From Endurance to Dressage
The first thing I appreciated about this weekend's show was the weather. As I cruised west along the Ventura Highway, I smiled contentedly at the wall of fog that loomed in front of me. Of course, I turned south before I got to it, but the coastal coolness reached far enough inland that I had an elbow happily resting out my open window.
When I arrived at El Sueno, the breeze was softly blowing, and there was a scattering of fluffy clouds overhead. The daytime highs for the weekend were predicted to be 81℉. Bakersfield’s low has been warmer than that this past few weeks. Weather like that makes showing so much more fun.
The drive over took a little longer than I had anticipated; I took a different route, but it was worth it as it was a much gentler route. I need to start taking Blue Truck’s age into mind when I plan my trips. You know how those senior citizens can be!
The California Dressage Society’s Regional Adult Amateur Competition will be held at El Sueno in two weeks, which is one of the reasons I wanted to go to this show. They’re turning some of the temporary barns into permanent stalls, but they are bringing in a new section of portable stalls for the RAAC. For those who know the facility, the new stalls will probably be next to the fence in the derby field. I am glad I got a heads up from the show manager as I park in the derby field. I may have to move my rig back a little bit which would be a bummer as I’ve had a luxurious spot under the big oak tree.
I got Speedy settled in quickly and then unpacked all of my own stuff. I may gripe and moan about that gray pony, but he is an absolute rock star at shows. There’s no fussing or worrying or screaming his head off (like the mare who was camped next door). As long as he has his hay and water along with an occasional beet pulp mash, he is (mostly) quite happy to stand and wait for me. I check in on him frequently so he knows where I am, but I totally dig his got this vibe.
After we both had lunch, I braided Speedy’s forelock and went for a ride. He has been such a complete jerk at home over the last few weeks that I had low hopes for a good show. I took a deep breath and figured I would rather have him happy and strung out rather than braced and forced into a frame. I lengthened my reins and focused on relaxation and suppleness.
It was the best warm up we’ve ever had. He was practically floating. He felt almost jaunty! El Sueno has these wonderfully large, clean mirrors that really let you check yourself out as you ride. I used the mirrors to check on my rein length and shortened them just a bit when I realized his nose was poking out too far. But from what I could see, his frame looked perfectly acceptable for a training level horse. He was tracking up nicely and was moving forward with good energy.
As a side note, mirrors also let you see the spare tire that has formed around your waist. Sitting deeply forces butt fat up and belly fat down. All that fat then meets around your middle. I tried really hard to look at my arms and back, but my eye was invariably drawn to the ball of fat rising out of my saddle. Each time I passed a mirror I asked myself who the middle aged lady was riding Speedy. Your forties are a wonderful decade full of awesome experiences, but be prepared for a sharp reality check.
After using the warm-up, I walked over to the covered arena, which was to be our ring for Saturday and thought I should do some walking in there to just finish up the afternoon. Speedy was so relaxed and willing that I decided to do some figures just for the fun of it. I made sure to ooh and ah over him and praised him like he was the star of the show, which he was!
Frankly, I’ve been quite frustrated with Speedy lately. Every ride this past month has been a failure. I am sure he knows that I am angry and frustrated, and he must resent never getting it right. I know Friday’s ride was the complete opposite of the work we’ve been doing, which is a good thing. As I was riding, I realized that I was asking and encouraging rather than picking at him and forcing him. He was happy, and I was happy. I need to remember to just let him do his best and not nag him to death over every little thing. We’ll both be happier for the change in my attitude.
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%: