From Endurance to Dressage
If we fizzled on Test 2, I am not even sure a match was struck for Test3. I haven't had a score this low in quite some time (61.029%). But like I said yesterday, this ride didn't feel any different from the tests I've ridden all summer. The judge simply marked it how he saw it.
The real bummer is that I had a videographer all lined up, but when I found out that she takes lovely still shots, I ditched my iphone and let her use her lovely camera. I just assumed that the ride would look pretty similar to every other test I've ridden this year, so why record it?
As I looked through some of her pictures, I could definitely see that my position was wonky (The Lean), but Speedy looked pretty nice. Now I wish that I would have had her take video so that I could check the video against the scores.
These scores are not what I've seen in a while. Six scores in the 5 range? I didn't feel it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't so.
Not that it explains everything, but it was hot. I've already said that keeping Speedy in front of my leg on hot days is a new goal. Good thing we have like a million more hot days coming because I have lots of time to work on it!
I guess the one thing that we did do right was our halts. We earned a 7.5, 7.0, 7.0 (scored with a right and left turn between the two 10-meter trot circles), 6.0, and a whopper of an 8.0! I don't know which one is pictured up above, but we had some problems earlier this year with fidgety halts, so I am happy that we at least improved in that area.
In the end, I met at least some of my goals for the year. We placed well at RAAC (Reserve Champion), we earned 13 scores of 60% or higher for my CDS Plaque (no scores below 60%), we earned AA high score at two shows, and we were quite competitive within my CDS chapter. I don't know who won AA high point for the season, but I know I was close.
Overall, I had fun this season, and I am looking forward to slogging it out at Second Level!
Sometimes I win, but usually I don't. I am okay with that. Yes, I like to win, but it's more important to me that I do well and have a good time. (Says every loser - just kidding!) The reality is that there is always going to be someone with a better horse or someone who is simply a better rider. Usually the latter. It's hard to beat Speedy's awesomeness.
My plan was to finish First Level with some sparkle and a little woot woot. Instead, we finished First Level with a bit of a dud. Rather than the mid-60 score I was shooting for, like I earned at RAAC, we earned an unremarkable 62.969% on Test 2. Not worth crying over, but it's certainly not a score to bring down the house either.
When I looked up this judge's average First Level scores on Dressage Detective, I saw that they were at 63.468%. The average that he gave at this show, combining all tests at the level, was 63.820%. Based on my score alone, I rode within half of a percent of what he typically gives a First Level Test. I'll leave the interpretation to you.
I felt like the test started a bit wonky (he gave me a 7.5?????), but after that, I actually liked the test and felt that I rode it as a thinking rider as opposed to reacting after the fact. While the judge didn't mention curling, I am sure there was some, he nailed me on my recent tendency to hunch my shoulders. "Sit tall, avoid tipping." I don't know where that is coming from, but it needs to stop. Right now.
Although in all honesty, I think I do know where it's coming from. All season it has been blistering hot for every show. Speedy has had NO ENERGY, so I found myself squeezing and kicking the heck out of him which is what is causing The Lean. This is something I need to address in our next lesson.
As I looked over my score sheet, I just felt like the judging was ... different from what I've seen all season. My scores have been pretty consistent all year. Where I've had 6s, I've been able to improve to 6.5s and even 7.0s. All of the judges that I've ridden for have called me on the same issues and scored me pretty consistently. This judge didn't. His comments were of a whole different variety.
I am not saying that's a bad thing, but I am keeping the scores in perspective. They are simply this judge's impression on a single day.
I haven't seen 5.0s like that in a while, but I am sure I'll be seeing plenty more of them as we move on to Second Level.
While there are a few disappointing numbers in there, the judge also rewarded what he liked. That smattering of 7.0s is much appreciated.
His final comment, "Horse should be more engaged and balanced in his work" strikes me as more of a Second Level comment, but since that's where I am headed, it's probably accurate.
One last thought before I go. Do you remember that one of my goals was to (maybe) win my CDS Chapter's AA season high point? I am pretty sure I missed the mark, but not by much! According to my (sketchy) calculations, I finished in a very close third place. I think the top scores will end up being 66.93%, 66.40%, 65.26% (that's me), and 64.59%. But who knows, I could be way, way off in my calculations. I am just happy to be somewhere in the ball park.
More "First Level Fizzle" tomorrow!
In all the excitement from earning second at the RAAC, I sort of forgot to highlight the cool swag that the California Dressage Society had for its competitors.
We've all seen the halter. But in case you missed it, here it is again.
I am sure many clubs and organizations offer halters as prizes, but it's my first one. Living in such a hot state, coolers are fun to win, but mine don't get used very often because it's hardly ever cold. I am definitely going to use the halter more than I've used the coolers.
When the RAAC competitors check in, they always get a welcome prize. One year I got a duffel bag which immediately became my over-night bag for any and all horse related trips. I've even used it for regular vacations as well.
This year, we got a grooming bag. We all have grooming bags, but I am going to admit that the one I keep in the trailer is starting to look a bit threadbare. It lives in the trailer which means it gets pretty dusty as well as bounced around a bit, so it's no surprise that it is looking worn out.
Over the weekend, I finally had the chance to transfer my grooming supplies from the old grooming bag to the new, fancy CDS bag. I must say, it's medium size is going to be perfect for keeping in the trailer.
Maybe I just don't get enough swag to be accustomed to it, so forgive me if I seem stupidly happy over a halter and a grooming tote. But hey, it's the little things, right?!
And I am doing it on both horses!
Last week, I mentioned that Izzy is due to have his hocks injected on Friday. With that in mind, I've kept his rides really simple with just walk and trot. Since I need to work on my sitting trot anyway, and I can't sit if the trot is big, Izzy's rides have been about trotting slowly while he stretches his topline.
It would seem counterintuitive to sit on a horse whose back is slightly sore because his hocks are sore, but we have had several really productive rides. It took a few days to see it, but over the weekend, Izzy's back was finally loose and swinging, thanks to his recent chiropractic adjustment.
Now that I am able to sit the trot for longer and longer, I am finding that I am a better rider all of a sudden. I can help Izzy maintain a more consistent tempo, and I can "catch" him more quickly when he goes to hollow his back. He even seems to prefer that I sit. He doesn't feel as out of balance, and he's been spook free.
An interesting side note is that I ride Speedy one hole lower on my stirrup leathers than I do with Izzy. Over the past week, I've had to go down a hole for both boys. I am guessing that means that I am sitting deeper with a longer leg.
Since I still can't ride a lengthening while sitting, I've been riding Speedy in a more collected trot. If he gets to go slowly, he has to do it with good hind leg activity. I am finding that by sitting the trot, I feel like I have more influence over his back and withers.
I don't think he's as much of a fan of the sitting trot as is Izzy, but he's starting to listen to my seat, and honestly, the dude is really just a saint. He would definitely prefer that I let him fall on his forehand while letting his hind end trail out behind us, but he's a team player, and he wants to please me, so he's been working as hard as I have.
Over the past two weeks, I haven't done any rising trot! Hopefully I'll be able to sit Speedy's medium trot by the end of October when we make our Second Level debut (fingers crossed!).
I am probably the last equestrian to be aware of Netflix's Heartland. At the beginning of the summer, I blew through one of Netflix's other horse shows, Free Rein. Based on my review, someone suggested I watch Heartland. Damn, you, whoever you are! I am now hooked!!!!
I watched the first episode of season one and rolled my eyes and harrumphed at the lack of helmets, but then I watched episode two, and three, and eight ... and then I realized I was hooked.
The show is just so darn compelling. There's a lot I hate: 15 year-old girl takes over her mom's horse business while in high school (rrrriiiggghhhttt), family on the brink of financial ruin saved by said 15 year-old (uh-huh), and so on.
There's even more that I love though. Ty Borden. And ... Ty Borden. Oh, yeah, did I mention Ty Borden? That guy is a hottie, and he's like half my age! Frankly, I've been watching pretty much for his flavor of eye candy.
Season two rolled out with some interesting story lines (Ty leaves, a new ranch hand shows up, a show jumping stint, cattle rustlers, and horse thieves) and some new characters, some of whom I wish would take a hike (Kit!), and others I adore (cutie pie Jake).
Season three is calling my name for sure. I Googled the future of the show and saw that season nine was released on Netflix only this June, and season ten should be available on Netflix in 2018. It aired in Canada in October 2016. Season 11 also seems to have received a green light.
Since school has started, my absolute control over the remote is gone - there was no one to argue with in the middle of the day while my husband was at work. Now that TV viewing is limited to an hour or so in the evening after work, barn, and dinner, Heartland will have to be limited to a weekend pleasure. Thanksgiving and winter break are just around the corner though ...
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%