From Endurance to Dressage
I am a big fan of vertical spaces, especially for storage. I do not like things on the floor, and I don't like things to be all on one level. In a tack room, vertical storage is pretty essential as our square footage tends to be limited. My saddle storage situation - not vertical, finally annoyed me to the point where I felt compelled to do something about it.
It's not like it was a horrible situation, but it wasn't ideal either. My old saddle, which I haven't used in probably two years, was sitting on a rack wedged in the corner behind my feed bins. My every day saddle was squeezed into a space that limited how much you could open the door. That worked for the most part, but I finally got tired of squeezing behind the door (which is frequently open to let in some air) and shimmying my saddle down alongside my old saddle without knocking things over. I was also sick of the saddle rack collapsing as I was trying to shimmy the saddle on. The nylon straps that hold the support bars were constantly coming unsnapped. Well, maybe not constantly, but frequently enough.
Last week, the rack collapsed one time too many. In a huff, I ordered the three-tiered saddle rack from Tractor Supply. Yeah, the one that I drove an hour and a half to pick up. Want to feel smart? Read that post.
Since I am working from home, and since it's a billion degrees, I headed out to the garage at 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning to put that thing together. I now start work at 7:45, so I gave myself an hour and a half to get it done. At the barn I boarded at before moving out to the ranch, we had a couple of these so I knew what it was supposed to look like before I even opened the box.
As it turned out, opening the box and getting everything out of the box both took longer and was more difficult than actually assembling it. It was like one of those clowns packed in a Volkswagen scenarios. It was all arms and legs tangled up with heads and butts.
Once all of the pieces were laid out, the whole thing took less than ten minutes to assemble. The only reason it took that long was because I was dripping in sweat and had to stop a few times to wipe the sweat out of my eyes.
While it would have made more sense to take it at least partway apart to get it in the back of my truck, I decided to just power through and heave it up there. Same thing once I made it out to the barn. I stood it up, tipped it sideways, and lugged into the tack room. Why make an extra trip when you can pretend you're Superman? Girl power.
I dragged everything from my half of the tack room to the side and gave the floor a good sweeping. The saddle stand in the corner hadn't been moved since I moved in four years ago. I am not exactly sure what was in that dirt pile, but some of it had legs, and some of it looked suspiciously like teeny tiny poop. Then I cut my pool noodles off the old saddle rack and duct taped them to the new one. A "real" saddle mattress is close to two hundred bucks. The el cheapo pool noodles are working brilliantly.
I can't say the vertical saddle rack has saved any square footage - although the door opens farther now, but it's going to make my life a lot easier. With a third tier, I now have a better place for drying my wet saddle pads. On the flip side, I can now see how gross that saddle pad is. Seriously, Sweaney, throw that thing in the washer!
Work has been a wee bit stressful this week, and it's been hotter than hell by the time I can ride, so I haven't sat in the saddle since Sunday. Having a new saddle stand is somehow a motivator to ride, so even though it's predicted to be 107 ℉ this afternoon, I am going to try and at least hack around the ranch.
If nothing else, I am least going to slide my saddle on and off the rack just to see how it works.
I am officially working remotely. At first, I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I am slowly starting to regret the decision, and I am only on the fourth day. With COVID-19 still here in California, our governor has locked down our state which means schools are still closed. Kids still need to go to school though which means we are once again learning via computers. My district gave teachers the option to "broadcast" from our classrooms or home. I chose to work from home.
Among other reasons, my thinking was that not only would I save a ton of time and money by not making the 35-minute drive each way, but I'd be closer to the barn at the end of my work day. I also have a better laptop, and after the ransomware virus that attacked my district last year, we're no longer able to connect outside devices to the district's network. Hence, working from home enables me to use a better computer for hosting Google Meets (similar to Zoom). And as an added bonus, I can actually pee whenever I want.
The reality has been that I am working harder by being at home. Somehow, at work, it never bothered me to goof off for 15 minutes. Not like it happens often, but if I really don't want to do anything, the kids never mind. In fact, sometimes we throw in the towel and just go outside and hang out, enjoying the fresh air. We've been known to play P.E. for an hour. From home, I feel like I'd get fired if I took my dogs for a 15 minute walk during the workday. So, I have found myself working every single minute from my 7:45 start until my 3:15 end. I haven't taken breaks, and I even worked during lunch.
Yesterday, I got a text from Tractor Supply that the Three-Tiered Saddle Rack that I had ordered had finally arrived. With purse in hand, I watched the clock until 3:14:59 and then bolted. Here's the thing. Tractor Supply is a 35-minute drive. The same drive I would have avoided had I had actually driven to work in the morning, I could have stopped by on my way to the barn. But no, I drove all the way to the far West end of town in late afternoon traffic.
When I arrived to pick up my order, there was quite a lot of confusion about where my box was even though I had phoned ahead to verify it was actually there. Eventually, someone asked to see the email verifying the box had indeed arrived. Do you know there are TWO Tractor Supply stores in Bakersfield? I did not. I might have dropped an F-bomb or two, and they were not frick and frack.
I was very politely, and apologetically informed that I was at the WRONG STORE (you moron, they no doubt wanted to add but refrained because, you know, professionalism). I climbed back into my truck and drove back towards the center of town so that I could turn south to drive to the farthest southern part of town. The box was of course ready to be picked up, and I again received an apology as though it were anyone's fault but my own.
By this point, I had left my house which is as far EAST as you can possibly go to drive as far WEST as you can possibly go to then drive SOUTH as far as you can possibly go all while still being in Bakersfield. My plan had been to drive to Tractor Supply, pick up the saddle rack, and then head NORTH to the barn. Well, that just didn't happen. As it was, the round and round and round trip took me an hour and a half.
While all of that was more than a little frustrating, the biggest disappointment was that Izzy's BEAUTIFUL new halter had arrived earlier in the day, but because of the above mentioned SNAFU (and yes, I know what that means, Google it if you don't), I didn't get to try it on to see if it fits.
So the moral of the story is DON'T WORK FROM HOME. A secondary moral might be DON'T BE SUCH AN IDIOT. And lastly, LEARN HOW TO READ.
After I rode on Sunday, I hosed Izzy off and left him to graze on the lawn as he dried off. I saw him give a quick shake of his head, but it was nothing that caused me to be alarmed or even worried. He continued to graze as I sat cooling off in the shade.
As usual, I poured his lunch bucket into his feeder and watched as he came strolling into his paddock. It wasn't until he was right in front of me that I noticed that the clip that connects the throat strap to the halter was swinging in the breeze. I tugged the halter over his ears and saw that the snap was broken. He must have hooked it on the wire fence and broke it when he jerked his head free. Shoot. There's no fixing that.
I have really liked this halter, a Tekna breakaway halter. I actually have two of them, a black one for Speedy and this brown one for Izzy. The Tekna line of products are synthetic, but they look and feel very leather-like without the hassle of leather. And yes, my endurance roots are shining through.
I have actually been considering getting a new one though as this halter is starting to show its age. First, the padding at the noseband and crown has begun to crack.
Izzy long ago rubbed his name off the halter plate that someone gave me as a gift which was one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received.
The hole that I use to buckle the halter is also starting to show its innards.
Other than those few cosmetic issues, everything else is in good working order. Good enough anyway to continue using it. Now, I don't have to feel guilty about buying a new one.
My birthday was in January. My mom had said she was sending me the usual Riding Warehouse gift card. When no card arrived, I assumed my mom had forgotten or something had prevented her from ordering it. It felt rude to call her up and say, "hey, where's my gift?" When she was here a week or so ago, Riding Warehouse came up in the conversation - horses are high on my list of things to talk about as is buying stuff for said horses. My mom asked what I had ended up buying with the gift card.
When I told her that no gift card had arrived, she swore up and down that her credit card had been charged, so I placed a quick call to the fine folks over at Riding Warehouse. Within minutes, the customer service representative verified that yes, a gift card had been ordered, and no, it had not been redeemed. The best we could figure was that the email notifying me of the gift card had been lost in space. So guess what I now have? Yep, $200 to spend at my favorite online retailer.
So, along with a new pair of C4 socks - these run a very close second to my all-time favorite Noble Outfitters Over the Calf Peddies, and a tub of Zephyr's Garden Skin Rescue Emollient Salve - poor Izzy has rubbed out most of the hair from his poll to his tail, I ordered the Schockemohle Ulm Round Raised Padded Leather Halter. I am not a fan of leather halters, but Riding Warehouse no longer carries the Tekna halter, and none of the other synthetic halters appealed to me.
The Shockemohle arrived last night, so I haven't had the chance to see if it fits yet. I hope it does because it is quite pretty and has several features that put it just a step above ho-hum. I like the adjustable noseband, the clip at the throat, and the double adjustable crownpiece will help with fit. Izzy wears a Full/Horse size in both of his bridles and Tekna Halter, so I am hoping I ordered the right size.
Since he's my "new" show horse, I think he deserves to walk around in something a little nicer than his old halter. Don't let me down, buddy!
If Izzy's going to my "new" show horse, I need to start thinking of him as such. Imperioso. That's Izzy's RPSI registry name. Sounds kind of fancy to me. Let's hope he can live up to such a regal name.
It's only been a week since he became my number one ride, and already things are different. It's not like I've been riding him all this time with no goals, but now I'm riding with a lot more intent.
Having ridden through Third Level, my bag of tricks is a lot deeper than when I was bringing Speedy along. Long ago, I chafed at the idea that I was supposed to be schooling a level (or more) above what I was showing. Had I followed that advice, I would never have gotten anywhere. Things are different now. With Izzy, I school everything I know - stretchy trot circles, leg yields, half passes, walk pirouettes, simple changes, flying changes, halting at X, shoulder-in, 20-meter circles, 15-meter circles, 10-meter circles, and on and on.
I am also discovering that Speedy and Izzy are two very different learners. What took me forever to teach Speedy, Izzy often picks up within a day. Take the simple changes. I schooled those things for freaking EVER on Speedy. I've played around with them off and on with Izzy, but over the past week, I've been schooling them in earnest. At the end of the first day, Izzy started to anticipate what I wanted, especially in the canter to walk.
I am not saying Izzy is smarter than Speedy. He's certainly more athletic which helps, but the biggest difference is that I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I was trying to teach Speedy. Bless that pony for being so patient with me.
My local CDS chapter has a couple of clinics coming up - another dressage clinic with Barbi Breen-Gurley and a cavaletti clinic with Erika Jansson. I was slated to do the same cavaletti clinic last winter over in Ventura, but Izzy whacked himself the night before, pulling a shoe and banging his leg all to heck. Besides the two clinics, I am also planning on doing a USDF show in late October. That means I have two months to decided which level to enter. It's funny to be wondering if we'll have a flying change for Third, a good enough simple change to do Second, or be put together enough for First.
Those are good problems to have.
Last Monday, we made the trip to Alamo Pintado, and since that day, Speedy's done nothing but walk around and eat. Speedy lives in a large sandy paddock, which both the vet at Alamo Pintado and my own vet think is the best possible situation for him. The more he can move around, the better. Standing in a stall or small paddock would make arthritis much harder to deal with.
Since he lives turned out all day long, I left him alone all week letting him wander and move as he saw fit. He got his daily cookies and a bucket of goodies for lunch, but that was it. On Saturday, I decided Speedy was ready for a lameness check. I walked him up to the round pen just to see if anything had changed, not that I thought it would have, but I wanted to check. I shot a short video, but it's not very good. It's hard to keep the camera steady while clucking and tapping the whip.
If you're looking for the lameness, watch his left (inside hind leg). That toe wants to drag a bit. If you listen closely, you can even hear the uneven footfalls. And before you panic, he's not sweaty. The "wet" spots are just left over from the dust control sprinkler from the day before. He likes to stand out in the mist, and then later, as he walks around, the dust sticks to his wet coat and dries.
One of the privileges that Speedy has earned over the past year or so is the luxury of being let loose on the ranch with just a halter. After his two minutes in the round pen, I let him loose to roam the yard as I groomed and later rode Izzy. This "turnout" is one of the best things for him as he loves to poke around the ranch visiting the other horses and grazing on the lawn. He walked around for nearly two hours. That kind of movement is great for keeping an arthritic hock from stiffening up.
For now, a weekly lameness check will be the extent of his workload. When and if he trots off sound, I'll think about riding him, if he's less lame by the end of September, Dr. Tolley and I will discuss using Equioxx to see if that will keep him sound enough for actual work. Until then, he'll get lots of turnout in the yard, cookies, and some grooming.
As long as he's happy, I'm happy.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are schooling and showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
9/20 TMC (c)
10/11 TMC (*)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS (***)
7/27 Breen-Gurley (c)
8/30 Breen-Gurley (c)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read