From Endurance to Dressage
As I pulled through the impressive front entrance of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and down the tree-lined thoroughfare, the excitement finally started to build. I finally let myself feel the anticipation of being at such a prestigious event.
To my left were huge banners welcoming the CDS Championship and USDF Region 7 riders. Next came the enormous Equidome with its numerous offices, including LA Saddlery, an onsite tack store. At the end of the road, I was met by the traffic coordinators who directed me to my barn. As soon as I pulled in, Chemaine, my out-of-town trainer and coach, one of her clients, and her assistant, greeted me with big smiles.
Symphony Dressage, Chemaine’s barn, had a great spot with three tack stalls, which meant we all had ample storage space for tack, feed, and the million other things that we brought with us. Chemaine has all the coolest toys, which meant I had a permanent spot for my bridle, saddle, pads, and other stuff. There were also hanging baskets and coat hooks for our show coats. (Click images to enlarge and see captions.)
Once I had everything unloaded and Speedy was tucked into his stall, I went up to the show office to check in. As I turned up the road towards the Equidome, I was met by the site of a small village! The path to the show office was lined with vendors and barns displaying their most elegant show set-ups. More than one trainer’s tent had gurgling fountains and patio furniture that was nicer than what I have at home. The fancier tents had tile floors, wine bars, and Keurigs.
Checking in was easy, and I was thanked for having a perfect entry. On the side table was lemon and cucumber ice water with small treats and snacks for the riders. I was handed my packet, which included a lovely ceramic stall marker verifying that I was indeed a 2014 CDS Championship Qualified Rider.
Inside the packet was a thick schedule of events that also included a small write-up of each rider. There were also tickets to the various hospitality events and a detailed awards schedule. I knew it was going to be a very competitive show, but I held onto the awards schedule … just in case!
Later that evening, I took a lesson with Chemaine. Normally the lessons that I take with her are more about building my confidence and keeping Speedy happy. This time, Chemaine grabbed the bull by the horns and rocked my little world. She called me on my lack of inside bend and worked on my equitation. She insisted that I get the inside bend quicker and with more authority. Wiggling and jiggling the rein only wags Speedy’s head and doesn’t achieve what I want.
As we warmed up, she had me start by getting Speedy’s neck rounder and lower with lots of half halts. Once he was soft and low, she had me ask for a bigger stride. We rode the bigger stride and then half halted to rebalance, and I asked for bigger again. All the while, she kept at me about getting that inside bend.
We then worked on the canter departure. The trouble I have is that I don’t get enough activity behind which means that Speedy has to hoist himself into the canter. Chemaine had me use the half halt at every corner to get him back a bit on his haunches and help him rebalance. Then, I asked for a bigger, more active trot, and once I had that, I asked for the canter. By the time we were finished, Speedy was looking was pretty darned good.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel at all intimidated by the quality of horses and riders at the show. This far into my dressage journey, I’ve leaned that there are always going to be better horses than mine, better riders than me, and better horse and rider teams. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that I was part of one those better teams, but all I can do is the very best that I can with the horse that I have.
More tomorrow ...
… (insert the sound of crickets here.)
Just kidding! That's not much of a strategy anyway. I do want to do well, but I can only do as well as we do. RAAC has given me some confidence for this show, but it also showed me that I am my own worst enemy. I can't let the venue intimidate me, and I can't let the quality of the other riders overwhelm me.
Since winning the RAAC class last month and qualifying for the championship show, I knew I needed a game plan to help me prepare for such a big show (there are nearly 1,500 scheduled rides). To keep my worries in check, I have done a couple of things:
So, here it is, CDS Championship time. I've done my grocery shopping, Speedy has had a hair cut, and the trailer is packed and loaded. I've printed the day sheets (15 pages worth), highlighted my rides (and those of my friends), and worked out a coaching and lesson schedule with Chemaine. I am about as ready as I can be.
Expect some radio silence for the next week or so, but I hope to be back to blogging on Monday morning. Have a great week, and I'll see you soon!
I just got this email from CDS this afternoon, and I thought you might be interested in reading more about the championship show being held this weekend. I didn't do any formatting or editing, but it looks like it pasted in okay. Sorry to bomb you all with two posts in one day, but for those who are following my championship journey, I thought you might enjoy this article.
The California Dressage Society Is Ready For a
Record-Setting CDS & Region 7 Championship Show This Week in Burbank
By Yellow Horse Marketing for the California Dressage Society
Final preparations are underway as 370 horses are about to descend upon the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, Cal. for what is expected to be a record-breaking dressage competition at the 47th Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Championship Show, September 25 - 28, 2014. With an increase of more than 100 horses from last year, organizers predict that this will be the largest West Coast championship show in history, with nearly 1500 rides scheduled in six rings of non-stop dressage competition. "The CDS Championship Show gets better and better every year," said show manager Glenda McElroy. "But this is the first time that we've had to add a sixth ring and have so many additional stalls. I'm thrilled to see this growth as well as the enthusiasm and support of CDS members for this show. It makes it such a terrific event for everyone."
The success and excitement surrounding this competition is thanks to the California Dressage Society's administration of one of the largest and most lucrative championship programs in the nation. Not only will a multitude of CDS Horse of the Year championship titles and perpetual trophies be up for grabs for competitors at all levels from Training to Grand Prix and for open, adult amateur, & junior/young riders, but more than $45,000 in prize money and awards will be distributed. CDS will also present Grand Champion Awards, combining the best of the Horse of the Year classes with corresponding musical freestyles for First/Second Levels, Third/Fourth Levels, Intermediaire I, and Grand Prix. And the popular CDS Young Horse Futurity (including the Cal-Bred Futurity) for four, five, and six-year-olds is a perennial highlight of the CDS Annual Show and has grown to become the largest regional young horse program in the country. This year, entries have skyrocketed to almost 70 entries across Open and Amateur divisions, and will award well over $15,000 in prize money to riders, owners, and breeders.
The Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Dressage Championships will once again be an important part of the show, and riders competing in these classes can qualify for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, to be held November 6 - 9, 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky. Last year, several California riders including Akiko Yamazaki and Sheryl Ross made the trek across the country for the Finals and returned with national championship honors. Also returning to the CDS Championship Show will be the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Breeders Championships West Coast Series Final, where West Coast sport horse breeders will proudly show off the results of their breeding programs as well as young stars for the future.
Whether sitting in the saddle or in the stands, the CDS Championship Show is more than just great competition. With a festive atmosphere and special camaraderie that makes this event the highlight of the year for exhibitors, the CDS Championships offer a wide variety of complimentary hospitality, activities, and entertainment. Attendees get a head start on holiday shopping in the expansive Vendor Village. Special "Masters Series" discussions will once again be held on Thursday through Saturday, featuring an impressive lineup of educational speakers including former USEF Dressage Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg; USDF Executive Director Stephan Hienzsch; acclaimed trainer Volker Brommann; Reserve National Champion rider Sheryl Ross; and State of California Equine Staff Veterinarian Dr. Katie Flynn.
But the "can't miss" event of the weekend will be a special Saturday evening celebration honoring the illustrious career of dressage superstar Rafalca. Over seven years of competing at the international Grand Prix level with Jan Ebeling, the charismatic mare owned by Ann Romney, Beth Meyer, and Amy Ebeling garnered headlines in mainstream press and made "dressage" a household word as part of the 2012 United States Olympic Team. Fans will have the chance to bid farewell to Rafalca as she enters the arena one last time for a very special encore performance of her wildly-popular musical freestyle.
For complete information about the California Dressage Society Championship Show, including updates, schedule, ride times, and results, visit the CDS website, http://www.california-dressage.org/.
The California Dressage Society, formed in 1967, is a non-profit organization devoted to furthering interest in dressage. It is one of the largest dressage organizations in the nation with more than 4,000 individual members in its 36 Chapters and a rich history of equestrian sport on the West Coast.
A map!!! I have a map! Thank you so very much, Poniegirle!!! She found a map on the Griffith Park Horse Rentals site. I should have thought of that, but I just figured if Los Angeles Equestrian Center (LAEC) didn't have a map of their own show grounds, who would?
Apparently, Griffith Park Horse Rentals needs to give folks directions, so they have a map of LAEC's grounds, and here it is!
While the map is F-A-N-T-S-T-I-C, I am still a bit lost. I know I am in Barn A, but I know LAEC has permanent horse stalls so I don't know if this barn A is the right barn A.
I know I have an RV spot, but I don't know which spot. Are the spots on the left better, or are the spots in the middle of everything the place to be?
And while my 15 pages of day sheets list the names of the six rings, the map just says "show ring." That's not very helpful!
But, oh! The bridle path … how cool will that be? Speedy will love being able to walk around the whole facility, especially since we have one day where we don't show at all. I can ride that loop to our heart's content. And I will!
We're one day closer … I am getting excited!
Over the weekend, I was sent my stabling information from the championship show organizer, all eleven pages of it! I am not kidding; eight of the pages are spreadsheets with tiny rows listing who is assigned to what stall. Thank goodness it was done alphabetically or I would have never found my barn.
The last three pages of the stabling information contained maps of the sixteen barns used for the show. Eight of the barns have 42 - 50 stalls each. The other eight barns are much smaller with 10 - 20 stalls each. That's a lot of horses.
We're in Barn A, stall 7, which has only 20 stalls. I think I am grateful to be in one of the smaller barns, depending on its location. If your stall is in the middle of one of the big barns, it can be tricky to get your stuff unloaded without having to carry it a mile. Hopefully, this barn is situated in such a way that we can pull up and unload without too much dragging of the things - speaking mostly of hay, shavings, and feed.
I couldn't find a key or legend, but I am pretty sure the blue stalls are the stallions, the red ones indicate mares, and the white are for geldings and tack stalls.
I've tried to find a grounds map of the Los Angles Equestrian Center (LAEC) so I can get an idea of where the barns are in relation to the six rings (including the Equidome) and warm-up areas that we'll be using. That's something that LAEC doesn't seem to have on its website.
More tomorrow ...
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
2022 Pending …
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 (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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