From Endurance to Dressage
I had the most fun this weekend at the El Sueno Show. I got to visit with some great friends, watched some fantastic rides, and even went to dinner with Sarah from Eventing in Color. She happily listened to all of my little gripes and contributed some really great suggestions for fixing a few of my little First World problems. And on top of all the social fun, I even put in four solid rides of which I feel quite proud.
El Sueno's ride management does a lovely job. There are gift bags for the riders, the rings are lovely, the warm-up is HUGE, and the staff cruises through the barns regularly to keep things tidy and well organized.
According to the show management, there was such a big response to this show that a second judge was hired at the last minute. Since he is an "R" judge, he could only judge through Fourth Level. There were a lot of FEI rides at this show, including lots of Freestyles. This meant that I spent both days in Ring 2 under Judge Ulf Wadeborn. Had I needed scores from a second judge, it might have been a problem, but as it turned out, I got great feedback by riding for the same judge both days.
El Sueno has something like 50 show stalls. These are the smallest and cheapest stalls. The other stalls are more permanent, bigger, and more expensive. Since Speedy's a smaller guy, the small stalls work for us.
One of my favorite things about this facility is the great snack bar they have. John serves garden burgers, cheese burgers, a variety of salads, sodas, water, chips, etc. The food court is situated so that you can actually still watch both rings. With the shaded tables and the cool breeze, it's a great place to hang out and rest between rides.
I am sure it was because this was a USDF show, but boy were there some nice horses. I loved that so many breeds were also represented. You could hardly find a warmblood in the place. I saw lots of baroque horses, quarter horse crosses, a Fell pony, Morgans, TBs, paints, and of course at least one very handsome Arabian!
This is Jen riding her very lovely gelding, Paolo. Jen and Paolo were riding Fourth level and earned a score towards their silver medal (she already has her bronze). Check out that extension!
Hilda Gurney was also at this show. In fact, she lives just a few minutes away! She wore the most adorable blingy gray jacket and helmet. In fact, MANY riders were really blinged-out. I saw bling EVERYWHERE. By Sunday, I screwed up my courage and wore my new helmet for both my tests. The scribe gave me tons of compliments, as did many other riders. If Hilda can wear a blingy coat and helmet, I figured I could as well.
By the way, if you're ever at a show and you see Hilda, be brave and give her a hello. She's the nicest person and always quick to give compliments. As Speedy and I walked by, she said that he was a very nice horse and then she even complimented MY blingy helmet.
The very best part about this show however, is that I get to ride with my Ventura/Camarillo friends. There are no dressage queens in this group. From the youngest to the oldest, every single rider supports and helps everyone else. Chemaine Hurtado, trainer at Team Symphony Dressage, promotes a truly fun and friendly atmosphere. I think I go to the coast primarily to hang out with this group!
And here's another one ...
And finally, I had a lesson with Chemaine on Friday. Speedy and I have been doing pretty well together, but we've been getting dinged on a lack of inside bend and flexion, so that's what Chemaine and I worked on. JL calls it moving sideways, but I haven't been as effective with my aids with Speedy as I am with Sydney.
Chemaine gave me "permission" to really use my spur when Speedy won't get off my inside leg. She kept encouraging me to POKE HIM hard enough so that he jumped away from my leg. So the aid goes like this: half halt with the outside rein, ask with inside leg, poking as necessary.
The idea of poking him just cracked me up. She had me POKE HIM several times in a row, and then she had me ask him with just my calf. That did the trick. As long as I gave him a stiff reminder every now and then, he stayed pretty responsive to my inside leg which helped me get a better inside bend.
All of this poking was put to use in the canter especially. Speedy wants to look to the outside for the canter and sag his ribcage in on my inside leg. You can't get any inside bend that way. It took some schooling on Saturday, but by Sunday, I had a real feel for what it took to get him off my inside leg so that I could get a better bend.
Tomorrow … Saturday's tests.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read