From Endurance to Dressage
Well boy howdy do I ever wish I had gotten all of that off my chest before yesterday. I feel so much better! Admitting any kind of weakness or failure is a tough thing for me to do. I have plenty of weaknesses that I could share, and my failures are frequently published and available for public perusal, but it's embarrassing to talk about them.
After my little admission though, I was brought to tears more than once by the confidence boosting anecdotes and words of encouragement that filled my Facebook page and comments section. Apparently, everyone has felt humiliated and untalented at some point in their riding journey. I had no idea!
Armed with a go get 'em, girl attitude, I trekked out to the barn in the 180 bazillion degree afternoon and hosed Speedy off before I saddled him up; it was truly summer time hot. I pushed out the negative thoughts and decided to just have fun because really, how much work can you do when it's 900 degrees?
If this were a movie, you could predict what would happen next: the soundtrack would begin and uplifting music would swell as the horse and rider perform movements as if by magic. Okay. It wasn't that good, but Speedy and I had a very productive ride.
Since it was so danged hot, I decided to keep things slow and easy. We worked on our turn on the haunches, and to my delight the good way got better, and the bad way felt scorable.
One thing that I did take away from the clinic was that my lack of an adequate sitting trot is my fault. With no one watching me ride on a daily basis, I've just not worked on it. At all. Over the past two weeks, I decided that it is something I can fix, so I've added at least ten minutes of practice when I ride Speedy. And of course, it's getting better.
Not only is my sitting trot improving, but it's allowing me to communicate with Speedy more effectively. Besides just sitting there last night, I asked him to work on his canter departures. Instead of fiddling with him, I worked on keeping my butt plugged into the saddle during the downward transitions. Intellectually, I know how important my seat aids are, but actually feeling them work is another story.
Chemaine is always encouraging me to lift Speedy's withers with my seat, but I never quite had the feeling before. I do now! That little dude can really pull things off when I do my part. We had some pretty darned good walk to canter to walk moments on both leads. Well hallelujah!
Yesterday, someone told me to remember why I am riding. For all of us, I am sure the reason we ride is for the love of the horse. While I rode yesterday, I never once thought about my inadequacies. I simply enjoyed the process of learning and teaching.
When I slid off Speedy's back, I wrapped my arms around his neck and rested my face in his mane. There might have been a sniffle or two, but there was also a feeling of extreme gratitude.
Man I love horses!
Building Back Up What Was Torn Down
I've recently suffered a crisis in faith. Faith in myself that is. The clinic that I attended a few weekends back really rocked my little world, and not in a good way. I left the clinic feeling like the world's worst rider. Worse than that, how could it get worse?, I felt like I had no business even being on a horse.
I muddled around on both ponies for a few days, but nothing I was doing was effective. Speedy felt picked on and Izzy lost all of the confidence that I had helped him develop. I had more than one good cry and finally called my trainer.
She tried to convince me that I am a good rider with a lot of accomplishments under my belt. She shared stories of trainers telling her the same things I had heard: quit now, you're not good enough, you're ruining your horse, and so on. I wanted so much to believe her, but negative comments are so much easier to believe than are positive ones.
The one thing that she has repeatedly told me that I believe without hesitation is that I am a thinking rider. Not an over-thinker, but a rider who works out the puzzle. Since I ride alone all the time and can only get a lesson about once a month, I am forced to either commit the same mistake over and over, or I have to figure out the solution for myself.
Our chat by phone has certainly helped, but I am still struggling to regain my enthusiasm and confidence. I've had a string of bad rides on Izzy, but last night, I finally took matters into my own hands and worked through the puzzle. To my astonishment, I was able to get some positive work from him again.
I left the barn feeling more upbeat than I have in weeks. I may not be a great rider, or even a good one for that matter, but I am an excellent problem solver which is a strength in itself. Izzy appreciated my leadership which in turn helped to restore some of his confidence.
I guess the point of all of this is that we all bring different strengths to what we do, and it's important to recognize them. I let someone convince me that I don't have any, and that's simply not true.
Due to um ... limited funds, the 2017 show season will be decidedly more tame than past seasons. Buying this house in October required some sacrifices, one of which was my amply funded show budget. It's now fairly meager.
The truth is, I probably wouldn't have done a whole lot anyway. Speedy and I are still stuck at First Level, probably more to do with my inadequacies than his, and Izzy still isn't ready to hit any kind of rated show. Fortunately, the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter, my local CDS chapter, holds a four-show summer series that is always very well run and fun to attend. They give lots of cash prizes and hold an awards banquet at the end of the year.
Traditionally, Speedy and I do fairly well there. We've been the high scoring adult amateur more than once (which garners a $50 check) and have been the high scoring pair for the season at Training Level which earned $100. This year, I am shooting for the overall highest average score at First Level - go big or go home, right?!
The first of the summer series begins this weekend. I need to review the tests since I haven't done much showing on Speedy over the last year or so. We rode First 1 and 2 in March, but it had been a year and a half before that. There are no big holes in our work which means there's nothing gigantic to work on. For our rides this week, I just want to smooth things over and help Speedy have fun.
I never go to a show expecting a high score, but I sure hope we can pull off something in the mid 60s. And more than anything, I really need to just have some fun. The clinic that we did a few weeks ago sucked all the fun out of riding, and I intend to get it back!
Straight From the "Horze's" Mouth
A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Horze Trista shirt. I bought mine at Riding Warehouse, but when I went back to order another one, the color I wanted was out of stock. Imagine my surprise when I got an email directly from Horze telling me about their current summer sale. And guess which item was being featured in the email?
I've never ordered from Horze directly, but I am in need of some retail therapy - boring story. If you buy the shirt directly from Horze, there are some new and interesting color choices. While I had my my eye on that Cobblestone Grey one, my size has already sold out. Snooze you lose, right? Instead, I ordered the lighter gray with the black collar.
The shirt was $29.99, four cents more than what Riding Warehouse carries it for. Of course, with Riding Warehouse I use a discount code so it would come out even cheaper, but it was close enough in price. Shipping was a wee bit more than with Riding Warehouse, but only by a couple of bucks
The truth is, so many of the riding shirts I've bought lately are nice enough to actually wear to work, so the purchases have been serving double duty. Of course, after a few months of wear, they do start to look a bit less sharp, shall we say, but that's reason to just buy a new one.
Have a great weekend!
Facebook reminded me of this picture the other day. I don't take regular conformation shots, mostly because neither of my horses will stand still. If I am messing with the camera, they always walk towards me, so any conformation shots I do get are of a moving horse looking for treats.
I don't see a lot of changes to Izzy's outline except for maybe in the neck. There is one thing that I am delighted to see changed though and that is his left hind leg. When I first bought Izzy, he suffered a pretty nasty laceration to the leg while at a trainer's barn. It was a long, long process to get it to heal. He still has a thin scar, but the wound site is clean and tight now.
When I shared the first conformation photo, I added this comment, "that hind leg looks terrible (left hind). I am hoping that the lumpiness of the wound eventually goes away." Two years later, you can hardly see it.
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%: