Donerail Farm
Dressage and Sport Horses

Nanja
1995 Dutch Warmblood Mare
Fair Play (Ulft) ) X Esprit de Corps (Rubinstein)
Bred by Mary Weiler, Brookshire, TX



The Divine Miss N
That is Nanja's nom du plume. If she could, she would ask for a fancy browband with a big "N" and a matching saddlepad with a big sparkly cursive "N" a la LaVerne and Shirley.  She is definitely a diva - but she has good reason to have a "superiority complex." She's a tremendously talented horse, especially when it comes to lateral work. 

The Diva Reports

August 23
Flying Changes -- and some passage! It was a 'two for one' night...worked a lot on just the boring old basics of getting her to bend correctly to the right, and keep her haunches where they _belong_ instead of _out_ which is where the Divine Miss N prefers to carry them.  And in the process did lots of turn on the haunches. And then, she was so energized, Brooke said "I bet she'd passage right now."  So with Brooke directing, I squeezed her together with my legs and just sort of held onto the reins and got a few steps of passage....walked a bit....tried it again, and again got some passage. Wow! I always _knew_ she had it in her! And she does! Then Brooke said, "Ok, let's canter and do some changes."  So we did steep canter half-pass to the right...didn't get the first time...but got it clean the second AND third times we tried....and by that time we were both dripping wet so we quit and Nanja got cookies. I can honestly say that the stuff that always 'intimidated' me about dressage (before I ever did it)  - half pass, changes, etc. that I thought would be so "hard" are EASY compared to the durn basics....or maybe that stuff IS easier because we've worked so HARD on the basics. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? ;)

August 7
FLYING CHANGES!   Today Nanja's canter was really up off the ground and ROUND in our lesson, so Brooke said "Let's work on changes." Me: "HUH?"  Now, I have never even ridden a TRAINED horse through a flying change, much less try and get all the timing and aids right to get a change on a horse who's never been trained to do one. But, as I have learned from Brooke, the horse determines what you work on each day...it's not like you can go out while you're saddling one up and say "Well, I'm going to work on half pass today."  That's a sure recipe for failure! You just have to figure when the horse is "ripe" for a certain exercise sometimes. And then be bold and ask for it. And today was Nanja's day to start changes. With me, even! So, Brooke had me canter her down the center line and do a steep half-pass to the rail and then as I got to the rail, steady her on the outside rein, change my seat and sit on the inside and ask for a slight haunches in. The first few times, I got a disunited change and had to go around the short side before I got her to change in back. But then it's like a light bulb went off in Nanja's head, and the next two I got CLEAN and right at the wall! Woo Hoo! We stopped, gave her treats from her "on board" treat pouch and QUIT for the day. 

August 2
Nanja went to the Oldenburg inspections and strutted her stuff. She ended up with 102 points -  just 3 points from premium and the second highest scoring mare of the day. And, of course, she was entered into the Main Mare Book. There were no premium mares.


I'm giving Nanja a final going-over with a rag and brush just before she goes in the ring. I think Nanja was puzzled."Looks like a show, feels like a show, but where's the saddle????"



A rare shot of Nanja with her ears up! (Thanks to my husband Mike for all these inspection shots!

When I got home, since she was all braided up,
I put her double bridle on her for some photos!


June 29
Between being sick and the excitement (and extra work!) of a new foal on the farm (plus the steady stream of friends coming by to see the new addition) Nanja's had light duty this week. Last weekend, I took her to a Pam Fowler Grace clinic. Nanja was good and Pam gave us some helpful tips on how to keep her active and focused. Pam correctly surmised that Nanja is a horse who needs to be "kept busy." She really needs to be kept totally on your seat and "through" every single stride. She also has to be really kept 'in the reins.' The minute she gets a bit long, she tends to 'pull apart' and I lose her hind legs and she goes "splat" in front.  Nanja really was rocked back on her hind legs almost every stride of the clinic. I am getting better about feeling when she's "getting away from me" and am better able to apply correclty timed half halts before she gets to that 'point of no return.' ;) Tonight I rode her and I got her totally through for much of the time - it's a feeling where it seems the reins are a big rubber band between us and the tension/weight is perfectly balanced between her mouth and my hands....like a seesaw perfectly balanced on the horizontal. Not only was she really through, but she was very active and light...more of that addicting "dressage crack."  Nanja is not an easy horse to ride, but I'm finally learning. And what a journey. When she is right, it is the most wonderful thing I've ever felt... truly like dancing with my horse. And it's a feeling I've never felt with any other horse. Yep, more of that 'dressage crack.'  "Hi, my name is Cyndi and I'm a dressage addict."

June 16, 2005
Last night I had one of "those" rides.
We started off in trot and right off the bat, it was an incredible feeling.She was so round and really propelling herself up off the ground. I could really FEEL her hind legs underneath me....the contained energy was incredible... I could almost feel the energy coming from the hind legs right into my hands. Every stride felt like all that energy was just barely contained ... like dancing on that line between brilliance and losing control. My trainer and I laugh and call these moments "dressage crack."  It's what keeps us plugging away...you ride for a week trying to hone your basics and get the straightness, throughness and impulsion that will give you "dressage crack" for 15-20 minutes. ;)  Ah, but they're a glorious few minutes. And, of course, they never occur anywhere near a show arena. ;)

June 8, 2005
We're really "upping the ante" on the level of work and Nanja doesn't quite know what hit her!  I am sure she is wondering "Hey, when did I enlist in the army?" cuz it's been a little bit like Boot Camp!  However, physically, anyway, the work agrees with her. Her neck is nicely muscled along the top and she's completely lost the bit of muscling she had underneath her neck in 2003. Most noticeable, though, is the development of her hindquarters. She has grown one impressive rear-end in the last six months!  It's "bootylicious!"  I'm riding her regularly in the double bridle now, and we've both gotten the hang of it. My trainer, Brooke Cramton, has been riding her occasionally. Last night, just goofing around, Brooke asked for a flying change and she got a clean one.... so she cantered a bit, then asked for another one, and got a second clean one. Woo hoo!   I'm not even going to think about showing just yet - Nanja needs to be 200% at home first. The problem, though, is that my standards keep changing. ;)  Work I would have been thrilled with even six months ago now just doesn't seem quite 'good enough.'  ;) Dressage is insidious that way. ;)
 

Nanja wins the 2003 year-end Second Level Championship from Houston Dressage Society
This makes the third year-end championship she's won. Basically, she's won the year-end championship at every level in which she's competed. (In 2002 we did not compete - we spent the year training.)  Her year-end average was over 65%.

Nanja undefeated at Second Level during '03 show season!
OK, it was only at schooling shows, but a gal's got to start somewhere. After a perfectly respectable debut in September, she just got better!  In October, she competed under Paula Howard at Second 1 and 2 at the Solstice Farms schooling show and got a 62% and a 65%. Later in October Nanja competed at the Rancho Los Ecuestres Dressage Schooling Show, where she earned a 62% and a 70.5% from judge Pam Grace. And then, to finish up the show year, she showed at Sienna Stables on Nov. 16 and got scores in the mid 60s despite the fact her addled rider went off course in each ride, and twice in test 2.
 
 

 Show Record
2003 - Houston Dressage Society Year-End Champion, Second Level Schooling Show Division, year-end average 65%+
2001 - Houston Dressage Society Year-End Champion, First Level, Schooling Show Division, year-end average, 66.9%
2000 - Houston Dressage Society Year-End Champion, Training Level, Schooling Show Division
 

In 2001, Nanja's sire, Fair Play, (who once stood at Iron Spring Farm)  won the Get of Sire class at the prestigious Devon Horse Show, beating out the top stallions in the country! Congratulations, "dad!"
 


NEW - Nanja trotwork July, 2005

NEW - Nanja trotwork July, 2005

Movie of Nanja trotting

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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