From Endurance to Dressage
Geez ... how long is she going to milk this one little show? I know, but this show has given me lots of junk to mull over.
I mentioned that my mom was here to visit and that she videoed my tests. I need to mention that while my mom loves horses, she doesn't know that much about them and knows even less about showing. So after my tests were completed and Speedy G was untacked and tucked into his spot at the trailer, we walked back up to the dressage court to watch a few other tests being ridden.
Just 14 months ago, I went to my first dressage show. I remember being overwhelmed by how many procedures there seemed to be. How in the world did everyone seem to know what to do? A bell was ringing every few minutes, someone was shouting out alphabet letters followed by equine gates, someone else was calling out riders' number with a time. And horses were trotting and cantering everywhere. It should have looked chaotic, but it didn't. It was actually very harmonious and relatively quiet.
Mom and I chose our spot along the spectator fence under the shade of the oak trees. I started seeing the show through the eyes of a newcomer and realized that I hadn't bothered to explain what was really going on. She had seen me ride of course, and I had already explained how the levels were arranged and how each rider was given a time to ride. But really, that was it. I spent a few minutes explaining what the letters meant, what the judge was looking for, and what a reader's job entailed. As the next rider entered at A, I very quietly "translated" the reader's directions. After seeing just one test ridden, Mom quickly picked up how to follow the horse's movement around the dressage court. For the second test that we saw, she began to see when a horse or rider had made a mistake or when the horse was being a bit fussy.
Mom turned out to be a great "horse show mom." She mentioned to everyone in site that THAT rider was HER daughter and isn't she just such a LOVELY rider? She schlepped my boot wiping rag with pride. She toted my water bottles around and offered me a drink every time I looked hot. She cared for my show coat during warm up and pointed out the dusty spots on it so that I could wipe them off. And she of course "oohed and ahed" appropriately over my blue ribbons. It was quite fun to have such a dedicated entourage.
On Monday afternoon, after spending all morning with me at a lesson filming yet again, we checked to see if the show's results had been posted. Mom's super supportive "show mom" side appeared again. She suggested we count how many riders scored below my top score and how many scored above. Once we tallied the results, she excitedly pointed out that my scores fell within the top half of the scores. She really made me feel successful in a mathematical way. Thanks, Mom!
You'll find the link to show results here. (At some point the link will reflect scores for the July 2012 show).
Read about the show here.
Here's the video for test B. If you watch the beginning very closely, you can just see the after-effects of the dripping sprinkler at F. And again, I just need to point out that I NEED to bend my elbows ...
And here's the video for test C. Watch and listen for the "off course" bell. I am pretty proud of my okey-dokey attitude. Also watch for Speedy's numerous kicks and I-don't-wannas!
My scores don't reflect how I felt the rides went. Introductory B was 55.625% and Introductory C was 57.50%. When we left the show grounds at 11:30, the highest score posted was 60%, so my 57 seems pretty good. I was actually relatively pleased with both rides.
Since last year, I have memorized my tests to avoid having to find a reader. It didn't help for this day though! At the corner near F, there was a dripping sprinkler that spooked Speedy a bit as we entered at A. That fussiness and spook caused a moment of confusion so when I tracked left at C to make my 20 meter circle at E, I got a wee bit lost and went off course. Ding! The judge rang her bell and sent me back to to E to make the circle. Two points lost.
While it wasn't a perfectly ridden test, and I didn't bend my elbows as much as I needed to, Speedy G was reaching forward under himself with his hind legs and trying to listen. The judge did dink him quite a bit for being so "braced", but I know it was a better test than we've been doing. When we halted at X and saluted, I rode forward to thank the judge and started my turn to exit. The judge stopped me and quite loudly told me that I was riding a very nice horse and that she liked him a lot. Well, my goodness - a fine compliment!
Test C went much the same way. Our canter transitions were still fussy and sticky, but we did ultimately get the canter going both directions. Interestingly, as I was picking up the canter at A the second time, I heard the bell ring and wondered what was wrong. I knew I was on course, but I figured I must have done something wrong. I pulled Speedy to a walk and headed up the center line to discuss things with the judge. As I got close enough to hear her, she said that I was to pick up the canter between A and F. I told her that I was cueing for the canter. Oops! She suddenly realized that she had gotten confused and had rung the bell in haste. She apologized and asked me to start again at E. It wasn't a big deal to me, and it didn't seem to affect Speedy at all. We walked over to E, picked up the trot and continued with the test.
My mom was there to watch and offered to video both tests. When I have a few minutes, I'll get them processed and uploaded. Even though the scores don't scream "success", I am pleased with the rides we put in.
and I am not too confident. Frankly, I am a bit pissed. RAAC? Are you kidding me? If Speedy and I break 60%, I'll be thrilled. Grrr ... So what's the problem? Don't get me started! Speedy G is AWESOME at a great many things. He loves kids, he loves to walk, he loves to stand still, and he really loves to eat. What he doesn't like to do is work.
He had a few days off due to the whack he gave himself last week, and he got a day off on Friday because of farrier work, but Saturday it was back to work. I REALLY wanted to work on the canter transition so that it would be fresh in his mind for today's show. I am so frustrated with him. He WOULD NOT move forward. He was so far behind the leg that I am not sure we were even in the same county. I was literally KICKING his sides to get him to trot. I am definitely bringing the dressage whip to the show. It is impossible to establish any kind of connection if there is no rhythm or forward movement.
Literally, this is how it went:
Me ... leg on and thinking trooot ... harder leg ... harder leg ...
Speedy G ... ears pinned ... head WAAAY behind the vertical ...
Me ... HARDER LEG ... HARDER LEG
Speedy G ... nooooooo
Me ... H A R D E R L E G
Speedy G ... kind of trotting
Me ... HARDER LEG ... Taller posting ... squeezing on the upbeat
Speedy G ... even more behind the vertical ... nearly bucking
This went on for at least 30 minutes. This is not a saddle fit issue, he is not hurting, he is not confused about what I am asking for ... he just flat out doesn't want to do it.
I finally got him moving forward enough to ask for canter transitions. I asked for the canter ... nothing ... I asked again ... nothing. I finally had to KICK him HARD with my outside leg. It wasn't pretty, but he finally gave me something. And then we trot and did it again, and again, and again. I kept asking for that canter transition until he did it with just a softish aid.
This is extremely frustrating because last week when we worked on this, he was soft, round, and jumping into the canter with a nice push from his hind end. He can do it, he just doesn't want to.
Soooo ... we're off to the show anyway.
On Friday we said goodbye to Sparks, our barn's oldest resident. She was 31. Dr. Blanton was called to look at Spark's newest ailment, a newly swayed back with a leg drag. The diagnosis? Old age. Sparks's owner made the very difficult decision to say goodbye to her very good friend. It was the right choice. Sparks's mom couldn't bear to see Sparks go, so I volunteered to stay and be Dr. B's tech. I had gone through the process with Montoya a year and a half before so I knew what to expect. Even so, I cried as Sparks's heart slowly stopped beating. Dr. B kissed her cheek, and I stroked her neck as we sent her to better pastures.
My mom is coming for a visit! I haven't seen her in at least four years, maybe even five. She's excited to meet my equine family, as they are new since she last visited. When my mom called and asked what my schedule was like, I said that she should plan her visit in time for Sunday's show. She was very excited as she's never seen me compete with my horses. I am kind of excited about it, too. Even though I am all grown up, it will be very satisfying to give my mom a blue ribbon. Now I am glad I am the only rider in my class!
How great is it when we have one AHA moment after another? Pretty darn great. I do not mean to sound like a dork here, but I am finally understanding how to use the inside and outside aids AT THE SAME TIME! Sydney was back under saddle on Friday for more trot work and less walking. He was all Dr. Jekyll, with none of Hyde's dastardly behavior anywhere in site. We worked on soft, relaxed circles with changes of direction. I love how I can feel him change his bend when I change my seat.
Tomorrow is my fifth dressage show of the season with Speedy G. It is also a rated show which means it is an opportunity for us to qualify for the Regional Adult Amateur Championships. We have to score a 65%. Can we? Yes. Will we? I don't know, but I am feeling good about the show. I have a new comfy saddle that keeps me much more balanced, and I have a bit more confidence in my riding ability than before. We're also showing at a place that I really enjoy, and the warm up arena is HUGE. I am loving that part of it!
Rest in peace Sparks. Hey mom! And finally ... Here's to a fun-filled weekend!
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%: