From Endurance to Dressage
Just to relieve you of any tension, we finally got a score above 60% at a Third Level test at a USDF-rated show. Not a huge amount over 60%, mind you. In fact, we earned a 60.405%, just 1.5 points over the necessary 222 needed for a 60% at Third Level Test 1. Do I care? Nope. We earned it fair and square.
As in everything Speedy and I do, Saturday's two tests, Test 1 and Test 3, were a mixed bag with both good and bad moments. Test 1 was filled with a very long list of mediocre 6.0s and 6.5s. We had a few 5.5s and a lone 5.0. Add that all up and you get 60%.
For test 1, we didn't make any real errors other than one. I hate to show everyone in the warm up ring our "ugly." It's the ugly that Speedy needs though to put on a better performance. He needs to know that I am going to smack him once or twice if he doesn't get his butt moving. I didn't smack him like I should have, so we had a lackluster performance.
Don't get me wrong; I am not dismissing a 60% score as "lackluster." I have worked both our butts off to cross that magical line in the sand. In fact, when I got word that I had finally earned my first qualifying Third Level score, I burst into tears. Did I raise the roof, high five everyone in the barn, or do a happy dance. Negative, Buck Rogers. I bawled like a little kid.
Weirdo. I know, right? I am just so damn driven that getting my bronze medal is all I can think about. And it's not like earning it means I am done with Third Level and moving on to bigger and better things. All it means is that I can cross that goal off my list so that I can really focus on owning the directives at Third Level and getting better. Here's the video.
Our second test of the day, Test 3, is just hard. While I didn't make any real mistakes, I just don't know the test well enough to ride it with confidence. Not like that's the only reason we didn't earn a 60%. Did I mention that it's hard? My goal between now and our next show in December is to know that test backwards and forwards. The better I know a test, the more effective I can be in riding it.
Our score for 3-1 was 58.375%, just 6.5 points shy of a 60%. Our entry and halt, one of the places we can easily score a 7.0, was not up to par. We earned a 5.5 for which I have no explanation. That was at least a 1.5 loss. Our trot half pass left was weird - we earned a 4.0. That score carries a double coefficient so we lost another 4 points. That's 5.5 of the the 6.5 points we needed for a 60%.
Could I have picked up another point along the way? Absolutely. Like I said, knowing the test a little better and not riding it while second guessing myself would really help improve my score.
It wasn't a great test, but it wasn't a disaster either. We just have to keep working at it. Here's the video for Saturday's Third Level Test 3 ride.
While earning 4 scores of 60% or better at a show is always my ultimate goal, Saturday's 60.405% meant that I earned my goal for the show. With it, I now have the first of the two scores that I need for a Bronze Medal. That score is also a qualifying score for next year's Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC). It also means Speedy has the fourth score of 6 towards his CDS Horse Performance Award.
At the end of a show day, I always like to formulate a new plan for Sunday. What can I do better? What needs to change? What went well? As hard as it is to let everyone watch me "school" my horse, I knew I needed to get Speedy in front of my leg and sharper to my aids. That meant I was going to have to annoy the heck out him and expect him to "show up."
Sunday's rides tomorrow ...
Over the weekend, Speedy and I did our third USDF-rated show at Third Level. Three is apparently our lucky number. But first, have a look at this beautiful facility.
The Mission Pacific equestrian facility was recently purchased and renamed the Southern California Equestrian Center. Since purchasing the property, the new owner has done a lot of neat things to spruce up the place.
From a previous visit, I remember the lounge as being a dark junk room. Now, it's super clean, modern, and brightly lit. I don't think I would always feel motivated to ride if I had a place like this to hang out in on a hot day.
The second lounge, where the restrooms are located, is even more inviting, especially on a cold day. The large windows in the lounge slide open for fresh air on warmer days. You also get a nice view of the dressage court.
While a comfortable place to take a load off is nice, what's really nice are stalls so huge that you almost don't even need to turn horses out. There are 50 of them!
This year, management reserved the entire left side of the barn for show horses. Full service included pre-bedded stalls, and each day after they cleaned, they added MORE shavings! The automatic waters were super clean stainless steel, so it was nice not to schlepp water buckets back and forth. The guys also fed the hay and pellets I left in front of Speedy's stall. Of course, I checked in on him about 4,000 times to be sure he didn't need anything, but it was nice that I didn't have to feed at 5:30 a.m. like I usually do. The price for full service was $185. I felt like it was totally worth it.
This is truly the largest barn that I've ever been in. I am sure larger ones exist, but they're not that typical here in sunny California. The barn is shaped like a cross with two very long sides stretching from one end to the other and two shorter ends coming off the front and back of the barn.
At the center of the "cross" there is an arm that holds wash racks, tack rooms, and a few other places that I didn't really take the time to check out. Out the back, where the bright white light is, there is a pair of wash racks.
Facing the other way is the new lounge through the first door on the left and the older, more comfy lounge at the end. There is a men's rest room in the middle. On the right hand side, there is a tack room through the first door, a breeze way where the farrier can work, and at the end, an office with a state of the art security monitoring system - in case you were getting any ideas.
The property is vast. There are many pastures and other smaller barns scattered around, but they were too far to visit for photos. As you leave the barn though, you come down to this small ring that I am sure once served as a type of parade ring like you see at race tracks. Now it just connects the various rings and some pastures.
Encircling the grassy ring, dressage court, warm up ring, and several smaller pastures is a quarter mile galloping track, fenced just like a race track.
Speedy and I walked/jogged the track each morning in hand. He loved it. The footing was great, and he was able to really move out which he loves to do before breakfast. On Sunday morning, he even talked me into a full out sprint.
I am not sure what the dressage ring's footing is composed of, but it was quite nice. The warm up was just as nice. To the left of the corner at K is a raised viewing platform that proved to be a great vantage point for watching tests and taking photos.
I ended up parking and camping in the day parking area which meant I did have to haul stuff, like my saddle, back and forth each day, but since I was the only one who camped, I had a super nice view and a very quite camp site.
I am not sure why the shows at SCEC haven't been on my list, but after this visit, you can bet I'll be going back. My very good friend Jen manages the shows which gives me yet another reason to show there next year.
Speaking of showing ... more tomorrow.
A few weeks ago, Dover suckered me in with one of their THIS IS THE ONLY TIME THIS PRODUCT WILL EVER BE ON SALE, SO YOU HAD BETTER BUY IT RIGHT THIS MINUTE email ads. I get them all the time, but I am usually able to resist with an eye roll.
I probably would have been able to say no this time too, except my muck boots, which I live in when I am not at home or work, have started to look as though they've seen better days. I literally wear them 365 days a year. I even wear them in the summer.
So when I saw the ad for the MUDS by Noble Outfitters at under $50, I couldn't say no. They typically run a bit over $100. I also had a $10 Dover gift card, so it brought the boots down to $39.99 plus tax and free shipping since I have a Dover Visa. The purchase was a no brainer.
They fit great, and past experience tells me they'll be just as comfortable as my old pair. The only thing I am not sold on is that this is the tall pair and my old ones are mid calf. Like I said, I wear them in the summer, so I am hoping they're not too hot. Noble Outfitters describes the boots as having "a moisture-wicking fleece lining for comfort on both cold and hot days." We'll see.
If nothing else, I'll get to buy a second pair for summer duty. I can live with that.
On Friday, when my confidence was a bit low and Speedy was a bit grouchy, what I forgot to mention was that my AWESOME chiropractor had come out on Monday. That man is simply a magician.
CC's been doing my horses for so long now that he can figure out what's wrong without my two cents, but since I am nothing if not hands on, I like to give him a 30 second summary of what I'm feeling. Speedy can't bend right, his lumbar region is sore, and his left hind seems a bit ouchy.
I was mostly on track. Speedy couldn't bend right because his poll was definitely out as was his C7, that deepest neck vertebrae in the spinal column. Those two things were causing everything else to hurt, even his lumbar region.
One of the things I most love about working with CC is that he's also a horse trainer and competitor. As he's finishing up with one of my horses, I love to pick his brain about how or why my horse is sore. Sometimes I know. Izzy has fallen a time or two which would explain why he was hurting, but most of the time, I figure they're hurting because of me.
It's not like I am doing something on purpose, but CC describes it as "wrestling with them." And yes, that is a pretty accurate description. So then I have to ask myself if we're struggling because they don't want to do what I am asking - this seems quite likely since what I am asking for is typically hard, or is it that they simply can't do what I am asking? It's both I imagine.
CC always offers training solutions for what might have led to the soreness. He also says that horses excel at hurting themselves without our help. I like hearing his perspective and would love to have him on site. Wouldn't it be great to board and train with an equine body worker?
I gave Speedy the next day off and then rode him lightly on Wednesday. The changes in his ability to bend and in his overall attitude were obvious. Izzy was the one who was needing an adjustment every couple of months. It looks like now that Speedy is solidly at Third Level, he's going to be needing some more frequent body work.
That's okay. I've got a guy.
I don't usually show in the fall and winter, but because we got such a slow start to the season, I'm powering through with a show this weekend, and if all goes well, another show in December. Both are two-day USDF shows. That's California for you, riding/showing weather 365.
I can't say I'm brimming with confidence. A week ago? You betcha. The changes were crisp and clean, our medium trot was getting even more balanced, and the canter half pass, while still lacking some bend and power, was at least a half pass. And then I broke everything.
I am not sure what happened. One day Speedy could bend right, and the next he couldn't. My fingers are crossed that he's just really grouchy and maybe a wee bit sore since I started insisting that his inside right hind join the party. I've been super careful about not over-insisting, but he's mad about something, and that seems the most likely culprit.
I Spent last Sunday getting organized for this weekend's show. Even though my confidence is low, Speedy still needs to eat, and I need someplace to sleep and shower. I gave the truck and trailer a quick hose down; it's amazing how much dust can build up in just a few weeks.
I also loaded a bale of hay for Speedy. If you'll remember from my post the other day about how heavy our bales are, you'll commiserate with me as I huffed and puffed and nearly failed to load that bale. Those suckers are HEAVY.
I also bagged up all of Speedy's supplements. His senior feed is loaded in bulk, but his vitamins and electrolytes come in much smaller portions, so they go in baggies with a bit of beet pulp to hide the electrolytes. His daily Pergolide dose will go in last. I don't think it will be warm enough for electrolytes, but the small bit I am giving might encourage him to drink more if it's cool.
Speedy's had an easy week. I hope that was enough to make him feel not so picked on. he likes to show, so hopefully we come out swinging. With four rides over the two days, I just need one score of 60% or better.
Lady Luck, The Universe, The Divine ... a little help this weekend would be much appreciated.
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
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: