From Endurance to Dressage
This was a long week: a classroom full of fifth graders eager for summer vacation, nursing a lab puppy to health, and two horses that need to be ridden and turned out daily. Whew ...
I came home Friday afternoon and saw this on the counter. Now that's how to end the week!
I really need to get some video or photos of Sydney under saddle. He is doing so much better these last six weeks or so. I rode last night and came home with a feeling of contentment and a sense of progress.
It seemed that as soon as I let go of my plan to start showing him this summer, the tension just melted out of both of us. I also decided not to sell him ... at least not this summer. That also helped us relax. If all we can do for the next however long is walk and trot, then that's what we'll do. I'd rather have a lot of safe and happy walk/trot than a little bit of Oh, crap! cantering.
So what have I been doing? Lots of walking and trotting while asking, asking, asking for a long and low neck. To the right, the side that bends reasonably well, he can stretch way down, and he does so with very little resistance. To the left, his stiff side, it's a whole other story. When we go left, I have to walk a fine line with the outside rein. If I let him have too much, the circle gets huge and he won't make the left turn. If I take hold of the outside rein with too much strength, I can feel him get tense. He doesn't like the feeling of too much contact. So I use a ton of outside leg and a medium amount of rein to ask him to turn. I also rock the inside rein to get his neck to let loose just a bit. I squeeze him forward and give him every opportunity to reach and stretch through the bend. When he does, I soften everything and praise him like he's just won Olympic gold.
It might be a slow pokey way of accomplishing long and low, but it's working. There's no bolting or rearing, and his ears stay soft and floppy. We might have to do this all summer. We might have to do this forever. I am pretty much okay with that as long as I feel safe and he seems happy. For now, it's a pleasant way to spend a half an hour.
I try not to complain too much. After all, I have a lot of control over my own life and the choices that I make are my own. With that, holy Toledo, Batman! How can one person "choose" so many things in one month?
Please raise your hand if you are bored out of your mind with nothing interesting going on in your life. Anyone? Didn't think so. That means I am in good company. Here's a list of the many, many things that are keeping me from relaxing and lounging around.
It's all in the choices we make. I am glad for these problems and wouldn't trade them for someone else's "easier" life. Even so, I am looking forward to a little peace and quiet over the three-day weekend.
I really hemmed and hawed about what shows to do in June. On the one hand, I get nine weeks off this summer which makes showing super easy to do. On the other hand, it's stinking hot in Bakersfield during those nine weeks which means most of our shows are farther away. Showing more than once a month is also expensive. Isn't that always the problem? There's either time and no money, or money and no time.
My original plan for June, albeit a bit ambitious, was to do a two-day show in lovely Paso Robles followed by a schooling show at Hansen Dam. I then planned to wrap up the month with a CDS-rated show in Tehachapi, an hour away. When I started calculating the cost of the Paso Robles show, I just couldn't stomach spending so much money for a triple-rated show. While I really want to earn my USDF Rider Performance Award at Training Level, I just couldn't justify the expense so soon after the Santa Barbara show. And then, as luck would have it, the Hansen Dam show date was moved to the same date as the Tehachapi show. I went from having three shows in June to just one. Bummer.
I pulled up the CDS show calendar and discovered that Fresno CDS was hosting a two-day show the same weekend as the Paso Robles show. I decided that I could easily afford one of the two days especially since I wasn't going to be able to do the Hansen Dam show. As I was completing the entry, I noticed that the stabling fees were only $30 a night. WHAT? They were the cheapest stabling fees I've ever seen (not that I've seen that many), but compared to the $160 plus $100 for RV fees that I paid at Santa Barbara, they seemed downright blue-light special!
I calculated the price of four rides, added in the stabling fees, and placed a call to the show secretary about the fees for camping. When she told me that I could stay in my living quarters trailer with no additional fee, I told her I was in. My total bill for a CDS/USDF/USEF two-day show excluding shavings and gas was only $296! The stalls are actually permanent 12 x 24 covered pens so I don't even need shavings.
Clovis, where the show will be held, is due north with zero mountains to climb. It's an easy two and a half hour flat drive, and I've been to this venue three times already so my anxiety level is really low. In fact, the last time I showed there, I earned a 72.5% at Intro B so I have good feelings associated with the venue. And one of the best things about this show is that each day has a different judge so I have several chances to earn scores for the USDF Rider Performance Award.
I sent in my entry the other day. This will be my fourth triple-rated show of the season with one more to go, Regional Adult Amateur Competition. Even though I have lots of time off this summer, the rest of the summer shows will be in Tehachapi, CDS-rated, and Hansen Dam, un-rated. I am hoping those shows will give me lots of opportunities to firm up the Training Level tests so that I can possibly think about First Level for next year.
I can dream, can't I?!
What the heck is this?
Well, it seems as this topic was the can of worms I suspected it might be. And a jumbo can at that! Thank you to those who commented, and thank you as well to those who read it and commented to yourself or a friend. Opening a dialog in a sport that isn't known to be filled with the friendliest of people is a good thing (oh, come on, you know it's true - most people think dressage riders are all stuck up snobs! We're not of course, but the rest of the world doesn't know that.).
I do think my point got lost yesterday - in all likelihood the lost point was due to poor writing. It could also be that the reader's own biases colored their understanding of what I was trying to say. Either way, a dialog has certainly begun.
My point to yesterday's post was this: Centerline Scores is a wonderful tool. So is a hammer. It works great to pound things in and for nail removal, but it's a terrible screwdriver or level. To remove screws, you should use a phillips or flathead screw driver. A wrench is great for bolts, but it doesn't work very well for pounding in nails - I know as I have tried when a hammer couldn't be located.
In no way did I suggest that Centerline Scores should be the ONLY tool that a rider uses when picking a trainer or ascertaining whether another rider is being truthful. That would be like trying to build a house with JUST a hammer.
I think I've been pretty honest about my own trainer. She is NOT a dressage rider or trainer and she reminds me of that frequently. (funny story - she popped up on Speedy G one time in my dressage saddle and hated where it put her seat and legs!) I ride with her because she is an excellent trainer of the basics. She has warned me numerous times that I will need to find a real dressage trainer once she has helped me establish the basics.
I do know that she showed extensively when she was younger and that she coaches her other students at small, local h/j shows. In no way do I discount her previous years of experience. When I ask her questions about showing, I trust what she suggests because I know that she has experience in that area, and no, that experience doesn't show up on Centerline Scores.
When I finally do move on to a Dressage trainer, you can bet that I'll be looking her up just to see what kind of show experience he or she has had. Of course Centerline Scores doesn't date back to the dawn of time - they make that clear on their Frequently Asked Questions page : How far back do you have scores? Due to limitations on the available USDF show results, our data only goes back to the 1993 Competition Year and results prior to the 2003 Competition Year are very likely to be incomplete. However, from 2003 to present the data should be complete. This doesn't mean that the most current stuff is of no value.
I also think some people thought I was placing a lot of emphasis on the scores themselves. That wasn't my intention. I was more concerned with the quantity of scores. A person with A LOT of scores has shown a lot. More shows means more experience. It might be a lot of BAD experience, but it's till experience. When I ask for help, I would rather ask someone who I know has done it more than twice. I've done five USDF-rated shows. I am not a great one to ask about the particulars of a venue. I can share what my experience was, but you're better off asking someone who has done 20 or 30 USDF shows.
So, that's my point. Centerline Scores is a great tool for gathering data. Use it with common sense and combine it with your own prior experience. It shouldn't be the only tool you use, like the hammer, but it IS a useful tool. If you don't get much value from it, don't use it. Frankly, I never use a vise-grip wrench and don't feel as though I'm missing a thing!
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. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. 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 schooling and showing at the lower levels. 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%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
10/11 A. Newcomb (c)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS (***)
7/27 Breen-Gurley (c)
8/30 Breen-Gurley (c)
9/20 Caveletti Clinic (c)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read