From Endurance to Dressage
My Facebook memories reminded me that eight years ago yesterday, Izzy joined my family. I actually think I might have paid half of his purchase price the day before and then the rest the next day when I went and picked him up. Either way, I still forgot about it until Facebook reminded me. I always remember that he joined my family near Thanksgiving, but I always forget the exact date.
In some ways, actually, in a LOT of ways, my journey with Izzy has been quite disappointing. I was certain that he was going to outpace Speedy and quickly earn me all sorts of awards. We'd sail past First Level in that first year and quickly conquer Second. Third would be a bit of a challenge, but before I knew it, we'd be schooling Fourth. HAHA. What I was smoking? Nope. No. Hard no. Laughing Hysterically as I shout NO. None of that happened. Not even the First Level Part.
It's hard to remain disappointed as I look back at all that I have learned because of this horse. And even though none of it happened on Izzy, I did win all of the things including a USDF Bronze Medal. I just did it on the horse that I thought couldn't do it. The horse who is well bred, just not specifically for this sport. So while I haven't managed to be successful on Izzy, Speedy showed me how much fun showing (and winning) could be.
It's not like Izzy and I haven't done things; it's just that we haven't necessarily done them well. Feeling nostalgic, I decided went back and looked at some of the things we have done:
There's a lot this horse can do. If I ever want to go somewhere, I never give pause. Sure! I'll bring Izzy is my usual response. I don't always have complete confidence that he'll keep his hamsters on their wheel, but so far, we've never died or been maimed or even been kicked out. I often wonder what things would have been like had I bought the other horse - a petite warmblood that I looked at before deciding she wasn't right for me. She might have come up lame, she might have been boring, she might have hated working with me. You just don't know what might have been. And frankly, I don't want to know.
Regret is a wasted emotion. There are a lot of things that I wish I had done differently in my life, but when the what ifs rear their head, I quickly remind myself that it is the totality of my experiences that have placed me where I am today. Had one decision been different, I might not have had horses at all. For better or worse, blue ribbons or no ribbons, Izzy and I are a team.
I choose to celebrate his "gotcha day" with gladness that we met.
A few years ago, I saw this great video that someone put together where moments from the horse and rider's career were strung together. In the beginning, the horse was at Introductory Level, but as the video progressed, the horse was shown advancing through the levels. The video played like one cohesive dressage test with clips showing the horse's transformation from a green bean to a finished dressage horse at grand prix.
Someone shared it with me and said I should do something similar. I've certainly videoed many, many rides, but I don't have the time or energy to string together eleven year's worth of video, so instead, I picked favorite photos of Speedy in the trot work to see if I could spot the changes in his way of going.
I am certainly not an elegant rider, but even I can see the improvement in my position over the eleven years that Speedy and I competed together. The change in Speedy's body is even more interesting. I like seeing how his balance slowly shifts as his thrust and power grow. Maybe someday I'll be able to see Izzy morph from big brown horse to Wow, what a horse!
I don't know how I got so lucky with Speedy, but I did. This horse allowed me to learn so much. Together, we journeyed from Introductory Level to Third Level and a Bronze Medal.
It's hard to ask for more.
Happy birthday, Speedy G! Yep, today is Speedy's 18th birthday. He's now able to vote and be charged as an adult. Just kidding of course.
As each year passes, I appreciate more and more how very lucky I have been to be this horse's partner. I don't think I was ever grateful enough in the moment. While dressage is challenging in and of itself, having such a willing partner who never minded the atmosphere or stress of showing was a gift I never valued as much as I should have. Izzy is teaching me that lesson.
Over the past year and a half, since Speedy retired from showing, I have been able to finally appreciate what a rock star I have had in him. While he won't live as long as I want him to, I can promise that he will have whatever he needs to be happy and healthy.
I love you, Speedy G! Mwah!
Unbelievably, yesterday was my first day of summer break. I truly thought the day would never come. COVID has sucked on so many levels and for so many people that I hate to complain about the "inconvenience" it has caused me. I don't work at a grocery store - those people are saints for putting up with all the rigamarole with which they had to contend, and I am not a nurse or a doctor; they, too, have had a rough year.
When COVID first became a thing, there was an outpouring of support for teachers as parents suddenly had to spend the entire day with their kiddos doing reading and math and history and science and everything else. Once school resumed in the late summer, suddenly, the world hated teachers. We were all lumped in with "ban the police" crowd and the "we won't work" slackers. I guarantee that while that does describe some teachers (and waitresses and store clerks and mechanics and bankers ...), it was not how the majority of us felt. We wanted go back to work in person.
I've been a teacher for twenty-seven years. I have never worked longer days, including every weekend, than I did this year. Not only did the year feel longer than every other year, it actually was. Since the district didn't know how to handle distance learning, the kids started the school year eight days after we did. In order to meet state requirements (and earn the money that comes from ADA - Average Daily Attendance), the district stuck those missed eight days at the end of an already arduous school year.
On Wednesday afternoon, most of my staff met at a local Tahoe Joe's for a happy hour celebration. I expected to feel the normal sense of freedom that final day brings, but in truth, it was a pretty low key event. We were all tired. Even though yesterday was my first day of vacation, I still had to get up at dawn to feed all of the horses at the ranch - long story, not mine to tell. That afternoon, I finally took some time for myself. I got a much needed pedicure and stopped off at my favorite mom and pop burger joint. I plopped down on the sofa and watched a stupid movie and started to feel as though I might truly be done with this school year.
Summer break is when I feel like my "real" life truly begins. As usual, this summer is already starting off with me being busier than I have time for.
Just typing all of that makes me tired. The end of the school year always feels like the true year's end; December 31st is just practice. So for me, it truly does feel as though this year is over, and the new one has just begun.
I really hope the second half of 2021 is a lot more pleasant than the first half was.
I've been looking forward to this date, January 1, 2020, for more than a decade. Y2K, an ominous year if there ever was one, started off as a year predicted to be filled with disaster. On the other hand, 2020, as a metaphor for perfect vision, has always seemed a year destined to bring clarity, opportunity, and a road paved straight and smooth. Will it? I don't know, but I like how things are shaping up.
Over the past week, I've been planning my show year. I've also spent hours and hours and hours working on things for our chapter of the California Dressage Society, the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter. As Vice-Chair, I've taken my job pretty seriously. Public service is not necessarily what gets me going, but I felt it was time for me to start giving back.
With "giving back" as my motivation, I've been working on a number of projects for the chapter. The first was making our chapter a lot more visible. I revamped the chapter's old website in favor of something a little fresher and then changed the web address; www.tmcdressage.org was the result. I am not a web designer by trade, so it is what it is, but I think it suits our needs.
Next, I launched our new Facebook Page. I am just going to say, I have trouble managing my own social media. Suddenly, I am the one responsible for keeping up on three pages, my own, a group I belong to, and now the Chapter's page. I'm turning into one of those people who's always checking her phone. But really, check out our Facebook page and give us a "like," especially if you live in California.
The thing with being on a board is that the group represented has to have a reason for being, and the board has to bring to life that reason. For us, the sole purpose of the chapter is to put on shows. We don't have enough members, nor do we draw from a large enough pool, to put on USDF-rated shows. Our summer series of shows are CDS-rated which is a big attraction for our local riders.
Scores from CDS-rated shows can be applied to a lot of programs, all of which I've talked about many times. Your scores count for CDS Plates (which go on a plaque), rider awards (my Ruby Rider award is over there on the right), Horse Performance Awards (Speedy has one), the Regional Adult Amateur Competition, and the CDS Championship. The reality is that our members can do and earn a lot of things without ever having to participate in the pricey USDF shows.
Our chapter, which is based in the mountains of Tehachapi, is hosting 5 shows this year; we added a new show for here in Bakersfield. Well actually, we're reviving an old show that was run by someone else. They've agreed to join forces with us. Since our show manager retired, and we freshened things up, a new show premium had to be created. I volunteered.
Holy moly, was it ever a lot of work! It's nearly done, but it has gone through at least 2 dozen edits, and it seems that we keep finding things to add. I will never look at a show entry the same way again!
Besides planning and organizing our Chapter's shows, I've also planned out my own show schedule. Although you know how that goes, "You make your plans and you hear god laughing." Even so, I need a direction in which to start, and since this is the year 2020, a year of clear vision, I am hopeful.
My plan is to get our last Bronze Medal score in the spring. That's certainly not a guarantee, but again, it's 2020. After that, I plan to take Izzy to all of the TMC shows and Speedy to the summer's USDF shows. We'll see how long my money lasts, but that way, I might have two horses qualified for the Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) in August. Izzy got his toes wet last summer. He's ready to start doing his job.
I've been reading The left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin, and last night something jumped off the page that really seemed appropriate for this new year. In response to something Estraven has just said, Mr. Ai responds, "I felt as he did. It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
Truer words could not be spoken. Happy New Year!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%