From Endurance to Dressage
I've been to more than forty dressage shows and a dozen clinics. I've also participated in more than 80 endurance races. I know how to complete an entry form. This entry form, however, was a completely different beast. I read through the whole thing (all 33 pages) and never found my classes. I almost gave up right then. If I couldn't even find the right class, what did that say about my readiness? (said with an eye roll)
It probably would have helped had I known that the CDS Championship classes are referred to as Horse of the Year classes. (Holy crap. Nothing like adding extra pressure!) But since I didn't know that at the time, I kept reading, looking for the Championship classes since I knew (or thought I did) that Speedy couldn't possibly be in contention for Horse of the Year.
Finally, I went to the CDS webpage and looked up the championship results from previous years.
As soon as I saw the first set of results, I realized that yes indeed, Speedy and I would be riding for the Training Level Horse of the Year award for Adult Amateurs. Hmm. That gave me a great deal to think about.
The next thing I noticed was how BIG the classes were. In the Adult Amateur Training Level class, there were 18 riders in 2012, which was the last time the championships were held in southern California. I also studied the scores; they ranged from a high of 72.321% down to a low of 55.400%. I know the judges at this show are all very highly qualified. What I hoped was that these weren't brilliant riders getting their lowest scores ever, but rather that they were riders (just like me) getting fair scores from knowledgable judges.
What really interested me was that the scores were all exactly the type of scores that I've been earning this season. And that got me thinking. If these riders really were your typical adult amateur competitors, I had a chance of doing pretty well at the show … if I didn't let my nerves psych me out. I decided to enter.
This dressage show is not run like any other I have been to, so it did take me a while to complete the entry. Most of the information required was typical: ID numbers for horse and rider, stabling requests, and so on. The part that threw me was figuring out which classes to enter.
It took some time and a phone call, but I finally figured out that for the championships, riders will ride Test 2 on one day and Test 3 on another day which is actually one class, 2AB. The scores are then averaged to determine the Horse of the Year winner for each level. Normally, for a two-day show, I would ride two tests each day to maximize my time at the show. For the championships, you only get two rides over the course of the entire show (unless you qualified on multiple horses or at multiple levels).
Riders are also allowed to ride in ONE warm-up class on Thursday, but only one. The other thing that makes this show tricky is that the schedule is not made in advance. In other words, you don't know which day your tests are being judged until a week or so before the show begins. When I completed my entry, I had no idea which days I was going to be showing.
I have since received my ride times, and unless something changes, I will ride Test 2 on Saturday and Test 3 on Sunday. Way up above, you can see the entry fee for the Horse of the year classes - $170 gets you a "package" deal. The entry fee of $170 allows me to ride Test 2 and Test 3, and that's it. Pretty expensive!
Stabling was also high. No matter how many days you stay, the price for a stall is $175. And, according to USEF's rules, if you are entered in more than one championship class (who isn't?), and they are not scheduled on the same day (whose is?), you MUST stable on the show grounds rather than just paying the $20 haul in fee. I live too far away to haul home, but there are a lot riders who do live close enough to take their horses back home each afternoon.
The last little thing I should mention about this entry form is that quite a lot of money is at stake for the top riders, relatively speaking.
Basically, if you're in the top five, you're getting a check, and if you're in the top ten, you're getting at least a ribbon. And I think the top two get something monogrammed, but I can't tell if that's just for the USDF Regional Championship. Below tenth place, you're just walking away with more experience.
So. What did these three dressage tests cost me? A whopping $664 which includes the three tests, stabling, fees, and camping. It does not include shavings brought from home ($40), a shared tack stall ($35), trainer fees ($200?), gas ($100?), food ($50?), or other incidentals.
I hope I enjoy it!
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%: