From Endurance to Dressage
I really don't want to review the whole year. The first one I did at the end of 2011 was kind of fun; the second one I did for 2012 took me days and days to write, so I am not going to do it again.
Frankly, I just DO too much to report it in a short, monthly summary. Or, at least it feels like I am always doing something newsworthy. For me, there's a story in everything that happens at the barn, even when it's just a regular ride. So instead of the monthly recap, I am just going to give you some year-end totals and stats.
Here are My 5 Year-in-Review Things:
First, how much did I spend this year ($18,932) as compared to last year ($21,101)? The good news is, less! I didn't keep my accounting as carefully as in 2012, but it's still pretty accurate. While it appears that I spent less in 2013, it's only because I paid off my horse trailer which means I spent $2,800 less in the Horse Trailer category, but only $2,179 less overall.
There were a few surprises on the list. Look at my vet costs - barely $700? That's for two horses! They get their teeth done annually, vaccinations, fecal counts, chiropractic work, etc. I guess we were just lucky this year that no one got sick or injured.
I also think it's interesting that my lesson costs were so much higher than my show costs. I showed at five USDF shows this year; but I obviously spent a lot of time with trainers and clinicians, too.
So how many shows and clinics did I do? I always keep a list on My Show Results tab which you can easily check out, but here's the run down:
With Speedy I did …
With Sydney I did …
To list it another way …
I am not sure how helpful this chart is, but I am including it for those who like visual aids. Obviously I ride most of the time with my regular trainer, JL. I also rode with two clinicians this year as well as with two other trainers for a total of 65 lessons.
JL was on vacation in September which is why I rode with her only once. Most months I ride with her once a week, but in the summer, I tried for twice a week, but with my hectic show schedule, we just couldn't get the intended 8 lessons done. I find it interesting that I got a lot of instruction during the month of December; 8 lessons in total!
Rides on My Own
I had planned to tally just rides on my own without a trainer, but it got too tedious to itemize so instead, I counted every time that I rode whether it was at a show, with a trainer, or just on my lonesome. With one exception: if I was at a show, I counted it as one ride even though I probably untacked and rode several times during the day.
I work "full time," vacation with my husband, get tired, attend meetings, and have the occasional pedicure. Even with all that craziness, I managed to ride my horses a total of 358 times during 2013. I rode Speedy G 171 times, and Sydney 187 times.
Even more surprising to me was the number of non-riding days: 109! I feel like I ride nearly every day, but in reality, I only rode 70% of the year. What I find even more interesting is that I rode those 358 times on only 256 days; that's a lot of two-a-days!
We went to Central America for 11 days in June which explains the large number of non-riding days in that month.
Speedy was lame for two weeks in October due to an abscess (?) which explains his limited time under saddle.
Speedy was ridden more at the beginning of the year because I showed him through July, but after that, it was more about Sydney.
I am sure you're wondering how I know all of this. I keep a calendar at the barn, and before I leave each day, I note what I did, who I rode, where, and any other tidbit that seems interesting. If someone seemed off, bucked like crazy, or was particularly mellow, I note that too. It's an easy way for me to keep track of both horses' health and riding schedules.
In the End
I am very disappointed in Sydney's year. Until just now, I didn't realize how many times he left the barn for some kind of field trip. I showed him six times, and while he did show improvement, it was ever-so-slight. I also took him to a Ride-a-Test, two clinics, a fox hunt, and an away trail ride. This means he's left the property in the trailer for activities eleven times this year! Hmmm …
I really don't know what my plans are for him in 2014. Sometimes I think I should cut my losses and sell him, but then I think about how much I am learning by riding him. I know I am a much better rider by struggling with him than I would be without him. Am I having tons of fun doing it? No, not really, but so far it has been worth it.
As disappointed as I am in Sydney's year, I'm very pleased with the year that Speedy had. We started out struggling to crack 60% at Training Level, but ultimately, we rocked it with scores as high as 67% at USDF shows. We finished the show season with a Championship neck ribbon and the confidence to move on to First Level in 2014.
Sorry I missed your birthday, Dude! I knew it was in October, but I was hoping it was later in the month as I've been pretty this last few weeks.
Yep. I missed Sydney's birthday. It was October 4th. Sydney was born in 2002 which means he turned 11 years old this weekend. He was born in the southern hemisphere which means he was born in the spring, just not our spring.
I think equine (and canine) birthdays are special days. I tend to keep my horses (and dogs) for a long time so marking the passing of years is important to me. We had our last two dogs for 15 and 11 years. Some of you haven't even had your kids that long!
Celebrating Sydney's birthday a few days late didn't seem to offend him at all. I am certainly glad he didn't hold it against me. I think his gift will be a clinic wherein I learn to be a more balanced rider; I think he'll appreciate that.
Happy birthday, Sydney!
Before I started blogging, I kept a scrapbook of sorts. For each month of the year, I added pictures of what I had done with my horses, copies of endurance results and show results, or stuck in anything else equine related. I go back and read those pages every now and again. Most of the memories are good ones, but sometimes they're more bittersweet.
Now that I blog, there are simply too many "pages" to read when I want to reminisce. I post every single day. I don't have just 12 scrapbook pages to look through to remind myself of the year. Instead, I have over 300 blog posts to read. A lot can happen in 365 days; here's just some of it.
January seems to have been spent worrying about Sydney's anxiety. I tried Fluphenazine to see if that would reduce his anxiety, and mine. I didn't write much about Speedy. As I look back on the first month of the year, I don't get good vibes. I am glad I didn't let it dictate how the rest of the year would go!
February was a bit of a hodge-podge. I continued to fuss over Sydney, and for a bit, I thought I had him figured out. Speedy and I went to a schooling show where we did pretty well. Speedy and I also began our year long battle with the canter. We're still working on it, but it's almost there. Taz's Mom and I also repeated our annual trek to Equine Affaire, except it was now called Horse Expo. Still fun, still spent too much money, and still something we look forward to.
By March, everything with Sydney had fallen apart. The anxiety that was simmering just below the surface finally boiled over. The rearing and bolting reached a dangerous level, and I abandoned lessons on him. After much thought, we stopped trying to canter, and I focused completely on relaxation. Speedy and I continued to motor along, and even attended our first two-day show.
April was busy in bursts; we had hot weather early, and then wet and rainy weather. I hosted a clinic with semi-local trainer, Betsy Shelton. I also continued to work with Sydney, but I focused on ground work and and then long and low under saddle. Speedy and I went to another schooling show where he was an absolute rock star! We scored 64% and 66% at Training Level. While we were still struggling with the canter departs, we were showing steady improvement. And Speedy is such a great traveler that going to the shows alone was no big deal. He's a very confident dude out on the road which helps me feel very relaxed.
By the end of May, Sydney and I were back on track. We were walking and trotting in a relaxed frame. I kept the contact as light as possible and did lots and lots of trotting on a loose rein. We also got a new puppy in May, a black labrador named Tobias. Speedy and I were in full show mode and having fun. He dumped me pretty hard at the GEAHS show, but I rode both tests anyway. I was sore for quite some time, but only later found out that I had suffered a pretty good case of whiplash. My neck hurt through most of the summer and fall.
June saw Speedy and I heading to Clovis for our second two-day USDF show of the season. Our scores were a bit disappointing for day one, but on Sunday, we kicked butt! We earned a second place out of a class of 6 with a score of 62.679%. We also went to the Tehachapi show later in the month and earned two more scores above 60% at Training Level. By June, we had easily qualified for RAAC at both Introductory and Training Level.
July was a crazy month. I was busy doing stuff: War Horse, an emergency preparedness clinic, and LOTS of riding. I also took Speedy to a show where some cantering/spooking trouble reared its head. The best part of the month was that things continued to really improve with Sydney. All I worked on was relaxation. We did more walking and trotting on a loose rein. By the end of the month, I was feeling as though we might actually make it to a show at some point.
I spent the month of August cramming for the RAAC. Everything I did was with that in mind. We made it to a schooling show which served to illustrate what we were still missing at Training Level. To get a little more practice in, I took Speedy to a CDS-rated show in Tehachapi in the hopes of fixing a few things and get a bit more experience at the Training Level 3 test. Instead of boosting my confidence, the rides gave me even more to worry about, but the experience was a good one. At the end of the month, we loaded up and headed to the RAAC, ready or not!
Click photos to enlarge.
I spent the first part of the month being embarrassed about my scores at the RAAC, but then better sense prevailed, and I realized that Speedy and I had done a great job. The 67% at Introductory was a first-rate score, and the 57.2% at T-3, a test I'd only ridden twice before, was actually pretty decent. Lori Ovanessian captured a rare smile in this photo. I am glad she did because it really shows how I feel about showing Speedy G! We're a good team, and I am really looking forward to our 2013 show season.
Not to be completely outdone by the Speedster, Sydney made his showing debut in September. Our scores were pretty low, but my goals were met: make it through the tests without melting down and stay in the arena. Done and done!
I have to pause here ... This is the most tedious post I've ever written. I've tried to give up on it at least five different times. Bleck ... In for a penny, in for a pound. Pressing on ...
By October, I was deep into work, lamenting the lessening daylight hours, and feeling frustrated with Sydney again. I became certain that working in the late afternoons was NOT his thing, but I continued to find ways around his tension. I spent a lot of time working on developing better contact with Speedy, and I changed out his bit which really helped. I took Sydney to a Ride-a-Test and while he was the King of Tension, I was able to ride him through it and got some good photos out of it.
The absolute best thing about November was attending the Barbro Ask-Upmark clinic where I rode Luke, the simulator. Being on the simulator gave me the chance to finally feel a real elastic connection. My riding took a HUGE leap forward after that weekend. Even my trainer could see an immediate difference.
In December, Sydney and I reconnected and had some of the best rides we've had in the year and a half that he's been mine. We cantered regularly to the left and right and all the fear and anxiety from the last year just melted away. Speedy and I started to do some very good work at the canter including walk to canter transitions. The best part of the month came at the very, very end when we sat for a photo shoot with photographer Lori Ovanessian.
Click photos to enlarge.
See you later later, 2012 and hello, 2013! May you be kind and let us prosper!
I can't really say that Speedy and I are new to dressage any more, we've ridden through three show seasons, but we are still a low level team. Even so, I am proud of what we accomplished this year. It might not seem all that grand to the majority of dressage riders, but we'll take it.
Here is what Speedy G and I accomplished for the 2012 Show Season:
1. We earned first place at Introductory Level at the California Dressage Society's Central Regional Adult Amateur Competition with a score of 67% as judged by Hilda Gurney. Admittedly we were the only rider in the class, but the score speaks volumes. We also placed 10th at the same show at Training Level, Test 3 with a score of 57.2% (last place). Not my proudest moment, but in retrospect, even qualifying at that level felt like an accomplishment.
2. We earned the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter (of the California Dressage Society) Adult Amateur High Point Average award for having the highest average score from at least three of their shows. Our three score average at Training Level was 61.19%. We were awarded a cash prize of $100 as well as a certificate.
3. And finally, we earned the California Dressage Society's Rosette Award (along with about 1,600 other people). Plates are awarded to CDS members who achieve scores of 60% or better at Introductory Level C or above at any CDS Recognized show (5 scores or more). This year, Speedy and I earned 4 scores over 60% at Introductory C, and 7 scores at Training Level for a total of 11 scores over 60%. The plates (small brass plates that get nailed to a wooden plaque) will be mailed in February.
I noticed that CDS also awards the Henry Burchard Memorial Trophy to the owner/rider on a single horse who applies and receives the highest number of scores of 60% or better during the competition year. Fiona Cameron won the award on Laurio with 15 scores. We weren't too far away from that!
I've highlighted my name so that you can spot it out of the more than 1,000 others that are listed!
These awards are all small potatoes, I know. It's not like we won a USDF medal, but every bit of validation is appreciated. I wanted to share these little Yukon Golds with you to prove that you have to start somewhere. Just three or four years ago I was an avid endurance rider who had never had a formal lesson in her life. I could blast through a 100 mile ride (in 20 hours), but I didn't know anything about posting on the correct diagonal and had no idea how to get a correct canter lead.
And here I am with three show seasons under Speedy's girth and we're already earning some atta girls here and there. If you're still on the fence about showing, get off and jump on in. Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can!
I am not sure whether our 2012 season is finished, but I am guessing that for Speedy, the RAAC was his final show outing for the year. I had originally planned on riding him in Tehachapi on the 23rd in an effort to maybe get a qualifying score for the 2013 RAAC, but as of today, I am not feeling too terribly motivated. I had also planned to ride him at Hansen Dam in a schooling championship show. I know they'd really like to see us come, but again, I am just not that motivated.
If I do any more showing at all this season, it will be with Sydney. Yesterday, I sent in my entry for the Tehachapi show; I just want to see how he copes with the show atmosphere. I have no expectations of a high score, but I also don't want to walk away with a score in the low 50% either. I just want to get him in a dressage court for an Introductory class just to see where we are for next year. Is it worth the $100 show entry and a half tank of gas? I don't know at this moment, but my entry is already in the mail so it's a bit too late to worry about.
I've had several people mention that ending the season would probably be good for Speedy - let him rest and all that. To tell you the truth, that boy can go and go. To look at him, you'd have no idea that in the last ten months he's traveled to 12 horse shows, most of which were more than two hours away. He also participated in two clinics, a ride-a-test, and a night-time trail ride at the park to see Christmas lights. He also had a lesson almost every single week for the last 13 months.
Here's a recap of Speedy's show season:
I don't think Speedy cares if we take a showing break or not. His body and brain are in fine health and ready for our next adventure. He's not sore, his back doesn't hurt, and there's no sourness about loading up and heading out. Frankly, I know that he enjoys the stimulation that comes with traveling. I wish I had kept count of the number of people who came up to us the RAAC. So many people were attracted to Speedy's goofy and friendly demeanor. He's (nearly) always relaxed which seems to invite people to approach him.
If anything, I am a bit tired of being gone so many weekends and coming home with a lot less money in my pocket. Speedy, on the other hand, looks as though he's ready to keep on trucking. I just love that boy!
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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