Maribeth Dunlap Dressage

Articles & Events


Dressage (n.) The art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance. A way of thinking. A way of living. A journey.

Coddiwomple (v.) To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

Welcome to my blog - my dressage coddiwomple - a meandering life journey which has and continues to take me down interesting roads where I have discovered extraordinary trouvailles and whimsical crooked paths.

Although I do not consider myself a writer of any grand quality, I am a bit of a spontaneous gallivanter who enjoys sharing and writing about my experiences and observations.

As a student of the horse, aviation, and life, I also view writing as another way to learn and cement the ideas further into my understanding. Writing allows me to dig deeper into the subject material and gives me more reason to research and explore. I love learning new things and I enjoy sharing what I learn with others.

If you continue to explore my dressage coddiwomple, I hope you will find my writings interesting and of some value. Most importantly, I hope this blog inspires you to explore new places and perhaps embark on your own journey - your very own extraordinary coddiwomple.

Feel free to contact me to leave a comment!  I'd love to hear from you.


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2020 Dressage Competition Calendar

Posted on January 23, 2020 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Jan 11: SWFDA Schooling Show,,  Ft. Myers, FL


Feb 23: ADA Schooling Show at Triple J,, Sarasota, FL

Feb 29 - Mar 1:  SDCTA Spring Break I & II,  Tampa, FL

Mar 22:  ADA Schooling Show at Triple J,, Sarasota, FL

April 4 - 5:  Florida Dressage Concours I & II, FOXLEAFARM.COM, Venice, FL

Apr 11: SWFDA Schooling Show,, Ft. Myers, FL


May 2 - 3:  SDCTA Dressage Among Friends I & II, SDCTA.NET, Tampa, FL


May 23 - 24:  Dressage Under the Oaks II,, Weirsdale, FL


June 6 - 7:  Suncoast Sunburn Classic I & II,, Tampa, FL


June 13 - 14:  Dressage Under the Oaks III,, Weirsdale, FL

July 4 - 5:  White Fences Summer Fun II,, Loxahatchee, FL


August 22 - 23. FoxLea Rated Show, FOXLEAFARM.COM, Venice, FL

Sept 5 - 6:  White Fences Summer Fun III & IV,, Loxahatchee, FL


Sept 12 - 13:  Dressage Under the Oaks IV,, Weirsdale, FL

Sabine Schut-Kery Clinic Nov 16 & 17, 2019

Posted on October 30, 2019 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Little Girl & The Horse

Posted on October 27, 2019 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

After making the little girl, God said:

“You’ll need something to lean on. Something with substance that will teach you the value of hard work, perseverance, and to never give up. A thing that won’t cast judgment when you mess up in life. Because you will often, it’s just part of growing up and becoming a decent human."

"You’ll need something whose impressive physical presence must be respected at all times. A being who could break your bones in a whisper but will never break your heart. A creature who will be there for you when you cry for hours after someone you love lets you down. An unspeaking breathing being that will teach you to check all the noise in your head and completely listen to what he is saying."

“Sometimes in life you need to let go and just hang on. I call this trust. The terrifying ability to follow something blindly out of the conviction of only your heart. It will keep you centered and restore your faith when life happens. When you realize that you are forgettable to the world you won’t be to this creature."

"Something that will keep you truly humbled yet teach you how to fly!"

“You need to understand the painful reality of death. Sometimes it’s ok to let go. That kindness will always be rewarded before the use of force. And that courage means trusting him to get you safely to the other side."

“Something to get you out of bed in the trying times. When you feel like you have nothing he will remind you that you are still wanted. Something to give you perspective about what’s really important in life."

“You’ll need a best friend. Do not take this relationship lightly. It just might save your life someday when you see no out. Treasure it always I’m trusting it to you to take care of for a reason."

“A creature who will restore your faith about all of the goodness in the world even when you are so broken down that you cast Me aside."

“In turn with time and healing he will bring you back to Me. Know that your struggle won’t be made alone, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride."

"So I will make a horse.”

Credit to Lacey Messick

"All horses deserve the chance, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl."

August 18th Educational Expo

Posted on June 1, 2018 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Skin Conditions & Home Made Anti-Itch/Fungus Cream

Posted on January 17, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Skin Conditions & Home Made Anti-Itch/Fungus Cream

January 17, 2018

By Maribeth Dunlap

I have lived and kept my horses on my farm in Pennsyvania for most of my life.  We had to endure a mud season in spring where "scratches" were common around the pasterns and fetlocks of our horses. The opportunity to train in Florida during the winter gave me a another experience in fungus prevention. Fungus prevention in Florida is never-ending and part of the daily maintenance and management of horses in that environment.  And now moving and settling on the southern coast of North Carolina has given me yet another experience.  

Here are some things I've learned:  Horse's skin is up to four times more sensitive than a human's. Their skin is not only more sensitive to touch, but with their thick coats and outdoor lives they are very susceptible to skin conditions. 

Monitoring your horse's coat on a regular basis is important. There are many causes of skin conditions including allergies, bacteria, fungus and insect bites. Excess moisture in the environment is a huge factor. Regular grooming, managing turn-out and pasture time during rainy seasons, proper nutrition and veterinary care will all help reduce instances of equine skin conditions. When equine skin conditions do show up, you need to be able to recognize them and address the cause, while also treating the condition so that it does not progress. 

Skin conditions in horses often present themselves with scabby lesions, crusty spots, red areas, bumps and hives.  Hair may be falling out in an area. Sometimes there are areas of raised hair with lesions, flaky skin or scabs underneath.  Your horse may obsessively rub or scratch a specific area. These are all signs of some kind of skin issue.  When I groom my horse I run my hands over the coat with emphasis down the legs, around the fetlocks, pasterns and heels. I feel for bumps, scabs and crusty areas.  If I feel any of these then I know I have to address this immediately.  The sooner you can address these things the better.  Delaying treatment could result in major issues and summer sores that could require veterinarian care.

Things that I've adopted over the years to care for my horses skin is to groom regularly.  During warm weather, I will occasionally bathe them using a good antifungus/antibacteria shampoo.  I dry towel their legs after bathing to help keep the skin on the legs dry.  I also towel off around their head with empasis behind their ears and down their cheeks.  If I suspect anything is brewing then I tackle it immediately with anti-fungus/bacteria creams and shampoos.  If the condition continues to get worse, then I contact my veterinarian.  I don't mess around with skin issues as they can blow up into a nasty mess.

Here is my favoritie home-made anti-itch/fungus cream.  It helps to calm down the affected area, heal, soothe and helps with the itching.

Home-Made Anti-Itch/Fungus Cream


2 oz of Hydrocortizone Cream,

2 oz of Zinc Oxide Cream,

2 oz of Triple-Antibiotic Cream.

Mix these ingredients all together and store in a sealed plastic container.  Apply liberally to affected areas.  You can also make a double batch to last longer.  

Home Made Fly Sprays

Posted on January 9, 2018 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Home Made Fly Sprays

Avon Skin So Soft Fly Spray

4 oz Avon Skin So Soft

1 oz Citronella Oil (essential oil)

12 oz White Vinegar

12 oz Water

Mix together in a spray bottle.  Shake well before each use.

Baby & Essential Oils Fly Spray

2 cups White Vinegar

4 capfulls of Baby Oil

10 drops each of essential oils:  Lavendar, Eucalyptus, and Peppermint

Fill remainder of spray bottle with Water.

Shake well before each use.

The FEI Rule

Posted on September 1, 2017 at 9:30 AM

FEI Rule

Chapter I Dressage


1. The object of Dressage is the development of the Horse into a happy Athlete through harmonious education. As a result, it makes the Horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with the Athlete.

These qualities are demonstrated by:

• The freedom and regularity of the paces.

• The harmony, lightness and ease of the movements.

• The lightness of the forehand and the engagement of the hindquarters, originating from a lively impulsion.

• The acceptance of the bit, with submissiveness/throughness (Durchlassigkeit) without any tension or resistance.

2. The horse thus gives the impression of doing, of its own accord, what is required. Confident and attentive, submitting generously to the control of the Athlete, remaining absolutely straight in any movement on a straight line and bending accordingly when moving on curved lines.

3. The walk is regular, free and unconstrained. The trot is free, supple, regular and active. The canter is united, light and balanced. The hindquarters are never inactive or sluggish. The Horse responds to the slightest indication of the Athlete and thereby gives life and spirit to all the rest of its body.

4. By virtue of a lively impulsion and the suppleness of the joints, free from the paralyzing effects of resistance, the Horse obeys willingly and without hesitation and responds to the various aids calmly and with precision, displaying a natural and harmonious balance both physically and mentally.

5. In all the work, even at the halt, the Horse must be "on the bit". A Horse is said to be "on the bit" when the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace, accepting the bridle with a light and consistent soft submissive contact. The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the Athlete.

6. Cadence is shown in trot and canter and is the result of the proper harmony that a Horse shows when it moves with well-marked regularity, impulsion and balance. Cadence must be maintained in all the different trot or canter exercises and in all the variations of these paces.

7. The regularity of the paces is fundamental to Dressage.

A Father's Explanation of Why He Had Horses for His Children

Posted on September 1, 2017 at 9:20 AM

A Father's Explanation of Why He Had Horses for His Children

~ Author Unknown

My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most

people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I

took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the

choices she would face in the future.

As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she

would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our

town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color

under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where,

seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem. The

parents of these same girls have asked me why I "waste" the money on horses

so my daughter can ride. I'm told she will grow out of it, lose interest,

discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current

generation' s "slacker" label on my child. I don't think it will happen, I

think she will love and have horses all her life.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has compassion. She knows that

we must take special care of the very young and the very old. We must make

sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned responsibility for

others than herself. She learned that regardless of the weather you must

still care for those you have the stewardship of. There are no "days off"

just because you don't feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned

that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work you

must do first.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of

getting dirty and that appearances don't matter to most of the breathing

things in the world we live in. Horses do not care about designer clothes,

jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to

impress others. What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within

his natural world, he doesn't care if you're wearing $80.00 jeans while you

do it.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned about sex and how it can

both enrich and complicate lives. She learned that it only takes one time to

produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren't produced is not to

breed. She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes

die before reaching their potential. She learned how sleepless nights and

trying to out-smart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see,

as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money.

Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier

visits. Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference

between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation. She has learned to

judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and

to make sure her stan-dards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge


Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own.

She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond

body language and reactions. She has had to learn to "read" her surroundings

for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might

only see a pretty meadow. She has learned to judge people as she judges

horses. She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a

high degree. Everyone that competes fairly is a winner. Trophies and ribbons

may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman. She

has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regardless of

who it hurts. She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also

cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging

personality. She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she

has to express herself to her horse with more than words. She knows the

satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1000 pound animal that will yield

willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept

handling of those stronger than she is. She holds herself with poise and

professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead. She

knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the

road. She knows that you cannot care for and protect your investments

without savings to fall back on. She knows the value of land and build-ings.

And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel

or being stranded on the side of the road with a four horse trailer on a hot


When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can

honestly say that I haven't "wasted" a penny on providing her with horses. I

only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these

lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

Riding Lesson

Posted on August 20, 2017 at 10:25 AM

Poem: "Riding Lesson"

by Henry Taylor

From An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards (University of Utah Press)

Riding Lesson

I learned two things

from an early riding teacher.

He held a nervous filly

in one hand and gestured

with the other, saying "Listen.

Keep one leg on one side,

the other leg on the other side,

and your mind in the middle."

He turned and mounted.

She took two steps, then left

the ground, I thought for good.

But she came down hard, humped

her back, swallowed her neck,

and threw her rider as you'd

throw a rock.

He rose, brushed

his pants and caught his breath,

and said, "See that's the way

to do it When you see

they're gonna throw you, get off."

The Dressage Lesson

Posted on July 3, 2017 at 10:30 AM

The Dressage Lesson - A Poem

by Stephen Forbes

July 03, 2017

Contact, oh contact, what does it mean?

Trying to figure this out makes me want to scream

Too light, too soft, too hard, too strong

My instructor yells that it's always wrong

They say it means whats going on in the back

This Dressage thing I can't seem to get the knack

"The hindelgs the hindlegs they are too out behind!"

Trying to get this horse straight has got me in a bind

I kick and sit and close and I pray

There has got to be a much easier way

I'm drenched in sweat and haven't left the walk

I felt it, I felt it! I engaged his hock!!

Tears of joy stream from my face

Until my instructor puts me back in my place

His back is round and he's finally coming through

Oh wait, never mind he's just taking a poo

We are trotting now and this is much better

The contact is perfect and he's a light as a feather

It's not so hard, dressage has become clear

Until I trot by and look in the mirror

My horse is as long as a two storey train

Why do a sport that drives me insane?

I bend I flex I click and I cluck

My horse decides that's the cue for buck.

We fly through the air in a moment's flash

I swear I felt something leak from my ass.

I ride it out and act like I'm fine

I think the universe just sent me a sign

I re't wait for tomorrow I'm gonna learn how to ride!