From Endurance to Dressage
On Sunday, Speedy didn't get a lunge. He did get his morning walk, but I skipped the lunge work out of a healthy respect for the wet ground. He didn't seem to mind.
My rides on Sunday were late, very late. I rode just before 2:00 p.m. and then just shortly after. It was a warm day, but Speedy was back to his regular self. Instead of being sluggish, I had to deal with the usual resistance and fussiness in the bridle. For Test 2, he was being a bit of a stinker and just did not want to let go. It would seem that my task is to get the same level of obedience with energy that he offered when he was sluggish!
After the test, I went back into the warm up with Chemaine. She wanted me to get him deeper and rounder with a small release accompanied by some leg. When he's deeper and rounder, I can push my hands forward a bit to give him some room so that when I add leg, he can shoot forward into a longer stride. So we played around with that for a minute before I headed over to ride First Level, Test 3.
While on paper this test earned a solid score, I was really disappointed in how I rode it. I was having trouble hearing my reader, and since I don't have this test truly memorized, I didn't always know where I was going. I ended up making three pretty big mistakes that affected how well I rode the movements.
Movement 2 is a trot lengthening across the diagonal. Right after that, the test calls for a leg yield from the corner to X. I didn't hear my reader, so instead of leg yielding to X, I rode straight toward M. As I neared X, I finally remembered what I was supposed to be doing and was able to change the bend quickly enough to get the next leg yield from X to H.
The first leg yield earned a 5.0 (it wasn't a leg yield at all, so thank you, Judge!). The leg yield left earned a much more respectable 6.5. I detest giving away points. Not that I would have necessarily earned the 6.5 for the leg yield right as it is the harder one for us to do, but a 6.0 wouldn't have been out of the question.
The second error I made was on the 15-meter canter circle at C. For this movement, you come from a free walk to S where it becomes a medium walk. At H, you pick up a working trot and then a working canter at C. But instead of cantering into the corner, you have to pick up the canter already making the turn for the smaller 15-meter circle.
It's an easy enough movement if you're paying attention. I wasn't. I simply asked Speedy for the canter without having the necessary bend for the 15-meter circle. Fortunately, within just one stride I realized what I was doing and I added a boatload of outside leg and rein and managed to get Speedy's shoulder up and over for the 15-meter circle. He was a very good boy to make such a quick adjustment.
The judge commented that we needed bend, but we still scored a 6.5. You can see the score and comment at movement 12.
The third riding error I made was after the left lead single loop at canter. I was so focused on getting a good canter to trot transition that it happened a smidge early (movement 21). Once we were trotting, I realized that I didn't know where to go; again, I hadn't heard my reader. At the last second, I remembered that the final trot lengthening comes after that canter loop.
I don't know how good the half halt in the corner was, but the panicky feeling I had must have been read loud and clear by Speedy because he hustled himself out of the corner and across the diagonal. I don't know what the lengthening looked like, but the judge gave us a 7.0 for the whole debacle!
As I look back over the test and my scores, I realize that while I felt the mistakes quite acutely, I must have made accurate and timely corrections as they didn't have too much of an effect on my scores. Either way, I need to make it a priority to get that test 3 memorized. I'll be riding it three times at the RAAC in late August.
So. I think my First Level debut at a USDF/USEF-rated show went as well as I could have hoped for.
While the scores are fun to tabulate and apply, having a good time with friends and bringing home a healthy horse is really the best part. A small pile of ribbons to stash in my ribbon jars is also fun, too.
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%: