From Endurance to Dressage
First Level Fun
I like showing. I like showing more than lessons. To me, showing my horse gives me an opportunity to see what I have learned. Sometimes it's disappointing of course, but other times, horse shows give me validation. They prove that all of my hard work is good for something and that I am not wasting my time.
I've only shown First Level three times: a schooling show this past November (with the old tests), a CDS-rated show in May, and at another CDS-rated show this past weekend. At the schooling show, Speedy and I earned a 63% and a 64%. I figured we scored well because it was only a schooling show, and the judges try to give you a reason to come back.
At the CDS show in May, we earned a 55% and a 63%. For the first test, Speedy and I were rusty; we hadn't shown in six months! We shook off the cobwebs for the second test and proved that we actually were ready for First Level.
And then there was this weekend's show. In a nutshell, Speedy brought his A-game, and I was right there with him preparing for movements and being completely present and in the moment. Our hard work paid off with a 65.741% and a 67.344%. I am not even going to pretend to be nonchalant about it. I was thrilled!
For me, showing has nothing to do with ribbons; I don't want to win with a 59%, no matter how hard I worked for it. I'd rather be dead last with a 70%. Showing is about the scores I earn. But if I just cared about the score, I'd settle myself in a schooling show circuit and rack up some fat percentages. So it's more than just a good percentage.
What makes me feel the most accomplished is showing well under the most rigorous conditions, like at a USDF show. That doesn't mean I don't value schooling shows, quite the opposite. Schooling shows are an excellent gauge for helping me determine whether I am ready for a bigger show. The same goes for CDS-rated shows.
Once I start scoring solidly in the 60s at CDS shows, I know it's time to test ourselves against a standard that is less gentle on the ego. It becomes time to suck it up a bit and move on to USDF shows. Those are the scores that really tell me how we're doing.
We're ready. We've scored consistently at First Level over a seven month period with only three dressage lessons. Not only are the scores consistent, but they're getting better each time. We'll be heading to El Sueno at the end of July for a two-day USDF show. That show will be our litmus test. What do we have down pat, and what do we need to work on?
No matter how we do, I am finding the work in First Level to be a welcome challenge that is fun and stimulating!
7/2/2015 10:31:51 am
I think so. :0)
Those are really good scores! I've found that, for the most part, the L Program graduates that judge schooling shows are pretty consistent with the USEF Rs and up who judge the USEF Recognized shows. There are a few that try to pad the scores thinking that it will help get them more jobs, but they very quickly get phased out because competitors don't like to get a 70 at a schooling show and then a 55 at the USEF show! I know I won't hire the "easy" judges for that exact reason, I want my competitors to get useful feedback and be happy to come back to my shows! Point being, you're definitely ready for the USEF shows. Good luck!
7/2/2015 10:45:31 am
Shannon - One of my friends is going through the L program now, and she said that many of the potential graduates score "strictly" because they worry that their instructors will think that they have missed something if they give the rider the benefit of the doubt.
7/3/2015 06:07:24 am
That's very interesting! I had no idea there was a difference on the West Coast. I guess it's true what they say about how mean we are on the East Coast! :)
7/3/2015 08:07:41 am
Not mean! I would love to have "stricter" judging at schooling shows. Knowing that the scores are a bit padded is okay. It must be hard on riders though who then show USDF assuming their schooling show scores are "regular."
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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%: