From Endurance to Dressage
We are recently back from a five-day weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. We have NEVER visited an out-of-state destination more than once until now. Nashville has so much to do that we decided to go back this summer.
The main part of our trip was to be the NASCAR race just outside of Nashville in Lebanon. We went last year and had so much fun that we decided to repeat the experience.
Getting to the track is a challenge. Last year, it took three hours to make the 40 minute drive. Things were supposed to be improved this year, but we never got to find out. Since we had hired a car service, we were to be dropped off for the day and then picked up later that evening.
On race day, the weather called for thunder and lightning with rain a sure thing. They don't race in the rain; we decided not to go. As it turns out, we made the right decision. The race did start but was then delayed twice for 30 minutes each time due to lightning. The rain followed. By the time the race got started again, it was 9:00 p.m. Our pick up time was 8:45. Had we gone, we would have spent a very long and hot day walking around only to sit soaking wet for two hours while we waited for our car service, all without even seeing the race.
While it was disappointing (and expensive) not to see the race in person, we're very flexible travelers, so we filled our day doing other things. This year, we toured the city via the Hop on/Hop off trolley. The trolley is a guided tour with 14 stops. You can hop off at any stop and then hop back on when the next trolley comes by. We were able to get out of downtown and see some other parts of the city without having to Uber or walk.
Of course, race day wasn't the extent of our trip. We also spent time touring the Tennessee State Museum and Opryland. In California, nothing is free despite the exorbitant taxes we pay. Tennessee also has some steep taxes - the tax on liquor is really high, but many of the public spaces are free, like the museum. On the day we visited, three members of the Nashville Opera performed eight pieces from a variety of musicals. We heard pieces from "I Could Have Danced all Night" from My Fair Lady, "I Am a Pirate King" from Pirates of Penzance, and "Habanera" from Carmen. And it was all free.
If you ever make it to Nashville, don't miss a walk through the Opryland resort. If we go back, I definitely want to stay there. It is spectacular. We spent nearly two hours just walking around the huge atrium exploring the three main gardens, and we never even saw the water park. We ate a decadent dinner in one of the gardens before taking the short walk to the Grand Ole Opry. We did that last summer, but each performance is new, and this time was just as good as last year.
Monday was a very full day. We spent the morning at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. We have now seen the resting places of nearly ten presidents. I think it would be safe to say that we enjoy history.
As a teacher of US history, I know that Andrew Jackson's presidency was filled with controversial policies. His treatment of the Native Americans was nothing short of heinous. Even taking into account those actions, Jackson's leadership was pivotal in keeping the union together. While I am no expert on the 19th century, the Hermitage's portrayal of Jackson's life seemed quite honest including both the good and the bad of his life and presidency.
After visiting the Hermitage, we had our Uber driver drop us off at 6th and Peabody for a tour and tasting at a moonshine distillery. We toured a different distillery last year, but it was fun to taste some new spirits. The moonshine was actually quite tasty - not the make you blind variety. The Ole Smokey distillery also distills some bourbons as well as brews beer. We tasted a bit of everything.
Since it was a bit of a walk back to the hotel, we stopped yet again at Nashville's giant food court, the Nashville Assembly Food Hall. This place has awesome junk food, fine dining, shopping, and live music. We stopped there at least five times between our two visits. We sat at the bar for a drink and used the restroom before walking the last few blocks to our hotel for the final time. They have the world's best bathroom signs. Forget gender neutral or family friendly. These guys tell it like it is.
If you're looking for your next getaway, try Nashville. You won't be sorry.
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%: