From Endurance to Dressage
I finished my barn chores in a TANK TOP on Sunday. This is not typical in the part of California where I live. It's not unheard of, but it's certainly not the norm. California is a large state with quite a variety of weather patterns. The state is divided into four main regions that every fourth grader knows well: the Coast Ranges, the desert, the central valley, and the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.
Each of California's four regions have vastly different climates. Even within the region the climate can vary. The northern Coast Ranges have very mild climate, but it rains a fair amount in the winter (Eureka, San Francisco). The southern coast is even more mild with a warmer and drier climate (Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego).
The Sierra Nevada Mountains hold our state's summer water in the winter snowpack that they accumulate. Mount Whitney, whose peak is over 14,500 feet, is the highest point in the lower 48 states.
The desert is very dry, as expected, and very hot in the summer. Death Valley, our nation's lowest point, is not only blistering hot in the sumer, but is also freezing in the winter. The Mojave Desert is considered high desert and actually has snow dustings throughout the winter.
The central valley, where I live, has rich, fertile soil, but has very little rainfall. We typically get less than six inches annually. Bakersfield lies at the very southern end of the central valley. Our fertile farmland is fed by creeks and rivers that drain from the western edge of the Sierra Nevada. Our summers are extremely hot (highs are in the low 100s, lows can frequently be 80 - 85 degrees), but our winters are generally mild (highs in the 60s, lows in the 30s).
In the central valley, Coast Ranges, and desert, you can ride nearly 365 days a year. It might be relatively cold, but it's not impossible. I grew up along the north coast and rode whether it rained or not. And even in the summer, when the valley's heat reaches 110, we still ride. We may have to do it at 6:00 a.m., but it's doable. And like Sunday afternoon, there are winter days that are more like summer for some parts of the world. Our skies were brilliantly blue, and the sun shone down warmly. The rest of the month will probably continue to be chilly, but the dry air means lots of winter riding.
Welcome to California Barn Life!
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%: