From Endurance to Dressage
Or … How I am not being effective with the outside rein. You saw it in the videos and photos from this weekend's show. I felt it particularly over the weekend while riding Sydney. Since we've started working on improving our walk to canter transition, we've lost the right lead canter again.
That thing is going to drive me crazy. We'll get it, but then my trainer will add a new element and we lose it. On Saturday, we lost it completely. Sydney ducked, whirled, spun, reared, or flat out refused to go forward every time I asked for a right lead canter. I tried everything I could think of without any luck.
Fortunately for us, we had a lesson on Monday. I had had time to think about why we couldn't get a right lead canter before the lesson, and I was pretty sure it was because I was overly focused on getting an inside bend. Sound familiar? I was right. JL explained that by over-bending Sydney to the inside, he wasn't straight and was losing his hind quarters to the outside. When his butt is pointed out, he's going to canter toward the middle of the circle.
We went back to an earlier exercise. From the trot, I halted Sydney as hard as necessary with the outside rein. Then we did some trot work by turning him with the outside aids. This put him in a slight counter bend. When I could feel him on the outside rein, I ever-so-slightly used my inside rein to get his neck straight. JL asked for a canter, but before I could even cue for it, Sydney volunteered a calm canter on his own. I laughed and exclaimed that we were finished.
JL explained that Sydney had been telling me that I was doing it all wrong and once I had it right, he was able to do his job. We didn't quit of course because we needed to get at least one more nice, right lead canter. When I asked for the trot again, Sydney was very anxious and tried running around the circle, but since I knew what he needed, I went back to the outside rein exercise until he was listening to it.
Within a minute or two, we got several right lead canter departures that were relatively calm and correct. Then we called it a day. JL has a very good understanding of how these anxious OTTBs think. It's not that I am doing anything mean or horrible, it's just that Sydney needs to feel very safe and secure or he checks out and leaves the conversation. To the left, I know what I am doing (enough anyway) so he tries for me.
I still need to figure out what he needs to the right. Once I can prove to him that I've got everything under control, these melt downs will be a thing of the past.
As an interesting side note, Sydney was even tense in his stall after our Saturday ride. He kept nickering at me and asking for me to do something with him. I had a show on Sunday so I wasn't able to ride; only turn him out. I rode Speedy first on Monday, and even this upset Sydney. When our lesson was over, he had the most loving look on his face. He kept kissing my arms and neck and practically snuggled up to JL as we talked in the middle of the ring.
He is a much happier horse when he feels that all is right with his world. It definitely motivates me to be the best rider that I can be.
One last thing … I am officially on summer break this afternoon (hallelujah!). To celebrate, we are headed to the cabin for the weekend so I won't see you until Monday. Have a great weekend!
The problem with blogging about shows is that I can go on and on. A show gives me so much to think about: what did I do well? At what do I need to improve? How do I stack up against other riders? And so on. I promise this will be the last thing about this particular show.
Last year, my mom, who would love to be a there every week kind of show mom, helped me look at my scores from a new perspective. I tend to look at the raw score: below 60% and I feel like I've failed, low 60% and I am at least not a total idiot, mid-60% and above and I feel somewhat competent; 70% and the judge must be blind. Just kidding, but it is hard for me to accept really good scores.
My mom suggested I look at the scores in relation to what everyone else scored. Are my scores in the top half of the field or the bottom half of the field? While this may not be the best way to look at scores, it does help me compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Are my scores comparable to the scores of the riders against whom I am competing?
So with that in mind, here's a more analytical (and less visceral) view of how we did:
Of the 25 dressage scores posted (I am not counting the western dressage scores), only three were higher than my 68.393%.
This would suggest that on this particular day, we were one of the better teams out there.
The scores fell in this range:
This is an interesting break down. Do most riders score in the 50 - 60% range? It feels like an accurate reflection of scores at shows. Even at USDF shows I feel like the bulk of the scores are in the 50 - 60% range. Those 70% scores always seem to stand out as outliers. And obviously, there aren't usually many scores in the 40% range.
California Dressage Society (CDS) rated shows are usually more competitive than schooling shows. My GMO is HUGE, and the competition at CDS-rated shows can be pretty tough. They aren't at quite the caliber of a USDF/USEF show, but they are more competitive than simple schooling shows. This was a CDS only rated show.
Our second score, 62.200%, also holds up pretty well. There were 14 scores lower than mine, and only 10 scores higher. According to my mom's analysis, this would mean that we did okay, falling just above the middle of the pack.
So how do you look at your scores? Do you prefer to look at the raw percentage, or are you more interested in how you did compared to how everyone else scored that day?
The 68% got me kind of distracted. I knew the ride was trouble-free, but I didn't feel it was that good. Fortunately, I had an hour to let the giddiness subside so that I could focus on test 3, the harder test.
For my first warm up, I pretty much did serpentines. TMC's warm up ring is GIGANTIC so there is plenty of room to do whatever you want for a warm up. The serpentines really helped for the first test, so I did a few more before my second test.
My biggest concern for test 3 was staying on course and performing the single loops with enough bend. There is also that canter-trot transition at X that has been tricky in the past. As I approached that transition, I was so focused on getting a good downward that I accidentally did the transition at C.
Right before the judge could ring the bell, I realized my mistake and quickly re-cued for the canter. The downward at X was a bit awkward as Speedy had only just picked up the canter. Even though the judge hadn't yet rung me off course, she did deduct 2 points. Nothing like lowering your own score through stupidity. :0)
Our final score was a 62.200% - respectable for sure. I was pleased with the score and felt the judge's comments and scores were accurate and fair. When I saw the photos though, I was HORRIFIED; they were worse than the video. My hands are a mess and I need to sit up!!!!! The judge was either kind (my go-to explanation) or it's not nearly as bad as it looks to my eyes. She gave me 7s on Rider Position and seat for both tests.
When I talked it over with my trainer, she felt that I was disappointed because I know more this spring than I did last summer; I know what I want to look like and what I need to get there. So without further ado, here are some photos ...
My trainer wants me to ride with a crop in my hand (bridged) for a little while to see if I can fix this.
Fotunately, a lot of this stuff will be fixed if I can sit up and keep my hands even. I clearly need more outside rein to control the bend and less tugging on that inside rein. But I knew that in yesterday's post, too.
Many, many thanks to CT for taking the time shoot the video from yesterday and these photos. They were very helpful.
I should be thrilled with my scores, and I am, but I am horrified by the video. I do not ride this horse with the same deep seat that I ride Sydney. After watching the video, and seriously cringing, I rode Speedy on Monday and addressed two of my most obvious weaknesses: my forward lean and my busy hands.
Speedy asks so politely that I always just give the reins back to him. I have got to quit doing that. I don't dare do it with Sydney or we'd be in the next county. Since Speedy doesn't bolt, rear, or melt down, his polite little root, root always achieve what he wants.
So on Sunday, I sat deep and tall and quit fussing with my hands, I resisted his polite but persistent habit of pulling the reins and added leg instead. I did a fair number of trot to canter to trot transitions and felt that just by sitting up and keeping my hands quiet I improved my position noticeably, and as a result, his way of going.
Before you watch, keep in mind that Speedy hasn't been shown since July of 2013 and has had several months off. He only just started back to work a few weeks ago. We had done only a handful of canter transitions before the show. I was really worried that we had lost all of our training (such as it was), but I was actually relatively pleased by his performance. He showed more maturity, and his submissiveness was hugely improved. He was willing and listened even when I was fussing with his mouth and over-bending him.
The California Dressage Society's Regional Adult Amateur Competition may be on the books for us after all. I earned two scores and now just need one more score to be qualified. I had wanted to qualify at First Level, but I'd be happy showing at Training Level.
Here's the Training Level Test 2 video ...
I was shocked so many people entered their names for a chance to try out the Higher Standards Leather Soap and Conditioner. I know some of you personally (you know who you are!), but I had no idea so many people would be interested. I am delighted to meet so many of you!
I was also a little dismayed that so many of you expressed an interest. I was expecting to write down 4 or 5 names on slips of paper and then close my eyes and pick. As it turned out, more than 30 names were entered. With so many people having entered, I had to rope Hubby in to do the actual drawing. I wish I could afford to send out more tubs than just the one set.
But good news! For those who didn't "win," Libby (the owner/creator of Higher Standards) has offered a 5% discount for anyone who mentions that they saw her product on Bakersfield Dressage. After you place your item in the cart, you will see a box that says Note to HigherStandardsFarm. Just let Libby know you'd like 5% off your order because you saw her products on Bakersfield Dressage. It's not a huge discount, but it should help cover some of the shipping.
And now, the winner ...
Congratulations to Carly! If you will send me your mailing address and your preferred scent, I will place an order for your Higher Standards Leather Soap and Balm. Enjoy!
Thank you all for playing. I hope you'll take advantage of Libby's offer and try this stuff out for yourself.
(I've been using the soap and conditioner for a few weeks now and I really do think it is one of the better products out there. I'll know how much I really like it once I reach the bottom of the tub. When I really like a product, I re-order before the tub gets empty. I have a strong feeling that will be the case here.)
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.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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