX them.  We have the time to do the repetitions it takes to form new habits. This is also the season when we can assess our own health and fitness and choose a path for self-care or cross-training.  We have to keep trying to take the best care of our horses AND our own bodies so that we can jointly perform at our best this training season and next show season.

6. Rest

Finally, fall is a time for needed rest.  It is a beautiful time of year to go trail riding, turn your horse out for a few days, or read a good book about, or completely without, dressage!  This is my favorite time of year because there is a sense of freedom, of time to make changes, and of almost infinite possibilities.


Rachel Saavedra is a high performance Grand Prix competitor, trainer, and instructor. She is a USDF Senior Faculty Member for the Instructor/Trainer Certification Program, and has been giving USDF workshops around the US for over 15 years. She has mentored many of the Bay Area’s top dressage trainers, as well as successful amateurs, from training level to Grand Prix. At home at North Peak Equestrian Center in Walnut Creek, Rachel teaches FEI competitors as well as riders who just want to ride athletically and harmoniously for their own, and their horses’ pleasure. She always welcomes riders to come watch lessons and to join her community of enthusiastic riders at North Peak Equestrian Center. She works closely with owners and horses to develop the horse’s full potential and to ensure full engagement and pleasure in the process for all involved.



A new and exciting addition to our site will be titled “Trainer Tips.” Each month we will feature an East Bay trainer’s helpful hints and tips on a variety of relevant dressage topics. With championships right around the corner, what better way to start than to ask the question:

How to acclimate your horse to the show grounds and help avoid/temper spooks in the show ring:

 We asked Tracey Hill, Trainer at Wyvern Farm in Martinez

 “This will vary horse to horse but here are a few tips that have worked for me in the past…”

1) Get to the show early

Whether its a one day or multi day show, it has always helped me to let my horse have time to see the sights and hopefully relax in the new atmosphere.

2) Lots of hand walking

At a one day show its usually a little low key and less scary as the facility is typically smaller.  If you arrive and the ring is on a break, you can ask management for permission to hand walk on the outside (!) of the show ring.  Multi day shows will allow you to hand walk and ride in the show rings the day prior and at the end of the day.

In addition, I like to bring a friend to move around in the judges box and/or walk on bleachers etc if I have a horse that is noise sensitive.

3) Lunging

Occasionally I will lunge my young or spooky ones to “burn off some steam”.  I personally choose to use side reins because I think the horses are:  less likely to to hurt themselves, stay better under control and continue to build muscles that are more in tune with how dressage horses are desired to go.

4) Treats

Hand walking with treats:  chopped carrot pieces or a low sugar/low carb cookie alternative is positive reinforcement to conquer scary show environments.  Treats help change their focus back to you if even for a moment but eventually they will realize that there are no monsters behind banners, flower boxes or judges boxes.

5) Buddy system

Walking with a confident horse can often help reassure your spooky horse.  Let that horse lead the way and when going past a scary spot, be sure to put that horse between you to act as a buffer.

Good luck and happy showing!!

Tracey Hill trains at Wyvern Farm in Martinez. Since 1995 Tracey has earned her USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medals.  Tracey has also graduated from the USDF “L” judges program with distinction. This year Tracey was invited to ride in the USEF Elite Rider Clinic with Morten Thomsen. In 1999 Tracey moved to California to work for Steffen Peters.  She stayed  for two years.  Following her time in Germany, she was asked to come back again in 2002. Tracey currently rides with Steffen Peters, Guenter Seidel and Alfredo Herdandez