From Endurance to Dressage
You might remember that I lost a bunch of a weight three years ago. You might have also noticed that I'm looking thicker around the middle lately. COVID was not kind to my waistline. Sitting at my computer for 10 -12 hours a day teaching via Google Meet and Zoom meant that I burned a lot fewer calories than I would have had I been up and about teaching in a traditional setting. Sitting wasn't the only culprit though; experiencing a higher degree of stress than normal provoked the desire to self-soothe with snacks. Lots of snacks.
The problem with losing and gaining weight is that it requires a whole new wardrobe. As I lost weight, various clothing items either went into storage or were donated. New items were then purchased. New breeches were something that I had to buy as most of mine wouldn't stay up the thinner I got. With this show season well under way, I had to admit that I needed a new pair of whites. My newest pair of show breeches are now two sizes too small, and no amount of sucking it in would make them fit.
Fortunately, I had saved all of my larger sized breeches, so I've been wearing those. One pair though is pretty old - I think I bought them in 2014. The other pair, the Ovation DX Celebrity Slim Secret Full Seat Breeches, are slightly newer and fit my thicker waistline. Even having been through several show seasons, they've held up well.
Besides white, I also own these breeches in gray and navy. I really like them. They're stretchy and quite comfortable. I liked them so well that last week I bought a new pair in white to replace the Horze breeches bought in 2014. Finding white breeches that are cool enough for our summer heat but not see-through is challenging enough, but when you also want them to be budget-friendly and easy to wash, you're almost asking the impossible.
The Ovation Celebrity breeches check all of my boxes: they fit, they're not see-through (unless you wear really dark colored undies), they're budget-friendly at $119.95 (less because I had a 15% off discount code), and they wash up pretty well. My old pair, the ones on the right, have been washed dozens of times.
Considering that the old pair has been worn and washed a bunch of times, they still look pretty good next to the brand new pair. While I am glad to have a new pair of breeches that look less dingy than my oldest pair, it still stings a bit to have to buy new ones just because the perfectly good ones are too small.
Thanks a lot, COVID. You're despicable for so many reasons.
Back when I was endurance racing, I rarely wore gloves. When the weather was really cold or raining, then, and only then, did I wear gloves. Gloves were hot and tended to get very dirty. We frequently sponged the horses' necks with water from buckets, streams, or troughs, so gloves would have gotten dirty-wet which would have been very uncomfortable.
Besides being uncomfortable, gloves are something that are easy to drop and lose. As it was, I rode with so many other things attached to my saddle or myself that one more thing might have broken the camel's back.
My regular race day gear included (for the rider):
For the horse:
Those days are long past though, and today, I can't ride WITHOUT gloves. Even with gloves I fight callouses and rubs. At the last show we did, the skin on the ring finger on my left hand was throbbing. When Izzy gets locked in the neck and poll, I have to move the bit around in his mouth a lot which means a lot rein contact for me. Not only is there a lot of movement on my part, but Izzy jerks the rein, pulls, and generally tries to avoid contact. The skin and knuckle on my left hand pay the price.
With a new callous blistering and growing, I gave my beloved white Roeckl's a close examination and discovered they were looking much worse for wear than I had thought. They had gotten quite thin in places, especially between the pinky and ring finger. I school in a different pair of Roeckl gloves, but I replace my schooling gloves as needed. My show gloves had been on duty for more years than I can remember.
Last week, I ordered a new pair, but instead of Roeckls, I went with Noble Equestrian™ Ready-to-Ride Gloves because they have a reinforced area between both the pinky/ring finger and the thumb/pointer finger. They were cheaper than the Roeckl's which was a bonus, but I don't know if I will like them. They were supposed to be here last week, but they got lost somewhere in Chicago. Dover is sending another pair with the understanding that I'll return the first pair if they ever show up.
I am leaving for a show on Thursday, so the customer service rep said she would try to expedite the shipping. My fingers are crossed that they'll get here on time and that I like them. I am cringing at the thought of having to use my old pair again. My fingers are only just now recovering from the last show.
To say I have a hand in glove relationship with my gloves is true on several levels.
When you toss on your red Converse sneakers with no socks and wear black riding tights to work that look almost like regular black leggings because it's a virtual teaching day and no one is going to see what kind of shoes or pants you're wearing ...
But when you get to the barn that afternoon, you realize that not only are you not wearing any socks, but you've also forgotten to pack tall socks, so you slip on your muck boots anyway to clean water troughs ...
And then, even though you know know it's going to feel really gross, you slip on your tall boots for an afternoon ride on your amazing big brown horse ...
All because life is way too short to be waylaid by the lack of a pair of socks.
If you are a dressage rider, you know what I am talking about. This sport's attire is designed for tall, thin people. I am not tall nor thin. I was thin for about 8 months, but that life of complete deprivation made me very lonely and unhappy. I have finally come to terms with the fact that if I want to be happy, it's going to come with a few extra pounds.
So what does that mean for a dressage competitor? It means that finding boots to fit can be somewhat of an issue. For schooling I love the TuffRider Belmont boots. They fit me perfectly every time - I've ordered at least several pairs over the past few years - I am hard on my schooling boots, especially the zippers. For show boots, I was lucky to find the Ariat Maestros, which Ariat no longer makes. I've worn them happily for more than a decade. With the recent zipper blowout and replacement, I've felt the need to replace them. Enter the Petrie Olympic Dressage Boots.
I love everything about these boots. They look rich and elegant, that inside zipper seems like a brilliant idea (haven't ridden with them, so who knows?), and the leather is sumptuous. It would have been perfect had they fit.
The Petries are back in their box. I'll be in Ventura this weekend, so I am hoping to return them in person. The fine folks at Dressage Extensions are on the hunt for a pair that will fit. The sizing chart for the Petrie boots is overwhelming, so I know they make a boot to fit me. Getting it in stock might take a while.
I guess I am not Cinderella after all.
I've had two zippers blow out in the past two weeks. It's annoying. First, my show boots decided my calves needed some fresh air, or more likely, more space. A few days later, my schooling boots joined the zipper blow out party. I took both boots to a local custom boot maker, but I am not happy with how they turned out.
I wrote about the brass/gold zippers last week. On the schooling boots, I could care less, but on my show boots, I am not a fan. I am also frustrated by the zippers, particularly on my schooling boots. They are HARD to zip up and down. I would be inclined to blame my thickening calves, but these boots have a really nice stretchy panel, and they don't feel tight at all. If they were any looser they'd feel sloppy. Even though I really like my show boots, the zipper thing - both the color and the stiffness, really bugs me.
As soon as my show boot's zipper failed, I called Dressage Extensions and asked about their Petrie boots. I've never tried the Petries, but I know they're a nice boot, and their lower end boots are in my price range (sort of). They didn't have anything in stock at that moment that would fit, but they agreed to put my name on a list. To my surprise, I got a phone call on Saturday asking if I were still interested in new boots.
Now that, a personal phone call, is how you sell me something. I am not an impulse shopper, especially when it comes to purchases of three or more digits. I like to think about things for a while. I look at whether I need the thing. I look at my budget. I look at the thing again to see if I really like it. If the thing is more than a hundred dollars, and if I don't need the thing, I won't usually buy it. I drive every online tack shop crazy with the amount of items I leave discarded in my virtual carts.
If I like the thing, and If I need the thing, I usually need someone to sell it to me. I'll admit it, I like a soft sell. Nothing turns me off faster than a pushy sales guy. They start that, and I can't walk away fast enough. What gets me every time is a salesperson who can see that I am interested, but deliberately takes off the pressure. That's what Natalie did at Dressage Extensions.
I don't know if Natalie was bored or if it was simply her job to make call backs, but that she took the time to call me back and check to see whether I was still interested in the boots got me thinking that yes, yes I was still interested. She asked if she could look at their inventory to see what they might have in my size and price range and call me back later in the day. I told her that would be fine. That of course gave me time to go back and look at which boots they carried which piqued my interest all over again.
Not long after, Natalie left me a message saying that she did have something that she thought would fit me perfectly. If I was still interested, I could call back at my convenience. See, soft sell, nothing pushy. After I was done riding, I called Natalie back, She had a pair of Petrie Olympic Dressage Boots that she thought would be the perfect fit.
We chat for a minute about whether I could come in and try them on - I'll be in Moorpark this weekend for a show, but I decided it would be a lot easier if she shipped them to me. If they don't fit, I can always leave them with a friend who can drop by the store and return them for me, or I can ship them back for free. Natalie was just so accommodating that as we were chatting, I found myself pulling out my credit card. I now have a pair of Petrie boots on their way to my house.
If they fit - oh, please fit!, they'll be the most expensive boots I've ever bought. I hope I LOVE them!
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.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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