From Endurance to Dressage
After writing this, I went back and reread it ... BORING. So, to eliminate the most boring parts, I've darkened the font. Read those parts only if you need help falling asleep! I decided not to add the rules prohibiting all the non-legal stuff because there is less allowed than prohibited! Meaning, you can ride with a saddle, pad (and half pad), bridle, spurs (that meet the rules), and a whip (that meets the rules). And that's IT!
I wrote this a while ago and felt that it was too boring even for this blog (which as you know strives to be interesting, but doesn't always succeed - I may really tank in this post!). If you already show, you already know all of this. So I guess this post is for anyone who is thinking of showing but doesn't know where to start with their tack. I was in that exact spot exactly one year ago.
And with that, here is some info about dressage tack that is legal for showing. You can find the complete USEF rules for dressage here.
The first thing you have to have is a dressage saddle. Here is what USEF says:
An English type saddle with stirrups is compulsory for Federation and USDF tests. An English type saddle may be constructed with or without a tree but cannot have a horn, swell, gallerie, or open gullet. Australian, Baroque, Endurance, McClellan, Spanish, Stock, or Western saddles are not permitted nor are modified versions of these saddles (exception: competitors with a current approved Federation Dispensation Certificate). A Dressage saddle which must be close to the horse and have long, near-vertical flaps and stirrups is compulsory for FEI tests. Saddle pads are optional, but should be white or of conservative color. English-style stirrups, without attachments, or safety stirrups are compulsory.
So ... basically a dressage saddle with stirrups.
The second thing you have to have is a bridle. Here is what USEF says:
For (Intro, too, I am assuming) Training, First and Second Level tests and FEI Pony tests, a plain snaffle bridle is required with a regular cavesson, a dropped noseband, a flash noseband (a combination of a cavesson noseband and a dropped noseband attachment) or a crossed noseband. Except for the FEI Pony tests, a crescent noseband is also permitted at these levels. Except for the crescent noseband, buckles and a small disk of sheepskin, which may be used in the intersection of the two leather straps of a crossed noseband, the headstall and cavesson/noseband of the bridle must be made entirely of leather or leather-like material. A padded cavesson/noseband and crownpiece are allowed. A browband is required, and except for the parts that attach to the crownpiece or headstall, is not required to be made of leather or leather-like material.
So ... basically any English style bridle. You'll notice that it doesn't have to be black or even made of leather!
And finally, you do have to have a bit, for now ... Here is what USEF says:
Only those bits listed with Figure 1 (can't show figure 1) are allowed. At any level of competition, a cavesson noseband may never be so tightly fixed that it causes severe irritation to the skin, and must be adjusted to allow at least two fingers under the noseband on the side of the face under the cheekbone. Cavesson nosebands may be used with a chin pad. At any level of competition, a browband may be multicolored and may be decorated with metal, beads, gemstones and crystals.
All bits must be smooth and with a solid surface. Twisted, wire and roller bits are prohibited. A bushing or coupling is permitted as the center link in a double jointed snaffle, however, the surface of the center piece must be solid with no moveable parts. The mouthpiece of a snaffle may be shaped in a slight curve, but ported snaffles are prohibited.
PERMITTED SNAFFLES* (Must be used in Training-Second Level Tests. Optional in Third and Fourth Level Tests.)
1. Ordinary snaffle with single-jointed mouthpiece.
2. Ordinary snaffle with double-jointed mouthpiece.
3. Racing snaffle (D-ring).
4. Snaffle. A) with cheeks, with or without keepers. B) without cheeks (Egg-butt).
5. Snaffle with upper or lower cheeks.
6. Unjointed snaffle (Mullen-mouth).
7. Snaffle with cheeks. (Hanging or drop cheek; Baucher). This may be a D-ring or other ordinary snaffle
8. Dr. Bristol.
10. French snaffle.
11. Snaffle with rotating mouthpiece.
So ... basically a snaffle style bit with no port or roller mouth pieces.
Here is what I used to use for endurance (endurance saddle/pad, breast collar, running martingale, crupper, trail bridle/halter combo, splint boots, various packs & hanging items, Easy boots, rump rug, and a fanny pack) and next to all that is what I am using on Speedy ... a lot less complicated than endurance gear!
As always, click photo for larger view.
Man, I love you guys!
It's been raining ... a lot, so a good schooling ride was out of the question on Thursday. Actually, so was a trail ride.
Hmmm... a blog post about scraping mud off a horse while standing in the mud is not very interesting. Neither is a post about cleaning poop out of the mud while standing in the mud. So I continued to think about blogging while I scraped mud and scooped poop all while standing in the mud. When I got tired of standing in the mud, I figured Speedy might be tired of it, too.
I dug out my old riding halter and clipped a set of reins to the rings. I grabbed my helmet and step stool and popped up on Speedy G. I haven't ridden him bareback in a few months and I've never ridden him in a halter. The experience was very interesting and quickly became blog worthy and very dressage related. Here is what I discovered.
Speedy G was VERY anxious and resistant to the feeling of the halter over his nose. I use a rope halter on him all of the time so he's used to that pressure. But as soon as I picked up on the reins and asked for some inside bend with a bit of outside soften please, his nose shot straight up in the air.
Rather than let him go, which is what I've done in the past when he fusses, I kept the inside bend steady, rode him forward with my seat, and squeezed the outside rein in small pulses. The instant he softened his head and neck, I let my hands come forward a little to give him some release. When his nose popped back out, I repeated the exercise.
I know the photos are a bit blurry, but you can tell that he's a lot less stiff in this photo than in the first one. We did lots of changes of direction and some counter-bending, which is actually a bit difficult with just a halter! We worked this circle for only 10 or 15 minutes, but he figured out what I wanted really quickly.
This shot was the best. For a rookie dressage rider and a young horse with an amateur trainer/owner, this is a pretty decent little frame Speedy's got going. Asking for softening and bending without a bit requires much more seat work and a different feel in your hands. I may need to do more work in a halter like this. Very interesting experience ... By the way, Scotty and Jasper's mom shot these pictures for me.
This is the halter we're working in. Most rope halters have a Fiador knot where the lead rope attaches. Standard rope halters are difficult to ride in because there's no place to clip your rings other than the knot loop below their chin. I bought this halter a few years ago from a woman who "invented" the knot around which the rings are tied. Her configuration eliminated the Fiador knot. Who knew I would use it to school dressage bareback?
Back to why I love you guys ...
During random moments in the day, I think about stuff to write. Sometimes I have ideas just pouring in and I'll write several blog posts in one day and save them and publish them later in the week. Other times I sit and think ... and I get nothing.
Thursday was one of those days. Try as I might, I had nothing creative to say. And the thing about having a blog is that you have to, well ... BLOG! In order to have something to blog ABOUT, you have to DO things, like ride, or at least have creative and engaging thoughts to share. And since I run a bit short in the creative and engaging thoughts to share category, that forces me into the DO something category. And so I did. All because I knew I had to have something to share with you which is why I love you guys! You helped me learn something pretty cool about riding in a halter. Thanks!
Plans with hubby ... no phone ... limited internet access ... hope to post, but might not be 'til Sunday. Be back soon!
This blog post is for the "smart" phone, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media users.
I have set up this website and blog to have a mobile version for your "smart" phone. Open your phone's browser, access the website, and you should see it in the mobile version. You may have to change a setting with your browser's options to see the mobile version, but it is available. And here is where I should insert a commercial encouraging you to use a mobile version so that you won't miss a single post!
I have also added a "subscribe" widget (a clickable link to other stuff) over there on the right. Scroll down below my bio picture and you should see it. This is actually a cool little widget. If you open it, it will ask you how you want to subscribe and will give you over 80 apps to select from! If you do check out the subscribe widget, click on the word SUBSCRIBE, not the get widget part. That just takes you to the website where I got the widget. And since I got it for free, they get to put their little commercial below the SUBSCRIBE button which is very confusing for the reader. Very annoying!
I promise to post good stuff this weekend and will refrain from this type of "commercially" stuff. Have a great weekend!
I had a pretty crappy work day on Tuesday. You know the kind where you come home and you can hear yourself snarling at the doorknob, the dishwasher that needs to be emptied, and even at the salad that needs to be made for dinner? I HAD to get out of the house and the barn was calling my name. It didn't hurt that even after a rainy night and cold morning it was close to 70 degrees.
I wore breeches and boots even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't ride. I just felt so pissy and didn't want to subject Speedy to a nit-picky ride. His warm whicker upon seeing me changed my entire outlook on the day. I gave him a nice, thorough brush down while he worked on his dinner and then decided to use my endurance saddle to hit the trail afterall, especially since the arena resembled Lake Superior.
I don't know what has happened over the last week or two, but something has literally clicked into place in Speedy's training. He marched himself out onto that trail with a new found confidence, maybe even a swagger! I don't think it hurts that there is lush grass EVERYWHERE that he gets to nibble on when he does something right that I've asked for. Following along the road, loud car approaches, I think forward ... forward while using my seat to push him. He goes forward instead of sucking back with the car ... I say, as though he's won Olympic gold, GOOD BOY! and point his nose to the tallest grass blades I can find. Repeat.
The loop that I did on Wednesday winds through the oil fields but then climbs up over three short, but rather steep hills before heading straight back for the barn. I use the hills for a variety of things, sometimes a light canter, other times I ask for collected trot work. Wednesday I tried something different. I approached the bend toward the first climb in a counter-bend. Speedy knows the climbs are ahead and usually gets "racey" as he approaches. The counter-bend kept him focused and soft. Then I went way off the charts and for the first time EVER, voluntarily did a BIG hand gallop up the first hill. Amazing.
In between each climb is a small downhill and a short flat. I organized him on the downhills, walked the flat, galloped the second hill, and then threw his brain a curve ball by asking him to WALK the third climb. WHAT!!!!??? he wailed.
The 3/4 of a mile home went just as well. He put on his old "I am gonna be jacked-up routine" as we made the final turn for the howmeward stretch, but I politely asked him to put it away. He did. We finished up with some nice working trot, superb marching walk, and one last little slow working trot to the barn's entrance road as a reward. We wrapped it all up with an on-the-buckle free walk to the tack room.
Horses are amazing therapy.
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%: