From Endurance to Dressage
I was recently chatting with my friend Jen about show entries. She is the queen of show managers which is why we were discussing entries. She puts on at least a dozen or more USDF-rated shows each year plus another dozen or so schooling shows. She's also the chair of the Ventura County Chapter of CDS which means she does All. The. Work. If you have show entry questions, she's who you should talk to.
I think the conversation centered around the new USEF rule regarding the use of Pergolide. She was the first one to tell me that Pergolide is now allowed with a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) - Speedy had just been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. I assured Jen that I would be submitting the paperwork for that as soon as possible. I did, and the TUE came back within a week or so.
So what does that have to do with show binders? As Jen and I continued our conversation, things drifted toward what else should a rider include in her show entry. Apparently, I am in the minority of riders who actually complete their entries. I was stunned to hear just how many riders submit incomplete show entries. When I asked what could possibly be missing (In my world, directions get followed, but that's just the teacher in me.), she replied "Everything!" Quite often there are no copies of membership cards, no payment, no list of which classes a riders plans to do, no horse name and on and on.
Online entries would of course eliminate all of that nonsense, but here in my neck of California, not a lot of riders use them as it costs more to enter online than to use a paper entry. That means Jen, and other show secretaries, wade through mountains of paperwork. And when that paperwork is incomplete, it makes her job so much more difficult.
I know other riders have much fancier versions than mine, and you might want to check out what The Printable Pony has in her Etsy store, but here's what my show binder looks like.
For my purposes, I've found five areas that suit my needs, although the contacts section has been empty for a long time as things now go straight into my phone. I have placed things like flyers or adverts there though.
My first tab is for show premiums, directions, stall assignments, and anything else related to a show including Speedy's stall sign. I got mine for FREE at The Printable Pony; ask her if it's still available.
Horse ID Numbers
Stored in sheet protectors for maximum safety - horse shows are dusty and often times wet places, I keep both boys' "master" copies of our membership cards. After those, I keep copies of their USDF Certificates of Lifetime Horse Registration.
This section is jam packed, and frankly, it should either come at the beginning of my binder or at the back as it's the area that I use most often. Here is where I store their vaccinations records for USEF, Speedy's TUE, both horses' Health and Vaccination Record cards, and finally, Izzy's RPSI passport.
Weird, and no doubt useless, but each year I spring for USEF's Equine Liability Insurance. I don't know if it would help, but if Speedy, or more likely Izzy, kills someone at a show, I am hoping this will help pay at least a small part of my bills. As I was cleaning out my binder, I realized I had a copy from 2017. I don't know why I didn't print out last season's evidence of coverage, but I have fixed that.
Nothing to see here. I used to keep things like business cards and names of other equine professionals like chiropractors and farriers, but like I said, it's much easier to store all of that in my phone.
In the front cover of my binder, I store extra copies of the USEF vaccination records. I've only twice been asked to submit a copy with my entry, but it's so much more convenient to have extra copies on hand than to be scrambling at a show to produce a copy. I also store all of my membership cards in an envelope in that pocket as well.
In the back cover, I store ready-to-send copies of mine and each horse's memberships cards. This year, I was seriously optimistic as I made 10 copies of each. Even if I had 20 weekends free, I could never afford to enter 20 shows, but you never know!
I am sure there is other stuff I could include, but for me, this works. I don't need packing lists or a calendar, and frankly, I hate updating stuff, so keeping my binder as simple as possible makes it user-friendly for me.
Any good ideas out there? Do you keep a folder/binder? Do you you store anything in it that I might find useful? I know I am curious, so others must be as well.
I am trying not to complain too much, but waiting for skin to heal really is like watching paint dry. Speedy is now bandage free, but we're in the next stage of the process that happens when you take pressure bandages off; everything swells up. I've been down this road with Izzy (his wound took a full year to heal), so I haven't been surprised by the setbacks.
Last week I sent my vet some photos of Speedy's legs, and he gave the go ahead to remove the bandages and switch to an aluminum-based bandage instead. There are several brands to choose from; I went with AluShield because that's what Amazon could deliver the quickest. If you haven't used an aluminum-based bandage, it looks just like spray paint. The product description reads, AluShield is a convenient, water-resistant aerosol bandage that creates a protective barrier against external irritant agents in wounds in small and large animals.
When I got to the barn on Monday, my little heart sank a bit. Both legs were crusted over with dirt and scabs and the left one had ballooned up. Having been through this before, I shoved my disappointment back down and grabbed a hose to start cold-hosing. As I hosed, I ever so gently picked away at the dirt without dislodging the scabs. The photos above are from after I cleaned up both cuts.
From afar, meaning kneeling a few feet away rather than pressing my nose against his knees to get a serious close-up, the wounds look much better than they did even a week ago. Read about the injury here and here. When I looked back to find those links, I was shocked at how ugly it was compared to what it looks like now. In truth, both sides are practically healed!
The thing I love about AluShield is that it makes everything look better. I know both Speedy and I are ready to get back to regular work. I'll be glad when that last scab gets knocked off and pink skin shines through. Until then, isn't that a lovely shade of silver paint?
I mentioned that Speedy is back to work. We haven't done any cantering yet, just some walk/trot. The newest problem is that he's a bit sore on what I think is the left front, which is the leg where the smaller injury was/is. I think he's sore from the bandages and scabs.
I hate to ride a horse that's lame, but sometimes it's better for them to be ridden, especially if they get less lame while working. Right now, Speedy's energy is building, and he needs a way to get rid of it. Simple trail rides aren't quite enough to ease his growing tension. Twenty minutes in the arena lets him feel useful and valued which soothes his ego and lets him relax.
Since he was still sore on Sunday, I focused on improving the walk, both the free walk and collected. He could only stand so much collected walk though before he insisted on trotting. It was rough, but the longer he worked, the less it seemed to bother him. And then suddenly he was a fire breathing dragon, and he forgot all about being a bit sore.
We worked on getting supple, doing some shoulder in and moving the hindquarters. Over the past few months he's forgotten what a turn on the haunches is, so we rode a lot of squares and haunches in. He even felt solid enough to ask for a small medium trot. Boy does he love doing those!
Third Level is my goal for this year. We're behind schedule, but that's okay. We'll school what we can, and then we'll tackle the flying changes again when I am sure Speedy is healed enough to do them.
Really. I can wait.
On Sunday, Izzy and I had a particulalry good lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. That isn't to say that I don't always get good lessons, because I do. Sometimes though, an important piece of the puzzle will fall into place. And when that happens, a bigger picture starts to show through.
The biggest AHAs! that I had during this lesson were about bracing with my arms - how not to do it, and feeling Izzy's hind legs when they're NOT stepping under.
During our last lesson, Izzy finally showed us that he can handle a lot more leg. The problem with pushing him to get his hind end in the game is that he gets super heavy in front. Yah! for the added impulsion, boo hiss for the 120 pounds that he's making me carry in my arms.
When I mentioned to Chemaine that I've been bracing against Izzy's bracing, she suggested I resist with the outside hand but flex with my inside hand all while still adding leg. LEG is our new word of the month.
It was like I suddenly learned how to ride. You mean bracing doesn't work? I kid you not, just hearing that I could "brace" with ONE hand, but move the bit around with the other, gave me a completely different feel. He didn't magically get soft and light or anything, but the whole dynamic changed for the better.
What ended up happening was that when I quit holding up his front end and added leg, the argument was with my leg instead of my hand. Horses don't (usually) spook or balk when they're in front of your leg. So, every single time he spooked and or came above the bit, I added leg. And not just a gentle hug either; I whacked him in the sides. And when he squealed, I whacked him with my legs again. We did a lot of cantering.
Once he was finally in front of my leg, we got to work. And when I say work, I mean we finally started doing some dressage work. Chemaine showed me a great shoulder in exercise that helped me feel when he wasn't driving with his hind end.
We started with a shoulder in, but Chemaine had me focus more on his hind end and not so much on what was happening to the shoulder in. She explained it like this: my rein aide tells him where to go while my seat and legs tell him to push us forward in that direction. I am usually so worried about getting the correct shoulder angle that I forget about the hind end and suddenly it's hanging way back there where we started.
After a shoulder in down the long side, Chemaine had me use the short side to straighten and regroup and push him forward. Instead of coming down the next long side, I crossed the diagonal, still in shoulder in. By focusing on a point in the distance - I don't have letters, I could see where I was losing him. As we approached the rail, I changed the bend and leg yielded to the rail. That's where Izzy gave me the most resistance - changing the bend.
We repeated the exercise over and over, occasionally jumping into a canter when Izzy "spooked" or got distracted. The most wonderful thing started to happen though. For the first time ever, I felt really plugged into the saddle with my seat bones asking for a longer stride or a shorter stride. He was finally loose enough in the back to give me a place to sit. I actually felt like a dressage rider.
I am loving every minute of this version of the big brown horse. We are definitely not-so-speedy dressage, but given enough time, we WILL get the job done!
I am sure that all of us think that our own horses are more sensitive (meaning "special") than others, but I am here to tell you that Speedy wins the "snowflake" of the year award. Right now, he is in the midst of tantrum that's been going on for a good month. Which brings me yet again to Dessa Hockley's book, Is your horse a Rockstar?
If you haven't bought it yet, do it. I promise you won't be disappointed. I don't get anything if you buy the book, but it really is that good. In fact, I love the book so much that I am going to buy a copy for someone who wants one. If you want the book, leave a comment, but make sure to fill in your website or email address so I can get your snail mail address. I'll do a random drawing on Saturday (March 16).
The reason I bring up the book is that Speedy is having a pretty rough winter. He's abscessed several times, been diagnosed with Cushing's Disease, and torn open both front legs. All of that means he isn't getting very much positive attention. To him, it feels as though all I do is poke him in sore places or jam weird tasting stuff in his mouth.
"Speedy is what Dessa Hockley refers to as The Goddess (Submissive, Energetic, Curious, Friendly). If he were a bit more dominate, he would be a Rock Star, and frankly, there are days when he does fall into that category. For The Goddess, the relationship is everything. Right now, Speedy's a bit pissed at me because he's not getting the saddle time he thinks he deserves. The ear pinning and tail swishing are dead give-aways that he's feeling slighted.
Speedy's mission in life is to be adored by me, and anyone else in his vicinity is welcome to jump on that band wagon as well. It doesn't matter what we do; he's happy to please as long as accolades and adoration are his reward. Cookies and candies are also expected. As The Goddess, he is, after all, a divinity."
I wrote that in January of 2017 - probably in the midst of some other injury. It is just as true today as it was two years ago. Speedy is so unhappy right now. Everything in his life sucks a big fat lemon. He now has to take a Prascend pill every morning which he hates. He hasn't been turned out in at least a month because I don't want him to re-injure his front legs or cause some new injury. And the worst thing to him is that he's no longer in regular work. I rode him last weekend, but then it rained all week, so I didn't get to ride again until this weekend.
While Speedy was happy to be out and being ridden, he was so resentful that everything I asked of him turned into a chore. Bandaging his legs caused drama. He didn't want to be bridled. He refused his peppermint candies. I was frustrated, and he was frustrated.
It's going to take some time to rebuild our relationship, and I have a feeling that I am going to be doing a lot of butt kissing over the next few weeks. And if Speedy has anything to say about it, there had better be some better treats involved.
Like I said, he's a Goddess. And a big fat "snowflake!"
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 Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read