From Endurance to Dressage
When Third is Better Than First - Part 2
Part 1 here.
Finishing my 3-1 test was a huge relief. I knew it wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't terrible either. I am constantly telling my trainer that my greatest fear isn't embarrassing myself - I do that all the time. No, my greatest fear is embarrassing her.
It's stupid really. As a teacher, I never worry about my students embarrassing me. As long as they try, I'll never be angry or disappointed. I tell them every day that as long as they're trying, they'll ultimately accomplish whatever it is that they've set out to do. Usually it's long division or simplifying fractions. I feel like the flying changes are a lot like both of those math skills.
If I am not worried about my own students embarrassing me, why should I worry that I'll embarrass my own teacher? I shouldn't of course, but that's what happens when you have the utmost respect for someone and don't want her teaching methodology to be misrepresented. Finishing 3-1 without the judge kicking me out for being an idiot helped me realize that while we still have a long way to go, Third Level is the right place for us.
So when we did our second test on Saturday, Third Level Test 2, I was much more relaxed. I focused more on the geometry and worked harder to get an inside bend, especially in the corners. Most of the test was pretty satisfactory. We started off with a 7.0 for our centerline but a 5.0 for our shoulder-in left. From there, we earned a steady string of 6.0s with a lone 4.0 for getting "stuck" in the half turn on the haunches left. We earned a 7.0 for the medium walk. Our half pass right earned a 5.5 for not being on centerline, but from there we earned another string of 6.0s except for one.
Our flying change from left to right earned a 6.0 with the comment, "kicked leg, then clean". Our change from right to left looked better to me but only earned a 4.0 with the comment "late with HL." I can't see it very well in the video, but that 4.0 really cost us a lot of points.
For Saturday's Third Level Test 2, we earned a 58.816%. We missed a 60% by 4.5 points (out of 380!). Yet again we were this close.
The second and third tests of a two-day show weekend are usually our best. For the first test, I am typically nervous, and for the last test, Speedy is usually tired, and I am sort of over it. For our second try at 3-2, Sunday's last ride, I simply wasn't prepared. I had spent so much mental energy riding 3-1 over and over in my head that I let 3-2 kind of hang out in my peripherals. I knew it was coming, but I was hoping that it would just sort of happen in a best case scenario sort of way. That is not a good strategy by the way.
While I was determined to ride the hell out of Sunday's 3-2 test, good intentions were not quite enough to get a 60%. The trot work went nearly as well as the day before, except the renvers left. That thing lacked any hint of angle and garnered us a 4.0. No, it wasn't the trot work. It was the half pass to flying change that did us in.
I'd like to blame it on somebody, but it was my fault. I didn't run through the test just before entering at A like I usually do, so as my reader called out each movement, I was mentally lost and wishing she'd read it faster so I could prepare sooner. The whole canter section was a disaster starting with the walk to canter at F. We got a wrong lead and just never could get things organized again.
Speedy kept dropping the canter which meant I kept asking him to pick up a counter canter while half passing while also preparing for a flying change of lead. All I can say is don't try this at home, kids. It doesn't work. The same thing happened the other way. After the medium canter, I just couldn't get him sitting enough to make the 10-meter circle at C which meant he lost the canter, and there we were trying to replicate the same disastrous counter canter/half pass/flying change combo. I am lucky we even got the 3.0s and 4.0s that we did.
When you bomb 5 different movements - walk to canter, half pass times 2, and the flying change of lead times 2, ain't no way you're pulling a 60% out of that mess. But you know what? It's okay, we finished with a 6.0 for a clear release of reins, a 6.5 for our extended canter, and a 7.0 for our final centerline. In total, we earned a dismal 54.474%.
Knowing that the mistakes were mine and not Speedy's means it's an easy fix for next time. I am proud of the fact that I completely biffed a string of movements only to shrug it off and finish strong. On one test the judge even commented, "changes still developing." I love the positive spin she put on that. Yep, they are developing which means they'll only get better with time.
We're doing a CDS-rated show on Sunday. You can bet I've been working on the geometry and those 10-meter circles. I'll show you how tomorrow!
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%: