From Endurance to Dressage
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, and I were recently talking about why I made it through Second Level so quickly. While I am not saying that we owned Second Level, we did get through the level pretty successfully. During our discussion, we came to the conclusion that the reason we made it through Second more quickly than Training and First was because we spent a lot - and I mean a boatload, of time making sure our foundation was rock solid.
Chemaine is really good at not cheating. She knows that in order to be successful down the road, there can't be any holes in the training. Those holes will eventually reveal themselves, and you'll be stuck. Speedy has been relatively easy to train. He's a willing partner, but he's not naturally talented which means he has to work for it. Some of it is hard for him, especially the lateral stuff. Either way, he figures it's his job, so he puts in the best work day he can.
On the other hand, there's Izzy, a horse that is naturally talented who finds collection easy, and he has haunches that will go anywhere you put them. He has been anything but easy. His training wasn't linear because asking for the harder movements kept his brain engaged so that he didn't kill me. That means that we're always going backwards to address the basics from Training and First Level.
As I rode over the weekend, I started thinking about which show I might try with him. There are some schooling shows this winter that might work for us. The problem is that Izzy is schooling movements from Second and Third Level, but there are things from First Level that he can't yet do. And frankly, some of the long free walks found in Training might still be a challenge for him.
So what level can he do? He can't really do a Second Level test even though his collected canter is really nice. He can't do a First Level test because he can't quite show a lengthened stride in trot. If I try to do an Introductory Level test, he'll kill me out of boredom. Which means I am left with Training Level. I think.
Maybe I ought to get him off the property again before I start thinking about blue ribbons. Am I right?!
Alright ... Speedy's not fired, but he's on probation.
I am of course just kidding about all that. The dude has earned the right to live out his days with me or move on to someone else. It's his choice, really. In the meantime, I decided to take Chemaine Hurtado's advice and just hit the reset button.
Yesterday, I grabbed my riding rope halter - it has rings to attach reins, and my helmet. I didn't even change into riding boots. I wore my muck boots instead. After running a brush over Speedy's back and picking out his feet, I hopped up on him bareback.
We spent the next 40 minutes walking around the neighborhood. Speedy got quite saucy when we passed the Haner Family Farm - none of the horses like walking by there, so we did a little bit of collected work as he pranced down the road.
I am not sure one ride was enough to hit his reset button, so he may get one more of those bareback with a halter rides before we go back to full work. I think we have a lesson on Friday.
Back to the grind, my friend, back to the grind.
Fall can be a tough time for horses in Central California. Our mornings have just now begun to be cool, and by just now, I mean Saturday. While this week is forecast to be fantastic, we're not out of the hundred degree wood yet. We could still get some really hot afternoons before the end of the month.
That means it's colic season here in Bakersfield. With temperatures suddenly twenty degrees cooler, our horses often quit drinking as much. This of course leads to tummy aches. I am being ultra vigilant of my boys' water intake during this week of cooler mornings.
On Friday afternoon, which was pretty warm, Speedy stood sweating as I tacked him up. His winter coat is coming in quickly, so I wondered if he was just hot, or if he was not feeling well. I pulled out a thermometer and gave him a quick check.
A horse's normal body temperature runs between 99℉ and 101℉ , but after a workout or on a hot day, it can be several degrees higher. Short thermometers like the one I use also read a bit cooler as they don't reach far enough to get a true internal reading. My thermometer gives me a good idea of where he is though. The display topped out at 99.3℉, well within the normal range. I knew it was safe to ride.
As fall makes its appearance here in my neck of the woods, I like to reevaluate my guys' feed, winter coats, and even the health of their skin. I also took a peek in my Med Kit to see if anything had cracked, oozed, or leaked. Everything looked good so I cleaned my thermometer and tucked it back into it's little pouch.
Hopefully that will be the last and only "scare" of the season. Anyone else starting colic season?
I love Speedy, I really do. That horse has helped me accomplish so many goals. He's even more special considering that he wasn't bred specifically for dressage, but he does it anyway. Despite being amazing, there are still days when he makes me so mad. After Saturday's disaster of a ride, I shot off a text to Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables.
On Sunday morning, after yet another ride with nothing but bolty, head-in-the-air-canters, I simply stopped him, it couldn't even be called a halt, and slid off. His level of try had dropped to zero, and he was nothing but pissed. It would have been hard to say who was more frustrated, him or me.
I sent Chemaine yet another text.
It would seem that being a year-end winner and recipient of tons of awards doesn't mean squat when you move up a level. Have a slice of humble pie, Sweaney, your head was getting too big for your helmet.
Third Level is definitely kicking our butts.
Or, I was last week. What I forgot to mention was how I scored an awesome feed scale completely free.
Teachers are notorious for saving every box, container, or random thing that might prove useful for a lesson someday in the far future. I admit that I am especially guilty of this as I teach a lot of hands on science that requires ... stuff. My classroom drawers are filled with things like Q-Tips, popcorn, and even chopsticks - don't judge. Someday those chopsticks will be just what I need.
Now and then, one of my colleagues will take an honest look at what is in her maybe someday cupboard. She will realize that someday is really never. The worthless items will then get deposited in the teachers' lounge for some other "resourceful" teacher to carry back to her own classroom. With a frequency that I am loathe to admit, I am more than occasionally that crazy somebody.
What the original owner did not realize was that the scale has a uniquely awesome purpose to the right somebody - me, and that that purpose has nothing to do with the classroom. Too late now, my dear colleague. No take backs! The second I saw this beauty sitting on the table, I scooped it up knowing that it was headed straight to the barn. Classroom be damned!
And that is how I came be to the proud owner of this awesome feed scale!
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