From Endurance to Dressage
Working with Speedy's ladies has given me a whole new way to practice dressage. Doctors practice medicine, attorneys practice law - it only makes sense that we practice our discipline as well. While I will never master the sport as a rider and competitor, I have learned enough that I feel competent to participate in the sport in a whole new way - as a coach and trainer.
I have done other things for the sport. I am the Vice Chair of our California Dressage Society chapter, Tehachapi Mountain Chapter. In that capacity I created and run our website as well as our Facebook page. I put together the show premiums for our summer dressage show series, the first of which "T" just showed in, and I share ride times and publish show results as I get them. I've also been giving lessons since early fall (I am not paid for any of these jobs). But now, thanks to one of Speedy's ladies, I've been able to view our sport through the eyes of a trainer and coach.
As a competitor, I used to feel so much pressure to make my own coach and trainer look good. I always worried that my ineptitude would reflect poorly on her. At one of my very first shows, maybe even the first, a "trainer" - I won't say her name, actually told me not to tell anyone that I had ridden with her. She didn't want anyone to think that my failure in the court was her fault. That left a huge impression on me, and it wasn't a good one.
Since I began showing Izzy in earnest, and since we're clearly not making Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, look good, and since he has yet to fire me, I have finally been relieved of the ridiculous notion that it's my responsibility to make the trainer look good. Now, I feel like it's my trainer's job to make ME look good, not the other way around. I wish I had learned that lesson long ago. Shame on that "trainer" for introducing someone to the sport in that way.
As I coached "T" throughout the day, it never once occurred to me that she might make me look bad. Instead, I endeavored to make sure that she and Speedy shined like the stars they are. Speedy's braids were lovely, his coat gleamed, and T's turnout was impeccable. I was so proud of them as they completed each of their tests. Now I know how Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has felt watching me show all of these years.
Helping T prepare for the show reminded me why I like dressage; it's fun. It's also stressful, nerve-racking, and anxiety-inducing. I watched all of those emotions play across T's face on Sunday, but I also saw pride, joy, and happiness there, too. Showing gives us the opportunity to show off not only what we've learned, but also how fabulous our horses are.
After T's tests were finished and Speedy had been untacked, we walked up to the show office to gather her tests and ribbons. Both tests sported scores above 60% which made me even prouder. Speedy was a complete rock star for the entire show. He never fidgeted, said no, or did anything even remotely unsafe. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be owned by such a generous and kind horse.
T's husband joined her for the day as did several other of her friends. I slso invited "J," one of Speedy's ladies, as well as "K," a friend who has done some trail riding with me in the past to join us for the day. I may or may not have had an ulterior motive.
T and her husband are starting the next phase in their life together - home ownership and his medical residency, all of which will not be happening in Bakersfield. This means T will be leaving us in just a few weeks. Hopefully J and S (who isn't pictured) will continue taking lessons on Speedy, but with T leaving, I may have room for one more.
Now that I've been bitten by the trainer/coach bug, I am hooked!
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%: