From Endurance to Dressage
You all must be the best well wishers of all time. If you'll remember from yesterday, I asked you to wish me well in the following areas: no tire blowouts, no getting bucked off, no off course errors (real or imagined), and no scores under 60%.
We managed to avoid every single thing on the list! So thank you very, very much!
The show went well. I'll post my score sheets starting tomorrow. If you find them boring, just come back on Thursday when I'll probably have something new to talk about.
A few comments about the day ...
I met a blog reader (Hi Angela!) which was really fun. If you live somewhat locally and you know that you and I are going to be in the same location, please, please, please introduce yourself! You're not bothering me, and I genuinely love meeting new people. I love to hear about your horses and your equine journey. If I ever give a friendly hello a cold shoulder, someone PLEASE take a moment to b*tch slap me back to reality!
Speedy got a great compliment from a gentleman in the bleachers. As we left the dressage court after riding our first test, he approached and asked if Speedy was all Arab. I smiled and answered, yep, he's the real deal. The man was just certain he must have been only part Arab since he looked so BIG in the arena. He also called us elegant and lovely. Speedy gets a lot of compliments from volunteers and onlookers. I've blogged about that before, but it's still nice to hear. As I walked away from him, I heard a woman comment to her group that Speedy was the nicest horse. I smiled at her, too. What a great day!
I watched some of the Western Dressage. It was quite interesting. Most of the competitors looked as though they were getting ready to work cattle. There was very little bling, which I had expected, and lots more leather, chaps, and plaid shirts. Most wore helmets, but not all. Here are a couple of snapshots of one rider whose test I watched. Click to enlarge.
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I showed you Speedy's forelock braid yesterday. Here's how the French braid came out. The loose hairs at the bottom are hidden by his show pad so I don't usually bother with them
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I am so tempted to say that the judge was generous, but I am NOT going to say it. I am just going to grin happily at my ABOVE 60% scores and accept that this judge thought we did better than satisfactory tests. Check out that second place at Training Level Test 2 - we were ONE POINT away from a tie. So close!
We had a great day!
Yep. We're off to another show (CDS-rated). This is number 6 for the calendar year, but number 8 for the CDS show season. And two of them were two-day shows. We've been busy!
We're on our way to Tehachapi. It won't take us too long to get there as it's only about 55 miles.
I spent Saturday cleaning tack, loading the trailer, and bathing Speedy. I did a very nice job braiding his forelock and wanted to show it to you, but Speedy was being very uncooperative. In any case, here are a couple of pictures that I did manage to snap.
So ... wish us luck: no tire blowouts, no getting bucked off, no off course errors (real or imagined), and no scores under 60%. That last one's a biggie so you might have to wish really hard. See you tomorrow!
I have a tiny confession. Do you remember that I JUST wrote about not having to deal with fear anymore with Sydney? Apparently I jinxed myself because the very next day after posting that, Sydney and I had a less than perfect schooling ride.
To his credit, it was a problematic day to ride. The gardener was there weed-eating the perimeter of the arena. The weed-eater is loud and spooky even to me.
The back corner of the arena is scary. On the other side of the fence there is a chicken coop, a travel trailer, a jeep, and a lot of large trees and bushes. It's a cozy little corner of the neighbor's property that generates all kind of spooky sounds. Most of the time it's okay. We've learned to deal with the noises that come from that corner.
But. On Thursday, the neighbor (who I adore) was doing some work with a ladder. I even jumped at the weird screeeeech sound that shrieked across the arena. Sydney almost jumped out of his skin. I was able to get keep him under control, but there was a lot of squirting to the side, an occasional squeal, and lots of high headedness.
To say I wasn't a bit nervous would be a lie. I held it together though and continued working, but after a few minutes I knew it wasn't worth it. We had put in some good work before the shrieking ladder so I felt it was okay to call it a day. I was disappointed though.
All was forgiven on Friday. I had a great ride on Sydney. My recent lesson on Speedy has given me even more tools to use with Sydney. I am really using the idea of water skiing at the walk. I know I am testing Sydney a little bit with the increased contact, but he is accepting it and working with me. Yah!
We spent our time on Friday working on big circles, first at the walk and then at the trot. I asked for more forward and actually got it without the sense of an imminent bolt. Again, yah! I kept the image of a water skier in mind and sat back and squeezed when I felt Sydney try to drop the contact.
I am really pleased with where we're heading. I am also totally digging the opportunity to use my toolbox with him and see positive results. This is starting to get fun!
Tobias: our little puppy is no longer little, but he is doing great. He made it through the Parvovirus and has finished nearly all of his vaccinations. In two weeks he gets his rattle snake booster, his dew claws removed, and he gets neutered. He'll be six months old.
It is ridiculously hard to take a picture of him because he's either got his crazy on, or he's sleeping and looks dead. Here's a super quick video from last weekend.
California Barn Life: It's been kind of hot lately. Last Sunday, the temperature was around 110℉ (43℃), depending on where you live in Bakersfield. Thankfully the temperatures are heading way south of normal. The next five days should hover around the high 80s.
The heat has been a bit of a pain because I've been on poop patrol for the last two days. I start by dragging the sprinklers out to the arena. While they're going, I clean stalls and spray down the barn aisle. Once the stalls are clean, I saddle up horse number one. Before I can actually ride though, I have to go and turn the sprinklers off and recoil the hoses. By the time I actually get on, I'm a bit wilted.
This is just practice for July when I will be doing poop patrol/barn duty for two solid weeks. Toughen up, Sweaney!
Trailering: I forgot to mention that as I was coming home from the Clovis show a few weeks ago, I noticed that my truck was handling really poorly. I knew it had to do with the tire rotation. I took it in to the tire shop on Monday morning and was horrified to see the reason for the rough ride. Chunks of tread were missing from one of the front tires and the others had weird bulges and cracks. Yikes!
The tires had fewer than 12,000 miles on them, but they were at least seven years old. Trailering tip ... keep a better eye on your tires, and drive the posted speed limit. The technician said that had I been speeding, I would probably have had a blowout. Needless to say, I now have a new set of tires. That's going to raise my spending total for next month - better that than a blowout.
Showing: Speedy and I are heading to a show on Sunday where we'll continue showing T1 and T2. We have good times (10:32 and 11:08). The show is in Tehachapi which is only a little over an hour away. I can sleep in a bit, and we'll be home in plenty of time for dinner.
Like I said - just a little of this and that. That's all!
Image borrowed from the internet.
Speedy and I have been flirting with an elastic, steady connection for a while now. Sometimes we have one, often times we don't.
The lack of a truly elastic connection is the reason we can't get the stretchy trot.
I had another Game Changing lesson on Wednesday, and it included water skiing. No, silly, not real water skiing. Metaphorical water skiing. As in are you water skiing? Is he pulling you along? Let me explain.
For some time now, Speedy has fooled me into thinking that we had a good connection. I could feel him evenly in both hands and his neck was staying round with his face mostly on the vertical, although often times dropping behind the vertical. But. On most of my recent score sheets, the judges have remarked that we need more activity behind. So, a few lessons ago, JL had me ask for more activity from Speedy's hind end. A problem was revealed. Speedy doesn't like to engage his hind end. It's hard work. We spent a full lesson playing Race Horse - I put my leg on and you better move it, buster!
Speedy got the point. I squeeze, and he knows that he better react or he's only going to have to work harder. Now however, he has tried to find a new way to avoid working and that is by doing this hippity-hoppity thing with his front end as he tries to evade going forward by cantering or jacking his head up into the air. So, during our lesson, Speedy learned how to let me water ski.
Have you water skied? If so, you know that if you tilt too far forward, you're going to fall. If you go too far back, you're going to fall. If you let there be slack in the line, you're going to fall. So how do we stay up on water skis? We keep tension on the line by leaning back, bending our elbows, and allow the boat to pull us along. This is also how to maintain a steady and elastic connection while riding.
I finally understood the concept during walk to trot transitions. In a moment of inspiration, JL instructed me to let Speedy pull me up into the trot. Not with his front end, but rather I was to think of that sensation of being pulled up out of the water while skiing. I instantly leaned back, squeezed with my legs and held steady on the reins. I didn't let Speedy pop his nose up as he made the transition. Instead, I kept my hands still and steady and kept revving him up from behind until he had enough in his engine to push forward while "towing" me up out of the water. AHA!
From that point on, all JL had to ask was are you skiing? And just like the girl in the photo, I kept the line taut and let Speedy "pull" me along. This is not the same kind of pulling that you feel with a horse on the forehand. If the reins sagged, the connection wasn't elastic. All I had to do was lean back and add leg to reestablish the connection. And it was a glorious feeling. Speedy was carrying us around the arena. I had the wonderful feeling of a gentle tug in my hands, and he was zooming along, wonderfully balanced.
We did figure eights and halts all with a lovely connection. We did walk to trot to walk transitions which really helped me feel how to maintain the connection. And we did a stretchy trot. If you keep the idea of skiing in your mind as you let the rein out, you'll feel right away if you have a connection or not. If he doesn't reach for the connection, it's just like letting there be slack in a water skiing rope: you're going to fall.
I can't wait to practice this more on my own. It may take us a while to get it while riding on our own, but now that I know the feeling that we're trying for, it's going to be a whole lot easier.
Who needs a boat when you have a dressage horse?
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%: