From Endurance to Dressage
For starting out the season feeling woefully unprepared, Speedy and I did pretty well in the awards category. We've already received some of the goodies from our various "wins," but others will take longer to get here.
In mid-October, we attended my CDS chapter's awards banquet. The Tehachapi Mountain Chapter might be small, but they put on a great summer series of CDS-rated shows with generous awards. At the banquet, Speedy and I were named the 2018 Second Level Adult Amateur Champion.
Last year, I kept track of points, working towards winning TMC's First Level Championship; we ended up Reserve. While I was maybe a bit disappointed - come one, who doesn't like to win? - placing second in that year's Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) felt like a win enough that I was really happy being reserve. This year, as green as we started at Second Level, I didn't think we had a chance at winning this year's RAAC or TMC's Second Level Championship. To win both at Second Level felt pretty good.
No one gives a speech when receiving their award at the TMC Awards Banquet- no one wants to sit there that long, but if I could have, I would have thanked my trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. I think there are a lot of trainers who wouldn't have let me make the move to Second Level out of fear of me making them look bad.
I get it. My performance is a direct reflection of my trainer's teaching and coaching skills. Especially so when I use her logo on my saddle pad and walk around with her logo bedazzled on the back of my shirt. I am a walking billboard for Symphony Dressage; she needs me to represent.
Even though we didn't get any 70% scores this year, I know that because of her teaching and coaching, she turned a First Level horse and rider into a confirmed Second Level team. And under her experienced eye, I know she's going to get Team Speedy ready for Third Level and a Bronze Medal.
Doing well for myself is always on my mind, but the truth is that I want to do well for her. I have so much respect for Chemaine's teaching that I want to be the student that showcase's her talent as a trainer and coach.
Thank goodness that she's okay with me just being mediocre.
We would be complete and total rock stars if I could remember to get a bend and if Speedy would offer a bend. It really and truly is about the bend. I should clarify; it's all about a soft bend.
I had a lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, a week or so ago. Before she got to the ranch, I warmed Speedy up with some walk and trot. I had given him three days off after a bareback with a halter ride, so his attitude was much improved.
I told Chemaine what I was struggling with: Speedy was feeling anxious about the flying change, so he was bolting through the set up (the change of bend). Chemaine listened thoughtfully, and then I suggested she ride him. I love it when she rides my horses because it gives me an idea of how I should ride my horses.
Chemaine got on him and very quickly came up with a solution. Instead of asking for the change, she set him up for it, but then just rode the canter counter. She did several laps that way. Here and there she changed the bend and got him soft on the new inside rein, but her seat said hold the lead you're on.
When she felt that he could give her the new bend, soften, and relax, she asked for the flying changing, and got it. I got on him and worked through the same thing. Instead of asking for the change, I only asked for the bend. She made it look easy of course, but going back a step to improve the counter canter really worked.
My new plan is to focus on getting a softer change of bend wherever I want in the arena. And when I feel that Speedy is soft on the inside rein, that's when I can ask for the flying change.
It's amazing how much better things go when I actually use a half halt the way it's supposed to be used. The changes are there, I just need to set him up for them correctly.
Well hello there. I guess this means I'm back. It was a long week, but the migraines have (mostly) subsided - I hope. Even though I took a blogging break and a few days off from riding, the one thing I really couldn't do was miss work. That pays the (equine) bills after all, so I struggled through the week.
I did manage to at least bring the barn to my classroom though as any pony time makes everything better. In the afternoons, my kiddos worked all week on some science stations where they explored activities that had to deal with conserving Earth's resources. In one of the stations, the kids had to build a model of coal formation. The model required dead leaves (easily found right outside my classroom door), rocks, and "sediment."
My students were actually quite impressed to work with ranch dirt. When it came time to pour it into the model, everyone insisted on getting a turn to pour. Kids are so funny.
I run a very relaxed classroom where kids sit at tables instead of desks and where movement around the room is encouraged. Fifth graders simply can't sit for too long of a period before they erupt - sometimes literally.
I do a lot of small-group instruction in a space that is not large enough for 31 kids. That means my students meet with me in an area that we've carved out of the front of my classroom. There's not room for a table, and since my "small" groups sometimes number 15, we usually just sit on the floor - myself included.
At 47 years of age, sitting on the floor for 30 minutes at a time is no longer easy. If you're my age, you get it. If you're not yet approaching 50, you'll understand in about 20 years. My knees and hips just couldn't take it any longer. I love the intimacy of sitting so close to my kiddos though. When we're all at the same level, the instruction is much more personal, and kids contribute more to the discussion.
I had a year's worth of Platinum Performance buckets stacked in the feed room. It didn't feel right to toss them as they are good, sturdy buckets, so I brought them to school. I used a few of them for storing PE equipment, but I had a bunch left over. After one particularly painful morning, I glanced at the stack of unused buckets and came up with a plan.
With the help of one of my students, we covered the Platinum label with a bit of contact paper that was buried in a back cupboard. Some of you might remember my post about hoarding all of the things. You never know when something might come in handy! With the label (mostly) covered - my helper was only 10, and I am not particularly crafty, the buckets make pretty cute little stools.
They have been a roaring success. The students love them, my knees love them, and they take up virtually no room once stacked and stored in the corner. And the best part is that if one gets broken, I can replace it easily as I get a new bucket every month. Thank you, Platinum Performance!
I have one last barn to work story. Since I sit on the floor every day, my work wardrobe runs on the casual side. On top of that, I teach PE daily, and frankly, kids are just messy. Last week I wore white shorts and ended up dropping a loaded rubber stamp right on my pant leg. They now read correct and return in bright blue. The kids thought it was funny. I had to agree.
A month or so ago, I bought that burgundy wrap (above) for a dress that was getting too big (long story) and realized it went great with my sleeveless blouse. With the mornings being cooler, I thought it would look great with a pair of leggings that I don't have. I glanced up at my Horze Full Seat Tights and thought why not?
Not gonna lie, I got a ton of compliments on the outfit. No one could tell they were riding pants. And the best part? They were the most comfortable pants I have ever worn to work, especially while sitting on a bucket.
If you can't be at the barn, bring the barn to work.
Unfortunately, my reset button is not as easy to find as is Speedy's. All I have to do with him is go for a walk and maybe do some hand grazing. Button reset.
Over the weekend, my migraines made a hugely painful comeback. Without sharing too much, I've been seeing a neurologist regularly, I've been through a battery of tests, and I am on a variety of medications. The neurologist has signed me up for a recently approved injection for migraine prevention, but it's not here yet.
Before you ask, yes, I've asked him about that, also that, and surprisingly even that. There isn't a cure for migraines; believe me, I've asked, and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another.
So as I battle through this round, please excuse my radio silence. Hopefully I'll be back in a few days.
Izzy's water intake has definitely fallen over the past week. I had been adding a lot of water to his trough each afternoon, but the past few days, the water level hasn't dropped much. I am not worried about it, but I like to know what's normal.
Since Izzy has really mellowed over the past year, he can now be trusted to stand tied at the trailer alone. The trailer has never moved in all the time I've been at the ranch, so it's a convenient place to tack up. As a bonus, it's pretty weathered, so I don't worry about him banging into it or scratching the paint.
Now that he isn't anxiously pawing or flinging himself about, I can hang a filled hay net as well as leave a rubber feed pan. I've also started leaving a freshly filled two gallon bucket of water for when I am done riding.
After he eats his LMF Senior, he always drinks down the bucket of water and waits for me to bring him more. This was something I taught my endurance horses: fresh feed and water were always within reach. Speedy simply expects there to be hay and water along with treats when he's tied up anywhere. I make sure to be consistent about it because they then start to eat and drink out of habit.
It's sort of a Pavlovian thing. Maybe you can lead a horse to water and teach him to drink?
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 …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 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