CDS Calendar
Columnists, Dressage, Nan Meek

Creative CDS Calendar Celebrates its Members

“I love, I love, I love my calendar girl” sang Neil Sedaka in 1960. What would he sing about the California Dressage Society’s 2021 calendar — “I love, I love, I love my calendar horse?”

I really do love my CDS calendar. It was a project initiated last summer, as the pandemic was taking hold and members were feeling isolated from one another. No more socializing at clinics and shows, even those that were able to operate safely under health restriction guidelines. Meetings went virtual, as did exercise classes, some lessons, and just about everything else. While social media and Zoom or Facetime calls helped keep us somewhat connected, being live and being on-screen are still vastly different experiences.

Sending out a call for calendar girls and guys, CDS offered members photo space for each month of 2021: first come, first served. Members could buy one space, or two, or more – and they did! Calendar pages were filled with up to four photos per month. There were faces both familiar and new – both people and horses. There were portraits and candids, action shots and close ups.

Members got creative. CDS President Joan Williams filled up one page with two very long horizontal photos, one stacked above the other. Each photo showed Joan’s students (and Joan) lined up across the arena, spaced a safe six feet apart, grins on their faces, as I’ve found Joan’s students tend to have.

California Dressage Society
Joan Williams’ students.

I couldn’t resist. Since the calendars would arrive in time for Christmas gifting, a few friends and I went together on a full-page photo of our trainer, Anke Herbert, for an unusual and fun gift. Photographer extraordinaire Terri Miller’s photo of Anke and her beloved Fandango RS, who she recently retired from competition, made a great September image for our calendar girl.

An added bonus to the CDS calendar was having show dates printed inside. At least, those shows that were already scheduled as of the fall 2020 printing date. Alas for my San Francisco Peninsula chapter, our show dates of July 23-24 had been stuck in the approval process at deadline, so they are missing from this calendar. Also missing are the dates of the CDS Annual Meeting, originally scheduled for Valentine’s Day weekend. With health restrictions now at their most restrictive, the CDS board has been hard at work developing plans for a creative new kind of virtual annual meeting. Stay tuned for details on all of the above.

Calendars Capture Moments in Time

One of the reasons I caprioled at the chance to include Anke and Fandango in the CDS Calendar was due to the experience of producing a similar calendar for my San Francisco Chapter in 2012, our chapter’s 45th anniversary. That San Francisco Peninsula Chapter Calendar is treasured to this day, because it includes photos of good times worth remembering, as well as pictures of dear friends and beloved horses who are no longer with us. Browsing through its pages is like stepping back in time – priceless!

California Dressage Society
Spanish Riding School memories kept fresh.

That got me thinking about other calendars that I have loved, and in some cases still have. There’s the Spanish Riding School calendar I brought home from a visit to Vienna. It brings back memories of rushing from our hotel as soon as we arrived, dashing past the State Opera House and the Hotel Sacher, to arrive breathless at the entrance to the Winter Riding School at the Hofburg Palace. The only tickets available minutes before that evening’s performance were standing room only, and that was fine with me. Perched high in the balcony above the floor of the world’s most famous riding hall, I watched the performance as if in a dream. Having loved Lipizzan horses since I was a teen, the experience was truly a highlight.

All that rushes back to me every time I look at the Spanish Riding School calendar above my desk, even thought it has been out of date for more years that I will admit.

It’s easy to make calendars now, with templates available on many web sites, and no design expertise needed – although in all honesty, a good designer can make anything look better than a template. But online templates and smartphone photo uploads make DIY projects such as personalized calendars, mugs, and more, available to all of us.

Shirley Johnson & Twist

There’s a calendar for everyone, and every purpose. One of my friends received a calendar that featured a different photo of his grandchildren on each month. Another friend received a gift of a calendar that contained photos of all the horses in her barn. A local farm that features pony rides – those marvelous experiences that instill a love for equines in so many children – paints a fiberglass horse statue each month in seasonal themes. You guessed it: they produced a calendar featuring a painted horse each month, and it brought a smile to my face every time I turned a page to the next month.

While writing this column, I started thinking about making a calendar for myself with photos of all the horses I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life. Since those I’ve owned, leased, and/or borrowed add up to an even dozen, I’d say it’s about time I stopped thinking and started doing this project!

What moments in time will your calendar capture this year? There are so many ups and downs in life with horses. I hope you will have more ups and fewer downs to record in your 2021 calendar. A few 2021 CDS Calendars are still available. Please call the CDS Central Office at 831-659-5696 for more information.

Nan Meek

Author Nan Meek is The West Equestrian’s dressage editor, proprietor of Nan Meek Equestrian Marketing and an amateur dressage rider. She can be reached at

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