From Endurance to Dressage
For many of you, this would be a meh kind of experience. For those of you like me - someone who lives two hours or more from the nearest tack shop, you'll know why I was so excited to visit a Dover location in person. I live in cowboy/Quarter Horse country, so there are plenty of feed stores, but none of them carry English tack, clothing, or grooming supplies of the fancier variety. Is Dover my all-time favorite store? Not necessarily - Riding Warehouse rates right up there, but Dover is reliable, has fair pricing, and their return policy works for me.
Some time ago, Dressage Extensions, which is based in Somis/Moorpark, was purchased by Dover, but it remained a separate, brick and mortar location. When I would show or take a lesson in Ventura County, I would try to squeeze in a visit to the shop. And in a pinch, my trainer or a friend would stop by and pick something up for me if they knew I was going down soon. When Dover opened its location in Moorpark, the Dressage Extensions store was moved, so now everything is in one building.
This past weekend, I made a trip to STC Dressage for a lesson and a schooling show. Unfortunately the schooling show was cancelled - I wasn't disappointed, but I made the trip anyway and simply took a lesson on Sunday instead of going to the show. I though it was money better spent. More on that in another post. While in Moorpark, I met up with my very good friend Jen.
Jen has been my dressage idol for many, many years. Jen's a regular person. She's not wealthy - not even close, but she successfully showed her home-bred gelding Paolo to the FEI levels. She has earned both a USDF Bronze and Silver Medal, and she did it with grace and style. Over the past decade (or more), she almost single-handedly runs the Ventura County Chapter of CDS while at the same time manages many USDF and local schooling shows, and she does it all with a smile and friendly attitude. I am not the only one who adores her. Jen is very much loved and appreciated by the entire Southern California dressage community. I am very lucky to call her my friend.
After my Saturday lesson, Jen came and picked me up. We started our girls day with a stop by her beautiful barn to get her newly acquired Pivo set up and running. After a quick tutorial in the barn, we headed up to the covered arena (in the background of the above photo) to give it a trial run. In order to see how it worked, we took turns leading Peaches around the dressage court so Jen could get a feel for where Pivo might lose her (which it didn't do). We also started a few different Meets so Jen could test out earbuds and her cell signal from inside the covered arena. We laughed the entire time though because Peaches now thinks dressage is the most fun thing there is to do. Wait, all I have to do is walk serpentines? This is FUN!
Once Peaches was back in her stall, we headed into town to give my credit card a workout. As soon as we walked into Dover, we both stopped, took a deep breath, and smiled. Jen made a joke about bottling the scent of a tack store. I would buy that candle. To the left was Dressage Extensions, and to the right was everything else. We turned left. I am not a very good shopper. I am easily overwhelmed by the choices, so to cope with my anxiety, I simply followed Jen around like a lost puppy. Jen was an excellent guide though, and never got impatient as I stopped and oohed and awed over all of the beautiful things.
I didn't have a list, but there were a few things I had been hankering for. As we made our way around the store, my focus improved. First, I grabbed a black bun cover with sparkles. I have one in navy and another one in beige that I had hoped would match my maroon coat, but it did NOT. I have tried ordering a black one, but they are never in stock, so once I spotted that, I knew it had to come home with me.
Once I had one item in my hand, my wallet fell open, and I started spending more freely. My Roeckl gloves - the only gloves I use, are starting to show quite a lot of wear, so even though they are getting more and more expensive, I grabbed a new navy pair. I am on my second pair of ThinLine reins, and while I LOVE how they feel, they haven't held up too well. I've been considering replacing them with rubber reins, so Jen and I worked our way through Dover's rein selection until we spotted a pair of Schockemöhle Rubber Reins that had a yellow tag which meant 50% off. I also tossed in a bag of black braiding bands before I made my way to the register.
While a young rider was checking out, I overheard her ask about a current promotion - a free fly mask with a $75 purchase, which the cashier said was only for online orders. As I had the email open already, I piped up with a just a second. I read the email aloud, and cleared up the misunderstanding. The free fly mask was for in-store or online orders. Jen pointed out that I should get a fly mask free too. Well, thank you very much! The young lady and I made our way to the back of the store and picked out our free fly masks. She smiled gratefully when I let her choose the last black one - I figured it was thanks to her that I was getting the fly mask so it seemed only fair that she should get her color choice. Horse people, we stick together.
Once we were back in Jen's car, we sent a quick text to Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. It was dinner time, and Jen and I were both hungry. Sean recommended a yummy Mexican joint we had eaten at before, and when Jen asked if they served margaritas, Sean quipped that they were the BEST margaritas. He wasn't wrong. After a bowl of delicious guacamole, humongous platefuls of food - can't beat a chile verde burrito, and more than three margaritas, we waddled out to the car. I gave Jen a big hug. I don't know when I'll get back for a show or an in-person lesson, but I hope it's sooner rather than later. Sean ended up driving me back to the barn where we checked on the horses before bed.
The next next morning I took a second lesson (more on that later) and visited with one of Sean's other clients. I had a fantastic weekend. Two lessons, visits with friends, shopping, and Mexican food - what else does a girl need?
Maybe a credit card that someone else gets to pay. It was worth it. Some things you just can't put a price on.
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%