From Endurance to Dressage
First Level - Test 2
When I saw my score from the first test, I almost just scratched. How could we possibly improve on that? I'm not the type to just quit though, but I did resign myself to the fact that the second test would probably be a bit of a disappointment.
I saddled Speedy and head on into the warm-up ring. As before, he didn't need much. His trot was quiet, the leg yields were satisfactory, and the right lead canter had actually improved. He did feel a little bit flat, which is usually okay. Flat is better than tense in his case.
We walked up to the ring, but the ring steward told me to wait a bit as there was a snake in the area just outside of the dressage court that needed to be relocated before I could go in. Not a problem, I told her.
Bear Valley Equestrian Center has a lovely dressage court that sits away from buildings and roads. It's nestled into a bit of a hill and is surrounded by open space and trees. It's a beautiful ring for riding, but it also shares the space with plenty of nature's little friends.
At first, I felt a moment of frustration by the snake removal process as Speedy was already on the verge of feeling like he'd been under saddle long enough. But then the excitement of the snake wrangling gave us both a little buzz of energy. When I saw Wendy's husband (my new hero) climb into the cab of the mini-truck with that snack wrapped around his arm. I cracked up laughing.
They drove right by Speedy and me with this HUGE gopher snake visible through the window. Both men were just laughing it up with a GIANT SNAKE in the car! Men are something else.
As soon as the mini-truck left the ring, Speedy and I walked up to the judge to give her our number and confirm which test we would be riding. We both joked about missing out on the opportunity to ride with the snake in attendance. I think she enjoyed the break in the routine as much as Speedy did.
There isn't much I would change about how we rode this test - no photos or videos, just the judge's comments and my own memory to give you a visual. While nothing felt like it deserved a 10, everything I asked Speedy to do was done smoothly. Another judge might have seen it as a slew of sixes instead of the sevens that this judge saw, but even I knew it felt really solid.
The only problem we had was in the downward transition from canter to trot at X, which is something we can usually do well. I once again let him get too heavy and he ignored my half halt. The judge called it a late transition, which is probably correct, but I'd been asking for the downward for several strides. Speedy was just rolling along too much on his forehand to sit back and transition.
I finally hauled back on that outside rein and jammed my weight into the outside stirrup. It wasn't a pretty transition (we eked out a 5), but I got him rebalanced enough for the nearly immediate right lead canter at F. We earned a seven for the canter, so once again, fixing something helped set Speedy up for a better next movement.
There was never a moment during the test that I wasn't enjoying myself immensely. The whole time I showed at Intro and Training Level, I always felt a nano-second behind the motion. I continually felt like I was hoping Speedy would get us through because I wasn't always in charge.
For these last two shows, I've felt this incredible feeling of truly being in the moment. I don't feel as though I'm leaving it up to Speedy to get us through or hoping that it all goes well. I feel as though I am putting him together and creating a picture that I want the judge to see. It's a good feeling to have.
The Tehachapi Chapter of CDS has some really wonderful programs to reward riders. There are $10 cash prizes for first place scores over 60% at Introductory level, $50 cash prizes for first place in classes of four or more riders, and $50 Show High Point for classes of three or less riders (the levels are all grouped together).
It's a bit confusing, but basically, all of the AA classes that have fewer than four riders get lumped into one gigantic group. They award $50 to the highest score in that group, which turned out to be us!
There were two classes that had four riders. The same rider won in both classes. Her scores were higher than mine, but I guess the show management doesn't let you win the Class High Point prize and the Show High Point prize. I am okay with that - who doesn't want to walk away with $50?
Our next First Level showing effort will be at the end of July at a USDF show. I think we're ready!
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%: