From Endurance to Dressage
All of that feel good stuff from yesterday was real. It didn't come easy at first though because I was stressed out about the uncooperative virtual session with my trainer, Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. When it became obvious that technology was not going to be my friend that day, my husband - who never comes to shows, finally told me to ditch the Pivo and focus on my horse. It was the best piece of advice of the week.
I've had Sean in my ear for every warm up ride for the past year. Not having him there was stressful, but my husband's confidence in my ability to ride without the help, gave me the push I needed. I shut everything out and started to really ride Izzy. As though I had been doing it my whole life, I started asking Izzy those little questions that Sean has taught me to ask. Can you give me some flexion? How about a bit of leg yield? Can you walk? Can you do a balanced canter transition? and on and on. Through it all, I kept reassuring him; I got you Izzy, and I will be alright. Every time he lost his balance and threatened to make his own decision, I gave a tiny half halt, and reminded him that I got you. The more times I said it, the more I believed it. As a result, Izzy believed me too.
As we headed up to the show arena, Izzy kept asking are you sure? He gave the bathrooms a stare, the man on the bench looked scary, and the announcer's booming voice over the loud speaker caused him to leap forward. There's always a friend when you need one though. Izzy leaped on top of "J" when the announcer's voice startled him, but instead of running her down, he gave her hair a deep sniff and took a deep breath. My friend Laurel saw the insecure look in his eyes and happily stood next to him while we waited to head into the ring. By the time we were waved in, Izzy was looking to me for direction.
I halted Izzy in front of the judge's booth and gave our number, then I asked for a trot and rode every step of that test. During the test, I recognized every unbalanced step and worked over and over to keep him steady. I knew we were in a bit of trouble when he kept asking to walk, but I put my spur in and told him to keep going. And then I knew why he wanted to walk. Izzy had to poop.
Lord have mercy. Rather than fight with him, I made a decision. I let him poop knowing that it would lower our score, but since the day was not about scores but about me actually riding and making decisions, I knew listening to him was the right decision. I was right. We earned a 4 for that 20-meter circle. For the canter circle at C, He felt terribly off balance, so instead of just trying to make it around the circle, I asked for a half halt and got a downward transition to trot. I didn't care. He was listening, and I wanted him better balanced. We earned a 4 for that movement as well, but we followed it up with a 7 for our working canter, and for the next canter circle, we earned a 7.0 with the comment "smooth depart."
After our final halt, I broke into a huge smile. There were lots of unbalanced moments, but I couldn't have cared less. My goal was to ride my horse rather than sit there frozen, and I knew I had done it. I was pretty sure we had earned yet another mid-50 score, but I didn't care. I had done what I had set out to do.
To my surprise, we earned a solid 62% and change. Not only that, but it was only the two little mistakes that brought the score down. The test was filled will a solid string of 6.0s, 6.5s, 7.0s and even a 7.5 for our first halt. Had we not had the poop incident or the off balance canter, we would have had a 65% or higher. On the other hand, if I had picked a fight over the pooping or not fixed the canter, we might have had yet another 54%. I am more than happy with the score.
Before I wrap this up, there is one more part to this tale of I got you and I'll be alright. Stay tuned ...
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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%: