A Quote That Always Rings True: "A canter is a cure for every evil."

This classic quote will always be relevant, to any horse lover. This lovely photo was taken by Kimberly Chason (Chason Photos & Art) of my Friesian gelding Douwe. My custom dress was made by Rhonda Kirkpatrick in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Douwe's custom medieval tack was made by Lisa Oberman (El Sueno Espanol)

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Tale as Old as Time: Sandra and Friesian Douwe Perform as Beauty and the Beast

"Tale as old as time.
True as it can be.
Barely even friends,
Then somebody bends-
Unexpectedly."

                                                        - Lyrics from Beauty & The Beast

My relationship with Douwe has certainly had its ups and its downs. It took many years before he trusted me and
started to enjoy his training. This song holds a lot of meaning for me in regards to our relationship. Douwe was angry and depressed when I first bought him, and over the years has become the goofiest horse I know with a huge personality! It just took some time to uncover what was already there, and to shed his past.  

This video was taken at the Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center in Windham, ME. This routine was very emotional for me; I was fighting back tears as we performed because Douwe was so in-tune with me.

This was our first time performing this new routine and it brought laughter and tears to the audience as well. 

 Don't miss Douwe's "singing" debut at the 4 minute mark! 

Inspiring Trust Quote - Begin the Dance

There are so many layers to riding a horse, and one is certainly related to your emotional and spiritual well-being. When my mind is quiet enough to hear my true voice, not the inner critic or ego, but my inner wisdom, that is when I am able to truly connect to my horse. 

Of all of the voices, whether internal or from those around you, clamoring for your attention, saying you can't or you won't or you shouldn't, be sure to listen to the small voice saying you can. Your energy flows where your focus goes.

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!

"Outlander" Inspired Routine - Bitless, Bridleless, and at Liberty

I love watching the Outlander TV series and adore the soundtrack. The songs are dramatic, beautiful, and have a light-hearted quality that fits Douwe's personality really well. Douwe injured his knee a month before this event and I barely had a chance to ride him the week of the show. I brought Rovandio with us as a backup and ended up performing both of them and they felt great. I tend to be more creative on a deadline so I found myself putting together a brand new routine just days before the show, editing the music and pulling together a costume from my collection. I am so happy with how the routine turned out and Douwe really enjoyed himself. We even popped in a few tempi changes even though we haven't practiced those in months! The music gives me goosebumps to ride to and I am looking forward to the next time I can perform this routine. 

2014 Equine Affaire in Massachusetts

I am so pleased to report that both Douwe and Rovandio did AWESOME in their demos this year! I also had my own booth and was so thankful to have the BEST helpers during the event that not only made everything go smoothly but we had a BLAST, lots of laughs and memories! So here is a daily run through of what we did at the Equine Affaire 2014!

Thursday: Demo at the Youth Pavilion
I schooled both horses in the morning and was really happy that Rovandio had settled in okay and was eating and drinking a lot. This was his first time to the Equine Affaire and only his second time being away from home overnight. Both horses were energetic when I exercised them. Later in the day, Douwe was the featured horse in the Friesian breed spotlight in the Youth Pavilion. He performed many of his tricks including smile, Spanish walk, rear, and standing on the pedestal. He was wonderful! What a ham! Both horses were in the Breed Pavilion to represent the IALHA Booth (International Andalusian Lusitano Horse Assoc.) and the IFSHA (International Friesian Show Horse Assoc.) Booth. Rovy was very tired and mostly just chilled out in the stall but Douwe was a big HAM and smiled for the passing crowds for over two hours! He loved it! Click on a photo for a slideshow and hover over the image for a description.

Friday: the Andalusian Demo
Today was the big day for Rovandio! We had a four-minute time spot in the Andalusian Breed Demo all to ourselves. Originally we were supposed to perform with my friend Lydia who usually dances with us. I thought that would give Rovy more confidence in front of the audience and be more exciting with the veils and dancer. Unfortunately Lydia found out she couldn't make it only days before we left! So I changed songs and made up a simple routine to the song "Sway" from the movie Shall We Dance. I have always loved that song and it matched the Spanish-themed costume I had for Rovy. I tried really hard to get into the Mallory building in the off-hours to let Rovy look at the arena but the schedule was tight and it didn't work out. But, he went into that unfamiliar ring with the big crowd all by himself and was excellent! I was so happy with him and we had a lot of fun performing. We had so many wonderful comments from people about how we were really dancing together and how awesome it was to see a dressage horse being ridden bitless. We were riding in the Beta Bridle by Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle, who generously helped sponsor me at the Equine Affaire. Click on a photo for a slideshow and hover over the image for a description.

Saturday: the Friesian Demo
Douwe's big day! The Friesian Demo! I decided to use our pedestal as a way to help keep him focused if the audience made him nervous. It worked really well because when we first trotted around the arena he was tense and strong. After I had him step onto the pedestal he seemed to be more focused on me and his tricks rather than on spooking at the audience. He was expressive in his Spanish walk, reared a few times, and then I hopped off so that I could ask for the lay down. I am SO happy with him and how he performed throughout the event. Thank you Elisha Harvey for taking a video clip of the demo for me! Click on a photo below for a slideshow and hover over the image for a description.

Thank you to my sponsors!
Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle
They have supported me ever since I started riding Douwe and Rovandio in their bitless bridles. I have used their Beta bridles and the Padded English Leather bridles on both horses and like them both for different reasons. The Beta is easy to clean and is soft right out of the box. The leather bridle is awesome once the high-quality leather breaks in and has a lovely shine. I sell these bridles on my website in the TRAINING section. Click here to see the bridles.

El Sueno Espanol
Lisa Oberman has made two gorgeous bridle & breastcollar sets for me that I have used in two films that my horse has been in, one called Essential Realism and the other Falcyyr. You can read about these films in the Film & TV category on my blog. She is able to make custom bridles for me so I can keep riding them bitless in films and performances. She posts some gorgeous spanish saddles and tack on her Facebook page, click here to follow her.

Aanstadt-Das Deerskin Breeches
I have worn Sonya's deerskin breeches for many years and she recently made a custom pair for the film I am acting in called Falcyyr. To see photos of those breeches click here. I also wore a black pair of full seat deerskin leather breeches in my demos at the Equine Affaire. You can't really see them in most of the photos because I have big skirts on but the breeches kept me comfortable in the saddle. Click here to check out their website.

Thank you to my friends & family at the Equine Affaire!
Without the help of my friends/grooms Elisha Harvey, Sue French and Hannah French I think I would have gone crazy! There was so much to do with a booth and two horses at the event. Elisha does an excellent job trailering my horses to special events and she is also a dressage trainer and does cowboy mounted shooting at her stable Elysium Sport Ponies. Sue French operates Lincoln Pony Pals, lesson barn in Lincoln, ME and her daughter Hannah is an excellent rider and trainer. Having experienced help is so important! I am also very lucky that my mother Peggy and my mother-in-law Bethanne were able to come for the weekend. They helped sell products in my booth and Bethanne had a great time watching her horse Rovandio be in his first big demo at the Equine Affaire! And a big THANK YOU to Danielle Barrasso for letting me stable Douwe and Rovy in her aisle in the C-Barn. She also organized the Friesian Demo and helps me a lot at the event. Thank you to Brenda Hammer for organizing the IALHA booth and I had a great time chatting with her when Rovy was in the breed pavilion. Overall the event was a huge success and I had a great time!
 

Behind the Scenes of Falcyyr: The Ride of the Valkyries!

The costumes turned out beautifully and Ahura and his film crew handmade the amazing armor pieces for the head, arms and legs:

left to right: Myself, Kaylee Clark, Lydia Spencer, and Elisha Harvey wearing our costumes for the first time. Photo taken by Unicovia Pictures.

left to right: Myself, Kaylee Clark, Lydia Spencer, and Elisha Harvey wearing our costumes for the first time. Photo taken by Unicovia Pictures.

I love this photo of Rovandio getting tacked up for filming. His tack was made by Lisa Oberman of El Sueno Espanol. Photo taken by Unicovia Pictures.

I love this photo of Rovandio getting tacked up for filming. His tack was made by Lisa Oberman of El Sueno Espanol. Photo taken by Unicovia Pictures.

Filming a scene like this takes hours of preparation. The film crew arrived at my house around 10:30 AM and we were ready to head over to the barn around 1:00 PM. I had bathed Rovandio in the morning while Lydia Rose Spencer and Kaylee Clarke schooled their horses. Elisha Harvey trailered her horse, Thor, over to Isaac Royal Farm around 10:00 AM.

We were each playing stunt doubles for the other actresses so most of the shots would avoid close-ups of our faces. Lydia had wigs from the Isaac Royal Equestrian Theater for her and Kaylee's characters that have black hair.

I was playing Sinari Diliiza's character as Brunhilda, head of the Valkyrie. She is the main character in the movie. I chose to ride Rovandio because he is more reliable and manageable than Douwe in open fields, galloping with other horses.

Lydia Rose on Zeppelin, leading the way up the pine trail. Photo taken by Unicovia Pictures.

Lydia Rose on Zeppelin, leading the way up the pine trail. Photo taken by Unicovia Pictures.

It was damp and chilly when we took the horses out to the woods and Elisha's horse Thor was quite hyper! He is normally a very lazy horse, but today he was ready to go and not fond of the repetitive walking scenes. We started by walking down the trail past the cameras many, many times so they could film the horses from multiple angles. It was great for the other horses to start out slowly and work our way up to the galloping scene. We did some trotting shots and also cantering our favorite trail we call "the Pines". This field is on my property and is picturesque with planted pine trees all around the slightly uphill trail. The leaves were covering the ground so it was still beautiful even though the trees were a little sparse from all the rain and wind we had last week.

The director, Ahura, had us stay side by side, starting from a halt, then a few steps walk, trot and away we went! The horses were well-behaved, though Lydia's Friesian mount, Zeppelin, through in a buck.

It is hard to see us but this shot shows us galloping by Ahura as he films the close-ups. Photo credit: Unicovia Pictures.

It is hard to see us but this shot shows us galloping by Ahura as he films the close-ups. Photo credit: Unicovia Pictures.

After the horses were done with the galloping scene he needed to get close-ups of the real actresses on the horses for their lines. It was interesting to watch the horses' reactions...when Ahura would say, "Action" they would stand perfectly still and almost hold their breath! It only took a few tries to get the scene the way he wanted it.

Awesome photo of Sinari Diliiza on Rovandio. She was the actress that I played stunt rider for in the galloping scene. Photo credit: Unicovia Pictures.

Awesome photo of Sinari Diliiza on Rovandio. She was the actress that I played stunt rider for in the galloping scene. Photo credit: Unicovia Pictures.

The horses were very patient and seemed content to much on grass in between takes. It was a lot of fun and I think everyone enjoyed it!

Filming the close-ups. Left to right: Ahura Diliiza filming, Kaylee Clark on Gambit, Lydia Spencer on Zeppelin, Sinari Diliiza on Rovandio, Taus on Thor and Elisha Harvey hiding while holding the horse! Photo credit: Unicovia Pictures

Filming the close-ups. Left to right: Ahura Diliiza filming, Kaylee Clark on Gambit, Lydia Spencer on Zeppelin, Sinari Diliiza on Rovandio, Taus on Thor and Elisha Harvey hiding while holding the horse! Photo credit: Unicovia Pictures


Costume Update on the film FALCYYR

I wanted to give everyone an update on the film FALCYYR that Douwe and I will be acting in this summer. Right now the director Ahura Z. Diliiza is working on my costume for my part as Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. I bought a beautiful new corset and he is adding some armor to it as well as improving upon my bow, arrows, quiver and bracer from the film Essential Realism that we did last fall. I am also excited to announce that Lisa Oberman of El Sueno Espanol is making a custom bitless bridle and breastcollar for us to use in the film. Lisa made the beautiful bridle and breastcollar that I used in Essential Realism for Douwe, click here to see photos from that film shoot. The new set will be made of brown leather with gold medallions to match my new costume. I am also getting a custom pair of breeches from the fabulous Sonya Bergstrom of Aanstadt-Das Breeches. She is making something really special for me, I can't wait to show you photos when they arrive! Please check out her breeches on Etsy, click here. Filming will begin in a few weeks for me and then the scenes with the horses will be later in the summer.

Check out FALCYYR on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Falcyyr/245021428904719

My new steampunk style corset. He will be adding some armor-like pieces and other details so I am more of a warrior goddess.

My new steampunk style corset. He will be adding some armor-like pieces and other details so I am more of a warrior goddess.

My newly improved bracers, quiver, arrows, bow and headdress.

My newly improved bracers, quiver, arrows, bow and headdress.

Director Ahura Z. Diliiza putting the final touches on my new bow.

Director Ahura Z. Diliiza putting the final touches on my new bow.

Handmade piece from one of the Valkyrie costumes.

Handmade piece from one of the Valkyrie costumes.