From Endurance to Dressage
I am so glad that I didn't sell Sydney this past fall. I am even more grateful to Hubby for encouraging me to stick with him. I am absolutely head over heels in love with that Kiwi from down under. Thank you New Zealand Racing for sending this very lovely horse to the USA.
As I was preparing Speedy G for the two-day HDEC show, Sydney had eight days off. He was turned out plenty, but he had no under saddle time. I got on him for Monday's lesson, a little apprehensive; eight days is a long time off for a healthy OTTB. No worries - I was treated to a very well mannered boy. Tuesday was much the same, but an appointment and a sick day kept me from riding on Wednesday or Thursday.
Pick a Card - I'll take this one!
I worked a short day on Friday which gave me sufficient time to ride both boys. Even though I still wasn't feeling well, I hopped up on Sydney anyway (Speedy, too). I was so glad to find my boy just as relaxed as he had been on Monday and Tuesday. Each time I rode him, I worked on a small circle to the right to encourage Sydney to stand up and fill up my outside rein. He got better each day.
I enjoyed a very pleasant ride on Saturday. His left lead canter is something to die for. He has become so light in the front end that I can put him anywhere I want to. One difficulty that I've been having is using too strong of an outside rein. When I do, he drops back to a trot. On Saturday, I really focused on following his motion so that when I wanted to pick up his shoulders to move, I asked when he was already lifting his shoulders. AHA!
Wow. What a great feeling. By fine tuning my feel at the canter, I was able to get him even more collected. It was like flying ...
On Sunday, my plan was to work the right lead canter again in the small circle to help him balance and learn to move out. He foiled my plans by picking up a very balanced right lead canter without the need for the small circle. Now that he and I have finally connected emotionally, he is working so hard to do the right thing for me. Over the last few months, he has developed a keen sense of what I am trying to ask. If he thinks he knows the answer, he will volunteer before I can even ask the question.
During our loose rein warm up, the neighbor boy b-b-b-b-bounced around on his roller coaster car, startling Sydney. He gave a give "scooty" hop over, but then quickly returned to his pleasant trot with an ear flicked to me as if to ask, everything okay up there? I gave him a good boy pat and reassured him that everything was indeed, okay.
I have fallen in love with this horse ...
I think I forgot to mention that today begins my Easter Vacation. I have this entire week off as well as next Monday. With the success of last weekend's show still bubbling around in my head, I forgot to mention that I get to spend a whole week riding both boys each day.
My trainer also has the week off which means we often change up the lesson schedule to accommodate our vacation plans; my regular Monday lesson is on Wednesday this week.
Since Speedy had just come home after three days away and two days of showing, he got to sit out last Monday's lesson; Sydney, waiting on deck, got called up. Sydney only goes for a lesson about every 4 - 6 weeks; I've talked about this quite a lot. He and I just need more time to develop the skill that JL has lined out for us. This works out well as Speedy does great with a weekly lesson.
JL was quite impressed with Sydney's left lead canter work. There is zero tension in his body when he tracks left. He's soft and relatively balanced. I can move him around at both the trot and canter without any fear of him bolting or rearing. He actually has a really nice left lead canter. He gives me a perfect place to sit and wants to be uphill all on his own.
The right lead canter is a different story. This is his hollow side. JL said long ago that the hollow side is the more difficult side to ride because there is nothing to push on. I finally see what she means. He wants to collapse on this side and fall into the circle. I've been working really hard on moving him OUT, OUT, OUT, but it hasn't been getting me anywhere.
Instead of making the circle larger, JL had me make the circle quite small. Doh! That's Michael Schaeffer's Perfect Circle; the one I've been doing with Speedy to teach him to bend his stiff side. I never though to use it for a hollow horse. Once I made the circle small, I had something to push against. And if I made the circle small enough, Sydney wanted to move out on the circle.
We did this exercise at the canter. I used an opening inside rein to keep his neck bent, but kept an even feel in my outside rein. As soon as he started to soften in the bend and want to move out on the circle, I felt him fill out my outside rein in a very satisfying way. Once he was willingly moving away from my inside leg, I could then use my outside leg to "catch" him and bring him back to a small circle.
I worked on this exercise several times over the week and am really pleased with how much better his right lead canter is getting. He always picks up the correct lead, but doing it without falling in is our goal.
This Easter vacation came at the perfect time for us. I now have a full week to work on his right lead canter in preparation for his first show of the year! We "tried" to do Intro A and B in September and at a Ride-a-Test in October, but for both attempts he was so tense that we didn't accomplish anything. I am hopeful that I now have a better understanding of how to work him through his tense moments. My entry is in the mail for a schooling show at HDEC where I've signed us up for Intro C and Training Level Test 1.
The show is April 7. I am hoping to round up a friend to go with me as I think a bit of ground support would help Sydney be more relaxed. Anyone want to go to HDEC?
We have virtually no tack stores in Bakersfield. We have several feed stores that carry some tack, but it's pretty hit and miss. And it's mostly western tack. The good thing about not having a tack store down the street is that I tend to spend less on random stuff that I don't really need.
The bad thing about not having a local tack store is that it's really easy to spend more than I should on random stuff that I don't really need. When I order what I need, I invariably throw a few random items in the cart to either meet the shipping requirement, or because I really want it and I'm already ordering. Yesterday I wrote about a few show supplies that I would like to have for our next two-day show. I got to looking at my show calendar and realized that our next two-day show is in less than three weeks. If I planned to have Quic Braid or a stall chain for the show, I needed to start ordering right now.
I started out by shopping at my two favorite go tos, Dover and Smartpak, but neither one of them had the bucket hangers that I was looking for in stock. My next option is always Stateline Tack who had just what I needed.
Stateline Tack had the bucket hangers that I was interested in so I ordered two. They also had a stall chain and the Quic Braid Spray. And then because I was already ordering, I added a cheapo braiding kit. I already have most of the things in the kit, but I really wanted the needle. It was less than $13.00 so I don't feel like it's going to bust my budget (says every binge shopper).
I still need the gloves and a new belt, but I am waiting a bit on those. I have a lead on the gloves that I want, and I've decided to go BIG on the belt. This one would do nicely, but for $50.00, I want to be SURE it's the one I want!
I really had a great time at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center Spring Show, but I am getting a little tired of writing about it. I write to help myself process what I've learned so I feel obligated to share one more chunk. During the course of the show, I noticed that there are five things that I could use to make my show experience easier.
1. The first thing I absolutely need to buy for my next two-day show is a stall chain. I've never owned one of these before, but I can see how it would be very useful when stabling in a box stall. The stalls Speedy has stayed in have had hard to open latches and heavy doors that swing wide. The latches are also hard to close once you're inside. For all the zillion times that I've needed to go in and out, it would be much easier with a stall chain.
2. I've never really been a big fan of these over the door bucket hangers; they strike me as unsafe, but I can see how they could be useful. Speedy G is not a fan of drinking out of a five gallon bucket that is parked in the corner of his stall on the ground. At this past weekend's show, I had to keep emptying it out because it kept filling up with shavings. I think I am going to get a couple of these bucket hangers to try out at the next two-day show.
3. I hate braiding; I am not very good at it, and it's just plain hard. I saw a lot of people using Quic Braid over the weekend and their braids looked lovely. I am pretty sure that perfect braids don't squirt out of the bottle, but the stuff must help.
4. There are also a couple of clothing items that I need to update. My old belt finally gave out this weekend, not that it was anything fancy in the first place. Long ago I blogged about acquiring my first show clothes. Since I had never shown, I had to start completely from scratch. The belt was picked up by my dear friend, Taz's Mom, at the Goodwill for $1.95. We were ecstatic over the find. I wore that belt to at least 25 shows! Now I need a new one.
5. Since I've started schooling in really nice gloves, I want to show in them as well. My really nice gloves were a gift from a friend. I want nice show gloves, but I suspect I am too cheap to spring for them, especially at nearly $50 bucks a pair.
Bonus: (I already bought the scrubs so they don't count as one of the five!) Last spring, I saw several riders wearing medical scrubs over their show clothes; I thought it was a brilliant idea. Not knowing where to get scrubs, I let the idea fall by the wayside. A few weeks ago, I noticed that our cafeteria ladies were wearing scrubs every day as their uniform so I asked where they buy them. Apparently, we have a store that sells scrubs just a mile from where I work, so I stopped by and picked up a pair. I am not sure how well they would work on a hot day, but for this weekend's show, they were awesome! I was even able to slide them on and off over my boots.
Too late for a spoiler alert, huh? It's true. We rocked Training Level Test 3. I knew it was going to be a good ride as soon as we entered the arena. I was prepared.
My final test of the day came several hours after T-2 which gave Speedy and me both a chance to rest and think. He had a small snack in his stall while I enjoyed a barbecued cheeseburger on the viewing deck. I hydrated myself, ran through the test a few more times, and saddled up.
My second warm up of the day was almost identical to the first: a walk lap followed by a few small left circles and a canter to trot transition. That was it. I walked Speedy over to the gate and gave him a little pep talk. I encouraged him, pat his neck, and worked on raising both of our energy levels. I was actually excited to ride the test.
The bell rang, and I entered from a right bend and halted at X. I felt Speedy drift a wee bit, but I knew it was a pretty decent halt. From that point on, my entire focus was on riding each movement to the best of my ability. I remembered to prepare Speedy for each transition, and my efforts paid off. The stretchy trot is the last movement before trotting up centerline for the final halt and salute. It was the first time that he has ever actually stretched during a test. You should have seen my smile! The score: a 6.5!!!!!
Our final score? 63.800%, with another 9 point jump from the day before! I know that watching and studying better riders helped improve my own rides for the weekend. Just to show how much we improved over the weekend, here's a little "chart" showing my points and final scores.
Oddly, Training Level Test 2 is actually worth more points than Test 3. Test 2 has a maximum value of 280 while Test 3's maximum is 250.
The things that I most love about my T-3 score are that there is nothing lower than a 6.0, our stretchy trot finally earned a "passing" score, and we finished the show with an 8 for our Halt, Salute. What a great ending to a really enjoyable show.
Score sheets are below ...
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%: