From Endurance to Dressage
I recently wrote about Your Dressage in a post titled, Hey, USDF, Looking Good! As it turns out, Speedy and I made an appearance this week on the site with an article about our journey from Endurance to Dressage. You can read it by clicking the Achievement tab or here.
We've received a fair amount of feedback on the article, all of it very positive. The one thing that has surprised me though is how inspiring readers felt it was. I never feel that I am "inspiring" anyone, especially since I feel like we represent riders of the struggle bus. Struggle Bus Riders Unite! If there was one thing that I could hope other riders might take away from our story, it would be this: with hard work and a bit of luck, any rider can be successful. Speedy and I are the poster children for average. I am an average rider, my horse is an average horse, and neither of us is particularly talented. And yet, we achieved an accomplishment that fewer than 10,000 riders have been able to do in nearly 50 years of the the medals being available.
So whatever your goal is, whether in dressage or some other discipline, don't let yourself be discourage or intimidated by the competition. You do you! Set big goals, but it's also important to set mini goals that will serve to motivate and inspire you to reach for greater things. Don't be afraid of failure. Failure shows you where you need to improve which ultimately leads to success. If I can do it, ANYONE can.
And if you do check out USDF's Your Dressage, take a look at their Weekly Poll; the answers are always interesting. I voted twice this week since I have two horses, and I am looking forward to reading the results.
Have a great weekend!
My husband and I went to Phoenix a few weeks ago. Even though it's only about an eight hour drive, we opted to fly. We flew in Saturday morning, went to a wedding that evening, and flew back home the next morning. Normally, I would have been "in charge" of boarding passes, hotel reservations, and planning our transportation to and from the airport.
That's just me. If I am involved in something, I go all in. I've matured a lot over the last decade and realized that my husband is more than capable of handling things like boarding passes and hotel reservations. For the first time ever, I just didn't have the time or energy to contribute one thing to this trip, much less organize the whole thing, so I left everything to him. It was the most liberating feeling to just go along for the ride.
Dressage is one of those things that I care about, so I am completely immersed. For me, that means I have to do all of it: showing, clinics, and lessons. And I can't just do those things a few times a year, I am compelled to be doing them all the time.
Occasionally, I wish that I could be less committed, but that's just my personality: it's all or nothing. That's how endurance riding was as well. I did one last race and then just quit. I've come to realize that other people are able to approach life with more balance. They don't feel the compulsions that I do. They can go along for the ride, at least occasionally.
Many of you don't live and breathe dressage, meaning you have a little more balance in your life. Maybe you have kids or other hobbies or deal with health issues. Whatever it is, you don't feel compelled to spend every dollar and every extra minute planning your show and clinic year. The amount and types of show you do probably dictate what sorts of memberships you pay for.
Which brings me to the real point of this post. Lots of you have been writing and sharing your plan for renewing memberships. I have been reading those comments and blog posts with utter fascination. I've discovered that the various GMOs don't all work the same way.
The California Dressage Society (CDS) is one of the largest GMOs (almost 1,300 members) in the USDF. There are some CDS Chapters that host CDS-rated only shows, but they are certainly the minority. Most of the shows here in California are both CDS and USDF/USEF rated. I have never seen a show that was only USDF-rated and not also rated by CDS or DASC, a much smaller GMO located in Southern California.
Since CDS is such a large and well developed organization, those who show with any regularity join CDS, but fewer join USDF as Participating Members, especially if you're an adult amateur with no plans on showing at the USDF Regional show. I imagine most of our professional riders and trainers join USDF as Participating Members, and they also join CDS.
Riders in Southern California join CDS and DASC. Although I have no idea how many people join both. I would guess most join CDS and only those interested in the DASC Championship Show will also join DASC.
So. I would love to know how many people join their local GMO or just USDF. How many join both, or more than one GMO? How many GMOs host non USDF-rated shows? How many regions host USDF only rated shows? How many GMOs have championships?
I've put together a small poll just to see if any patterns emerge. Of course, it's not a great poll as there isn't a way for me to track what part of the country you're from, but please share that as a comment. I would also love to hear your rationale for joining or not joining USDF or your local GMO.
Thanks for participating and commenting. I am really looking forward to your answers!
Apparently, there are at least three other owners out there struggling with their own green bean ponies. I have to say thank you for their support as it often feels like I am the only completely incompetent horse owner out there.
Every time Izzy acts like a Junior Idiot (that's what my BFF calls him), I wonder why my horse is the only one that can't walk and chew gum. After hearing from so many other owners, I feel comforted knowing that we're not idiots (at least not all of the time) and neither are our youngsters.
While I have never actually given birth myself (thank God), I imagine that raising horses is similar - we block out the horrible parts and only remember how wonderful our babies become.
Trail riding has really helped. I've started more than a couple of young horses out on the trail, so I know what I don't wanna looks like. I also know when to encourage them past the scary thing and when to let them be pulled along by a companion.
In the arena, I'm not always sure what is just baby theatrics and what is you're pushing me too fast. The trail rides are helping me to recognize the difference between I don't wanna and this is too much. As a result, I am feeling more and more confident about telling Izzy that yes, yes you can when he fusses at me in the arena.
We've started some trotting in the arena again, and he's being much more relaxed. I am learning to just sit there when he starts to throw a big fit, but I now know I can keep riding and asking through the smaller tantrums.
Izzy is starting to stretch over his back and swing again. Riding him twice a day has also helped because I can do a little and then put him away. When I take him back out, he's looser and more willing to work.
When I rode the other day, I was annoyed after round one, but then I got to thinking about how frustrated many of you get, and I realized that his shenanigans aren't personal or signs that he's basket case - he's just acting out like a kid would do. It really softened my attitude and helped make ride number two all about saying no, no, no ... YES, good boy!
I am an auditory learner. That means I learn by listening and discussing.
I know what kind of learner I am because I get paid to make sure people, namely very small people, are learning. I've spent the past twenty five years learning how to make whatever material I am teaching accessible to all types of learners. I am a teacher after all.
Every lesson I teach includes visuals, lecture, hands-on opportunities, small group consultation (I actually tell my 5th graders to consult with a neighbor), experimentation, physical movement, and so on.
The fancy name for how we learn is called a "Learning Modality." There are many learning modalities, but they are all variations, or permutations, of three basic styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (which can become tactile).
I know you're wondering what this has to do with dressage or riding in general, but bear with me for a moment as I explain. When we know what type of learner we are, we can maximize our learning opportunities by searching out experiences that meet our learning needs. Check out these four descriptions of learning preferences and see which one seems most like you.
And before you worry about choosing just one type of modality, know that most of us do best when we utilize more than one type of learning style. I am an auditory learner who learns best by discussing what I've heard or by writing it down later - hence the blog!
The lucky thing for us as riders is that our lessons or clinics are learning experiences that naturally incorporate all the learning modalities! Think about it: it's kinesthetic as we search for the right "feel," it's visual when our trainer shows us, and it's auditory as the instructor calls out corrections or directions.
I love lessons because they always involve auditory learning. The trainer talks while the student listens. And if the trainer uses an earpiece/speaker system, I am really in heaven as the the lesson is then piped directly to my brain. If you are not an auditory learner, you might find all of the trainer's "talk" distracting.
Lessons or clinics also involve a lot of kinesthetic learning as the rider must DO what the instructor says. This works best for me when the instructor gives a lot of oral directions, but for a true kinesthetic learner, you probably just figure it out the longer you ride. Maybe you get better and better at seeing that distance just by riding it over and over. Those naturally gifted riders are probably very much kinesthetic learners. Alas, I am not.
In many cases, a clinician or trainer will also demonstrate visually what they want you do by moving their own body in a sort of pantomime of what we should be doing. My trainer does this all the time as I watch from the saddle. If you are a visual learner, you probably like your trainer to show you by having them demonstrate from the ground like my trainer will do, or you like her to hop on and show you. You probably like to watch others take lessons too.
If you are a tactile learner, someone who needs to take notes or doodle while learning, you probably learn best by attending clinics or watching others participate in a lesson. I don't know if Sarah of Eventing in Color is a tactile learner or not, but I have been amazed before by her note-taking skills.
I'd love to know more about your strongest learning modality and how knowing this helps you maximize your lessons or learning without an instructor. Take the poll if you'd like to see where you are compared to other people, and please leave a comment explaining how you use (or will use!) your knowledge of your learning style to maximize your lesson time.
I (still) am dying to know more about all of you! ... Seriously!
Over the last two weeks I've heard from two total strangers: one coming to live here from Colorado, and the other returning here from four years in college. And while I have a lot of friends who check this blog, the traffic report from Weebly.com, my host, seems to suggest that I probably don't know a lot of you! Would you mind taking a moment to let me know where you are from? Or at least where you are NOT from? Others might wanna know, too!
And in case you feel like I get a TON of blog email, rest assured, I don't, but I'd really like to hear from you. Tell me about your own ponies, and send a photo if you don't mind seeing it posted!
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%