From Endurance to Dressage
Last June, I was urged to create some kind of marked arena so that I could improve not only my geometry, but the accurateness of the movements at Third Level. You can see that post here. To my surprise, having real corners truly did help improve my accuracy. It's hard to know if the shoulders are drifting or falling in when you're riding out in the open.
The water jugs that I used to mark the arena did an amazing job. What I most liked was how safe they were. All of the horses have either run them over or given them a good kick, and nobody ever thought they were spooky or threatening in anyway. The ranch owner's mare actually seems to use them for target practice.
A few of the jugs ended up with leaks, one too many kicks by an equine hoof will do that, but even half empty, they didn't tip over in the wind. One of them had drained itself dry but still stood upright. After nearly a year though, the letters eventually faded and/or fell off.
I've been wanting to replace the jugs for some time now, but with COVID-19 on the loose, water bottles were in short supply. This weekend, I found the bottles well stocked with no limits, so I bought six, half of what I needed, with the plan to buy another six in a few days. As it turned out, enough of my bottles were actually in sufficient shape that I just put fresh letters on them.
I replaced the cracked water bottles and the ones with no lids with my six new jugs. Then I scrubbed the dirt off the old jugs and recovered them with new letters. For less than $10, I have a freshly marked arena that will last me until at least winter.
This is a really cheap and easy, do-it-yourself project. Even though I covered my letters from top to bottom with packing tape, they're not water proof. If you water your arena or you live where it rains a lot, the letters won't last as long. The ranch owner treats our footing with a product that eliminates dust, so we don't need to water. If I lived somewhere wetter, I would probably try to spray paint the bottles white and use a stencil for the letters. If you try that, let me know how it turns out.
If you're interested in using water jugs yourself, or some other similar material, here's a pdf of the arena Ietters I created. Just download and print.
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%: