From Endurance to Dressage
I saw this over on the $900 Facebook Pony's page who saw it at May As Well Event's Page. I am usually off writing on my own little tangents, but this is a topic that I come back to now and again, especially as Speedy as I come up through the dressage levels. And so with that, here are the past ten years (plus an extra one) in photos.
This photo is from our very first show in June of 2010, just two weeks after an endurance ride. We showed Intro A and B earning 63.500% for each test. Back then, I thought that was a "low" score. Oh, the stuff I wish I had known!
By 2011, we were showing Intro C and Training 1. For this show, we earned a 58.500% for the Intro C test and a 56.250% for the Training 1 test.
We've obviously been Not-So-Speedy Dressage for a long time because by 2012, we were still showing Intro C and Training 1. In my defense, the canter work from Training Level had been pushed down to the newly created Intro C test, so while I was "still" at Intro, it was really Training Level Test 1. At this show, a USDF-rated show in Santa Barbara, Hilda Gurney awarded us a 69.500% for the Intro Test C.
By 2013, we were firmly ensconced at Training Level where we would sit for quite some time. This photo was of a Training Level Test 2 where we scored a decent 63.214%.
Over the years, Speedy and I have had some big moments. We've earned at least five neck ribbons, won multiple championships, and have more than several trophies. Winning this particular class, the Regional Adult Amateur Competition at Training Level, was particularly memorable because before the show, several things of note happened.
On the drive over, I stipulated that if we won with at least a 70% - knowing that would NEVER happen, I would take Speedy to the CDS Championship show. The other thing of note was that after asking me in which class I was showing, a woman stabled near me told me that her friend, who was an amazing rider, was going to win my class. She didn't. We won with a 72.600%. True to my word, we did compete at the CDS Championship show placing 18th(?) overall for the CDS Training Level Horse of the Year.
By 2015, we were charging through First Level with scores as high as 67%. This is one of my all time favorite photos. It's not fancy, and in fact we scored a pretty paltry 57.765%. What I love about the photo is that it embodies how supportive my trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, always is no matter whether we're winning or bringing up the rear.
Speedy spent most of 2016 injured, although I can't remember from which injury it was. This photo is particularly special as it was from the first time that Chemaine invited me to be one of her demo riders at the Horse Expo in Pomona. I had such a great time showing everyone that you can "dressage" on the horse you have. You don't need a fancy warmblood. Speedy did his breed proud.
With Speedy being injured for most of 2016, I was thrilled to have him back for 2017, even if it meant plugging through First Level again. We ended up Reserve Champions at the Regional Adult Amateur Competition, but it felt like a win to me.
By 2018, I was over First Level, so Speedy and I jumped feet first into Second Level, ready or not. It was a challenging year for many reasons, but as he always does, Speedy brought his A-game by the end of the season winning the Regional Adult Amateur Competition for the third time. We earned a 64.268% at Second Level.
And here we are. Like every year before, nothing about this one was easy either. Speedy spent all of last winter injured as we dealt with sutures and abscesses, but despite that, we managed to make the leap to Third Level and are just one score shy of a Bronze Medal. This photo represents a lot of hard work and possibly a few tears.
2007 - Back to the Beginning
In the spirit of the challenge, I'd like to add one more photo. I think this is the first photo that I have of Speedy G. It was taken in December, the morning after I bought him. I remember thinking how calm and trusting he was. I bought him to be my next endurance horse, which he was, but I had no idea what a total rockstar he'd grow up to be.
I love this look back over the past decade. I can't believe that my endurance-turned-Introductory-Level horse has progressed to Third Level with flying changes and half pass. He has certainly lived up to his name, G Ima Starr FA.
Who knows what we might do in 2020!
A few weeks ago, I ordered Speedy a new blanket, which of course he hasn't yet worn. Darn you, California, and your mild winters. Since prices were so good at Horze.com, I threw in some self-adhesive bandages. A dozen in fact. I went through quite a few of them when Speedy abscessed last month which meant I needed to replenish my stock.
When my package arrived, I pulled out the blanket, which was of excellent quality, and dug around for my dozen rolls of bandages. I found eight of them, but wondered where the other four were. I double checked my original order, and yes, I had ordered and been charged for twelve. Horze had sent me two invoices, one for the blanket and one for only eight bandages. I figured the other four bandages were probably out of stock but on their way, so I just waited.
After a week or so and no word about the bandages, I sent Horze a short email letting them know I hadn't received the bandages. I went on to explain that they could either send me the four bandages or refund the difference in price. I received a very apologetic reply wherein Horze insisted on sending the bandages with expedited shipping. I replied that that wasn't necessary as they were just bandages, and I wasn't in a rush.
A day or so later, the bandages arrived as promised as did a very long box. With Christmas right around the corner, I check shipping labels carefully to be sure that packages are a) for one of us and not my neighbor, and b) that it's for me and not my husband. It was for me from Horze, but I hadn't ordered anything else.
The shape of the box should have made it easy to figure out what was in the box. Besides a dressage whip, what else comes in a long, skinny package?
The first whip is crowned with a jeweled cap which adds nothing to the functionality but everything to the beauty of the whip. Sparkles? Yes, please!
The base of the handle has a silver ring studded with three rows of crystals. The whip's shaft is covered in silver and black thread giving the whip even more sparkle.
The second whip sports a nice round button cap that won't slide through your fingers.
The shaft of the whip is covered in a sparkly fabric that winds from the top to the bottom.
After opening the box, I immediately emailed Horze with a thank you. I have no idea how they knew that a dressage whip would be right up my alley, but they did. And honestly, that has to be the best customer service that I've ever received. And it was all over four missing rolls of self-adhesive bandages.
I've bought many Horze brand items over the years, including breeches and riding shirts, and I have never been disappointed. This gesture at making right a very, very small glitch in the system only confirms for me that this is a company from which I will continue to buy.
Oh, and if you're interested in those whips, the sparkly one is called the Horze Greenfield Dressage Whip, and it comes in three colors and three lengths. The other whip, the one with the sparkly shaft, is the Horze Kingsley Dressage Whip, and it comes in five different colors and two lengths. Even though the whips were meant as a gift, I couldn't help being nosy about them, especially since I wanted to give Horze a solid shout-out for their generosity.
Quality products, fair pricing, and excellent customer service will always keep me coming back. Horze has all three!
As soon as school lets out this afternoon, my husband and I are making the drive to San Fransisco. On a regular day, the drive is a bit hectic. We're really going for crazy though as we'll be entering the Bay Area at about 5:30, the worst time for traffic. And to really sweeten the pot, we're rolling into the city on the Friday evening before Christmas.
We're going to visit with my dad who has had to take care of some personal issues this past month. While the circumstances aren't great, we're excited about the visit. My dad has already created a list of things that he'd like to see. As have we ...
Since I drive Newt, a monster to park even in Bakersfield, and my husband drives a Raptor, not that much smaller, we're planning to park at our hotel, which has limited parking, so fingers crossed. From there, we plan to Uber across the city and walk most of the day. We'll then Uber back as I am not hiking the 8 miles back across the peninsula.
I've been to San Fransisco many times, but it's been a while. It's a beautiful city with more things to do that can be done in two days. I'm looking forward to spending the time with my dad, visiting places we last saw together when I was just a kid. Enjoy your own weekend!
I spend a lot of time riding my horses, but I balance that with just hanging out with them, too. We go for hand walks, I let them graze on the lawn while I clean tack, and sometime I just sit on the fence and tickle their noses. Izzy's. Speedy's into standing close, but he's not into the touchy feely stuff.
I rarely catch Speedy napping. I knows he lays down to rest at night because his face, belly, and butt get pretty muddy, and at shows, his tail gets filled with shavings. I just don't get to catch him at it. Izzy doesn't let me catch him napping on a regular basis, but he does like a mid-morning snooze.
Izzy's a lot lazier than Speedy, so if I happen to catch him snoozing, he'll keep laying there as long as I don't seem like I am in any hurry. And if I am really respectful, he'll let me hug and pet him. After snapping a few awkward selfies though, he gave a me "to hell with this" look and heaved himself back up onto his feet. That was the end of that special moment.
The rewarding thing about spending time just hanging out with my guys is that I get to experience a lot of quiet moments that I don't get to see when I am saddling quickly to beat the clock.
While our resident bunny is still quite skittish, he greets me almost daily, begging for his handful of senior feed. On this day, he actually stood up on his hind legs right under Izzy's belly. I quickly tossed his treat underneath the trailer so that Izzy didn't inadvertently step on him and scare the crap out of them both.
Whether it's in the dead of winter or the heat of summer, I like those non-riding moments just as much as the ones where each footfall is magical. Horses, man, they're in my soul.
Not too long ago, I heard Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, use the phrase, the centaur effect.
Holy smokes, was that ever a powerful image. I am definitely going to be asking her to elaborate, but since hearing those words, my seat has been way more plugged in than ever before. While the image is helpful when I ride Speedy, it's been much more powerful with Izzy.
Izzy's back is much tighter than is Speedy's, so it can be difficult to access what sometimes feels like a board. When I find it difficult to sit "in" Izzy's back, I immediately recall the idea of a centaur, and instantly my pelvis softens and feels as though it's melting into his back; the centaur effect.
It's funny how powerful some images can be. Sometimes an image works, and sometimes not so much. The centaur effect was a great one for me. Now let's see if I can actually apply it.
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%: