From Endurance to Dressage
El Sueno Equestrian Center (ESEC) is a lovely facility that hosts nine USDF/USEF shows throughout the year. Their final show features the ESEC Championship. In order to be eligible for the championship classes, a rider must participate in at least two El Sueno shows and earn scores above 58%. Speedy and I qualified for the Training Level Championship class, and even though I didn't think we had a chance of winning, I entered simply for the experience.
After my mediocre ride at Training Level Test 3 earlier that morning, and the struggle with my pride that followed, I knew that I had to get myself together if I had any hope of putting in a decent championship ride. Chemaine and I had a long discussion about what I could do to ride the test better, and then we took a solid thirty minutes to warm up. I also decided that it would help if she read the test to me. I know the test, but with my new focus on properly riding the loops, I thought it might relieve some of my anxiety to hear her voice guiding me.
The championship rounds were held in the late afternoon after most of the RAAC classes. Surprisingly, very few riders entered. There was no First Level entry, one junior entry for Second Level, two riders and a junior for Third Level, Hilda Gurney in the Grand Prix, and of course, me, at Training Level. Even though I knew I would win the championship round, I felt just as much pressure as I had in the RAAC class. How embarrassing to "win" a championship with a mediocre score.
As we approached the ring, I noticed that the "A" end of the arena had a rail covering the entrance. I'll admit that I've never ridden a test before where "A" was closed. I was a bit excited because I knew it would help us make the turn more easily. The ring steward (pal, Jen) explained that since it was a championship round, "A" was closed, no whips were allowed, and riders had to ride their tests from memory. D'oh!
It's a good thing I actually do know the test. Chemaine's final words to me as I entered were, flex, flex, flex!
I could not have ridden this test any better. My entry was spot on, and those first four movements that I find a bit difficult, were solidly ridden. I later told Chemaine that rather than letting the start go by in fast forward, I took control of the outside rein and rode each stride without letting Speedy rush through.
I was especially happy with the canter to trot transition (movement 5) which helped me prepare Speedy for the walk transition at "A." Our medium and free walk felt purposeful with some decent march.
From that great walk, Speedy easily picked up the trot at "C" and willingly trot the loop followed by a nice canter departure between "A" & "K." I know the judge commented that I could prepare better, but I knew it was as good as we can get it for now. I think I am most proud of the transition from the canter to trot at "C" (movement 11). Speedy can get pretty forward as we canter up the long side and getting the trot transition right at "C" sometimes takes a strong hand.
I knew we were coming into the corner a bit fast so I did my best to give a soft half halt without stopping him too abruptly. I could tell that it wasn't enough so I made a conscious decision to make the transition slightly late rather than abruptly. The judge clearly appreciated the smoother downward; she rewarded us with a 7.0!
With a smoother canter-to-trot transition at "A," I found Speedy to be better balanced and listening to me as we approached "B" for our stretchy trot. He usually wants to blow past "B" so I focused on turning my body in preparation before arriving at "B." It wasn't a perfect stretchy trot, but we earned a 6.5 which is much higher than we've earned before. When I shortened my reins as we approached "B," I knew it was a well ridden test.
Our trot up centerline is almost always our best movement so I focused on making that turn at A and getting him as straight as possible. To finish a busy weekend and a long season with a solid square halt was as good as it can possibly get. We'll take the 8.0 with a huge smile and a thank you to everyone who supported and helped us this season.
I would love to end this post right here, but there are a few last things to share. First, that was the whole score sheet with nothing left out. Not only were there no 5s, but there weren't even any 6s! That's right, we had only 6.5s and above for a final score of 67.000%. And of course, we "won" the ESEC Training Level Championship. Do I feel that it was a win by default? Absolutely not! We qualified, we entered the class, and we rode a solid test.
This is Speedy's last show of the season. I am glad we finished on such a high note. I don't know what our schedule for next year will look like yet, but I am fairly certain we'll be attempting First Level in 2014.
I'll end this with the Collective Marks and some photos of Speedy's Championship neck ribbon. Thanks for all of your encouraging words this week; you don't know how often I told my mom how important it was to me to not let everyone down. :0)
Well done, Speedy G. Well done!
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%: