From Endurance to Dressage
For many of you, this would be a meh kind of experience. For those of you like me - someone who lives two hours or more from the nearest tack shop, you'll know why I was so excited to visit a Dover location in person. I live in cowboy/Quarter Horse country, so there are plenty of feed stores, but none of them carry English tack, clothing, or grooming supplies of the fancier variety. Is Dover my all-time favorite store? Not necessarily - Riding Warehouse rates right up there, but Dover is reliable, has fair pricing, and their return policy works for me.
Some time ago, Dressage Extensions, which is based in Somis/Moorpark, was purchased by Dover, but it remained a separate, brick and mortar location. When I would show or take a lesson in Ventura County, I would try to squeeze in a visit to the shop. And in a pinch, my trainer or a friend would stop by and pick something up for me if they knew I was going down soon. When Dover opened its location in Moorpark, the Dressage Extensions store was moved, so now everything is in one building.
This past weekend, I made a trip to STC Dressage for a lesson and a schooling show. Unfortunately the schooling show was cancelled - I wasn't disappointed, but I made the trip anyway and simply took a lesson on Sunday instead of going to the show. I though it was money better spent. More on that in another post. While in Moorpark, I met up with my very good friend Jen.
Jen has been my dressage idol for many, many years. Jen's a regular person. She's not wealthy - not even close, but she successfully showed her home-bred gelding Paolo to the FEI levels. She has earned both a USDF Bronze and Silver Medal, and she did it with grace and style. Over the past decade (or more), she almost single-handedly runs the Ventura County Chapter of CDS while at the same time manages many USDF and local schooling shows, and she does it all with a smile and friendly attitude. I am not the only one who adores her. Jen is very much loved and appreciated by the entire Southern California dressage community. I am very lucky to call her my friend.
After my Saturday lesson, Jen came and picked me up. We started our girls day with a stop by her beautiful barn to get her newly acquired Pivo set up and running. After a quick tutorial in the barn, we headed up to the covered arena (in the background of the above photo) to give it a trial run. In order to see how it worked, we took turns leading Peaches around the dressage court so Jen could get a feel for where Pivo might lose her (which it didn't do). We also started a few different Meets so Jen could test out earbuds and her cell signal from inside the covered arena. We laughed the entire time though because Peaches now thinks dressage is the most fun thing there is to do. Wait, all I have to do is walk serpentines? This is FUN!
Once Peaches was back in her stall, we headed into town to give my credit card a workout. As soon as we walked into Dover, we both stopped, took a deep breath, and smiled. Jen made a joke about bottling the scent of a tack store. I would buy that candle. To the left was Dressage Extensions, and to the right was everything else. We turned left. I am not a very good shopper. I am easily overwhelmed by the choices, so to cope with my anxiety, I simply followed Jen around like a lost puppy. Jen was an excellent guide though, and never got impatient as I stopped and oohed and awed over all of the beautiful things.
I didn't have a list, but there were a few things I had been hankering for. As we made our way around the store, my focus improved. First, I grabbed a black bun cover with sparkles. I have one in navy and another one in beige that I had hoped would match my maroon coat, but it did NOT. I have tried ordering a black one, but they are never in stock, so once I spotted that, I knew it had to come home with me.
Once I had one item in my hand, my wallet fell open, and I started spending more freely. My Roeckl gloves - the only gloves I use, are starting to show quite a lot of wear, so even though they are getting more and more expensive, I grabbed a new navy pair. I am on my second pair of ThinLine reins, and while I LOVE how they feel, they haven't held up too well. I've been considering replacing them with rubber reins, so Jen and I worked our way through Dover's rein selection until we spotted a pair of Schockemöhle Rubber Reins that had a yellow tag which meant 50% off. I also tossed in a bag of black braiding bands before I made my way to the register.
While a young rider was checking out, I overheard her ask about a current promotion - a free fly mask with a $75 purchase, which the cashier said was only for online orders. As I had the email open already, I piped up with a just a second. I read the email aloud, and cleared up the misunderstanding. The free fly mask was for in-store or online orders. Jen pointed out that I should get a fly mask free too. Well, thank you very much! The young lady and I made our way to the back of the store and picked out our free fly masks. She smiled gratefully when I let her choose the last black one - I figured it was thanks to her that I was getting the fly mask so it seemed only fair that she should get her color choice. Horse people, we stick together.
Once we were back in Jen's car, we sent a quick text to Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. It was dinner time, and Jen and I were both hungry. Sean recommended a yummy Mexican joint we had eaten at before, and when Jen asked if they served margaritas, Sean quipped that they were the BEST margaritas. He wasn't wrong. After a bowl of delicious guacamole, humongous platefuls of food - can't beat a chile verde burrito, and more than three margaritas, we waddled out to the car. I gave Jen a big hug. I don't know when I'll get back for a show or an in-person lesson, but I hope it's sooner rather than later. Sean ended up driving me back to the barn where we checked on the horses before bed.
The next next morning I took a second lesson (more on that later) and visited with one of Sean's other clients. I had a fantastic weekend. Two lessons, visits with friends, shopping, and Mexican food - what else does a girl need?
Maybe a credit card that someone else gets to pay. It was worth it. Some things you just can't put a price on.
In January, my mom bought me a Riding Warehouse gift card for my birthday, but it never arrived. We discovered the reason this summer, and I bought Izzy a new halter with about half of it. Over the weekend, I finally needed something, and then I decided I needed something else, and before I knew it, I was trying to spend it down to the last penny. Honestly, I think I just needed some good old fashioned retail therapy, that or more oatmeal cookies. Too late, those are already gone.
It all started with a small scratch on Izzy's chin that I finally realized was getting rubbed by his noseband. The sore is well below the noseband, but I think there has been just enough wiggle room that the noseband has been rubbing it just a little bit. Speedy had that issue a few months back when we were at a show. My friend Jen let me have her extra fleece noseband guard which turned out to be exactly what I needed. Over the weekend, I took it out of storage and popped it on Izzy's bridle. Again, it solved the problem perfectly. I liked it so well that I've ordered two, one to put back in my show bag, and one for Jen.
Shires SupaFleece Chin/Crank Padded Guard - $5.74 with discount coupon
I couldn't very well just buy two chin guards. There is a minimum purchase for free shipping, so I decided to just bite a huge bullet and order a six month supply of Horse Guard Vitamin/Mineral Supplement Pellets. I've been really happy with that product, but when I run out, I forget to reorder it, and then a month goes by, and I really forget about it. This, too, is backordered, but I ordered a bucket anyway.
Horse Guard Vitamin/Mineral Supplement Pellets - $67.96 with discount coupon
At this point, I had less than $20 left on my gift card. Like I said, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I decided to spend it all without spending any extra cash. I started digging around through Riding Warehouse's website looking for something that I needed/wanted. Socks are always my go-to for hitting the minimum order for free shipping, so I threw a pair of C4 Knee High Riding Socks in my cart. I had ordered a pair a month or so ago that were still unused, but as it happens I just tossed out a blue pair that had finally worn through at the heel, so that first pair is ready to be brought into the rotation. Next to the Noble Outfitter Over the Calf Peddies, these are my favorite socks. This is my fourth pair.
C4 Knee High Riding Socks - $8.46 with discount coupon
By now, all I had was a ten spot and some change left, but I was determined to spend it wisely. I've written quite a few times about the Haas line of brushes, I now have six of them, four that I use every day. The other two live in my horse trailer for shows, clinics, and general travel. The one Haas tool that has proven to be the most useful is actually the least expensive of the bunch, the Haas Striegel New Generation Soft Curry Comb. It is the first, and sometimes, only grooming tool that I use. Both of my horses love it. My trailer set of brushes does not include that curry comb, so I remedied that. A new Striegel is on its way.
Haas Striegel New Generation Soft Curry Comb Blue - $6.76 with discount coupon
There's not much that you can do with $3.36, but I knew just what else I needed. I go through hoof picks with surprising frequency, and it's not because I lose them. The pick end just gets shorter and shorter. Our soil is very sandy which is also abrasive. I am also "picky" about hoof picks. I like them to have the brush on the back, and I want a chunky handle. I like Horze products, so I was willing to give their Soft Grip Stainless Steel Hoof Pick w/Brush a try.
Horze Soft Grip Stainless Steel Hoof Pick w/Brush - $4.21 with discount coupon.
In the end, I "overspent" by a mere $0.75. Not bad for an afternoon therapy session. Now it'll be like Christmas - packages will be rolling in for the rest of the month.
Small number 1: I finally finished my SafeSport annual refresher course. Man I hate that thing. It's probably not as bad as I make it out to be, but on the heels of just having completed HOURS of training on that very subject for work, it's easy to see why YET ANOTHER training irritates me. And before you get all up in my business, know that I am already a MANDATED reporter and could potentially lose my job for NOT reporting. Even at a horse show. I take this stuff seriously. I am trained to spot bullying, cyber bullying, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and on and on. I've been receiving annual training for nearly three decades.
Enough of that. I will will throw US Equestrian a small bone though. Last year, my "refresher date" sailed right on past, and without warning, US Equestrian declared me ineligible for any and all USEF events. Later, several folks reached out to me and gently explained that there had been reminder emails. I get so much junk from USEF that I no doubt deleted them. This year, I received a very polite reminder notice about once a week for the entire month of August.
My very OCD self had to be restrained multiple times as she tried to take the course IMMEDIATELY. Common sense self urged patience. The sooner you take the course, the sooner you have to retake the course. It makes more sense to wait until it's actually due.
Small number 2: In the ongoing battle to soothe Izzy's skin, I bought yet another product, this one recommended by a Facebook friend. I checked out the product at their website. One look at their landing page hand me convinced.
In my enthusiasm, I neglected to search for a better deal. Yes, Ecovet will sell it to you directly, but I don't recommend it. I paid more than at other retailers, and the shipping was EXORBITANT, and I am not exaggerating. I think I paid $15 in shipping, and it took at least ten days to arrive.
Once I came to my senses, I realized that it was also available from my trusty favorite online retailer, the Riding Warehouse. Well, rats. Either way, it finally arrived yesterday afternoon. It's a lot smaller than your typical quart at only 16 ounces, so I sure hope it works as well as it claims. It may be too late to save Izzy's skin and hair this year, but it may still offer him some relief.
So there you have it; two small things. There is a third, but it's irrelevant to dressage or horses, but here goes. Along with the Ecovet, my new office chair arrived last night so I am off to assemble it. My back needs some relief. So there you have it; two smalls and an even smaller small.
Sometimes it's the small stuff that gets us through the day.
No, wait, don't!
Ack, Riding Warehouse is killing me. Right now they're having a 20% off sale on everything. EVERYTHING! I don't need anything, but I couldn't resist.
I might have mentioned something the other day about indulging in a wee bit of retail therapy. That stuff isn't even here yet, but after this week, I felt I deserved just a bit more. I am pretty sure my therapist ordered it. Dr. Buy-All-the-Things, that is!
My buy it finger showed some restraint though as I only bought another Union Hill Dressage Pad - man I love those pads, but really, at $14.36, how could I not buy one? Riding Warehouse is practically giving the thing away!
Oh, I also threw in a fresh bottle of fly spray because at this time of year, I buy fly spray no matter what else is in my cart. It was only $12.76, half what it would cost me here in town!
I guess if you're going to "self-medicate," a bottle of fly spray is probably a good route to go.
I hate flies. Not that anyone likes them, but they drive me batty, and the truth is, our flies are nothing compared to yours (probably). I hear horror stories about the lethalness and cunningness of the flies around the country. Ours are just regular black flies that lazily hover around the manure pile and dive buzz our ears. My least favorite trick is how they like to land on my forearms while I ride because no amount of blowing will dislodge them. I hate the little boogers.
Speedy is pretty immune to them, maybe it's his white coat?, but not poor Izzy. The flies love him as much as they do me. It pains me to watch him do the fly shuffle - lift the right leg and shake, lift the left leg and shake, kick your belly with a back leg, repeat all day long. Fortunately, he's not a stomper, just a lazy lifter. I also hate to see the party going on in his eyeball goop. The flies practically swim in the corners of his eyes.
I don't know how fly season always sneaks up on me, you'd think I know it was coming, but it does, and it did. I have some old fly masks that are still in excellent condition, but they're way too small for Izzy. I am not sure why I have two Speedy-sized masks in storage, but he got one of them this weekend.
Riding Warehouse is running a fly control promotion right now that prooved very timely for me. I really want to get Izzy a fly sheet, but I know he'll just destroy it. Instead, he got a new fly mask and a fresh bottle of Pyranha. Riding Warehouse tossed a $10 gift card into my cart without me even needing to enter a promo number. Nice, right?!
For me, I tossed in a pair of Noble Outfitters Over the Calf Peddies, my favorite socks. I hate paying shipping if I don't have to, so socks are always my go-to for hitting the order minimum.
The Riding Warehouse's Fool the Flies promotion is good through May 11th. If you haven't stocked up on your summer fly defense, this might be a good time to start. Who doesn't love a gift card?
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%: