From Endurance to Dressage
I Made My Own Self Tired!
Homemade Dressage Letters
How can you give yourself a lesson? I think I did it on Sunday.
I don't have an actual dressage court. WHAT? I know ... right? No, it's one part of my barn's facilities that I really don't like. There is a large oval arena, and it is almost long enough for a dressage court, but a dressage court it ain't. So, I've done the best I can with cones. Here's a quick peek at the cones I bought at Target (Tarjay for you name brand shoppers) and then taped on computer-printed letters. They work better than nothing and were cheap to buy.
On Saturday, I finally got the brilliant idea to use a pre-measured length of rope to mark out the width and length of my "dressage court." I also decided to use my four cavaletti poles (purchased at Home Depot for 3 bucks each) to make two corners at the A end of the dressage court. With those two corners marked and my cones forming the rest of the rectangle, I made a serviceable riding space.
Leslie Webb really got after me about riding the figures correctly. So on Sunday, I decided to really work hard to make my 20-meter circles accurate. I also used the long side and diagonal of my "court" to work on straightness. Straightness is tough to master in an oval! And of course, I had to work on that canter departure. I am pleased to announce that there was no bucking or cow kicking. And with a "court" marked out, I was able to work on the canter circles at A, and then down the long side to circle at E and then again at C and so on.
After all that right lead cantering followed by all the left lead cantering, I was pooped! I just kept telling Speedy G, "Again ... again ... again!" We finally got it, but I was tired.
There's actually more to this story ... with the four cavaletti poles working so well to anchor the corners at A, Hubby volunteered to go to Home Depot with me that afternoon to buy even more poles to mark the C end of the court, along with two extra poles to support the long sides. (Thanks, Hubby!). Wednesday's lesson with Coach should be more "constructive!"
The Problem with Pads and Ponies
Can I give a quick shout-out to my mom who is new to the world wide web and who just started reading my blog? Hi Mom! Click right HERE to send me an email.
Do any of you read “The Clinic,” a photo/video critique column of Dressage Today? It’s quite interesting and includes a critique of the rider’s seat and riding ability by Axel Steiner. This is all very educational, but what I find particularly helpful is Terri Miller’s critique of the rider’s turnout and how the horse is presented. She frequently comments on the rider’s choice of pads, commenting both on the color choice and the size. Hmmm …
This is a problem for us. I don’t ride a big warm-blood. I ride an Arabian gelding, who is nicely sized, especially for his breed. He’s not all leg, he’s not too narrow, he’s proportionally correct. Since makers of dressage tack are unaware that there are non-warm-bloods competing in dressage, I am having trouble finding a dressage pad that fits my well-proportioned, but non-warm-blood, Arabian.
Last summer, I bought two dressage pads and one all-purpose pad for showing. Both dressage pads, while beautiful are … just … too … BIG.
The black pad is the Zinnia Ribbon pad from Equine Couture. It measures 25” x 22”. It is simply too long down his back, and the drop is so deep that I have to place my girth over the bottom edge of the pad. If I slide the pad back farther, the girth loop is too far back to be useful.
The white pad is a Lami-cell and much the same (24" x 22"). For this ride I skipped the girth loops which helped, but the pad stretches down to my spurs! Although if my leg were in a better position that wouldn't have been a problem. This photo is from last July. My leg position has improved since then.
The all-purpose pad … fits … well, mostly. The length along the spine is good. The drop is nearly perfect. But since it is an all purpose, the front edge of the pad has a curve for the rounder shape of non-dressage saddles. My compromise has been to just slide the pad back an inch or two. That sounds great in theory, but what happens is the straps for my girth are now placed too far back for them to be useful. The billet straps still work, but only just barely.
My favorite all-purpose pad, from Rider’s International, has double piping, has a perfect foam filling, and measures 22” x 37” - but it still isn’t perfect. It is slightly more square than the white all-purpose, but it doesn’t come in black, the white version has navy piping, and it still has a slightly rounded front edge.
This is the pad that I ordered. It's a Roma Merino All Purpose Square Sheepskin pad. It measures 22" x 20". The reason I went with this pad is that the half pad/square pad combination looks "busy" on Speedy G. In all these photos, the only pairing that looks "classic" is the one using the over-size Lami-cell pad. This pad was $84.94 (including shipping) at VTO Saddlery.
The pad arrived shortly after I first wrote this, and it fits REALLY well. I'll post pictures when I next have it on Speedy G.
Friday Was Lesson Day
No, not with Leslie Webb, but back with my regular coach. There's something to be said for returning to a comfort zone. Except that it wasn't quite as comfortable as it used to be. There was slightly less friendly chatting and quite a bit more do it again, and again, and once again!
You see, my coach knows Leslie Webb and even encouraged me to take a lesson with her as she thought it would be good for me to hear it from someone else. Once Coach heard my feedback, it was game on! You know how to ride a serpentine, show me! Uh-oh! You know the correct marks for hitting your 20-meter circle, show me! Well mostly ... You still have your tests memorized, show me! ... And there were no more stand-around-and-rest-breaks.
After working the serpentines, both on a regular bend and on a counter bend, we did some 20-meter circles and then went straight to Introductory Test B. And actually, we rode it very well. [There!, with a big phssst to Taz's mom - I gave myself some credit!]
And on to Introductory Test C ... up the center line, tracking right at C, nice 20-meter circle at B, pick up the canter just after A ... CRAP! Here's where the do it again chant came in. Every time I asked for the canter at A, Speedy G gave a pretty big cow kick, or a straight up buck. We tried it again, and again, and again. I tried asking for the canter at a different point on the circle and got a smoother transition. Back to A, nope. I tried asking for the canter with a quieter aid, better, but not perfect. When we got a quieter transition, Coach had me repeat the test from the beginning.
I wish I could say that with the canter schooling in the middle we rocked the test, but I can't. By the time we rode the test again, I was getting tired and Speedy G was just pissed. I am definitely a stronger, more balanced rider when I am not tired, but Coach felt that it was important to finish the ride so that I'll know what it feels like to ride tired if that happens at a show. So, we finished. Not fabulous, but we got the canter transitions both ways, and I got some nice collection in the 20-meter circles.
Do you have a coach? If not, I strongly recommend finding one!
Where do you live? (reposting this)
I (still) am dying to know more about all of you! ... Seriously!
Over the last two weeks I've heard from two total strangers: one coming to live here from Colorado, and the other returning here from four years in college. And while I have a lot of friends who check this blog, the traffic report from Weebly.com, my host, seems to suggest that I probably don't know a lot of you! Would you mind taking a moment to let me know where you are from? Or at least where you are NOT from? Others might wanna know, too!
And in case you feel like I get a TON of blog email, rest assured, I don't, but I'd really like to hear from you. Tell me about your own ponies, and send a photo if you don't mind seeing it posted!
Random Bits and Pieces & One Funny Story
This is one of those are you kidding me? She's posting again? Twice in one day? Yes, I know, but I've got all these little bits and pieces floating around that I've just got to put out there.
First, I wore my show boots to work three days in a row last week and have them comfortably "broke in." I rode in them for a few minutes yesterday and was delighted to discover that they'd lost the sensation of being a cement block strapped to my leg. I wore them at today's lesson and was very pleased with how they held my leg in a straighter position.
Second, I have a great series of 5 or 6 posts coming on how to ride figures in the dressage court. After bombing the serpentines with Leslie Webb, I realized I needed some more theoretical dressage knowledge. So ... you get to share in what I learned. I can hear you now, oh goodie!
Third, I also have a post coming about dressage pads for smaller horses. Got my new pad this week and gave it a good trial today at my lesson - loved it!
And finally ... an update on the trophy. No, I still have it (unfortunately), but I had a naughty thought today and secretly hoped it was going to be returned to Taz's Mom. You see, she has taken a few dressage lessons with me and while she is a lifetime rider, she is new to English saddles. Coach asked her to pick up the canter during the lesson today and she hesitated as she hasn't yet cantered in the dressage saddle. Out of nowhere, a nasty little demon-Karen hopped onto my shoulder and whispered, "maybe she'll fall off in this nice, soft arena and you can give her the trophy back!" I was horrified at the thought and quickly banished demon-Karen to a far away place. Thankfully Taz's mom didn't come off and the lesson ended well.
On the way home, we had trailered over together, I shared with her what demon-Karen had suggested. To my delight, she burst out laughing and said that she had had the very same thought, except that in her version it went something like this, "Crap! If I fall off Karen is going to give me back that trophy!"
What are friends for? Keeping us in our place, of course!
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%: