From Endurance to Dressage
It was so good to enter at A. I haven't been in a dressage court since last November, and I have missed it. And while our first test went about how I expected it to, I still enjoyed myself and was thrilled to finally be showing at First Level.
I did a horrible job of taking photos, so there aren't even any fun "show prep" photos to fill in the space - sorry about that. The morning did go well though. Having afternoon ride times was a real treat. It meant that I was able to pack the trailer and give Speedy his bath the morning of the show rather than in the afternoon before.
I was worried about how the day was going to go though as Speedy was really upset about the whole bath thing. As soon as I pulled the trailer around he got anxious, which is normal, but he continued to dance around and shiver right up until the moment that I loaded him. He knew what was going on and was either excited or worried.
Fortunately, I had lots of time once I arrived at the Bear Valley Equestrian Center, so I clipped Speedy to the HI-Tie and let him finish his breakfast while I went to check in and watch some other riders go. Standing there for an hour took all of his worry away. He relaxed, and even seemed to get sleepy for the rest of the day.
This show tends to attract a lot of beginner riders and people trying out new levels, so there aren't usually any big names to see, but we were blessed to watch a century ride! Anne Santer, a local rider whom I've known for many years rode her very senior Arabian gelding at First Level. A century ride is one in where the rider's and horse's ages combine to equal 100 years. BA Ibn Dream is 28, and Anne is in her seventies. What an awesome accomplishment for her!
Since the First Level tests are new to me, I asked Lois, the show's secretary, to read for me. I have only used a reader twice before, but I just didn't want to be stressed out about completely memorizing the tests. Even with Lois reading, I still went off course and incurred a two point error!
The test started out well with a seven for our entry and halt, and the scores continued to be okay for our half circles at E (a six and a five point five), but from there on out we were just not quite there.
I know our biggest struggle at this level is going to be mastering the lengthenings. We don't have one at the trot yet (see movement five), and I can't unlengthen him at the canter!
New for us is the amount of medium walk we need to do. At Training Level, the medium walk is only for a few steps to help gather the horse for the working trot. First Level has longer stretches of medium walk. Speedy kept anticipating the trot cue, so his stride got a bit hurried (see movement six).
I think I started this test knowing we weren't well prepared. I had never ridden the test from start to finish, not even at home. I don't have a 60-meter length in my dressage court, it's closer to forty-five, so I never could piece everything together all at once. I rode each part, just not all together.
All of the movements just came at me a bit too fast. I know I was also just letting everything happen rather than preparing for the next movement. Speedy wasn't helping me out either. He was fighting me in the canters, which has been his MO lately, as he doesn't want to really sit. It's hard work, I get it, but like I said, he didn't exactly give me anything voluntarily.
We walked away with a 55%. Not good enough, but the judge wasn't giving anything away for free. She was fair across the board though, giving good scores when they were earned. She also doled out some pretty painful scores; I saw more than one 40-something percent on the board.
I didn't beat myself up about the ride. I had an hour until my next ride so I went up and had some cake to celebrate Anne's century ride and thanked Lois for reading my test. She gave me a few pointers (which turned out to be REALLY helpful), and then I went back to the trailer to study test 2.
Cake is apparently quite good for dressage riders as my second test went much better! 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
*** 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%