From Endurance to Dressage
I have a hard time saying goodbye. When I connect, it tends to be for a very long time. This week, I had to say goodbye to a very good friend.
Sadly, I bid adieu to my last endurance saddle. It wasn't like I was ever going to really use it again, but having it helped me feel connected to a part of my life that was in many ways, defining. Not to be melodramatic, but riding your horse for 100 miles in one day does things to you.
It changes you. It changes the relationship you have with your horse. Doing three of them in a single year gives you a sense of what you're made of like not much else can. You're a bad ass; you rock; you're part of a very elite group.
And then a week passes and you're just a horse crazy lady who spends way too much time in the saddle.
I am not that crazy lady any more; my husband would disagree. He doesn't understand that I am a different kind of crazy lady now - there's a difference. So that saddle just had to go. I've been thinking about selling it for several years now, but I just didn't have a need for the money. Now I do.
Sydney's stall is empty. I like to think it's just resting, gathering energy for it's next occupant. Yep. I am on the hunt for my next equine partner. I dig the Speedy pony, but I need two horses to love and share. One just doesn't fill me up enough.
I posted the saddle at endurance.net, and within three days it sold to a NATRC rider in Tennessee. I hope it finds a good life with her. While I enjoyed the saddle and am certainly sad to see it go, the money will be used to pad my new horse savings account.
Happy trails to you, endurance saddle. Keep your next rider as safe and comfortable as you did me.
Have you seen this recent article by David Ramey, DVM? While I like the guy (a lot), I have to disagree with his opinion on the efficacy of chiropractic adjustments. I know I feel better after an adjustment, and I know my horses feel better; I can see it on their faces.
The day Sydney left, Speedy ran like a wild man during turn out. The next day, he was obviously sore in his hind-end and over his back. I rode him lightly at a walk around the neighborhood for the next few days, but I figured an adjustment might help speed things along, so I had the chiropractor out on Sunday.
It took a solid hour of work before Speedy got that sleepy look on his face. The whole time the chiropractor worked, Speedy fussed and resisted and was just not getting the relief we were hoping for. My chiropractor worked his jaw, his poll, his neck, his ribs, his pelvis … and still, there was something hung up.
The chiropractor finally put Speedy back in his stall so that he could use the fence as a barrier for Speedy's sidestepping hips. He got Speedy to relax just a little bit more, and suddenly I heard a satisfying pop from his neck. Instantly, Speedy's face got soft. his lips drooped, and he got very doe-eyed. The chiropractor finally found the last little spot that was bugging Speedy.
I rode him again the next day, and he still ever-so-slightly stiff. In truth, he might have been sound, but I tend to be hyper sensitive to every footfall when there has been an issue. I did add some trot work out in the field near the end of the ride, and he felt pretty good out there.
I don't let myself worry about this kind of stuff, especially when he gets visibly better each day. As a precaution, I did cancel my Monday lesson; no point in overdoing it. I'll work him lightly throughout the rest of the week so that by this weekend, he should be back to fighting trim.
Yah for expensive, if not proven, therapies!
There's not much that I don't own horse-wise, but every time I start to think that there is nothing in the catalog that I need or want, I manage to find something else.
Leathers have never been one of my favorite pieces of equipment. I've even tended toward the synthetics because they don't stretch like real leathers do. On the flip side, they also tend to be thicker and harder to punch holes in. My most recent leathers are from SmartPak. They have holes spaced at ¾" inch increments, which I love, but they are thick. They are leather on the outside with a nylon lining.
I've been interested in the Webbers (Bates/Wintec), but I figured they had to be weird and clunky. (If they're so great why isn't everyone use them?) I had the chance recently to ride in a pair and while they are a bit awkward to get to length, I completely forgot about them once I was in the saddle.
Getting a chance to try them out sealed the deal. I decided to order a pair. The Bates version is similar to my SmartPak leathers - leather outside with a webbing core. They run around $75.
Riding Warehouse, my favorite online store and somewhat local tack shop, carries the Wintec Webbers for under $33.00. I was hoping that the Wintec Webbers would be thinner than the leather/webbing combo of the Bates, so that's what I went with.
Since Webbers are only one thickness they don't hang over your stirrup bars like regular leathers do. There is a loop at the top that slides over your stirrup bars. It was easy to do and seems just as secure as with typical leathers.
One complaint I've heard about using Webbers is the inability to run up your leathers. While it's not as convenient as with standard leathers, the Wintec Webbers do come with a hole near the top of the leathers that allow you to hang your stirrups in a very short position and then they can be run up.
Quite a ways below the "run up" hole are the holes for inserting the "T" that holds the stirrup to the right length. You just slide the "T" into the slot, turn, and the leathers are set.
There is a leather "cap" that slides down and covers the "T" and probably serves to hold things more securely in place.
With no buckle under your thigh and only one layer of leather, the Webbers really are more comfortable. It wasn't that I was bugged before, but the instant I sat in my saddle, I noticed how much smoother my thigh rested against the saddle. These really are an improvement over standard leathers.
Let the flow of cash begin! Horse ownership is already a pricey venture. If you want to show, be prepared to fork over serious cash. And if you want to be recognized by the sanctioning bodies with even a certificate, just hand over your wallet.
Now that Speedy and I have left Training Level for a level that at least bears a number, low as it is, I am considering upping some of my memberships and adding others. I am seriously goal oriented; if there is a pin, certificate, or patch to be earned, my name is all over it. But after adding up what it would cost to earn the afore mentioned pins, certificates, and patches, I had to do some thinking.
Renewing with USEF is first. That membership is $55.00. Speedy already has a USEF Horse ID, but not his Horse Recording number ($200 for a lifetime number or $75 for an annual number). Having Speedy recorded with USEF just means we would be eligible for Horse of the Year and could compete at the USEF Championship. Eh … not interested. We'll stick with just having a regular membership.
USEF - $55.00
Next comes the USDF membership. I've always just gone with the Group Membership (free if I join my GMO) because we haven't been good enough to compete in the USDF Region 7 Championship. I also haven't been too worried about breed awards either. Group Membership allows you to participate in the Rider Award Program, which includes the medals, as well as all USDF shows.
This year, I am interested in some of the awards that the Arabian Horse Association offers, but I would need to be a Participating Member with USDF ($75) and Speedy would need his Lifetime Horse Registration number which would be a one-time upgrade fee of $70.00.
USDF - $145.00 or $0.00
And of course, I have to join my GMO, the California Dressage Society. I get most of my recognition from this organization. CDS offers all sorts of programs. This year, I took advantage of all of them: AA Clinic, RAAC, Championship, Rosettes (scores for my plaque), and I even submitted my name for the Henry Buchard Trophy (not likely, but still …). Joining CDS is $65 annually with no costs for Speedy.
CDS - $65.00
I am also considering joining DASC, a much smaller GMO that serves Southern California. The only real benefit to joining that group is to be able to compete in their championship show, but I've heard rumors that there might not be one this year. Joining DASC is $60.00 annually with an accompanying $10.00 for Speedy.
DASC - $70.00
And finally, there is a little pin that I wouldn't mind earning from the Arabian Horse Association (AHA). Getting it though (not guaranteed), would cost a whole lot more than the pin is worth. Joining AHA costs $40.00 with an additional $35.00 tacked on if I want my competition card. Speedy is already registered as a purebred Arabian, so he doesn't need a membership.
AHA runs their awards program in an à la carte fashion. If you want to participate in the particular program, you pay for it only. I think this is a way to bilk their membership though. If I am already a member, and I have also paid for a competition card, why must I now pay extra for the rewards that come with using that card? Sheesh, AHA, squeeze a little harder.
AHA offers three dressage programs: Dressage Rider Award, USDF All Breed Dressage Award, and an Open Qualifying Competions Program. The last one is definitely not for me. To get the little pin from AHA's Rider Award, I have to pay a $45.00 enrollment fee for each level. If I get the pin at First Level, I have to pay again for each level after.
For Speedy to be eligible for the USDF All Breed Award, which is given by USDF, I have to be a PM of USDF, Speedy needs to have a Lifetime Horse Registration number, and then I need to pay AHA a $25 enrollment fee.
If I wanted to be eligible for The AHA stuff, my total membership fees would be $410.00. If I wanted to skip AHA and just do the DASC stuff, it would be $190.00. If I wanted to do it all … $480.00. That's not going to happen.
The truth is, I just moved to First Level. We probably won't be very competitive this year anyway. I should probably just stick to my regular USEF and CDS memberships. And if I start to feel some money burning a hole in my pocket during the year, I could go ahead and upgrade Speedy's USDF Horse ID to a Lifetime Horse Registration. That way, I wouldn't have to do it in 2016.
This year's membership fees would be $120.00 - easy peasy.
That's usually my problem, not enough outside rein.
Normally, I take my lessons up at JL's arena, but now that I am only riding Speedy, she's agreed to come down to my arena when needed. Speedy needs long lines now for leg yields and lengthenings. Sydney just needed a good space for 20-meter circles and changes of direction.
I told JL how Speedy swapped leads in the back during the canter work at the schooling show, especially returning to working canter from the lengthening. Chemaine had said the problem was because I didn't have my outside leg back far enough to keep his haunches in. JL agreed.
JL asked me to show her the movement that was causing us so much trouble. The cross-firing happened after we lengthened and "tried" to return to working canter in the corner before leaving the second corner to cross the diagonal (KXM - change rein, X - working trot). That corner becomes a 45 degree angle and it's hard to make while galloping like a lunatic.
In reality, we've done that same corner at Training Level, but the added difficulty is that we now have to get back to a working canter from the lengthening.
Of course, when I showed her the turn that I have to make, Speedy did it more or less just fine, but we didn't do it with the canter lengething first. This told me a lot. It's not the turn so much as getting control of his rear end in a working canter.
To address the issue, JL had me pick up a canter, and then instructed me to ride the smallest canter circle I could with a bit of counter bend. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! All of a sudden I felt what I needed to do to make the turn more effectively. I had been so worried about the inside bend that I had dropped the outside aids (rein and leg).
We rode the corner a few times with a slight counter bend so that I could get a good feel for how much outside aid I would need, then we added in the canter lengthening. We made the corner with no lead swapping. AHA!
Chemaine gave me several things to think about this month. I think that getting Speedy's canter slower and more balanced is going to go a long way toward improving our scores. With a more balanced canter, our 15-meter canter circle and the lengthenings will definitely get better.
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.
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 …
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 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