From Endurance to Dressage
We're all on our own paths when it comes to horses. Some of us are owners who let someone else do the riding. Some of us don't need a judge to tell us if we're doing it "right." Some of us want to enjoy the beauty of the trail without the distraction of scores. And some of us need, want, and crave those scores.
It's no secret that I am a score stalker. I am a frequent visitor at USDF Scores.com. I analyze my own scores as well as those of other riders, particularly if it's someone whom I admire. I've done a lot of thinking about scores lately, especially since Izzy is now my full time ride. We earned scores in the high 50s at our last show (58.9%, 60.6%, 55.5% 58.1), and I definitely need to push them up into the 60s. Simply wanting it doesn't make it happen though. It takes a concerted and focused effort to raise scores.
A year or two ago, I created a spreadsheet where I could enter all of the scores that Speedy earned at Third Level. I am working on entering Izzy's data as well. By studying Speedy's scores, I was able to see where we were doing really well: centerline, rein back, turn on the haunches; and maximize those scores. I also saw where we struggled: flying change to the right, canter half pass right. For our last show together, we earned a 7.0 for all three flying changes to the right. Identifying your weakness and focusing on it, will help improve your scores.
Another thing I recently realized is that the difference between a 58% and a 68% is just riding each movement one point better. That's it; just one point. If I were to focus on trying to change a 58 to a 68, I could never do it. The gap is too wide, but if I focus on earning just one more point for each movement, a score in the 60s is very attainable.
Izzy and I are going to Santa Barbara this weekend for another two-day USDF show. We'll ride Second Level Tests 1 & 2 again. I've been schooling those tests religiously since we came back from SCEC. For every ride I keep the judge's comments running through my head like a ticker tape. Neck short, angle varies, conservative ... Every time Izzy's neck gets short, I flex him to the inside, put my inside leg on, and push my hands forward. When I come through the corner in the shoulder-in, I pick a post on the fence and ride straight towards it to help maintain the angle. While our medium canter might still be conservative, it's at least getting more supple.
We might not get one more point for every movement, but we're going to do our best. Even a few more points will have us scoring in the 60s. While a 68% would be amazing, my goal is a 60% or better at all four rides. That's a tall order, but we're capable.
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. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. 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 showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: