From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy and I had a pretty slow show season in 2016. In fact, we didn't actually make it to any shows during the calendar year. Good thing for us the show season actually starts in the fall.
In October of 2015, we went to a show and earned four very nice scores in the high 60s at First Level. I was certain that our 2016 season was going to be a roaring success. Nope. It wasn't.
It was one thing after another with Speedy. In the spring he suffered a small bowed tendon which the vet only called tendonitis, and then throughout the summer he soared himself by pacing and fence walking. Before I knew it, winter had arrived and our show season was over.
My GMO, the California Dressage Society (CDS), has a number of rider incentive programs, but the Rosettes Award is my favorite. To be eligible, riders must earn 5 scores at or above 60% at rated shows during one season. Each year thereafter, each score over 60% at a rated show earns a "rosette" which is presented on an engraved plate.
The plaque can be purchased from CDS. The certificate, also from CDS, is only taped on and will be removed once I need the space for more plates. I love this plaque because it's a great way to look back on the progress we've made.
Our first plate came from Intro and Training Level. The next two were also from Training Level, but the * indicates scores of over 70%! The last two plates are from First Level.
As lofty a goal as it may be, I would love to get a plate this year with Second Level scores. I know Speedy is capable of Second Level work, we're already schooling some of the movements, but I don't know if he'll stay sound enough to make it to a show.
No matter what happens, I was certainly delighted to add another plate to our plaque. And who knows, maybe Izzy's name will be up there this year!
When things start to go to hell in a hand basket, readership rises. Watching a train wreck is far more compelling than reading about a Steady Eddy who gets his job done. Right now, I am delighted to be able to bring you the most boring update ever!
Izzy has been so much fun to ride over the past several weeks. We're not going to hit the late winter shows and bring home any good scores or anything, but he is actually starting to work like a legitimate dressage horse.
I wish, wish, wish, I had thought to change that lozenge snaffle out months ago. Since switching bits, Izzy is getting softer through his neck and back, and is sometimes so relaxed that he's actually "flat."
On Saturday, he showed me the horse I knew was in there. Don't get me wrong - he's still got opinions, but like he used to do way back when, he pitched a little fit and then decided it just wasn't worth the hassle. You want to trot? Eh ... I'd rather not. Heyyyyyyy! What's with the pokey spurs? OH MY GOD YOU'RE KILLING ME. Alright, I'm going! And the balking was over. Balking is so much easier to deal with than bolting.
Instead of being stuck at one end of the arena with Speedy as a security blanket, Izzy is now confident enough to use the entire arena. When we get to one of the two spooky corners, we sloooooow down and crawl through them instead of powering through. And if needed, I use lots of bend to show him that we'll be leaving said scary corner really soon.
My trainer shared something on Facebook a few weeks ago that really made me stop and think. It went something like this: instead of working to lighten the rein that the horse is heavy on, try to fill up the other rein instead. Oh sweet Jesus has this helped.
Izzy really loves the right rein which means he is always on it. Tracking left means I am holding up 10,000 pounds in my right hand while the shoulder tries to leave the ring. When we track right, I am always bouncing the right rein trying to get him to let it go already.
Instead of getting him off the right rein, I am now thinking about how to get him on the left rein. To the left, that means less inside bend. Being able to see his entire eyeball and even his cute forehead is not a true bend anyway. I need to use way more outside leg and outside rein to straighten him up so that he can take my inside rein. Works like a charm!
To the right, I simply open the outside rein to give him the room to take it. He can't get on the left rein when I keep it on his shoulder, counter bent. Along with that, I also have to LET GO OF THE INSIDE REIN! It seems so obvious, but especially at the right lead canter, he really wants me to let it go so that he can take that outside rein and stretch down.
All of this is amazing. I am no longer riding a rocket on a string. We now have a half halt that he can hear, a stretchy trot, and canter departures that are not explosions. Pinch me please; I think I must be dreaming!!!!
I am a dressage rider, but my alter ego, the one that foots the bill, is an elementary school teacher. We're celebrating Kindness Week at school which means that each day we dressed up as something to promote kindness. We wore neon or bright colors to "Shine for Kindness," super hero shirts to "Power up for Kindness," and western clothing to "Giddy-Up for Kindness."
In my world, "giddy-up" means breeches and tall boots. I dressed English instead. When given the opportunity to wear riding clothes to work instead of needing to do a Superman quick change in the tack room, you can bet I was all over it!
As a side note, I wore my new Ovation breeches for the entire day, and I mean the entire day! As in 5:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. - a full twelve hours. They were as comfortable as any pair of yoga or sweatpants. I've worn my breeches to work a couple of other times, and no one seemed to think much of it. I am thinking this might become a semi-regular attire choice.
TGIF my friends. Spend it wisely!
I don't want to get too excited about simply not dying, but Izzy is really starting to come around lately. Facebook reminds me of all of our ups and downs, so I know this isn't anything new. He's done this before.
What I am liking about our current upswing is that Izzy is showing a lot more maturity. His I don't wannas are way less dramatic and a whole lot shorter in duration. They're also less frequent.
I also like that he's asking to stretch. It's not happening every stride of course, but the fact that he is asking at all says that he's finally realized it feels good to stretch and relax. Ya think?!
We had an unbelievably gorgeous day on Tuesday which meant that I got to ride in the sunshine, weak and fading as it was. The wind wasn't snapping at us nor were leaves skittering under foot. Izzy was "up" since there's so much mud that he can't really blast around in his paddock, but he was listening.
Even with the deck stacked against us a bit, we had a productive ride. He spent most of the time with a tight back, snapping his head up at every sound. But in those moments when he wasn't a giraffe, he was reaching and stretching. He did try to bolt a time or two, but with this bit, I have him back within one stride.
My cure for the bolts, since they almost always happen in the same spot. Is to do a trot to walk or even a walk to halt transition right before the place where he wants to bolt. As we approach the trouble spot, I ask for a walk (or a halt) and then I ask for a stretch. After a few of these, I shorten the amount of time that we are walking (or halting) and pretty soon we're doing trot/walk/trot transitions through the scary place.
And then last night? He was even better: back was loose, neck was loose, and he volunteered to canter. We were BOTH smiling!
My mom and dad and stepmom all sent me gift cards for my birthday which was earlier this month. Can you guess to where? Did you say Riding Warehouse? But of course. I am really easy to buy for.
I still have money that is unspent, but with the various sales and discounts that Riding Warehouse always runs, I did mange to find a few things right off the bat that I wanted.
I know you got a little excited there for a minute. I LOVE seeing cool stuff that riders are buying. But this? Socks? Move on, lady.
I hear you, but man do I have a thing for socks. My mother-in-law always stuffs my stocking full of socks for Christmas, which I really appreciate. On a whim, I ordered a few of those super cute If You Can Read This Bring Me a Glass of Wine socks, and then my step-mom sent me an even cuter pair of the same.
Whenever I order tack or fly spray or wormer, I always toss in a couple of pairs of tall socks. These are a pretty basic pair of CoolMax Tall Boot Socks from Ariat. As I've mentioned before, I always buy in twos so that I can eventually pair the socks that don't have holes in the toes, effectually creating a new pair.
Moving on to something more tantalizing - breeches! I cringe at even sharing this. Many of you know how many pairs of breeches I already own. I think it's more than 30. If I have a thing for socks, I have an obsession for breeches. I simply can't help myself.
These are pretty nice ones, too. They're the Euroweave DX Campania Ornate Full Seat Breeches by Ovation. They come in midnight navy and boysenberry which are more like dark teal and a very dark eggplant. At $79.88, I thought they were an awesome bargain especially since they come with all of the bells and whistles: Dry-Lex fabric, sock bottoms, fancy embroidery, and full seats. I know I have put on a few pounds this year, but they do seem to run a size small. Oh, all right, it's more than a few pounds.
Not from the Riding Warehouse, but the riders of Team Symphony, my trainer's barn name for her students, all have jackets that they've embroidered to celebrate their team spirit. I finally got a chance to order mine. I LOVE it!!!! It's a soft shell jacket with a scrumptious fleece lining. It's almost too nice to wear to the barn. But don't worry, I will!
Since I was having the jacket embroidered, I decided to also personalize the Union Hill Dressage Pad that I had been saving. Now that Riding Warehouse is carrying them for $17.95 before any discounts, I have at least three of them. When I eagerly took it out of the bag, I noticed where the embroiderer had placed the logo - in the front!
I immediately cracked up laughing. Izzy won't know which way to go! Fortunately, my saddle should cover the goof. I've since ordered a new pad and had it sent to the friend who takes care of all of Team Symphony's customization. She's going to ensure that the embroiderer does it again, this time correctly and at no charge. Good thing the pads are so cheap!
I've got money left on my gift cards, although I did make a pretty good dent. I think I'll wait for some spring stuff to make its way onto the Riding Warehouse shelves before I spend the rest of it. I am sure I can find 5 NEW things to buy!
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%: