From Endurance to Dressage
We almost had a jump lesson on Wednesday. It wouldn't have been a voluntary lesson either. Here's what happened ...
Speedy likes to give a few coughs when he very first starts trotting. I indulge him. We walk for a bit, but then I drop the reins to the buckle and let him trot a circle or two where he clears his lungs. We do it every single day.
In the midst of our on-the-buckle-throat-clearing trot out, the arena sprinkler popped up with a very loud PSSST!!! You can imagine what happened.
Did you say bolt forward? Why yes, that is exactly what happened! As I frantically tried to take up my reins, I looked up and saw this right in front of us ...
Excuse my language, but I yelled SH*T pretty darn loudly. I was worried that Speedy would jump it and equally worried if he didn't jump it. Do you see the straight lines in the dirt? Those are Speedy's skid marks as he ducked to the left and went around ... at a full gallop. He then proceeded to weave through several more jumps before I was finally able to shorten my reins and execute a pulley halt.
Speedy's bolt, refusal, and continued bolt took maybe 5 seconds. It happened so quickly that when JL looked up, we were already flying by her working the pulley rein. When we laughed about it later, I told her how I was refusing to get tossed off. She said she wasn't worrying about me coming off. Instead, she was concentrating on my pulley-halt technique. Always the trainer!
This idea has been rolling around in my head for some time. I may not get this completely right, so read it with the proverbial grain of salt. It should also be kept in mind that my experience is only with Introductory and Training Level. However, I can appreciate First through Fourth Level and the following will eventually apply.
I really, really, really like the 2011 tests. Since I didn't ride above intro with the 2007 tests, I can't say whether the current model is worse or better, but either way, I like the 2011 tests. What I like about the tests is how ... to use a term that we toss about in education ... how scaffolded they are. When we use that term in the classroom, we mean the idea is supported from the bottom all the way to the top.
Now that I've gone through the Introductory and Training Level tests and am restarting the intro tests with Sydney, I constantly find myself saying, oh, I get why I am doing this!
Here's a baby, baby example: Intro A: enter working trot rising, medium walk at X. Intro B: enter working trot rising, halt at X. Another example: for all of the intro tests, transitions are (mostly) done between the letters. By Training Level, some of the trot transitions at done at the letters, but the canter work is still done between the letters.
Very cliché, I know, but I wish I knew then what I know now. When I first started showing Speedy in the summer of 2010, I didn't know what the purpose of the tests were. I couldn't see that the intro tests were introducing small components of the next level. Now that I've moved up a level, I can see very clearly that what I am doing at Training Level is helping prepare us for the movements at First Level.
As I was riding Sydney on Monday morning (and what a great ride he gave me!), I kept it in mind that we won't be an Intro team forever. We WILL move up. So we did our twenty meter circles focusing on rhythm and relaxation, but then we did some loopy changes of direction in anticipation of the 1-loop serpentine at Training Level. Speedy doesn't get the advantage of schooling what's ahead because I really don't know how to do what's waiting for us. But once he and I get it, you can be sure that Sydney will reap the benefits of my knowledge.
Banner beneath the theater's portico
On Sunday, a friend and I made the drive to Los Angeles to see the stage version of War Horse at the Ahmanson Theater.
I knew I would like it, but I didn't know how much I'd like it. It was really terrific. I'll admit that it started out a bit slow, and I was feeling a bit nervous as I was the one who talked Janet into going with me. I didn't want her to feel as though her money had been wasted.
I shouldn't have worried, within no time, adult Joey bust out of the blackness to a rousing applause from the audience. From that moment on, I was literally captivated by the show.
If you've already seen it, you already know how effective the simple set and special effects were. The simplicity of the stage literally set my imagination on fire. The main backdrop is a torn piece of parchment paper. What they were able to do with that one shred of paper was amazing. If you haven't yet seen War Horse, I don't want to spoil it for you.
Both Janet and I were in awe of the horses. They were so life-like that when they froze with the rest of the performers, I wondered at how they were able to keep the horses so still. There were some very dark moments with the horses that were a bit creepy: the way the horses died, the carcasses left to rot, and the ghost horses who have not yet left this world, but who are very nearly gone.
If you do go and see the stage performance and you've read the book or seen the movie, ditch those images and enjoy this adaptation of the story. No, it doesn't follow the book exactly, but that's okay. Enjoy the interpretation that this playwright chose to present.
To see some really interesting footage of Joey, visit this link. Be sure to watch the Adaptation link. The most interesting link can be found here. It's a great video showing how the puppets are built. Fascinating ...
We went to a matinee showing, so there was plenty of daylight to admire the views from the theater's plaza. Click to enlarge images.
This is from the 2005 World Cup in Las Vegas. I don't usually post this kind of stuff, but man, oh man was this a great ride. The last 30 seconds brought me to tears.
First things first. Thank you so very much for refraining from offering advice the other day. Even more thanks go to those of you who kept your criticisms to yourself. Seriously ... thank you. To those of you who commiserated, I really appreciate that you were willing to share your same feelings of suckiness; sucking collectively is far better than sucking alone.
And with that ...
I had THE BEST ride on Sydney on Saturday morning.
During the school year, both boys get ridden about 4 days a week. When school is out, they each go 5 days a week. I try to keep my weekends free so that I can hang out with Hubby, but Friday's weather was so unbelievably hot that I chose to do barn chores instead of ride. It was so hot (and unseasonably humid) that Bakersfield earned the national extreme temperature for the day - 106℉/41℃. No kidding.
So instead of riding on Friday, I squeezed in quick rides on Saturday morning. The weather was seriously improved and almost felt cool. It was 68℉/20℃ when I headed to the barn at 7:00 a.m.
Speedy and I went through our usual practice from our Wednesday lesson. We've been doing some one loop serpentines from the Training Level 3 test. They're fun to do, and Speedy seems to enjoy them. It's also a good way to practice our sideways movement, especially left leg to right right.
When I get to C, I do the other half of the serpentine, H-X-K, and go back to A for more. I also like to throw in a change of direction across the diagonal to reverse the direction of the serpentines.
But on to Sydney!
I really took JL's advice to heart and started asking for more. From the walk, I asked for "quicker" which meant a few taps of the whip. No biggie. Sydney marched forward happily. When we moved on to the trot work, I again squeezed and said, go! Sydney happily gave me more energy. To slow down, I simply sat back, with no rein pressure, and Sydney dropped back into the walk. We did some 20 meter trot circles, both left and right, asking for more activity than we had the other day. Again, no biggie.
Since all was going so well, I decided to use the long sides of my "dressage court" (it's 20m by 45m) to work on maintaining a steady rhythm without the circle. I couldn't have been more pleased. We trot the long side and focused on balancing and slowing for the corners. After tracking left for a lap or two, we crossed the diagonal to repeat the exercise tracking right. I was so proud of how happy and relaxed Sydney was in his work.
And best of all? I truly didn't give a damn what I looked like. It was the most fun I've had in a while.
Pitons back in place ready for a summit bid up Mt. Self Doubt ...
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
2021 Pending …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
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