Beautiful Dancer SAILS with Andalusian Horse

"When I dance, the sun sails safely through the night;
When I dance, the future is formed by my feet;
When I dance, the stars move through the heavens;
When I dance, Venus shimmers the desert;
When I dance, dust becomes silver, stones are made of gold!"
Cosi Fabian
 

This video was shot back in 2013. I am riding Rovandio (Andalusian/Lipizzan gelding) bitless with my good friend, and dancer, Lydia Rose Spencer. The footage is from Isaac Royal Farm in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, a picturesque setting. The video was created by Alan Dillingham, the director I worked with on the indie film Essential Realism, Frost Bite and a short film called Invasion. It was a COLD and WINDY day but Rovandio was excellent. I was planning to ride Douwe but he wasn't quite himself so Rovy filled in and was superb. Only one day to practice with Lydia dancing and he figured it out in a snap. Make sure you see the part where Lydia defies gravity in her split leaps at the 2 minute mark! Enjoy!

Sandra & Douwe - Friesian Breed Demos - 2016 Equine Affaire

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."
                          -
 Mother Theresa

I was very proud of Douwe's performance in the Coliseum. He can get excited with larger audiences but he focused well and stole the show with his kisses, smiles, and wiggles. We also rode in the Mallory South building and he did well, but was not as relaxed. There isn't a proper warmup for the Mallory South building and waiting outside on the pavement isn't ideal for the horses to stay relaxed. I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to Danielle Barrasso for organizing the breed demos and for letting me stable with her in C-Barn. Enjoy this video of Douwe in the Friesian breed demos!

Roxie Hart Jazz Routine at the Equine Affaire - Enjoy this fun & sassy routine!

"Mmmm, I'm a star!
And the audience loves me!
And I love them
And they love me for loving them
And I love them for loving me
And we love each other..."

                                                                        - Lyrics from "Roxie Hart" from Chicago

Who can't help but love this song!! It is so sassy and fun to ride to. This year I was given a solo spot in the Andalusian demo with Rovandio and I thought what the heck! It was the perfect opportunity to try something fun that the audience would enjoy. I wanted to highlight Rovandio's amazing personality and rideability. He loves the audience and enters into that electric atmosphere as calm and collected as he can be. It is hard to see me lip synching and playing to the audience but I am sure you can see how much fun I had riding this routine with Rovandio.  Enjoy!

"Sway" Routine at the Elysium Sport Ponies Open House

"Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you
Only you have that magic technique
When we sway I go weak
I go weak..."

                                              - lyrics from Sway by the Pussycat Dolls

This video was taken at the Elysium Sport Ponies Open House November, 2015. I was SO happy with this routine! As some of you know, I was injured the week before and wasn't able to practice. I decided last minute to ride to the song "Sway", one of my favorite songs that I performed to with Rovandio at the Equine Affaire last year. I knew the transitions of the music inside and out, and it has a fun, playful vibe. Enjoy our dance routine and please share with anyone else that would appreciate it. Thanks!

Bitless Dressage: How to Fit the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle

I consistently receive emails from riders interested in trying the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle. One of the most popular questions is how to properly fit the bridle. I wanted to make a how-to video for you with my horse Douwe but it is just TOO cold here in Maine! I did find this wonderful video made by Cathie Hatrick-Anderson, another bitless bridle instructor with many years experience using the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle. She did an excellent job explaining how to adjust the bridle and I have also included information from the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle website.

"The Bitless Bridle's action depends on leverage applied from a firmly positioned 'O' ring on the cavesson noseband." -Bitless Bridle website

Common Mistakes:

  • The most common mistake in fitting is failure to place the noseband low enough.  If the Bitless Bridle's noseband is at the same level that is used for a bitted bridle, it is far too high. The bottom edge of the noseband should be not more than 1.5" or 2" (for a small or large horse respectively) from the corner of the horse's mouth.
  • The second most common mistake is failure to cinch up the chinstrap sufficiently. Once the level is correct, now cinch up the chinstrap so that only one FLAT finger can be inserted between the back of the jaw and the chinstrap. The noseband should not slide far up the face when tension is applied to the reins. If it does, leverage will be lost and the rider may have to work harder than necessary to communicate. Also, during prolonged use (during an endurance ride for example), a sore place could be rubbed on the side of the horse's face.
  • To help keep the noseband snug but also comfortable I use a sheepskin cover or a foam piece under the noseband buckle.  The leather bridle has a nice tab that covers the buckle but on the Beta the buckle is exposed to the horse so I like to put some padding there, it also helps to keep it snug without making it uncomfortable for the horse. You can use a Cashel cusion (they sell one on the Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle website) or any chin pad that is meant for a regular bridle.

Before mounting, always check that you have not inadvertently trapped one or more of the crossover straps UNDER the chinstrap. 

I started riding Douwe with the bitless bridle quite low, it almost looked like a drop noseband. But over the past two years I have been able to bring it up a little higher and keep the noseband slightly looser. If you have a really sensitive horse that is light in the hand you can keep the noseband a little looser (just one hole) than a stiffer, heavy horse. Just keep an eye on the cheekpieces, if they are bowing out too much then the noseband is probably too loose.

If you have any other questions please post a comment down below or send them to my email: beginthedance@gmail.com

Here is a video of me riding Rovandio in the Dr. Cook English Padded Leather Bitless Bridle. You can see me put on the bridle in the very beginning. Rovandio is very sensitive so I don't need to have it very low on him.

If you are interested in purchasing a Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle you can visit the Training Tools section of my online shop. I have been carrying their Beta and Leather English Bridles for a few years now and have many happy customers! Click here to visit the product page.

Article in "the Friesian" Magazine- My Top 7 Training Struggles with my Friesian Horse Douwe

I wrote this article for "the Friesian" magazine that is created by the Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA). They send out a quarterly magazine to their members and this was included in their January/February issue (2015). They were very gracious to let me share the article on my blog. I want to send out a big THANK YOU to the editor Laurie Bell for creating such a beautiful article layout with all the photos. This article is under copyright of FHANA and cannot be shared without their permission. There is a list of resources and links that I mention in the article located at the bottom of the post.

Please visit their website if you want more information about the Friesian Breed and their organization: http://www.fhana.com/

Included in this article:
Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle: http://www.bitlessbridle.com/
Falcyyr Film (Ahura Diliiza): https://www.facebook.com/falcyyr
Custom Tack Created by Lisa Oberman: http://elsuenoespanol.com/store/
Isaac Royal Academy of Equestrian Arts (Carolyn Rose): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Isaac-Royal-Training-Center-of-Classical-Dressage/321529202925
Heidi Herriot Trick Training: http://www.heidiherriott.com/
Lydia Rose Bellydance: https://www.facebook.com/LydiaRoseBellyDance?ref=br_tf
Custom Breeches Worn in Falcyyr made by Aanstadt-Das: https://www.facebook.com/aanstadtdasbreeches
Safe Haven Farm in Durham, ME: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Farm/272054486150539

Friesian Horse Performs at Liberty with Andalusian ridden by Sandra Beaulieu

"Follow your dreams.
They know the way."

                                            -Kobi Yamada

This video show highlights from our routine at the 2014 Fall Fun Day held at Elysium Sport Ponies in Dover-Foxcroft, ME. I am riding Rovandio bitless and bareback, with Douwe at liberty. The boys were very good and Douwe got on the pedestal with all 4 feet for the first time performing. He also performed a nice lay down at the end of the routine, while Rovandio stayed perfectly still on the pedestal. Each horse has their own strengths and these two complement each other very well. Enjoy!

Wearing this special shirt tells the world that you LOVE horses and you BELIEVE that riding is a Dance, not a push/pull sport that views the horse as a machine. YOU are a dancer at heart and wearing this shirt will INSPIRE others and remind you why you love the dance. 

First Art on Horseback Painting

I am feeling overwhelmed to share this painting. In 2012 I had the inkling of an idea. I wondered if it was possible to create a painting while riding a horse. I obsessed about it and it took years to figure out the logistics, months to acquire the necessary supplies, days to prepare for, and hours to set up, but, two "practice canvases" later, I have my first finished piece, "Prancing Water Horse":

This painting will always hold a special place in my heart. <3

This painting will always hold a special place in my heart. <3

This painting is made of two 36"x48" canvases to make a full 4'x6' canvas. The background was created with a paint roller at the trot and canter, using the movements of the horse to help mix the colors. I rubbed the paint onto the canvas directly with my hands and created the drips with a water bottle. I let the canvas dry and turned it upside-down before I painted the horse. My painting partner, Lipizzan/Andalusian gelding, Rovandio, and I had to work together in the collected movements so that I could paint while remaining in motion. We used piaffe, Spanish walk, collected canter, and rein-back. This painting is an expression of my passion for the art of riding. Please help me share my story so that I can help inspire others to turn their dreams into reality.

Art on Horseback

Sandra Beaulieu Performs at Open House for Elysium Sport Ponies

We had such a wonderful day at Elysium Sport Ponies open house this past Sunday on June 15th. Elysium is owned by Laurie & Elisha Harvey in Atkinson, ME. The facility includes an indoor arena with attached stalls. It is well set-up and clean with a lot of natural light in the stalls and the arena. Douwe and Rovandio really liked the open stalls so they could visit with each other and see everything that was going on. The demos started in the afternoon followed by a wonderful bar-b-que later in the day.

I rode Rovandio with Lydia Rose Spencer dancing and we did our "Music Box" routine. We added more color to our costumes and glitter to the pedestal to help it stand out more. Rovy was impatient to start but once the music began he was really focused. He loves to have a job! His flying changes were better today and he had a really high rear at the end.

For my final ride I rode Douwe in our "Wings of Isis" routine. Today was the first time I tried doing the routine without a bridle and he was fantastic! He even did his flying changes! Good boy! This was such a fun ride, he was with me the entire time, relaxed and enjoyed performing.

Rovandio and Douwe also did their "Liberty Dance" routine again and today Douwe really wanted to stay on the pedestal. At the Safe Haven demo he really wanted to roll and was distracted away from the pedestal but at Elysium that's all he wanted to do!! He is so funny!

You can see more photos from the event on the Elysium Sport Ponies Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ElysiumSportPonies

Rovandio and Douwe Perform Together at Safe Haven Farm

To dance is to be out of yourself.
Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.
~Agnes De Mille

 

I am so pleased to share this video because it was Rovandio's first time performing away from home and the first time for all three of us to perform a liberty routine! Rovy was SUCH a good boy, relaxed, focused and loved the audience. Douwe did really well but had a few moments where he decided to do his own thing! But that is the challenge with liberty training and performing, I have to follow Douwe's lead as much as create the routine myself and be ready to adjust at a moment's notice. I can't wait to try it again! Enjoy!

Sandra Beaulieu Performs at Safe Haven Farm with Douwe and Rovandio

Rovandio &amp; Douwe. Photo taken by Kim Stone.

Rovandio & Douwe. Photo taken by Kim Stone.

What a wonderful first outing of the year! Douwe, Rovandio and I traveled to Safe Haven Farm in Durham, ME for their annual open house. There was a full schedule of great horses and riders from the area including jumping demos, sidesaddle dressage, cowboy mounted shooting, jousting, and much more. I rode Rovandio with my good friend Lydia Rose dancing in our first routine and then did a liberty ride with Douwe and Rovandio. This was Rovandio's first overnight trip away from home and he was wonderful. He was a little nervous and unsettled in his stall but when he got out in front of the audience he was 100% focused and relaxed. Last year the demos were in the large outside arena but the weather forced the riders and audience into the smaller indoor. We practice in a fairly small indoor arena at home anyway so the space wasn't an issue. The only hard part was that there was no warm-up and I only had a couple minutes to get on Rovy, do a few rounds of trot and canter and then start. I wasn't able to practice any of our harder movements so we could have done a much better job in the routine. But I was SOOO pleased at how relaxed Rovy was and how much he loved performing. There was absolutely NO tension in him at all, he knew what we were supposed to be doing and he watched Lydia dancing as well.

Good boy Douwe! Photo taken by Annette Begin Masselli.

Good boy Douwe! Photo taken by Annette Begin Masselli.

In my second routine I rode Rovandio with Douwe at liberty in the arena. This was the first time I have shown any of our liberty training in public. I have had such a fun winter working these two horses together and every day they come up with new moves and teach me how to stay in the moment. Rovy was so relaxed that I was able to use my bareback pad on him (I am also riding him in a Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle). I prefer riding him in the bareback pad because I can feel his movements and keep his back swinging. Douwe was a really good boy except that he wanted to roll so he was a bit distracted...in hindsight I should have just let him roll at the beginning and then he might have focused better! But I knew that he would be happy to lay down so I was able to put that into the routine even though I hadn't planned on it. Most of the moves I hoped to show involved Douwe going on the pedestal which he usually LOVES to do but today he wanted to roll instead. Haha so you never know what you are going to get!! I want to thank Jennifer Poulin-Novaria for having her open house each spring and giving local riders the opportunity to perform for the local community.