From Endurance to Dressage
The second test of the day rode much like the first. We didn't make any glaring errors, like we had in the walk, which bumped our score to a slightly improved 61.320%. Again, not a brilliant score, but still satisfactory.
It's hard to be upset over a list of 6s and 6.5s. I could do without those three 5.5s however. Had they been at least 6s, my score would have been half of a percent higher, and every little bit helps.
To the good, I either upped my game, or the other two ladies had less brilliant rides than earlier as they beat me by a narrower margin than in the first test.
I am not sure any of the test was brilliantly ridden, but I thought we put in a steady ride. The first trot lengthening wasn't great, but you can see him trying.
The judge was a little critical of our 10-meter trot circles, we earned 6s for both directions, but I was pretty pleased with them.
I also felt like the canter loops were decent, but we earned a 5.5 for the first one. Speedy doesn't feel like he's struggling to hold the lead, but I think the judge wanted him to be more supple.
We only scored 6s for the canter lengthenings, but at least she didn't call them conservative. This had been one of the hardest First Level movements for us. In the past, Speedy couldn't/wouldn't come back to a working canter because he was too much on the forehand. So while they look rough on the video, they are improved over 2015 when we last attempted First Level. (He was intermittently lame for most of 2016).
Being "too curled" was still the theme of the day. For this test, the judge made the comment at least nine times. I really like her further remarks though as they are very constructive. She writes: find a half halt that brings the poll up. Nice mover, will be a lot nicer with less "curl" (struck out) or "overbridled."
I get what she's saying, and I hope that Chemaine can help us with that. I think that Speedy will probably always struggle with being too low in the poll if he wants to lift his back. I think the canter photo just above shows that he's trying to sit and lift his withers, but to do it, he needs to go deep in the bridle.
The trot lengthening though is a fake out on his part (that photo is above). I got a bit of a lengthened stride in front, but he's clearly not sitting and pushing from behind. So ... maybe he can sit better in the canter than he can in the trot?
In the end, I've got a horse with a big heart with lots to learn. In return, he gets a persistent and dedicated rider with just as much to learn. Good thing he doesn't keep score!
Finally, Speedy and I are back at it. We showed in March, and look at us, a second show in a season! If the show gods are with us, we hope to do the three remaining Tehachapi shows and the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition in August. Our qualifying scores for RAAC aren't great, but at least we qualified.
I was really happy with how this test rode, but the judge was slightly less impressed. We scored 60.630%, the lowest I've scored on this test. I don't think the judge was unfair at all. Instead, I think I've fixed a few things, but new evasions have cropped up.
Here's the test.
We scored sevens for our first halt, our 15-meter canter circle on the right lead, and for picking up the right lead at F. The rest of the scores ranged from a 4.0 for breaking into a trot from medium to free walk (how does THAT happen?) to a slew of 6.0s, 6.5s and one 5.5 for developing the working canter.
What I liked about the test was that Speedy was actually more forward than he has been in the past and less against my hand. I've been working on my position which comes across in the video as awkward because I am trying to fix a few things. It's obviously still a work in progress.
The theme for the judge's remarks was that he was "too curled." She said it in about as many ways as you can: needs more nose out, keep nose out, curling in front, 2 curled, little 2 deep, 2 downhill, getting 2 curled, and nose going behind vertical often. This is a not a new problem, but is a big problem if you're trying to move on to Second Level work.
We didn't get a great score, and frankly, we got a bit of a butt kicking. I don't feel too bad about it though as I know the second place rider has ridden to Fourth Level meaning she's got a lot more experience on me. And obviously the first place rider knows her stuff.
No matter what the score says, we had a great day. Speedy was his usual awesome self doing everything that I asked of him. He was a perfect gentleman even when he had reason not to be. When I stopped at the judge's booth to give her my number, the wind caught a test sheet sending it sailing through the air. The judge slammed it back to the counter before it could hit Speedy in the face, but she was horrified at what might have happened, and even expressed her concern. I laughed it off as Speedy never even flinched.
Since we rode near the end of the day, most of the horses had left while we did our first test. By the time we got back to the trailer. Speedy was nearly alone. He could have cared less. He nibbled his hay, took a long drink, and then asked best friend for a walk.
During his little walk break, Speedy woke up and instead of being tired, got a surge of energy. I was very pleased to see it since we still had another test to ride, and the weather was getting warmer. First Level test 3 tomorrow!
I've owned Speedy since he was a gangly three year old. He was all hips and withers back then. As he grew up, he filled out and eventually started packing on some pounds. He's always been a relatively easy keeper without the need for much in the way of supplements. He looked so good that quite a few people at a 2015 late fall show doubted me when I explained that he was indeed a purebred Arabian and not a warmblood/Arab cross.
Throughout 2016, Speedy lost a fair amount of his muscling when we struggled with an intermittent lameness. Then, in the summer, we moved to the ranch where we are now. With our current arrangement, Speedy gets turned out from dinner until breakfast. His daytime paddock has a cover, but he can go in and out at will during the night. So even when it rained over the winter, he had shelter at night.
By about January, I started expressing some concern to the ranch owner. Speedy was getting kind of ribby under his winter coat, something I've never seen him do before. We discussed his hay ration and agreed that he was getting pretty much all he could eat already. I increased his beet pulp and rice bran a little bit, but he never put the weight back on.
By spring, I could actually see a faint outline of ribs and his hips started to jut out a bit. As the weather warmed up, I was confident he would start packing on some pounds. He didn't. So by the beginning of May, I started to really worry that he might have a metabolic condition that was preventing him from gaining weight.
I had another conversation with the ranch owner expressing my concern with Speedy's weight. He was getting all of the alfalfa he would eat, I was supplementing with beet pulp, rice bran, and Platinum Performance, and yet, he still wasn't gaining back his pre-winter weight. I told her that if I didn't see some kind of change by the beginning of June, I was going to take Speedy in to the vet for some blood work.
Through our discussion, she pointed out that Speedy might simply be burning off more calories in his night turn out than we realized. At our last barn, where he lived for five years, Speedy had a large stall/paddock that was about 24 by 36 feet, generous by most standards. He had a small track worn into the ground where he paced and circled, but it wasn't big enough to walk miles. His current turnout is.
With that explanation as a possibility, my worries began to dissipate. We hatched out a new plan: she would feed a morning ration of a pound and half each of rice bran and LMF Gentle Balance (I may switch this out for a different formula when the bag is gone). In the afternoons, I would feed 3 - 4 pounds of beet pulp and another pound and a half each of the rice bran and LMF. That would all get topped off with his Platinum Performance.
A week later, I am already seeing the tiniest bit of padding starting to develop. He's getting a good eight pounds of supplemental feed daily in addition to all the alfalfa he can consume. I am giving him until the end of June to put on a bit more weight. If I don't see it, he's definitely getting some blood work done.
I wish I could simply walk off my excess pounds!
Hallmark doesn't know about it, and I don't see it on my calendar, but it's a thing. I am declaring next week Trainer Appreciation Week. I've even got a sponsor. That's right, Riding Warehouse has stepped up and offered a $30 gift card for one lucky trainer.
Unless this is your first time here, you already know that I had a less-than -fantastic experience at a recent clinic. Unfortunately, I let that experience really dampen my enthusiasm for dressage and riding in general. Thankfully MANY people reminded me how much fun riding is and that I do it for the love of the horse. My enthusiasm has returned!
My own trainer posted a comment on Facebook reminding other trainers that they have a responsibility to build up their students rather than tear them down. So here is what I'd like to do. I want us all to stop and take a moment to thank our coaches and trainers for all the ways that they support and help us. If you have that kind of trainer, I am giving you a space to publicly acknowledge their awesomeness.
Simply leave a comment describing how fabulous that person is. You can give them a shout out by writing their full name or simply use their initials. Write as much or as little as you'd like. You can also comment on my Facebook page or private message me. Email me directly if you'd prefer. No matter how you acknowledge your awesome trainer, just make sure you leave your name and email so I know how to contact you.
Leave your comments by next Friday. I'll write everyone's name on a slip of paper and do a hat drawing over the weekend. On Monday, June 5th, I'll announce the lucky winner and email you the gift card code. You can present the $30 e-gift code to your trainer, or, you can buy a gift for them. Your choice!
I am going first by SHOUTING out to the world how AWESOME my own trainer is: Chemaine Hurtado, you are simply the world's best trainer!!!!!
No, wait, don't!
Ack, Riding Warehouse is killing me. Right now they're having a 20% off sale on everything. EVERYTHING! I don't need anything, but I couldn't resist.
I might have mentioned something the other day about indulging in a wee bit of retail therapy. That stuff isn't even here yet, but after this week, I felt I deserved just a bit more. I am pretty sure my therapist ordered it. Dr. Buy-All-the-Things, that is!
My buy it finger showed some restraint though as I only bought another Union Hill Dressage Pad - man I love those pads, but really, at $14.36, how could I not buy one? Riding Warehouse is practically giving the thing away!
Oh, I also threw in a fresh bottle of fly spray because at this time of year, I buy fly spray no matter what else is in my cart. It was only $12.76, half what it would cost me here in town!
I guess if you're going to "self-medicate," a bottle of fly spray is probably a good route to go.
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 …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
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