From Endurance to Dressage
I didn't ride on Sunday, and it was a perfect day. Not just pleasant, but beautiful beyond all belief. Our local meteorologist calls those days A+ days. So why didn't I ride? Well, the truth is that I had just finally spread myself so thin that you could kind of see right through me in places. Not really of course, but when I start to feel spread too thin, I suffer from anxiety and things start going wrong.
Over the past few months, I've worked full time at a pretty stressful job, I've been taking lessons (it's a six hour drive round trip), giving two to three lessons per week, riding, showing, and doing day trips with the horses. On top of that, my truck has been giving me trouble. When I got home on Saturday night, more on that below, I decided that I simply had to take Sunday off so that I could get my life back in order.
With that, where to start?
I don't know where to start, really, but here goes. At the SCEC show in April, I had a zipper blow out. I took my boots to a local shoe repair to have a new zipper done. Before I had a chance to go and pick them up, a zipper on my schooling boots also went kaput. Granted, it had been getting glitchy for a while, and I knew that death was imminent, but the timing was pretty sucky. I am not sure why I have so much trouble with zippers, but that is pretty much the only reason my boots ever fail. When I went to pick up my show boots, I left my schooling boots for those zippers to be replaced. They're supposed to be ready today.
When I picked up my show boots, I was more than a bit shocked to see the new zippers. Never in a million years had I thought to ask what color they would be. I assumed they'd be black like the original ones had been. Nope. These are industrial strength, but they're brass. Holy crap. I am not sure I can live with them. I have my name on a list for a pair of Petrie boots once they're in stock, but until then, this is what I have. Are they as bad as they look? Will the brightness of the gold fade? In some ways, I sort of like the edgy "French couture" look, but all of my tack's metal is stainless steel. Could you live with them?
While the boots are really just a mild irritation, the universe decided I needed to be challenged further. After my truck was "fixed" the other week, I was feeling pretty confident about heading down to Moorpark for a lesson on Saturday. As I walked out to my truck on Friday morning - I was on my way to work, I noticed something not quite right (NQR). The horse girls will get the reference. Hanging below my truck was a piece of my truck, and not a piece that I should ever be able to see.
I couldn't believe it. It was the freaking steering damper that Ford JUST replaced two months ago. It was the SAME STEERING DAMPER that Ford checked out exactly one week before. When they "checked it out," the technician - it's a good thing I don't know his name, FORGOT TO BOLT IT BACK TOGETHER. That was the job - screw the damn nut on. Knowing I could drive without it - I hate that I know that, I zip tied it to the nearest stable part and drove to work.
All morning long I phoned Ford's service department until I was finally able to confirm that they had all of the necessary parts in stock to replace it. When I pulled up, the paperwork had already been drawn up and someone was waiting to take the keys from my hand. They knew it was their fault, and they were quick to apologize. In less than an hour, they replaced the steering damper AGAIN. In front of the foreman, I crawled under my truck to verify that it was actually BOLTED on this time. It was.
What really annoyed me about the whole thing - besides everything, was that after I picked up my truck last Friday, I drove to Lancaster with both horses for our poppy ride. While the steering damper doesn't necessarily affect your ability to steer, it does help. Had the steering damper come loose and dragged while I was hauling the horses over the Tehachapi Pass, some really bad stuff could have happened. Since it didn't, I get to be only mildly annoyed with Ford, but I will forever second guess their ability to get a job done correctly.
Speaking of our trip to Lancaster, I forgot to mention that while pulling up the rather short, but steep driveway of our host's property, I also dented my tailgate. Gooseneck trailers are awesome, but they do have a few drawbacks. For really short whoo-de-doos, they can be challenging. In this case, my truck went through the whoop-de-doo and started up the other side while the trailer was still on the other side. At the lowest point of the dip, the truck was going uphill while the trailer was going downhill. The gap between the top of my tailgate and the bottom of the gooseneck wasn't quite large enough to handle the "kink." I now have a slight dent.
But wait; there is more. On Saturday morning, I left the house at 7:00 a.m. for the drive to Moorpark to take a lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage (more on the lesson in a day or two). As soon as I got on the freeway, the traffic came to a screeching halt. There had been a wreck so my less than three hour drive turned out to be more than three hours. After getting out of that mess, my drive up the Grapevine went perfectly with no vibrations; Ford did something right. As I cruised along Interstate 5, I saw a massive wreck on the opposite, northbound side. A tanker truck had split in half (WHAT?!) and poured asphalt all over the road. To my dismay, I5 northbound was closed, and all four lanes were backed up for more than 10 miles. That's the way I would be traveling to go home.
After my lesson was over, I checked the traffic report and saw that I5 northbound was still closed. It had been four hours, and there was no information on when the highway would reopen. There are two other routes, but both of them would add several hours to the trip. Eventually, one lane reopened, but I decided hang out for a while longer to see if all of the lanes would open. For a closure of that length, it can take hours for the traffic to unsnarl, especially if there is only one lane open.
Finally, a little after 4:00 p.m. the road reopened completely. By the time I drove through, the traffic had completely cleared up. Even so, I didn't pull into the barn until 7:00 p.m. - twelve hours after leaving. The entrance to the ranch is pretty narrow, and on the best of days, my truck and trailer just barely fit through the opening. What happened next was an error in judgement: I was tired, and the setting sun was reflecting out of my side mirror reducing my visibility. As I pulled through the opening, I felt a big lurch. I stopped immediately and hopped out to see what was wrong.
Instead of barely making it through the entrance, I had missed. Before driving on down to the barn, I had to first hammer the metal away from the tire so that it didn't cut it. There was already a dent; I didn't want to have to replace a practically brand new tire on top of it. So yeah, now I have to deal with boots and get the fender fixed. Did I mention that we also have a toilet that's not flushing properly?
Life. I just can't make this stuff up.
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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%: