From Endurance to Dressage
Five whole days passed without me being in the saddle last week. It was awful. The only time that happens is when we're on vacation. By Thursday, I was in such a horrible mood that I went into the bedroom at 7:00 p.m. and stayed there until 4:45 the next morning. So when Saturday morning dawned relatively cool, I was at the barn by 7:30, eager to get back on track.
The first thing I did was turn on the sprinklers. It's been hot as holy hell here so everything is very dry and dusty. The second task was to turn Sydney out for a bit of a romp. Speedy was not particularly thrilled to be third on my list, but I was forgiven in no time as soon as I started grooming.
During the summer months, he gets a scrub followed by a soft brush each morning which keeps his coat clean and soft. He hadn't been brushed in at least six days, so he was particularly itchy.
Over all, I don't think the week-long vacation hurt him at all. In fact, his eyes were a bit softer, and he seemed really happy to see me. The thing that I most liked was how super tight his legs were. He doesn't fill, but his legs haven't looked this tight in a very long time.
I could see and feel every single tendon and bone in his leg. And while it was slightly cooler than it has been, it was still in the 70s, certainly not enough to tighten up his legs. I suspect that the time off was actually good for him and allowed any minor inflammations to subside.
When I rode the previous week, both Speedy and Sydney were suddenly terrified of something in the far corner. I suspected that some kind of animal had gone through there leaving a scent behind. After more than a week though, there was no reason to be so spooky out there, but Speedy remembered. I had to work that corner fairly thoroughly to convince him that yes, he could bend correctly, and no, bolting was not permitted.
A few times around, I had to give a very strong halt with the outside rein while jabbing him with my inside spur to keep him from whirling and bolting across the arena. We went through that corner at least 20 times. We did loops, serpentines, tear drops, 20-meter circles, etc. all while I kept jabbing him with that inside spur. Eventually, he gave up and made the corner without any resistance.
While it may sound like we were fussing at one another, it was actually a lovely ride. Speedy is really learning how to thrust with his hind legs, and I am having a blast riding his bigger, loftier stride. We'll be at the CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) this weekend, and I am so looking forward to applying some of our new-found skills.
It's good to be back in the saddle!
Today is the first day of school for my students. Everyone around us started on Wednesday while many schools around the rest of the state are still enjoying their summer vacation.
I had a great summer. It was hot as heck, but not so hot that riding was unbearable. I simply kept to my regular work schedule, which included leaving the house by 6:00 a.m., so that I was riding in the coolest part of the day.
As teachers, we get approximately 10 weeks off. I decided to count how many times I rode during that time off. I discovered that on average, both boys got ridden 5 days a week. Unless I had a show or a clinic, I gave them Saturdays and Sundays off except for hand grazing or turn out.
During those ten weeks we took a couple of short trips (Las Vegas, Santa Barbara) which probably lowered my totals a little. It really felt as though I rode way more than ninety-two times!
Over the summer, I was able to develop a pretty nice right lead canter on Sydney, and Speedy's oomph (thrust) is coming along nicely. It will be difficult going back to one ride a day. Technically, I have enough daylight for two rides after work, but being home at a reasonable hour to cook dinner and spend time with my husband is a priority.
Good by, Summer Vacation; see you in nine and a half months!
This has been the longest work week ever. I don't mean to be such a weenie, but holy cow.
Since Sunday's show, I've been to the barn once, which is a first in I don't know how long (other than being on vacation). Speedy hasn't been ridden since last Saturday and Sydney not since Sunday. They got turned out on Wednesday, and they live in large stalls with a run, but still.
I know I'll be too tired to ride after work, but unless I simply can't stand up, I'll head out there for turnout and some grooming this afternoon.
I am also taking the weekend off from blogging, something I never do unless we're out of town. My brain is just dried out. I simply have nothing to say.
Enjoy your own weekend, and I promise to be back at it on Monday.
Sadly, I've returned to the working world. For those who don't know, I am a teacher and as such have spent the last eight weeks hanging out at the barn for four hours a day riding my horses and taking lessons.
All of that came to a depressing end on Monday morning when I had to report back to work for a full week of meetings, training sessions, and collaborative pow wows. In addition, my mom and her husband came to stay for a few days so I of course cancelled my lessons for the week. Tonight, my principal has invited the staff to his home for appetizers and drinks. All of that combined with an after work haircut has left me feeling desperate for a ride.
Not that I probably would have ridden after work anyway; it's been over 100 degrees. Regardless of tomorrow's weather, I am heading out to the barn after work, and I plan to make up for some lost rides this weekend. The kids return to school on Monday which means my twice weekly morning lessons will now be done in the heat of the day. The one good thing is that I get off 30 minutes earlier than I did at my last school site.
If you're an evening rider, you know how awesome it is to have an extra 30 minutes after work. I get off work at 2:50 p.m. (of course, I arrive by 6:30 a.m.), which means I will get home by 3:10 and can be to the barn by 3:30. Hello afternoons of riding! Even in the dead of winter I'm going to be able to get in a fairly good ride. And before the time changes, I might even be able to ride a second horse. Holy hell, I feel as though I've won the lottery!
Such is the life of an adult (amateur) who has to work to pay for her fun. And since I know I am one of the lucky ones, that's the end of my pity party. Thanks for coming. :0)
Speedy may have his own little fan club, but apparently, Sydney does too! Thank you all for your many comments and suggestions. I would love to reply to each one, but right now, work is interfering with real life (more on that in a day or so). You had so many great suggestions and "think abouts" that I wanted to write about them as a whole.
Sydney is defintely a challenge, but I am not ready to give up yet. If high scores were my ultimate goal, I would have moved on long ago. With Sydney, my goals are more about helping him to find a way to be a working citizen. He wasn't successful on the track, nor in the jumper ring. He likes trail work, but it takes a good hour for him to relax and enjoy it, and as we all know, dressage is good for every horse no matter what discipline you're involved in. He can do this.
There is enough good stuff happening with Sydeny that I think he can learn to deal with the atmosphere at a show, especially dressage shows which are far quieter than most other type of event.
For this particular show (by design) I took a 45 minute lesson in the show arena on Saturday afternoon where other riders came and went during the lesson. This is also the same facility where Christian Schacht gives his clinics, so it wasn't a new venue for Sydney.
Early on Sunday morning, I took Sydney for a long walk which included some ground work in the show arena, particularly in the corners, in front of the judge's booth, and near A. I also free lunged him in the round pen. I was the first rider of the morning so there were as few other riders warming up as possible. The only better option would have been to be the last rider to go, but since I had a three-hour drive home, that wasn't really feasible.
When I said that I wanted to keep him to a walk in the warm-up, that was only because he was in full flight mood, bouncing from end to end. I couldn't get true forward, so I opted for relaxation instead. And he did relax. At the walk, he was able to hear me and listen. Had I had the warm-up to myself, I would have put him in a trot or canter, but I didn't want to upset the other horses by charging around on my fire breathing dragon.
I loved what Tracy (from FOO) had to say, "An amateur-friendly horse is worth their weight in gold, even if they aren't the fanciest thing in the barn." SInce I am an amateur rider, I just assumed I had amateur horses, but it occurred to me that Sydney is not an amateur-friendly horse. This doesn't upset me at all, but rather it helps me look at how I need to ride him a whole new way.
I can't expect him help to me when my aids aren't quite right; he can't help me. He's too worried about his own skin to try and take care of mine. Those of you with AF horses know that your pony can step in and save your butt when needed. Speedy does it for me all the time. Now that I get this about Sydney, I am going to be far less worried about irritating him which is what happens with Speedy if I try to over-ride him.
Speedy will cock an ear at me and say, Hey, listen-up, lady! I know my job. Quit screwing around up there! Sydney can't do that. He has no confidence in himself with a rider on board (although we're working on it). If given a multiple choice question, he always chooses A, run far and fast.
Tracy's comment about AF horses gave me such great food for thought. I've been riding both horses with the same end result as my expectation, albeit with lower scores in mind. For showing, I am going to need to ride Sydney with focus in mind as opposed to suppling in mind. There's a difference in that. He can't get to the suppling part because he can't hear me. I am going to be talking to JL about this. I think she'll be able to give me some specific tools to serve as a hearing aid.
As always, keep on pressing on; ever onward; one day at a time. And thank you for listening. :0)
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. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. 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 schooling and showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
10/11 A. Newcomb (c)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS (***)
7/27 Breen-Gurley (c)
8/30 Breen-Gurley (c)
9/20 Caveletti Clinic (c)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read