From Endurance to Dressage
Thankfully, my final test of the show came bright and early on Sunday morning. The day dawned cloudy and cooler, which was a relief as it had been extremely hot all week. In fact, as I was saddling, there was a down pour of rain - typical for all you on the east coast, but for us, it was a rare (and mostly) welcome sight.
My warm-up for the final test went really well. Chemaine coached me through my ride, encouraging me to get Speedy deeper and moving out with a better stride. He was a bit stiff and really wanted to be heavy in my hands, so Chemaine had me do a lot of bending and suppling of his neck.
Surprisingly, I felt really relaxed and wasn't worried about Speedy's stiffness. He was either going to let go and relax, or he wasn't. I was looking forward to the ride and was anxious to get out there and give it another try.
The test rode in nearly slow motion. I felt every stride and was very present. At one point, Speedy got really stiff and was bracing against my hand as we approached C, tracking right. All of a sudden I knew what was meant by having soft hands. I relaxed my shoulders and wrists, and Speedy immediately let go through his neck and poll. It was the first time that I've felt how tension in my body makes him tense.
As I gave my final salute, my eyes filled with tears. I was really proud of our effort. I knew we weren't going to place as high as I had wanted (middle of the pack), but I had worked really hard and ridden to the absolute best of my ability. To most people, especially those in full training with more expensive horses, that might not have been enough. For me, for those few moments anyway, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
Our averaged score for this second test was a 62.000%. I think it's interesting that all five of my score sheets (one from the warm-up ride, two from the "A" ride, and two from this test) were all in the 62% range. That says something about our consistency and about the consistency within the field of judges.
Overall, we finished the Horse of the Year Training Level Championship class for Adult Amateurs in 16th place out of a field of 18 riders. We were "only" nine percentage points below the winner and a mere four percent from the middle of the pack. I am sure that's what the losers always say, but for me, knowing that I was somewhat close to the rest of the field encouraged me. We don't have that much farther to go.
To help me put the whole thing in perspective, a friend, who also competed, said this to me ...
I call it the "Rarefied Air"....many of the horse and rider teams we compete against at these championships are people who ride every day, have very expensive horses that they keep in professional training, and may or may not even need to work for a living. The judging also gets stricter. Just to be there at all is a major accomplishment, so major congratuations to you and your lovely horse! You guys did a great job!
No sour grapes here, just the reality of competing in a bigger fish pond. It's easy to be the big fish at schooling shows and smaller rated-shows. It's only when you venture out into the big leagues that you get to see how you and your horse truly stack up.
There will always be someone better. I think the trick is to recognize your own success and value what you've managed to achieve while still pushing yourself to do more.
Some bloopers and Oh My!(s) 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%: