From Endurance to Dressage
As I pulled through the impressive front entrance of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and down the tree-lined thoroughfare, the excitement finally started to build. I finally let myself feel the anticipation of being at such a prestigious event.
To my left were huge banners welcoming the CDS Championship and USDF Region 7 riders. Next came the enormous Equidome with its numerous offices, including LA Saddlery, an onsite tack store. At the end of the road, I was met by the traffic coordinators who directed me to my barn. As soon as I pulled in, Chemaine, my out-of-town trainer and coach, one of her clients, and her assistant, greeted me with big smiles.
Symphony Dressage, Chemaine’s barn, had a great spot with three tack stalls, which meant we all had ample storage space for tack, feed, and the million other things that we brought with us. Chemaine has all the coolest toys, which meant I had a permanent spot for my bridle, saddle, pads, and other stuff. There were also hanging baskets and coat hooks for our show coats. (Click images to enlarge and see captions.)
Once I had everything unloaded and Speedy was tucked into his stall, I went up to the show office to check in. As I turned up the road towards the Equidome, I was met by the site of a small village! The path to the show office was lined with vendors and barns displaying their most elegant show set-ups. More than one trainer’s tent had gurgling fountains and patio furniture that was nicer than what I have at home. The fancier tents had tile floors, wine bars, and Keurigs.
Checking in was easy, and I was thanked for having a perfect entry. On the side table was lemon and cucumber ice water with small treats and snacks for the riders. I was handed my packet, which included a lovely ceramic stall marker verifying that I was indeed a 2014 CDS Championship Qualified Rider.
Inside the packet was a thick schedule of events that also included a small write-up of each rider. There were also tickets to the various hospitality events and a detailed awards schedule. I knew it was going to be a very competitive show, but I held onto the awards schedule … just in case!
Later that evening, I took a lesson with Chemaine. Normally the lessons that I take with her are more about building my confidence and keeping Speedy happy. This time, Chemaine grabbed the bull by the horns and rocked my little world. She called me on my lack of inside bend and worked on my equitation. She insisted that I get the inside bend quicker and with more authority. Wiggling and jiggling the rein only wags Speedy’s head and doesn’t achieve what I want.
As we warmed up, she had me start by getting Speedy’s neck rounder and lower with lots of half halts. Once he was soft and low, she had me ask for a bigger stride. We rode the bigger stride and then half halted to rebalance, and I asked for bigger again. All the while, she kept at me about getting that inside bend.
We then worked on the canter departure. The trouble I have is that I don’t get enough activity behind which means that Speedy has to hoist himself into the canter. Chemaine had me use the half halt at every corner to get him back a bit on his haunches and help him rebalance. Then, I asked for a bigger, more active trot, and once I had that, I asked for the canter. By the time we were finished, Speedy was looking was pretty darned good.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel at all intimidated by the quality of horses and riders at the show. This far into my dressage journey, I’ve leaned that there are always going to be better horses than mine, better riders than me, and better horse and rider teams. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that I was part of one those better teams, but all I can do is the very best that I can with the horse that I have.
More 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%: