From Endurance to Dressage
A Second Level Disaster - Part 1
After our very stressful journey to the Earl Warren Show Grounds in lovely Santa Barbara, things went downhill, fast and furiously. Stormy weather had been predicted for the weekend, so I was prepared for some tension because of that, but Izzy took it to a whole new level. After being thrown about in a trailer ride from Hell, he was not interested in dressage, especially in stormy, cold weather.
Even though the wind was howling and the sun was beginning to set, I saddled Izzy for a Friday afternoon warm up ride. The Earl Warren Show Grounds has several arenas, but all four of our tests were to be in "The Dome." It's a great arena, but it terrified Izzy. With the heavy winds on Friday afternoon, the ceiling tiles were rattling and crashing. They even made me nervous.
I also schooled him in the warm up arena, but nothing was working to get him to relax even the tiniest bit. He was as tense and nervous as he can be. I kept calm and carried on even though nothing I was doing was helping. After a very disappointing ride, I cleaned him up, put him in his stall, and fed him. There wasn't anything else to do.
Early the next morning, I went out to feed him, but he didn't look very well. Even though it was quite cold and windy, his flanks were sweaty, and he had virtually no gut sounds on his left side. He looked as though he was beginning to colic. I hastily called my friend Jen who was driving up to the show to serve as groom. She works at a vet hospital. I ran his symptoms by her and she thought he might just have an ulcer-y tummy. She agreed to bring some UlcerGard and Banamine. In the meantime, I started walking him.
As we walked near the barns, Izzy started to relax, but if I walked anywhere near the arenas, he got tense and stiff. In between short walks, he hungrily munched on the little bit of alfalfa that I had brought. It makes him high, but I was more interested in soothing his tummy. By the time Jen arrived, a little after 9:00 a.m., it was clear he wasn't colicky, but his tummy was upset. We gave him some UlcerGard, and then we headed up to the show office to complete a Medical Report Form.
Fortunately my first test wasn't until 11:36 a.m., so we had plenty of time to let the UlcerGard begin to do its thing. It also gave us time to evaluate Izzy to see if he was actually colicky. He was pooping normally, drinking, and munching on his hay. By 10:45, I decided to get dressed. My plan was to keep the warm up to a minimum since being in there really stressed him out. I think we could have skipped the warm up altogether as it did nothing to calm his anxiety.
I've only watched the test once, and it doesn't look nearly as bad as it felt. It was like sitting on a rocket. Izzy was as hard-backed and braced as a horse can be. There was absolutely no movement in his back, and his legs jackhammered us around the arena. We earned a 6.0 for our final halt, and eighteen 4.0s. Yes, you read that correctly - eighteen 4.0s. We also earned seven 5.0s which seemed like gifts. Our final score was a 44.146%.
For this show, all of the rides were run in reverse order which meant I rode Second Level Test 1 after riding Test 2. That may have helped, although I can't say for sure, as I was able to finish the day with an "easier" test. The score was still terrible, but at least it was slightly improved at 45.541%. We actually earned two 6.0s for Test 1, but there were still a whole bunch of 4.0s - twelve of them. There were slightly more 5.0s - ten of them.
That evening, I called Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, for some advice. We devised a plan of attack for the next day. I couldn't see how it could get any worse. Here's Test 1 in all its cringe-worthy glory.
Stay tuned for day 2 ...
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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%: