From Endurance to Dressage
We made it to the clinic. I am having a really hard time deciding what to say about it. As I continue to think and gather my thoughts, check out some photos of the amazing grounds and barns of Middle Ranch.
I took some time last weekend to give my truck and trailer some TLC. You saw a photo the other day of my very dirty truck.
First up, I took Blue Truck into town for fuel and a wash.
Then I fueled-up the generator and gave the living quarters a thorough vacuum and wipe down. While I hauled Sydney to several lessons and shows in August and September, I haven't camped in the trailer since July. It was pretty dusty. Worse were the dead flies that always accumulate near the bed. Yuck!
After the floor and other surfaces were clean, I fired up the stove top (no explosions this time) and did a few other system checks. Thankfully, everything seems to be in good working order. I also filled my traveling hay bag as well as my bale bag and feed bin.
I wanted to be fully prepared for the Susanne von Dietze Clinic.
Since I was just talking about breeches, I had to share this little tidbit!
Many of my colleagues and I have been playing variations of the Biggest Loser for the past 7 or 8 years. It's fun, usually, and it keeps us watching what we eat. Some of us have a lot to lose, some just a muffin top, and others simply want to maintain their current weight. To accommodate all of our weight loss goals, we created this version of the Biggest Loser.
Rules for the Biggest Loser:
1. Determine a start and end date. Each player weighs in on the start date and contributes $5 to the pot. CM has a great digital scale that she leaves in her classroom for our use. Each player also receives a raffle ticket.
2. Each player weighs in weekly and records the new weight. If you lose more than a pound, you get TWO raffle tickets; any weight loss up to a pound earns ONE ticket, and zero weight gain or loss gets nothing. If you gain any, however, you drop $5 in the pot.
3. At the end of the contest, the raffle tickets are put in a bucket and a single name is drawn, winner takes all.
After however many attempts, I was finally the winner! Not only did I win all the money, but I actually lost weight, too! I paid my original buy-in of $5, but I never put in money after that. For the entire 8 or 9 weeks that we played, I lost at least one pound per week, sometimes more, for a total of 12 to 13 pounds. Go, Me!!!!
I received my "winnings" at lunch and was quite pleased to see $40. Well of course it started burning a hole in my pocket immediately. I knew I had to treat myself to something equine related, but what would it be? I had to stop by Target for some household stuff after work on Friday, so I thought I might browse the Active Wear section; $40 goes quickly there. Here's what my weight loss got me:
I had to spend a bit over the $40, but not by much. I bought two packages (12 pairs) of crew socks for a total of $13.78 - even though I school in field boots, I don't like to wear tall socks. The moisture wicking top was $12.99; it's super cute with a shimmery, metallic sheen. The sports bra was $16.99. None of it was on sale, but the total of $43.76 (plus some tax) seemed fair.
So I now have some new socks, a riding top, and a sports bra to wear with my two pairs of brand new breeches. Hold the phone, boys; this girl is rockin' it!
I have a fondness for breeches, which is odd because for most of my early riding life, I rode in shorts or jeans, and occasionally a bathing suit. If you’ll remember, I am originally from sparsely populated northern California where towns are quite small and uninhabited space is ample.
When I first started endurance riding, I didn’t know what breeches actually were. I only knew they were a funny type of riding pants that English riders wore. I quickly discovered that riding tights were an essential piece of gear for endurance riders, as jeans will rub you completely raw while trotting for any distance.
My first pair of riding tights weren’t even actually riding tights; they were leggings bought at Target that looked like tights. I was quite embarrassed to be seen riding in what essentially looked like dark panty hose. I didn’t want to invest money in actual riding tights if my modesty couldn’t overcome my desire for comfort. Riding with other endurance riders, both men and women, who wore riding tights, helped me overcome my fear of looking nearly naked. Being comfortable reigns supreme in the endurance world.
Once I was no longer feeling quite so exposed (long t-shirts helped), I found that riding tights came in every conceivable print and solid, at least in the endurance world. I’ve yet to see giraffe and zebra print tights in the Dover catalog. If you’ve ever seen an actual endurance rider, you’ll know what I mean when I say that we love color. Endurance riders love neon and electric colors like no one else. The vendors who market endurance equipment happily satisfy their customers’ cravings for bright and colorful gear by searching out weird patterns and prints and by doing custom work at no extra cost.
At some point during my endurance career, my tastes began to change, and I found that all of my tack and riding gear were soon all black. Had my life been a novel, the reader would have seen this as a bit of obvious foreshadowing as all of my dressage tack is now black!
While still doing endurance races, I kept my riding wardrobe to a minimum. I would have never in a million years purchased a riding shirt as they are quickly covered in dust and grime within a few short hours. Instead, riding shirts came from clothes that were no longer fit to be worn in good company. Most of my shirts were either cast offs that were stained in the kitchen or had been “won” at a previous endurance race.
My tights were also kept to a minimum. I always maintained at least two pair of racing tights, those deemed most comfortable and in the best repair, and several other pair for training rides that were less comfortable or patched and stitched and on the edge of disintegrating. It’s not that I was cheap, but brand new riding tights had a way of getting torn the first time out of the box. Well-worn pairs just seemed impervious to branches and getting bucked off.
Once I began riding dressage, I quickly discovered that I was coming back home in nearly the same shape as I had left. My clothes weren’t filthy and even better, nothing had holes or tears. I started to realize that I might be able to ride without looking like I was working for food. My love of breeches was born.
Having come from a sport where comfort far outweighs appearances, my love of breeches came with a caveat: no matter how cute the breeches, they must first be comfortable and conducive to maintaining a balanced seat. And since I am pretty budget conscious, (I would rather spend my money on clinics and shows), I often have to give up some of the cute factor for functionality.
A few weeks ago, the Riding Warehouse sent out a $10.00 off coupon on their Facebook page. If you haven’t “Liked” them yet, you should as they have a huge inventory of quality stuff at ridiculously low prices. $10.00 off was quite hard to ignore, especially since the minimum purchase was something like $20. With coupon code in hand, I sat down to browse the online store.
Not needing anything in particular, I clicked on the breeches link to see what might be new or on sale. For the past few years, my preferred riding breeches have been the TuffRider Ribb Lowrise Breech. They run around $40 in the Dover catalog. They have tons of stretch (my number one criteria), are pretty dang durable, and come at a price that allows me to buy them two or three at a time. And, best of all, they are live-in comfortable. I am always disappointed when I buy anything else.
The Riding Warehouse carries TuffRider breeches, but they have a model that I had yet to see. They’re calling it the TuffRider Ribb Wide Waist Knee Patch breech, which sounds just like what I’ve been buying, but these have some nice details that the others are lacking. First of all, they have a two-inch waistband, which I love. They also sport double clasp hooks that have faux snaps on the outside with TuffRider’s winged horseshoe logo. An extra bit of style that I don’t usually get.
The slash pocket, which is really deep, is set horizontally and has a zipper. And just like the other TuffRiders that I buy, these breeches have Velcro at the ankles. The pair I bought has knee patches, but the back of the breech has a cute stitching detail that makes them look a little like full-seat breeches. The fabric, 92% Polyester and 8% Spandex, is almost like a compression fabric; it's thick while still being super stretchy.
The best thing about this updated pair of breeches is the price. They were only $34.95 before my $10.00 discount. I paid $7.00 for the shipping, but had I ordered more, the shipping would have been free. I ordered the charcoal pair, and since I loved them so much, I later ordered the tan pair with a few other necessities to bring my total to the required $50 (free shipping). If you’re looking for a budget friendly, comfortable breech, I would recommend the TuffRiders and the Riding Warehouse.
I am an over-achiever. This is great in many ways; dinner gets cooked nightly, laundry doesn’t pile up, and our household bills are always paid on time. BUT. No one is perfect at everything, which means the over-achiever, me in particular, frequently under-achieves. This can feel devastating.
I am actually tired of writing about this, but one purpose my blog serves is to be a place where I can work on issues like this one, and I clearly need to work on this. I know that my feelings of failure often keep me from succeeding, or at least feeling successful. Especially when it comes to Sydney.
I get so much support from family and friends; they all think I have accomplished a great deal. I wish I knew to what they were comparing me. Compared to a non-rider, yeah, I guess I am successful; I show, I go to clinics, and I get ribbons. Compared to other active competitors, we don’t stack up too well.
So what do I do? The range from successful to total suckiness is vast. Hilda Gurney and Steffen Peters are successful. How can I say I am successful without qualifying the statement with a million buts? Do I say, I am successful as an adult ammie in the lowest levels of my sport when the classes are really small? Well, whoop-de-do.
How is success defined in dressage? Secretly, I do feel successful, but not in the way it counts. Or, at least not in the ways I want it to count. I want to win classes; I want to move up a level each year; I want someone to say, wow, she has a great seat. But none of that is happening. Hence, I am an under-achieving, over-achiever.
My list of secret successes is pretty small and not always dressage related:
I haul my horses and myself to any show that I want to with confidence and without needing to follow someone else’s plan. This is not dressage specific, of course, since I’ve been doing that for more than a decade, but it’s still something I feel good about.
I moved from a detail-oriented sport where success was based on completion time and for many, longevity, to a sport that requires a completely different level of attention to detail and the perfection of movements. This success, however, is tempered by the degree to which I’ve done the latter.
I guess that I should also include the fact that I am (probably) ready to start showing at First Level. When I first started showing Introductory Level in the summer of 2010, I would have been in absolute Heaven to be attempting First Level so I know that must count as a success.
I know you must be waiting for some big punch line: wah, wah, but here’s my epiphany type of thing. Sorry. I am still searching and waiting for the epiphany. Why can't I feel satisfied by the small steps that I am taking? How can I care just a little bit less? How do I stop feeling embarrassed by how far I have to go?
And buried within that idea is probably the very answer I need.
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