From Endurance to Dressage
I am actually glad I've had a few days to think about Sunday's schooling show before writing about it. Had I sat down to write on Sunday evening, you would have heard a much different version. After some reflection, I am actually far happier with how it went than I was a day ago.
Brief Soap Box moment coming …
I know I am going to offend some people here, but I have to say it. The scores at a schooling show are easily 5% to 15% higher than what they would be at a USDF show. I won my RAAC class (a smallish USDF show) with a 72.6%. Just a few weeks later at the CDS Championship show (a HUGE USDF show), I squeaked out a 62%. Both rides were very similar, and scores were fair. Scores are simply much harder to get when the stakes are higher.
So while I smile at my scores from this schooling show, they don't mean diddly squat to a rider (me) who has her sights set on USDF awards and recognition. There is no way my 63% and 64% would ever hold up at a USDF show. I am greatly encouraged, but I know I would be looking at a 55% at a rated show.
I will climb down from the soap box now.
My very good pal, Sarah (of Eventing in Color fame), was kind enough to shoot a bunch of snapshots for me. I didn't get to look at them until this morning. Usually, I cringe at the crappiness of my position and where Speedy's body is going. This time, I only deleted one shot immediately. The rest, I studied and decided that while none of them were fantastic, they also weren't as bad as the ride felt.
The test, First Level, Test 1, started out great. We earned an 8.0 for our halt and a very lovely 7.0 for those fun 10-meter half circles at X.
The trot lengthening wasn't grand, but it was enough to squeeze out a 6.0. The judge liked our medium walk, 7.5 but from there, things started to go a bit downhill.
To say the canter work was a disaster would be putting it mildly. Speedy decided it was mach 12 or nothing. And to make it even more impressive, he decided to show the judge that he could cross canter. I have no idea where that came from as he has never done that before in his life. I think it even surprised him.
The judge should have given us a slew of 3s and 4s, but instead, she gifted us with 5s for our canter work even though he was swapping leads behind the whole way through his 15-meter canter circle. I love this next picture though.
He has clearly fallen on the forehand and is running through my hand, but I am just sitting there as Zen as ever. That's Chemaine's description of my riding. I NEVER panic during a test, and no matter how bad it goes, I just keep on going as though nothing horrendous has just happened.
I also love this next photo from our first lengthening at the canter. I either gave him way too strong of a half halt, or else he was rocking back ready to launch forward. It may not be great form, but it shows that he can get back on his rear end!
I also like this photo as we came across the diagonal ready to trot at X. Again, nothing is perfect, but the dude is starting to shorten his frame and my position is getting stronger - I've quit leaning forward at least.
The judge was really kind in her scoring, which I appreciate, but the score would have been far lower at a rated show. We earned a 63.79% for First Level, Test 1 which was sixth out of six. However, the thing that I like best is that our score was close to the rest of the competitors, even though this was our first time riding First Level. Not too shabby!
The very best thing about this ride is that I truly enjoyed every moment. I laughed at Speedy's run-away gallop down the long side, and I giggled as he swapped leads as we made the turn for X. As long as showing is fun, who cares about the foibles and the disasters. I feel some big improvement in our near future!
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%: