From Endurance to Dressage
Lord have mercy. Just how many things can I possibly have to say about this one show? Four day's worth apparently. I'll try to make this quick.
I did learn a few new "tricks" to help ride some of the Second Level movements a bit better. The first is to have more bend. That's not really a new trick, but I continue to have doh! moments about why.
For example, I learned that for the turn on the haunches, I need to think about doing a lot of things before I actually do a turn on the haunches. I need to 1) keep the walk marching. 2) I need to think shoulder in. 3) I need to make sure I keep the inside bend otherwise Speedy will be counter bent and my outside rein does nothing.
I also learned to keep off the rail for the rein back. It's a bit like parallel parking - you don't want to get too close or you'll scrape your tires as you back up. It helps to give your horse a little more room too. And besides, you don't need your elbows in the judge's face as you back up. Just saying.
As much as my sitting trot needs work, I wasn't the worst rider out there. I am not fishing for compliments here, but it did my heart good to see that we pretty much fit right in. There were riders better than me and riders who had their own struggles. There were nicer horses than Speedy, although not many; you gotta love the one you're with after all.
And finally, while we didn't hit it out of the park, we did earn four scores that were ever so close to being satisfactory. Our first score of the show, the 61.97%, was actually good enough to count for a whole slew of things. It gave us another CDS Championship qualifying score which means we only need one more. We also earned another score towards our Second Level USDF Rider Performance Award leaving us only two more before we earn our patch. And best of all, we earned the final Second Level score needed for a Bronze Medal.
Each year Speedy and I prove that we are certainly Not-So-Speedy Dressage. We are ever so persistent though. It may take us longer than the average rider, but we get it done. Believe it or not, we have another show on Sunday. It's only CDS-rated so we can't earn a USDF score, but my GMO's scores count for so many things that you can bet your butt we'll be bringing it. If you're in the Tehachapi area on Sunday, we ride at 1:20 and 2:00. We'd love to see you.
Wish us luck and have a great weekend!
Last weekend's show report continues ...
Sunday morning dawned gray and rainy, but it didn't dampen my spirits one bit. Best Friend and I had had the best time ever over the past two days. We laughed all Saturday evening as we shoveled down our dinner of burritos and white cheddar popcorn. Don't ask.
My rides were early on Sunday morning - 7:14 and 8:10, but that only meant we would be getting home that much sooner. What I haven't yet mentioned was that our drive down on Friday had been anything but easy. Our plan had been to stop on Interstate 5 at the In-N-Out for a quick lunch, but after I dropped BF off at the door and parked the truck and trailer, I saw that she was standing in a line at least 30 people deep.
We both said forget it and decided to walk over to the nearby Subway where we were met with a similarly long line. By that time, we simply gave up and dug some string cheese and chips out of the cooler and hit the road again. We ended up getting a sandwich at a Subway in Fillmore, 45 minutes from the show grounds.
Less than 10 minutes from the El Sueno Equestrian Center, we came upon a wreck and fire on the road that had us parked for more than an hour and a half with fire trucks racing by us over and over again. Speedy was an absolute saint. He stood quietly the entire time without making a single bit of noise. What should have been a two and a half hour drive ended up taking us more than five hours.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, was supposed to come and give me a lesson on Friday afternoon, but because of the wreck, the road that we came in on was closed right after us. We were very, very fortunate to have made it through. That meant no warm up lesson.
Because my rides were so early on Sunday morning, I didn't need Chemaine to come and coach me. I figured I would just ride to the best of my ability which turned out to be about the same as on Saturday (here and here). Before I share my scores, check out the final halt from Test 1. I am not sure what spooked Speedy, but I love that he finished the halt decently square. The judge gave us a 6.0.
For Second Level Test 1, we scored a 59.242% - my absolute least favorite score. I'd rather have a 58 than a 59. We missed a 60% by 2.5 points. On the final medium trot the judge commented, "rider appears to be posting? needs more ground cover thrust & reach". Guess what posting gets you on a Second Level test. Yup, a two point error. Crap. It wasn't that I was posting on purpose. My sitting trot on the medium trot still sucks. Here's the test.
I said that this was a blooper filled weekend which means there was more. I've only ridden Second Level Test 3 three times, and the third time was this past Sunday.The first two times I had a reader. It's not that it's a particularly hard test to memorize, but there is a lot of canter work to remember.
I got lost on the twenty-fourth movement, the three-loop serpentine. I simply forgot where we were going. And frankly, up until that moment, we were doing pretty well. Speedy and I scored a 7.0 for our entry. We had two 5s, four 5.5s, fourteen 6s (!), and two 6.5s. All of that means that we were riding a 60% test (with the double coefficients). As soon as we went off course, I got a two point deduction. Here's the test.
What made it so bad was that the three-loop serpentine is a pretty tough movement. Speedy and I need time to set up for it so that we're balanced for the counter canter. Since I was lost, I didn't set us up for it very well so Speedy dropped to trot, and I couldn't convince him to pick up the counter canter. The whole thing went to hell in a hand basket earning us a 2.0 on a movement with a double co-efficient. For those of you who don't speak dressage, that means that single movement was worth twenty points, or nearly 5% of the whole test. Ouch!
We ended up scoring a 56.098%. That's kind of an ugly score, but truthfully, I know that we lost virtually all of our points on that serpentine. It's a movement that we can do pretty decently. We earned a 6.0 for the first one and a 6.5 & 6.0 on the two from Saturday.
Yesterday I promised you the best worst comment ever. I bought a grey horse on purpose. I know many of you cringe at that, but light colored horses often deal with the heat better. Speedy was bought as my next endurance horse long before I ever thought of doing dressage. He replaced a black Arab who struggled mightily with the heat. I got lucky with my grey; he HATES to get dirty.
While many people might call Speedy a white Arab, he is actually grey. His skin is black except for below his knees; he has white socks. You can see them when he's wet. He is also lightly flea bitten (little brown dots). So I leave you with this last comment from the judge. All I can say is ... Is that the best almost compliment you've got?
Yesterday, I wrote about slogging through Second Level with a 61%. I looked up the meaning of slogging - to work hard over a period of time; you'll notice that there's nothing in the definition about being successful. Slogging also means to toil, labor, plod, and exert oneself. Uh ... yep.
Here's the video for Saturday's next test, Second Level Test 3.
When I first saw the score, a disappointing 57.561%, my initial reaction was that the judge was being too tough. Upon further reflection, I realized that the score was actually pretty good. After all, she gave us ten 6s which translate to satisfactory and five 6.5s which mean almost fairly good. So of the twenty-seven movements able to be scored, fifteen of them were at least satisfactory or better. That's more than half. The remainder of the scores were 5s and 5.5s with a pair of (insufficient) 4s.
Throughout my not-so-speedy dressage journey, my process has always been the same. I analyze my tests to see where our strengths lie, and I work to build on them. I also study our weakness, and I focus on turning the 5s to 5.5s. Eventually, they become 6s, and before I know it, we're scoring consistently in the mid to upper 60s.
I know we have a lot that we have to fix before we're getting scores in the 60s, but I'm having fun, and I feel like we're almost ready to be competitive.
Tomorrow, day two's tests including some bloopers and the best worst comment ever!
... but having a blast while doing it. Best friend and I loaded Speedy G for a two-day show over the weekend. For the first time since Speedy and I made the jump to Second Level, I was headache free AND I had fun. We made mistakes, and our scores were closer to meh than marvelous, but I am motivated and ready for more.
That was Second Level Test 1 with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, "coaching" me on the video. For the record, I couldn't hear her. We all know it wasn't a brilliant performance, but there were some really almost great moments like that rein back (seriously!) and those simple changes. Even I know those didn't stink.
The medium walk after the after the first counter canter was also pretty good. I think it's the first time we've actually gotten a walk instead of a bunch of trot steps into walk.
My sitting trot is also improving - not during the medium, of course, but for the collected trot there's less air between my butt and the saddle. For right now, I am excited about the slightest bit of progress.
For this first test, the only thing that really hurt was the shoulder in. Those were our only sub-six scores (5.5 & 5.0). Well, that and my navigational error.
The free walk goes from S to P, but I rode it from H to P, one letter too early for those of you who aren't familiar with the the dressage court. That's a two-point deduction, and it did affect my score.
Overall, Speedy and I finished with a 61.970%. Spoiler alert. That was our best score of the weekend, but I still had a great time and came home ready for more. The second test tomorrow ...
Last week while letting Izzy wear his bit during breakfast, he hooked the throat latch of his bridle on something, probably his hoof, and snapped it down the middle. I was disappointed for about a nanosecond. It's not that the bridle is ugly or ill-fitting, but it was starting to show some wear. Izzy is hard on his tack. As I held the flapping piece of leather, I realized this was the perfect excuse to buy a new bridle.
As I poured over website after website, my practical side took over. Izzy isn't ready to show yet, so he doesn't need a fancy bridle. Besides that, he's hard on his tack - he sweats like a teenaged boy, throws foamy spit everywhere, and rubs his face on his legs every chance he gets. I decided to replace the bridle with something very similar for under $200.
I don't like to think I am that picky about bridles, but as I looked over my list of must haves, it would seem that the opposite is true. My must haves include:
With my must haves in hand, I went back to the internet to see what I could find. Searching with a clearly defined list makes the process much quicker. Before long, I ended up at our ever favorite Riding Warehouse. They have a good selection, and without too much searching, I landed on the Bobby's Tack Padded Crank Dressage Bridle with Reins.
The bridle checked off every one of the items on my list. The monocrown is padded and contoured, there are buckles instead of hooks, and the crank noseband is just the right size. Two things that were bonuses were that the throat latch is adjustable on both sides, and the leather is Italian. An additional perk is that the leather reins are actually quite nice. I've put them in storage for now, but I may bring them out to try later.
The bridle runs $182.95, but with a 15% discount, I only paid $166.78 which included free shipping. The bridle is not fancy, but it will work great as an every day schooling bridle.
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
2022 Pending …
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 (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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