From Endurance to Dressage
Before I started blogging, I kept a scrapbook of sorts. For each month of the year, I added pictures of what I had done with my horses, copies of endurance results and show results, or stuck in anything else equine related. I go back and read those pages every now and again. Most of the memories are good ones, but sometimes they're more bittersweet.
Now that I blog, there are simply too many "pages" to read when I want to reminisce. I post every single day. I don't have just 12 scrapbook pages to look through to remind myself of the year. Instead, I have over 300 blog posts to read. A lot can happen in 365 days; here's just some of it.
January seems to have been spent worrying about Sydney's anxiety. I tried Fluphenazine to see if that would reduce his anxiety, and mine. I didn't write much about Speedy. As I look back on the first month of the year, I don't get good vibes. I am glad I didn't let it dictate how the rest of the year would go!
February was a bit of a hodge-podge. I continued to fuss over Sydney, and for a bit, I thought I had him figured out. Speedy and I went to a schooling show where we did pretty well. Speedy and I also began our year long battle with the canter. We're still working on it, but it's almost there. Taz's Mom and I also repeated our annual trek to Equine Affaire, except it was now called Horse Expo. Still fun, still spent too much money, and still something we look forward to.
By March, everything with Sydney had fallen apart. The anxiety that was simmering just below the surface finally boiled over. The rearing and bolting reached a dangerous level, and I abandoned lessons on him. After much thought, we stopped trying to canter, and I focused completely on relaxation. Speedy and I continued to motor along, and even attended our first two-day show.
April was busy in bursts; we had hot weather early, and then wet and rainy weather. I hosted a clinic with semi-local trainer, Betsy Shelton. I also continued to work with Sydney, but I focused on ground work and and then long and low under saddle. Speedy and I went to another schooling show where he was an absolute rock star! We scored 64% and 66% at Training Level. While we were still struggling with the canter departs, we were showing steady improvement. And Speedy is such a great traveler that going to the shows alone was no big deal. He's a very confident dude out on the road which helps me feel very relaxed.
By the end of May, Sydney and I were back on track. We were walking and trotting in a relaxed frame. I kept the contact as light as possible and did lots and lots of trotting on a loose rein. We also got a new puppy in May, a black labrador named Tobias. Speedy and I were in full show mode and having fun. He dumped me pretty hard at the GEAHS show, but I rode both tests anyway. I was sore for quite some time, but only later found out that I had suffered a pretty good case of whiplash. My neck hurt through most of the summer and fall.
June saw Speedy and I heading to Clovis for our second two-day USDF show of the season. Our scores were a bit disappointing for day one, but on Sunday, we kicked butt! We earned a second place out of a class of 6 with a score of 62.679%. We also went to the Tehachapi show later in the month and earned two more scores above 60% at Training Level. By June, we had easily qualified for RAAC at both Introductory and Training Level.
July was a crazy month. I was busy doing stuff: War Horse, an emergency preparedness clinic, and LOTS of riding. I also took Speedy to a show where some cantering/spooking trouble reared its head. The best part of the month was that things continued to really improve with Sydney. All I worked on was relaxation. We did more walking and trotting on a loose rein. By the end of the month, I was feeling as though we might actually make it to a show at some point.
I spent the month of August cramming for the RAAC. Everything I did was with that in mind. We made it to a schooling show which served to illustrate what we were still missing at Training Level. To get a little more practice in, I took Speedy to a CDS-rated show in Tehachapi in the hopes of fixing a few things and get a bit more experience at the Training Level 3 test. Instead of boosting my confidence, the rides gave me even more to worry about, but the experience was a good one. At the end of the month, we loaded up and headed to the RAAC, ready or not!
Click photos to enlarge.
I spent the first part of the month being embarrassed about my scores at the RAAC, but then better sense prevailed, and I realized that Speedy and I had done a great job. The 67% at Introductory was a first-rate score, and the 57.2% at T-3, a test I'd only ridden twice before, was actually pretty decent. Lori Ovanessian captured a rare smile in this photo. I am glad she did because it really shows how I feel about showing Speedy G! We're a good team, and I am really looking forward to our 2013 show season.
Not to be completely outdone by the Speedster, Sydney made his showing debut in September. Our scores were pretty low, but my goals were met: make it through the tests without melting down and stay in the arena. Done and done!
I have to pause here ... This is the most tedious post I've ever written. I've tried to give up on it at least five different times. Bleck ... In for a penny, in for a pound. Pressing on ...
By October, I was deep into work, lamenting the lessening daylight hours, and feeling frustrated with Sydney again. I became certain that working in the late afternoons was NOT his thing, but I continued to find ways around his tension. I spent a lot of time working on developing better contact with Speedy, and I changed out his bit which really helped. I took Sydney to a Ride-a-Test and while he was the King of Tension, I was able to ride him through it and got some good photos out of it.
The absolute best thing about November was attending the Barbro Ask-Upmark clinic where I rode Luke, the simulator. Being on the simulator gave me the chance to finally feel a real elastic connection. My riding took a HUGE leap forward after that weekend. Even my trainer could see an immediate difference.
In December, Sydney and I reconnected and had some of the best rides we've had in the year and a half that he's been mine. We cantered regularly to the left and right and all the fear and anxiety from the last year just melted away. Speedy and I started to do some very good work at the canter including walk to canter transitions. The best part of the month came at the very, very end when we sat for a photo shoot with photographer Lori Ovanessian.
Click photos to enlarge.
See you later later, 2012 and hello, 2013! May you be kind and let us prosper!
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%: