From Endurance to Dressage
The show season is well underway, and Speedy and I have taken advantage of his good health and my perseverance. We aren't bringing home knock their socks off kinds of scores, but we are showing steady improvement, especially at Second Level Test 3 which is the test used for the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition and the California Dressage Society Championships.
I just have to throw this out to the universe: whoever orchestrated the whole get Speedy into Karen's barn, thank you. I mean it. This horse just makes showing completely stress free. The second Speedy steps off that trailer, he is all about relaxation and napping. I don't have to worry about his behavior one little bit. He'll happily stand at the trailer all day long, and when I tack up, there is never even a hint of maybe I'll freak out about something. Speedy, buddy, you are one awesome dude!
Since Speedy is an absolute saint, showing is about what we can do without also having to deal with any tension. My goal for this season has been pretty simple; eliminate all scores under 6.0. Getting rid of the 4s and 5s is how you score in the mid-60% range. For our Second Level Test 1, our lowest score was a single 5.5. I am calling that a huge win.
The score sheet for 2-1 shows a long, long, line of 6.0s - thirteen of them actually. There are eleven 6.5s and a single 7.0. But of course, there was also a wee bit of pilot error which knocked 2 points off my overall score. After the 10-meter canter circle at A, you have to continue on to F and then cross the short diagonal to E. That section is really hard to remember; I've missed that movement twice this season. Let's hope I've learned my lesson.
The judge is an "S" judge and not one to just give away scores, so to see mostly 6.0s and 6.5s tells me that we are definitely on the right track. His further remarks were spot on, "Some nice moments. Work for even better longitudinal and lateral suppleness for better use and control of hind legs to maintain throughness and uphill balance." Yup. That's exactly where we are.
The one comment that is thankfully missing from the score sheet is "curling." Not that Speedy still doesn't try and duck behind the bit, because he does, but we seemed to have mostly fixed that issue. Most of the comments for this test were about being tight in the back, hollow, and losing rhythm. Some riders might find that discouraging, but I think it's progress.
For us, Second Level has been about getting Speedy to shift his weight to his hind end, which is hard. When he becomes unbalanced, he gets hollow or loses the rhythm. My job is to be more consistent with the half halts, work on maintaining the flexion, and keep his shoulders out of the way.
Here's the test. We finished with a 61.667%. There's a lot more that we need to fix (hello, sitting trot), but we are definitely making progress.
I am not sure why Izzy gets all the cool stuff - Speedy's the one doing all the work, but he does. Last week, the chiropractor was out for his quarterly visit.
When CC was out last time, Izzy was in great shape and no work was needed. I knew he wouldn't get off so easily this time, and I was right. Nothing was seriously out of whack, but he had a few issues.
Izzy's tension starts in his poll which then creates a domino effect. Once his poll gets sticky, the problem moves on down the line through his neck, withers, ribcage, and pelvis.
Besides working out some general body soreness, CC is also a great resource for training questions. CC is a western trainer, but training problems are often the same no matter the discipline. When I explained the bitting issue, he said I should mix it up. I should switch back and forth between the bit Izzy likes and the legal one. CC explained that by this stage in Izzy's training, he doesn't get to be picky.
He said that in their training program, they might use two different bits for one ride. If a horse needs a reminder, go to the bit with more oomph! and then switch back. Basically, he felt that Izzy has a job to do, and he doesn't get to have so much of an opinion about it.
I know Izzy enjoys the body work, and he really likes CC. Even though it was hot as blazes, CC took the time to play with Izzy when he was finished just like he always does. Having the chiropractor out multiple times a year isn't exactly cheap, but it's sure worth it.
I know Izzy thinks so!
Four years ago, I bought the Ovation Glitz helmet. Back then, I was worried that the bling would just be too much. I need not have worried. I loved this helmet from the second I saw it.
I have the Romfh Bling Show Coat in navy (which I LOVE) and have been hankering for a navy helmet to wear with it. As luck would have it, Riding Warehouse started carrying the Ovation Glitz helmets in both black and navy. I had to order one.
A few weeks ago, a friend shared a Riding Warehouse coupon code for 20% off (RWJA - good through 9/1/18). That's a big savings for something that you already want. The list price of the helmet was $99.95, but with the discount and free shipping, the price dropped to around $80. For a helmet this pretty, that's a steal!
As I was looking at my cart however, I decided to maximize the 20% discount and toss in something else that I've wanted to try - a gray pad for my "dingy" grey Arab. Moderately priced gray pads are not easy to find. I opted for the Horze Bristol Dressage Pad. At just under $20, it's no big deal if I don't love it for Speedy.
Ultimately, I want to replace my current gray show coat (ahem ... shrinkage?) with another one. The Montar Ava Show Coat has been calling my name for a while, but I've resisted. At $138.95, it strikes me as a bargain. In styling, it is nearly identical to the Romfh, but it's missing a feature that I am not sure I can live without - the hidden front zipper.
It's not that the jacket is that expensive, but I did just buy the helmet and pad. On top of that, I am cramming in four shows in the next month:
In late April, I reviewed the Horze Juliet Full Seat Tights. I've been wearing them exclusively for the past two months and thought they deserved another review.
I have all three colors, but the gray is my favorite. Not that color has anything to do with performance. I bought these strictly for hot weather riding and wasn't at all concerned about making a fashion statement. Which is a good thing because these tights have no bells and whistles. They're pretty utilitarian and not likely to garner any "Hey! Those are cute breeches!" types of comments.
What I like most about them is how cool they are to wear. I almost don't even sweat in them. There's no shame in admitting that I have sweaty butt issues when I wear most of my other full seat breeches. Not with these bad boys. I still follow my beat the heat protocol - Body Glide is my best friend during the summer, but I have not had a single heat rash this summer.
I was initially worried about the silicone seat, but it provides just enough texture to keep me from sliding around without glueing my butt in place. I mentioned before that the fabric is like what you'd get in a pair of yoga pants, and that is still true. What I didn't expect was that the fabric is holding up really well. I am wearing each pair twice a week before washing them, and they look the same as the day I bought them.
These tights are so comfortable that I don't strip out of them as I am walking in the door. My other full seat breeches - all of which I love when it's not 110, keep me wet and sticky until I shoehorn myself out of them. I am finding that I when I get home, I don't even feel the need to pull these off. Many evenings my husband comes home and asks why I still have my riding clothes on.
There are only two things that I don't like about the breeches, and they're both things I can live with. 1) They don't have a pocket. I already bemoaned this feature and have just learned to deal. 2) The fabric is so soft that hay sticks to them. I have a hay bag hanging where I tack up my horses, and I am constantly bumping into it. Hay sticks to these breeches like magnets. Again, it's not a deal breaker, but I do find myself constantly brushing off hay stems and other dirt.
Besides being cool and comfortable, they're also super affordable. If you buy two at a time and combine that with a 20% discount coupon, they're more than reasonably priced. The Horze website shows them in a gray/blue color, so maybe Riding Warehouse will add that color to the lineup for next summer.
Because really, I need 7 pairs - one for each day of the week!
I've written about my USDF Group Member Organization (GMO) at least 5,000 times already. The California Dressage Society (CDS) really and truly cares about its membership and is always looking for new ways to motivate riders and reward their efforts. Last week, CDS launched a freshly re-designed website AND a new award.
As of now, the list of CDS awards that riders can already earn include:
Horses may earn the award at Training through Grand Prix. In order to earn the award, the horse must earn 6 scores of 60% or better at Training through Fourth Level. The horse needs 3 scores of 60% or higher for Prix St Georges, Intermediate, or Grand Prix. Of course there is also the requirement that the rider must be a CDS member in good standing, and the horse must be registered with CDS ($10 annually or $100 lifetime).
Because the award is being announced so late in the season, scores earned earlier this year will count as long as the horse is registered with CDS. I dropped my registration in the mail yesterday. Speedy has five qualifying scores at Second Level already. He just needs one more. I am hopeful that we'll get it this weekend.
The awards that CDS and USDF offer are a big deal for me. I don't care about ribbons, but I do need something to aim for; it keeps me focused. We might not be earning high scores this season, but we're meeting goals and checking off boxes. I don't know if Speedy needs the proverbial dangling carrot, but I sure do.
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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 (***)
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