From Endurance to Dressage
I have never been a bumper sticker type of person. In fact, I like my vehicles to be pretty nondescript. While I like subtle colors, we have had a couple of "loud" vehicles. My red Juke comes to mind as does our fiery red Honda Accord (sold long ago). The rest of my vehicles have been dark green, dark blue, dark gray, and Newt's color which was described as magnetic metallic. I insisted that that is NOT a color; it's an adjective, but whatever, it's subtle.
A few years ago though, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, gave me one of her Team Symphony stickers. Suddenly, I was a bumper sticker driver.
And then Chemaine gave me another one.
And then Chemaine gave me something for my license plate.
With that, it was on.
My Riding Warehouse sticker was first.
The Dressage Pony Store was next. If I need it to fit, this is where I am looking.
When I received that sticker from SaddleBox, I knew right where it was going.
Newt came to me free of any tags, so I remedied that right away.
Now I need another sticker from Chemaine for Newt. I sure hope she has some!
I am pretty sure my gift givers have already checked me off their lists, so this is really an after Christmas list. I nearly always get a bit of cash and a Riding Warehouse Gift card, two of my favorite things, so this list is what I'd like to get with that hoped-for-cash/gift card combo.
#1 - LeMieux Engage X-Grip Full Seat Silicone Breeches; $112.95
We all know that I already own about 40 pairs of breeches. Sadly, most of them were bought back when I was reluctant to spend a bit more to get riding wear that was truly flattering and comfortable while still being functional. In fact, I've weeded out everything that I don't adore and have piled it to sell or give away. Even with that purge, I still have more than enough everyday breeches, but ...
A little good news that I haven't yet shared here: I have lost a bit over 30 pounds with around 5 to go. That means all of my everyday breeches, and even those I show in, are really baggy, and not just a little loose around the waist. I can actually pull them off without unbuttoning them.
Enter the LeMieux breeches ...
#2 - Romfh Ladies' Long Sleeved Signature Show Shirt; $79.95
Not only are my breeches too large, but so are most of my shirts. If I am getting new show breeches, I need a new shirt as well. Am I right? In all seriousness, my tastes have begun to change and my determination to stick with a more conservative look is beginning to waver. Coming from the endurance world where everything was neon or wildly colored, the elegance of black and white spoke to me. No longer. I am ready for some pizzaz!
The Romfh Show Shirt would definitely work in the maroon color, but I'd love it more in navy. By the time I am ready to spend my Christmas cash, I bet some new spring colors will be available. For now, I'll take this one in a medium.
#3 Ovation Glitz Riding Helmet; $99.95
I love this helmet. It fits me perfectly, it's comfortable, and it's fun to wear. In fact, I have three of them already. One is old and tucked away for guests. My second one is one I bought last year as my new show helmet. Now I want to replace the third one, my everyday helmet. It's been around for several years, and while I haven't had a fall in it, it does get baked in the sun while I ride. I wear a small/medium.
#4 B Vertigo Lexington Dressage Saddle Pad; $59.95
My boys could use a few things as well. I bought this pad in white for last season, and it looked great on Speedy. The trim sparkled in the light, giving the pad a really fancy air. If I have a bit of money to spend, having the navy one along with my white one, would give me some options at two-day shows.
#5 Pyranha Wipe N Spray Equine Fly & Insect Repellent Spray; $52.95
Last summer, in an effort to protect Izzy's coat from fading, I ditched my beloved Pyranha and gave several other products a try. His coat still faded and the flies harassed him mercifully. He rubbed out his mane and tried to do the same to his tail. I am not making that mistake again. Our particular breed of flies despise the Pyranha, but only the oil-based version. They walked right through the water-based formula. A gallon of this stuff would make a great gift!
It's getting hot here; nothing like it will be, and so far nothing like it was last summer, but I just didn't feel like riding yesterday. Speedy and I are in frenemies territory, and Izzy is once again being a jackass - bit issues, but nothing that I can't overcome. Anyway, instead of riding, I started packing for this weekend's two-day show.
As I pulled in, I spotted a mama skunk with a bunch of babies in tow. It seemed a little late in the morning for them to still be out, but you know how kids are. It's hard to get anywhere on time when you have to take the whole family. I drove by slowly, I am cautious when it comes to stink bombs, but despite their ability to ruin my day, they were very, very cute.
#2 & #3
My dogs almost never go to the ranch with me as the arena is up by the road, and I don't trust them to stay on the property while I am riding. When I tugged on a pair of shorts (instead of breeches) and grabbed my purse, tails started wagging in excitement; they knew they were going. Even though it was unusual for me to take them, they didn't care. Cars and trucks are magical things, and they are always up for an adventure.
I parked my car and let them run around for a bit, but then we hiked over to my truck and trailer so I could hook up. I didn't want to call my husband telling him that I ran over a dog, so I loaded them in the truck with me while I backed up to the trailer. That really threw them for a loop, but like I said, cars and trucks are wonderful things and not to be questioned.
With heads hanging out the window, I pulled around to the barn to load up some of my stuff for the show. Dogs aren't always the smartest crayons in the box. When I opened the door, they leaped out excitedly, eager to check out someplace "new."
After I stuffed Speedy's hay bag with grass hay, I moved on to the alfalfa. As I was filling my half bale bag, I actually looked at it. I've owned that blue bale bag since 1997, but I never see it anymore. It's become as old and familiar as the 27 blue buckets I have laying around. Okay, maybe not 27, but close.
After I wedged it into the trailer, I caught what was written on the top and smiled.
Back when I was still competing in endurance races, and I am sure things haven't changed that much, ride managers had a lot of creative ways to entice riders to come back. For our winter desert rides, the three different race managers put together a three-show series. In order to compete for the series prize, you had to pay a small entry fee declaring that you were "in" for the Triple Crown.
If you got pulled from any of the three races or you weren't able to compete at all, you lost your money. If you completed all three races, you earned the prize. In 1997, it was a half bale bag. You'd think it would be an easy accomplishment, but it was much harder to do than you would think. I was really proud of that bag and the accomplishment that it represented. Seeing it yesterday brought back some fond memories.
I've already shared how Izzy's coat fades pretty dramatically over the summer. I am not sure my strategy to prevent that is working very well, but his coat did catch my eye yesterday.
His barrel is definitely lightening up, but that's not what I noticed. Izzy is registered with the Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) warmblood registry and sports their brand on his left hip. I can rarely see it unless he's all shed out.
I always think of his brand as a secret tattoo that only I am allowed to see. He's actually the third branded horse I've owned. Montoya DSA, an Arabian, was freeze branded on her neck, and Sydney, a New Zealand Thoroughbred that I previously owned, was branded on both shoulders.
In general, when I am at the barn, I ride. I have to say though that it was kind of fun just puttering around without riding. There's a lot more going on than what you'd think.
I usually find that things come in fives, but this time, I've only got two. One I am sure you've heard about (the trailering thing) while the other is not so newsworthy unless you live in California - changes to the CDS Championships.
You've no doubt heard the buzz created by the the law's newest phase: Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs). Essentially, if you haul horses as part of your business, like trainers do, you are subject to the new law. If you are a sponsored rider, you are subject to the law. Basically, anyone who receives money for riding, and then hauls horses, needs a CMV. The law now mandates that owners of CMVs must install ELDs to record the number of hours driven in a 14-hour period.
For most of us, this law doesn't pertain to us. As recreational riders, we can haul as many hours as we'd like. For drivers of what are considered CMVs, this phase of the law is going to create some real hiccups. Think about this: what if your trainer is hauling several horses to another state for a big, year end show? It's a 12-hour drive, but she really doesn't have a place to pull over for the night. She's maxed out her 11-hour drive time for a 14-hour period. What does she do?
As a professional who hauls clients' horses, she is required to have an ELD in her "commercial" vehicle. I know that this issue doesn't affect me directly, but I can imagine that there are a lot of trainers and assistants who are scrambling right now to figure out how to be in compliance.
I've only competed in one California Dressage Society Championship. I had a fabulous time, learned a lot, and came home with a lot less money in my checking account. But when I entered such a prestigious show, I knew that would be the case. Championships, wherever they're held, are supposed to be a big deal.
Over the past month, Facebook has been filled with mutterings about some recent changes to the format of the CDS Championship. Not that Facebook should be your source for news, but the CDS website hadn't done an update, so I was left with social media. I saw a petition go by and several posts filled with a lot of "that's unfair" and "what do I pay dues for?" kinds of comments. Frankly, I wasn't sure what the fuss was about.
This weekend, the newest edition of Dressage Letters finally made it to my mailbox. I opened the cover to read the "President's Column." His first paragraph expressed deep concern for the horses and riders affected by the recent fires, but the rest of the page was dedicated to explaining the rationale for the changes to the Championship show.
From the article, also available online, it seems quite clear why the changes were made. The first two changes (no longer hosting the USDF Breeders Championship and combining the 4, 5, and 6-year-old futurity Amateur and Open Divisions with special awards given to highest scoring Amateurs) were done due to lack of participation. That doesn't seem so controversial to me.
Skipping number three for a moment - the fourth change was about increasing prize money for Horse of the Year (HOY) classes from $1,000 to $1,500. Who's complaining about that?
The fifth change bumped up the qualifying score for Freestyles from 62% to 64%. It sounds as though 62% was too easy to get, and CDS wants only the best competing. I get that.
I don't think those are the changes that have so many people upset. I suspect it is changes numbers three and six. Those are the changes that seem to affect the largest number of riders, particularly amateurs.
Since 1967, HOY has been determined by averaging the results from two different rides of the same test over two days. The year I competed, each day's test was scored by two different judges. That meant that the winner was determined by averaging four sets of scores. Beginning in 2018, each rider will only ride one test, but it will be scored by three different judges. Placings will be determined by averaging the three scores.
CDS has determined that this will actually be cheaper for riders, one less test to pay for, and it will free up riders to compete in other classes for which they are qualified (USDF, equitation, other levels, etc.).
The complaint I am hearing is that determining HOY based on one test alone isn't fair. Naysayers state that if your horse has a bad day, you've lost your chance to earn HOY. That might be true, but then it's also true that you might save your placing if your second test turned out to be a bomb. In addition, riders had to qualify to even get to HOY, so it's not really based on one test at all. It's been a season long journey culminating in one final championship class.
In my mind, the change is not unfair. Every rider has the same opportunity to put in their best test.
The second change that seems to be irritating people is change six which requires a $25 nominating fee for each horse/rider/level for all divisions. I am not sure why this idea is causing so much turmoil. CDS has the exact same requirement for the Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC). The money is used for prizes, swag bags, a hospitality tent with food, and so on. Riders only pay IF they're actually entering the Championship show.
When we make it back to the Championship Show, the extra $25 won't be a big deal to me. It seems the least of the costs associated with going to a big show. I worry more about gas money!
So there you have it, two recent controversies. Are you being affect by the ELDs? Please share. What are your thoughts on the Championship changes? Am I missing something?
When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, was here for a clinic this past weekend, I asked her if I should bother taking Izzy to schooling shows. It's not like I really want to, but I wondered if I needed to.
You all saw this moment, right? Which, by the way, is actually one of my new favorite photos. The dude's got a super sexy badonkadonk! But yeah ... this is why I don't want to show him right now. We've got some work left to do.
Chemaine felt my time (and consequently, money) would be better spent cleaning up some of the sassiness that Izzy thinks is his to share. I agreed. So for now, there are five things to work on before we're ready to hit even a schooling show.
My Five Things for a Sassy Pony:
1. Supple Izzy's back with just one seat bone at a time.
2. Get a stretch down before changing the bend.
3. Get more inside bend when he gets spooky and then firm up that outside rein.
4. Cross the inside rein over in front of my pommel to encourage him to release the inside rein.
5. Discipline the felonies while letting the misdemeanors slide.
When I rode Izzy on Monday, I made sure to run through everything on the list. While it was pretty warm, and he was well worked from the day before, he wasn't totally push button. He actually gave me some cheekiness which let me use tips four and five.
In a 20 minute ride, he obediently walked every inch of the arena, did a number of changes of bend across the diagonal at the trot, and picked up both canter leads without too much fuss. To the right, I crossed my inside hand across the pommel for a few strides, but he gave up the fight almost immediately.
My goal, while pretty dang lofty, is to have no "felonious" moments the next time we see Chemaine for a lesson or clinic. Yesterday was a bit of a litmus test. Even with a day off, which normally elicits plenty of sass, he toed the line and was well behaved.
Will these strategies work well enough to convince him that it's easier to do it my way? I hope so, but if not, I know for sure that we are getting really close to that yummy, chewy center!
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 …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
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