From Endurance to Dressage
I know I promised no more posts from the Tehachapi show, but in the interest of honesty, I felt an obligation to show the good with the bad. And while video is probably the best tool for evaluating how we ride, photos can also tell us a lot, especially when there is a series of them. My photos from the June show were really, really, terrible. After that show, I was completely ready to quit with Speedy G. The photos show how braced and resistant to the bit he was. I don't even want to share the link, but I feel that it's only fair to show you how awful my rides were. You can see the photos here.
After seeing those, if you bothered and I wouldn't have, do check out the photos from the next show just one month later - here. Something clearly changed. I've been blogging about my AHA moments, and obviously I had one before this last show because we look a ton better. I already posted that my leg position, torso, and bent elbows were vastly improved over last summer. The photos from this last show definitely support that.
The main problem, and I realize that there are several issues, is just what the judge called me on - contact that was too heavy. So, I've gone from no contact to too much contact. With just a bit more practice I feel that I can hit on the Goldilocks formula and get that contact juuuust right!
Feel free to offer suggestions and feedback, but just be nice! (It's really hard to post bad photos of oneself!)
Woke up on Friday morning and just decided to skip my rides. Unless the farrier is coming, or one of my boys has an owie, I ride pretty much every day during the summer. But on Friday morning, I just felt like we needed a break. Speedy G had given me a much improved ride the day before, and Sydney has only had a couple of days off in the past month ... so, we took a day off from schooling.
Just after deciding to skip my morning ride, Cha Ching's mom called and asked if I wanted to take that foal tour we've been putting off and follow it up with lunch at our favorite burger joint. Well of course I was in! We drove out to her mom's place and checked out the foals and German riding ponies.
Here's some of the silly pictures I took (I forgot to take pictures until near the end of our tour). And of course, I did swing by my own barn to turn my boys out, give them post turn-out showers, and feed them their lunch. Their photos are at the end. Enjoy!
Ah ... but don't we all. I feel silly, okay greedy, for even thinking I deserve ANYTHING new for the next few months. I mean really ... new horse, new saddle, new Rambo halter, new Weatherbeeta fly sheet, extra feed, extra stall bedding, extra farrier bill, extra vet visit, more lessons, and all of this is on top of my regular equine expenses.
So what is it that I want NOW? My husband is curious to know as well. I know he's thinking, What else could she need that she doesn't already own several of? Well ... I am embarrassed to admit that I want a new bridle. I say embarrassed because I've bought five in the last two years. That tale can be read here. Now, in my defense, the first one was really an I'm-gonna-give-this-dressage-thing-a-try-but-since-I-might-not-like-it-I'm-going cheap. The next three were poor fitting and the final one worked. But now I have Sydney. Two of the poor fitting bridles fit, but the quality is not superb. I would never have truly known the difference except that I felt a bridle that Cha Ching's mom bought. Ooh ... butter soft.
So now I want a butter soft dressage bridle for Sydney, but I don't want to pay $300 or even $200 to get it. Toll Booth just had a 20% off sale that I very stoically passed on. They carry the Tekna bridle that I am using on Speedy G for $53.96. If I would have bought it at 20% off, it would have cost $43 and some change plus $12.95 for shipping which is about $56 bucks. Pretty cheap, but I passed.
Without having actually felt one to know whether it is butter soft or not, but intrigued by the design, I am looking at a Pink Equine bridle. They carry the Sport INTERchange bridle for ₤99.95 ($162 US) plus shipping ($$). You can see it in the photo to the right and here. If you do access the link, try out the cool zoom feature for a closer look at the beautiful stitching and padding. Of course, if I order it, it will be in black with gray piping.
Deep sigh ... lotsa money ... Christmas is far away ...
Anybody got a lead on butter soft dressage bridles in full/horse size for cheaper than ₤99.95?
A photo from last August's Tehachapi Show
Really. This is the last post about Sunday's show. I am doing other horsey stuff, but three things in particular struck me after watching the videos of my tests, and I wanted to write about them. This photo is NOT from the show. It's from LAST year. I didn't get a still shot from this show to show as a comparison, so you'll have to re-watch the video for that. With that, here are the three things I noticed:
The first thing that caught my eye was my leg position. It's much better today than it was last summer. From the video I can see that now I have a much straighter leg and my feet are flatter without the high heel/low toe seen here.
The video also shows that I am starting to bend my elbows. I still don't have that lovely straight line from bit to elbow, but it's certainly better now than it was last summer. Notice my zombie arms.
The third thing that has improved is my upper body. Last summer I was still allowing Speedy to tip me forward which caused me to have a closed angle at my pelvis. I saw in the video that I am sitting up much taller and opening my pelvis more.
My body position is still not perfect. But I can definitely see some improvement. If you missed the video from Sunday's show. You can see Test C down below.
I may have mentioned that I have had a few lessons recently that went really well. I think some more explanation is needed. The past three lessons have not been with Coach. Don't say uh-oh just yet. I still love riding with Coach and plan to ride with her again when she has a bit more time. You see, she's not independently wealthy and hasn't yet won the lottery. Much like the rest of us, she took a full time job this past February to help fund her own horsey habit and to ahem, increase her herd.
My job gives me weekends off, as does hers. That works great. Unfortunately for both of us, she doesn't get 10 weeks off in the summer like I do. When my interest in dressage blossomed a year or so ago, I dedicated my summer weekdays to lessons. This leaves my summer weekends free to spend time with hubby. So without access to Coach's weekday mornings, I've found it necessary to utilize a new trainer. I'll just call her JL.
I've had three very interesting lessons with JL. They've all been with Sydney. Lesson one concentrated solely on the inside leg and rein aids. We worked for an hour on softening Sydney to the left by bending his stiff side to the inside while pushing him off my inside leg. Inside rein says bend, bend, bend. Inside leg bumps and says, "don't lean on me." The outside rein just sits there quietly making a soft, but steady, contact. Outside rein might also rock to say soften, soften.
Lesson two focused on turning in by using the outside leg and outside rein aid. Sydney loves to go right because his inside is like a spaghetti noodle. He literally collapses inside when circling right. JL had me focus on holding that outside rein steady to prevent him from falling into the circle. Outside rein holds steady, outside leg bumps and says, "make the turn." Inside rein rocks and rocks and rocks and says soften ... soften ... soften.
Lesson three put the outside and inside aids together. AHA! Holy Cow! I FREAKIN' GET IT!!!!! It was truly like a 1000 watt bulb burst in my head. You mean that when we circle, I just keep fixing the circle by catching the outside when it drifts out and then catch the inside when it falls in? And that's it? Ohhhhh!
Of course it sounds easy when you say it like that, but that's what we've been working on and things are getting better very quickly. In fact, after watching the video of our last show, Cha Ching's mom made the comment that she's never seen my circles look as round as they did on Sunday. I must be doing something right!
Mixed in with the three lessons was also the idea of establishing the frame. Now, I knew what that meant, but achieving it has been a totally different animal. JL's images included a fence board in front of Sydney with the idea of slowing his front end to allow the hind end to catch up. She had me hold STEADY on the reins to slow the front legs down, and ask for forward from the hind legs until I could hear a much more even footfall. As we made a very small circle around her, she matched her pace to Sydney's and guided each step he took. Any time I allowed that imaginary fence board to drift out in front of him, she would say, "don't be an Indian giver. Don't give it back to him!" Until I would re-establish that fence board right in front of him. The steadier I held him to the board, the softer he got until finally, his footfalls were soft and steady and he became light in my hand. Suddenly, we were floating and riding became effortless.
Here's a super quick video of a few moments of our last lesson.
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%: