From Endurance to Dressage
I usually plan out my show schedule for the whole summer. I take into consideration our vacation plans, when the school year ends, and when it stars up again. I try to make all four of the shows that are in Tehachapi (an hour and a half away), RAAC, and one or two other USDF shows if the budget allows.
Last summer, I was broke, so the planning was made a lot easier. We had bought a new house in October so my show budget was pretty small. I am not as broke this year, but I am a lot more busy. Which brings me to the go or don't go: I have a show entry sitting in front of me that needs to be postmarked by tomorrow.
I got a raise this spring although I won't see it until probably June. On the other hand, I am taking two courses from the University of Phoenix which is costing $600 a class; ouch. The show entry is $500, and I'd have at least another $125 in gas and meals. I sleep in my living quarters so at least there's no hotel bill. I have it in my budget if I want to go, but it is a lot of money.
The real reason I am struggling with whether to go or not is time. I just don't seem to have enough of it lately. I am a little over halfway done with the first class, and it is taking me way, way more hours to complete the course work than was advertised. And I am "good" at school. It's what I do all day long.
The course ends on the Monday after the show. I have the final project completed already which means I'll be less busy the final week of the class. I just don't know for sure that I'll be finished with the rest of the work by the time I'd need to leave on Friday. On top of that, I am not sure how many afternoons I'll be able to commit to Speedy for schooling and show prep.
There's one last thing to consider. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, is completely booked up for the month of April. If I go to the show, I can get a lesson and show coaching. If I don't go to the show, I won't see her until some time in May.
My gut is telling me that it would be a lot healthier for me to not go to the show. I am still dealing with frequent migraines, and added stress is not really helping.
But still ... why do all this work if I don't get a chance to show it off?
I am adding to my let's work on this list. Number one on the list is the simple change. It is getting better, so I must be doing something right. In fact, when I rode Speedy on Tuesday, I did a line of pretty decent simple changes down centerline. We cantered three strides, walked several strides, and then picked up the new lead. Doing them out in the open seemed to help.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has a good tip for picking up the counter canter. She suggests cantering out of the arena. In other words, if you're on the rail, position yourself so that you could actually canter out of the arena if there were room. It's a great visual to get your seat and aids in the correct position for a change of lead.
The next thing we need to tackle is more counter canter. Speedy can do the 20-meter half circle. In fact, he can hold it for the whole circle as long as I don't change direction. I am having trouble with the 3 loop serpentine from Second Level Test 3 because you have to change direction.
When I asked for it on Tuesday, I couldn't get Speedy to change direction; he was committed to turning left. When I made the loop shallower, like in First Level Test 3, he started to figure out what I wanted. One problem I have is that my arena is short. That means my first and last loops have to be 15-meter circles so that my counter canter loop is 20-meters.
When we couldn't get it on Tuesday, I scrapped the serpentine and did lots of simple changes to work on his balance. When I ride today, I'll go back to the three loop serpentine, but I'll start them very shallow to see if that helps Speedy loosen up a bit.
Chemaine also gave me a couple of other tips: open my outside rein a bit to draw his shoulders around; bring the outside rein back a little to keep him sitting (like in a turn on the haunches; and finally, push his haunches around to sort of pivot his body in the direction I need him to go.
I'll keep you posted.
Just over two years ago, I bought the TuffRider Baroque Dress Tall Boots. You can see my original review here. A few weeks ago, someone wondered how they were holding up and asked me to do a follow up review. I thought that was a great idea until I had a zipper blow out last week. Whomp whomp.
Even with the zipper failure, I would still buy these boots again. I ended up with the TuffRiders after my Ariat Volants fell apart. I paid nearly $500 for the Volants and got less than three years use out of them. You can see that post here. For $500, I expected more than two years and nine months of wear. The Volants literally fell apart.
On the other hand, the TuffRiders look good for a year and a half of wear. They're dirty in these photos, but they're completely undamaged with the exception of the zipper.
Unlike the Volants, the sole has remained tightly attached, and there are no tears or splitting in the leather. They show plenty of wear of course, but I school in them nearly seven days a week. I don't put them on until I am ready to ride, but if I ride both horses on the same day, I don't take them off between rides.
The one area where I did notice some wear was in the color on the toes. Our summers are quite hot; last year we had nearly 70 days that were in the triple digits. Our winters are also quite mild with far more sunny days than rainy. My boots are in the sun far more often than not.
With all of that exposure to the sun, I wasn't that surprised to see the color fading slightly. And really, it's not terribly obvious. You have to look closely to see it.
I have enjoyed these boots, especially for $161.95. They were super comfy right out of the box, and they never gave me a single rub or blister. If you're looking for a budget friendly boot, I'd recommend the TuffRiders.
When I went back to the Riding Warehouse to buy them again, I saw that TuffRider still makes the Baroques, but they have since come out with a similar version that has a few more bells and whistles. That review coming soon!
Facebook has been reminding me of what Izzy and I were doing last year at this time. We were still regular riders on the struggle bus, but the good moments were coming more frequently. We could pick up the canter going both directions and the shenanigans were happening less and less. We put in a lot of miles over the summer, and by fall, things were really starting to come together.
I don't think I've had a bad ride on Izzy since before Christmas. The last real doozy of a ride that I can remember was the first time I got on him after being so sick last fall. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, rode him the next day, and they had a come to Jesus kind of ride. Since then though, our rides have all been really productive.
When I rode on Sunday, he was so rideable that I was throwing in some of the elements from Second Level. We picked up the counter canter, did some canter to walk transitions - those are effortless for him, shoulder in, and the 10-meter half circles. I still can't get his stride to lengthen, but his back is definitely getter looser.
One thing that really helps his back to let go is the leg yield, especially when I insist on a BIG move over. We did a few of them in each direction. All of a sudden, he gave a leg yield that was huge, balanced, and absolutely effortless. There is no doubt in my mind that it would have scored a 10! I have never ridden a leg yield that felt like that.
This boy is so talented. If I keep working on him, I'm going to have a second star in my barn. Look out, Speedy G. Izzy's on his way!
This must be the season for baring it all. A few weeks ago, I shared that post about my fear of being a hack, this week, another let it all hang out.
I've been doing this dressage thing for quite a while now. I did my first show back in the summer of 2010. Holy Moly, has it been that long? Since I'd never shown before, and since Speedy had only ever done endurance, we started at the very first step - Introductory Level A.
We had great fun, but I wanted to move up a level. You've heard this story a thousand times. Making it to Training Level was my all encompassing goal. Once we hit Training Level, I wanted to get to First Level. That's where I thought you became a legitimate Dressage Rider. Making it to Second Level wasn't even on my RADAR.
From my lowly perspective, Second Level riders had to be amazing. You could only get there if you had a fantastic horse and you yourself had an amazing seat. HAHAHAHAHA. Boy, was I ever stupid!
I guess what I am trying to say is that if I can make it to Second Level, YOU can make it to Second Level. I am living proof that the riders at Second Level don't have to have an amazing seat, although I am sure it would help, and an average, plucky horse can get the job done. He doesn't have to be a fancy warmblood.
All of this occurred to me on Saturday while I was riding Speedy bareback with just a halter. We were hacking out around the neighborhood after a week off. It had rained nearly all week, and I thought some time off after our debut at Second was warranted. Since I can just hop on him bareback with a halter after a week off, that means that he is amazing. Just saying.
So there we were tootling around with the lead rope draped loosely when my plucky and amazing Second Level horse launched forward. I said he was amazing, not perfect. I grabbed wildly for my rope and managed to bring him back to a walk, but I was unbalanced and knew I was coming off. Cringing, because I knew it was going to hurt, I dug deep and tried to stay on anyway.
Instead of hitting the dirt, I landed on my feet with Speedy's lead rope in hand. I had to laugh. There I was, proof yet again that Second Level riders are no better than that endurance rider giving Intro Level A a try.
Oh, Third Level, where are yoooou!
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%: