From Endurance to Dressage
The day before we left for San Diego, I attended TMC's Mid-Summer dressage show. While it was only CDS rated, the scores count for a variety of CDS awards and programs. Besides that, I am attempting to earn TMC's year-end high score award. As of right now, I think I'm in third place, but there's still one show to go.
We weren't brilliant or anything, but we got the job done. We earned a 64.063% which was good enough for first place. While I am always looking to improve my scores from one show to the next, I try to look at my score in relation to the rest of the scores posted that day. The average score for the adult amateurs was only 58% which makes my 64% seem relatively high.
After watching the video, I suspect I am probably riding First Level about as well as I can. I've been focusing on getting a bend and adding leg which is helping me earn another point or two for each movement. The score sheet is filled with 6.5s and 7.0s which tells me I am on the right track.
Unfortunately, I did make a mistake that probably cost me as many as three points. I was thinking ... sit, sit, sit, as we were developing the working canter in preparation for the downward to trot. Apparently my work on the half halt has really paid off because Speedy SAT at C instead of at M. The judge gave me a 4.0 with the comment, "lost canter." We typically score a 6.5 or a 7.0 for our canter to trot transitions so that cost me nearly a full percentage point.
To the good, there was more that I liked about the test than I didn't. We're getting some lengthenings, both at the trot and canter, and our 15-meter canter circles (7s for both) are definitely proving to be a strong point.
I was also quite pleased with how well Speedy picked up the right lead canter (7.0). Going from left to right is easier than going from right to left (in Test 3). That's something we're definitely going to be working on this week.
The judge's further remarks hit the nail on the head.
Our next show is in two weeks - the California Dressage Society's Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC). It's a fun show, but it's really competitive as everyone has to qualify to enter. We've won at our level twice (Introductory and Training). I don't ever expect to win, but I would sure like to do well.
With a few more points here and there and no silly mistakes on my part, we might do okay! Test 3 tomorrow.
We are on our way to San Diego for a week. It's not the two weeks we normally take, but since we bought a new house in October, we're a little poorer this year.
No matter. We've got a pretty nice week planned. We have tickets to see the Padres play the Mets on Tuesday. I am not a baseball fan, but I always enjoy going to a game.
We also have box seats at Del Mar on Thursday for some live Thoroughbred racing. We go to Santa Anita at least once a year and have been to the Breeders' Cup twice. We thought it would be fun to check out a different track.
We're staying in the Gaslamp Quarter the first two nights, mostly because getting to the baseball stadium can be a bit tricky. Just like in any big city, parking can be a problem in San Diego, so it seemed easier to find a room within walking distance of the stadium.
It seems weird to move hotels while in one city, but we are. After two nights in the Gaslamp Quarters, we're moving to a hotel near the beaches of Del Mar. This will also be more convenient for getting to the track, too.
We would also like to take a tour of the SS Midway. I've heard great things about the ship and the things that you can see while there.
There are a million things to do in San Diego. I am not sure what else we'll find to do, but for this trip, we're happy to just play it by ear, mostly. See you next week!
Izzy has waffled between too much forward and not enough. In other words, he evaded by bolting (too much forward) or balking (not enough). It's taken me a while to work through both issues.
I've been pretty frustrated with him this summer. I've come very close to putting him up for sale, but deep down, I KNOW this horse has huge potential. I am just not ready to quit. When I think about selling him, I always imagine it would be to a stronger, more knowledgeable rider.
That got me thinking. It's not Izzy. There's nothing wrong with him. It's really just me; I need to be a better, stronger rider. As I saddled up on Wednesday, I started asking myself what would a better rider do? All of a sudden, I remembered that super controversial interview with Katie Prudent. She said something that really resonated with me.
see if you can take that animal and get him to do what you want to do.
I decided to take her advice and see if I could get him to do what I wanted. I wasn't going to force him necessarily, but I was going to quite accepting no for an answer.
I started out with the shoulder in exercises that Chemaine showed me last week. But instead of asking him if he wanted to bend his neck, I took hold of the inside rein and did a shoulder in. And I didn't let him out of it until he softened to the inside rein.
And it worked. All of a sudden, I had some bend and he wasn't bracing against the rein. We walked all over the arena changing the bend from right to left. When I felt that he was supple enough at the walk, we did it at the trot. When he said no to the bend, I insisted with added leg.
And he did it.
Then I asked for the canter. He picked it up grudgingly, but then he said no. He balked. He tightened his back and threw up his head, and cried about how he simply couldn't. I realized right then and there that a stronger, better rider would realize that the correct thing to ask for was more FORWARD. And I did.
I cowgirled up and kicked the crap out of him. He grunted and tucked his butt and pinned his ears, but with enough kicking, he shot forward. It dawned on me that softness or bend don't matter if he won't go forward. I quit caring what he looked like or even which lead he was on. The second he hesitated, I kicked the crap out of him again. And again. And again. And again.
There were two spots in the arena that he just didn't want to canter past. I was relentless though. I growled, and kicked, and made a lot of noise when he even thought about slowing down. Within a very short time, his neck softened up, and started to ask if he could stretch a little in the canter.
I am sure all of our problems weren't solved by a little kicking and yelling, but it sure did a lot for my confidence. The scales are tipping in my favor, if ever so slowly. I got his number this time, and that always helps!
It's official: I now wear Noble Outfitters Over the Calf Peddies exclusively. I know it sounds super choosy, but I am tired of my toes popping through the ends of every other brand of sock.
My toenails are kept short for those of you doubting my foot hygiene. I even get regular pedicures. If my toenails need to be trimmed, I am down at my local salon the very next day. No, it is not my toenails ruining my socks.
I have given every major sock brand a thorough try, but none of them stand up to the durability of the Noble Outfitters brand. I hated the Ovation Zocks as soon as I slipped them on. They're as thin as pantyhose; my boots aren't that snug. Why even bother wearing them?
The Horseware socks also left me feeling meh. They're cute, but I started seeing holes appear after just a few outings. The same thing happened with the Ariats. They're too short for starters, and they don't hold their shape. I was certain the Under Armour socks would be The One. They have a nice compression band around the arch of the foot, but the calf was so snug that it sort of hurt to put them on.
My Peddies however, why they just keep on wearing. I still have my very first pair, and guess what? They don't have holes in the toes! The calves don't hurt, they're tall, and they come in cute colors. In fact, I am having a hard time wearing them out.
My very first pair, the solid purple ones tucked in the back, have started to sag, but only in my mucks boots and never in my tall boots. And when they do sag, it's only to the top of my boot, and it never includes the foot. That part stays put. None of the other older pairs sag though, so I am hoping that pair was just different.
For me, the Peddies check off all of my boxes: they have a cushy foot, a tall, thin calf, and they come in nice colors. Best of all, my toes don't poke through the end. I now have seven pairs, enough to ride in all week long.
So now, anytime I place an order and need to meet the shipping threshold, I toss in a bottle of fly spray AND a pair of Peddies. You just can't have too many pairs of socks!
Things have been going pretty well with Izzy. We're still not ready to show, but he's learning, and I am learning. That makes it a win in my book.
I mentioned a week or so ago that I had started experimenting with the Myler bit that is US Equestrian legal. Dale Myler suggested I try the bit out once a week. I popped the bit on and had a fantastic ride. I used it again the next day, but I had to put Izzy in the round pen for a while when he forgot that I was up there. We then had a pretty good ride. The third day I used the bit, all hell broke loose, and I realized I was on a version of Izzy that I didn't want to ride.
I took him back to the barn, swapped out the legal bit, and replaced it with the old one. It took about 25 minutes to remind him of the rules, and then we spent another 20 minutes working. I've decided that Mr. Myler's suggestion of once a week was probably a good idea. I got greedy. I am now going to try it every tenth ride. Once a week is too frequent.
For last week's lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, I opted to use the non-legal bit since I knew I would need more control away from home. She agreed.
My biggest issues with Izzy are now solely about relaxation and accepting the contact. This might sound like no progress, but it actually is. When Chemaine saw Izzy last March, we were still fighting the jackassery moments. My goal back then was to be through with all of that for our next lesson. Mission accomplished!
Izzy was still tense of course, and he craned his neck to keep an eye on Speedy, but he went where I told him without any shenanigans. Right away, Chemaine had two new exercises to help get him to soften off the rein. In the first, she had me do a turn on the forehand where he turned in the direction of the bend.
From a right bend, I pushed his haunches in to make a comma or banana shape. I firmed up my inside rein, and pushed his haunches into the bend while minimizing his forward steps. The purpose of the exercise is to push his haunches until he learns to soften and accept the inside rein.
The second exercise was a variation of the first. Once he was giving to the inside rein, we picked up a trot and asked for more or less the same thing. As I bent him to the outside, Chemaine directed me to turn my shoulders to the outside. Then I slowly turned my shoulders back to the inside. As I moved my shoulders, I directed Izzy to do the same thing.
In the final exercise, we put it all together. Starting from A, I rode Izzy in a shoulder in and then turned across the diagonal maintaining that bend. As we neared X, I started to straighten my shoulders while asking him to do the same. As we approached S, I asked for a new shoulder in while making sure my shoulders were also turned. We rode the short side in shoulder in and repeated the exercise across the other diagonal.
In no time at all, Izzy was concentrating very hard on his job and forgot that he was worried and anxious about Speedy's whereabouts. He started flicking his ears my way and never even thought about bolting or exiting the arena.
We ultimately moved on to the canter work which was the best he's ever given me. Sorry, no video as we ran out of storage. What the exercises showed me was that I really need to focus on where Izzy's shoulders are. It's the same issue I have with Speedy.
I've ridden him at home a few times now since the lesson. We're not "there" yet, but I am riding him with a different feel now. I can tell when he's falling in or out on his shoulders. I've noticed that I need to be careful not to get him too over-bent as well. Sometimes he's actually right between my aids, so I need to recognize that.
We definitely need a follow up lesson for sure. In the meantime, I'll keep chipping away at it and see where we end up.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%