From Endurance to Dressage
First Level - Test 1
I am all smiles today. Sort of. I am hot and sweaty from schooling Izzy through a sassy lesson, but once I cool off and get out of these stinky breeches, I'll return to the land of Basking in Success.
If we're friends on Facebook, you already know that Speedy kicked some First Level butt. That dude is a total rock star. He showed up and was nothing but business. I tied him to the trailer with his hay bag and a bucket of water and left to check in and visit with friends. Knowing that he will stand there for hours and hours without causing any trouble takes away so much stress and worry. I "heart" you, Speedy G.
Shows are a lot more fun when you know people, which is why the Tehachapi summer series is so much fun. I watched my friend, Wendy, ride her charming mare, Bloo. I also visited with friends who have seen Speedy and I morph from baby endurance horse to hey, that's an Arab doing dressage. Those friends are fun to visit with because they've seen how far we've come and can remind me of what we used to look like (and sometimes still do).
Speedy is one of those horses who either needs thirty minutes to warm up, or just ten. The problem is that I never know until I am on him. For this show, he needed about 6 minutes. I've been his partner for so long now that I know when he's giving me all he has. When he offered a nice, rhythmic trot, a few steps of leg yield, and a canter transition that was relatively smooth. I dropped the reins and rode him up to the ring. Riding him more won't make anything better.
Once again, I asked for a reader; being out of the country for two weeks didn't give me much time to work on memorizing the tests. I hate relying on a reader, but I have to say, I rode much better for having one. Instead of having that dual conversation running through my head ... half circle right 10-meters, returning to the track at M combined with inside leg, half halt, weight on the inside seat bone ... I was able to focus completely on riding my horse in every moment without worrying about where to go.
The ride started very steady although Speedy kept eyeballing the turned out horses off to our left. The judge caught it and noted that he was inattentive for the halt. After our entry and halt, he refocused and lost interest in what those horses were doing. From there, the ride got better and better. We even earned an 8 for our working canter left lead.
If you've been following our journey for a while, you'll know that we s.t.r.u.g.g.l.e.d. with the canter departures for a long time. A 4.5 wasn't unusual, and eventually, a 5.5 was the normal. Then we started getting the occasional 6 and maybe even a 7, so to earn an 8 (and we did it on test 2 as well) shows pretty remarkable improvement.
The only mistake we made was in the right lead canter, and I call it a mistake because I could have ridden it better. I let Speedy get too heavy in the right lead, so when we made the 15-meter canter circle, he lost his balance and dropped the lead behind. I wanted our downward to trot to have a chance at a better score, so I had him trot and then picked up the canter again.
I knew our 10-meter circle was going to get a low score anyway, but by fixing the canter and rebalancing, I was able to set Speedy up for a better downward transition at A. My strategy worked as the judge gave us a 7 for the transition.
When we saluted at G, I felt really good. We performed the test almost as well as we could have at this moment in our training. Of course it can be ridden better, but I was pleased. We finished with a 65.741%, which was good enough for a win ... out of two riders in the class.
I was fortunate to have a friend (thanks, S!) shoot a couple of snippets of video. She didn't think the footage was "blog worthy," but as my mom likes to say, beggars can't be choosers. The video just shows bits and pieces of our ride, but happily, S managed to catch Speedy's "inattentiveness" at the beginning and the goofy 15-meter canter circle to the right.
Tomorrow, look for First Level, test 2.
6/30/2015 04:30:22 am
Thanks, Emma! I had almost giving up on getting a decent canter departure, but we stuck it out, and now they're looking pretty decent. One thing that helped me feel the "uphillness" that the canter departure needs was by cantering poles. Even just cantering one pole in "slow motion" will help you get the feeling. It must have helped Speedy too. :0)
6/30/2015 02:56:10 am
Congrats on a great ride! Loved the insight on looking ahead and setting up for success for your downward transition to trot instead of trying to forcing through on the right lead canter.
6/30/2015 04:34:41 am
Thanks, Michelle. I will say that not letting a bad movement spoil my test has aways been one of my strengths, even when we were still at Intro level. I know which movements are easier for us, so I try to do those really well and do my best on the weaker movements. So when I felt the 15-meter canter circle coming apart, I knew to just cut my losses there and fix it so the next movement would be better.
6/30/2015 03:52:33 am
It is exciting to see how far you have come together!
6/30/2015 04:35:23 am
It's slow progress, Val, but at least it's forward progress. :0)
6/30/2015 11:24:29 am
And twice the price!!! I just filled out my entry for El Sueno - $374 + $175 for trainer lessons/coaching. Grand total to have a lot of fun ... $549. :0)
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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%: