From Endurance to Dressage
If you've been following along, you're probably getting the impression that I had a rough time at the HDEC Spring Show. Quite the opposite would be the truth. I came home grinning from ear to ear, bubbling with enthusiasm. Yes, my Friday warm up brought tears to my eyes, and yes, my first test gave me a sub 60% ride, but what I learned over the weekend made up for those two tiny blips on my unhappy radar.
I've already mentioned that I spent hours watching virtually all the tests before mine, and even quite a few tests after mine. I started to notice a few things:
The most important thing that I observed during all that watching was that the best riders continued to ride their horses during the tests. They didn't just sit there hoping the horse knew what to do. I think I've been riding my tests hoping that Speedy G will do a good job. I decided I needed to change that mentality and start actually riding the test.
I also decided that I have not been using my warm ups to good effect. I tend to just ride straight lines and then do some circles hoping that will supple him up. For Sunday's warm up, I cut it to 15 minutes. I did what I do at home: a walking lap, and then I got to work on bending Speedy's body. I planted my inside hand and did some of Michael Schaffer's perfect circles. I made the circles quite small and moved Speedy away from my inside leg.
I also did just two of the trot to canter transition that comes after the left lead canter circle. They were smooth and respectful so I decided not to piss him off by making him do any more. I didn't even bother with a right lead canter. He never fusses with that so I left it alone. We finished the warm up with a few more small circles until he softened his neck and poll. And that was it. I walked over to the ring steward, chat her up a bit, Speedy adores visiting, and then went to the ring to wait.
The other important thing I noticed about the judge's comments from the day before was that I needed to prepare for the transitions, and she was absolutely right. Up until now, I've been so focused on simply memorizing the test: track right at C, trot circle at B, change direction at the corner, canter in the far corner, etc.
For the first test of the second day (T-2), I began adding the word prepare as in prepare to track right at C, prepare to circle at B, prepare to change direction in the corner.
When I entered the arena's "alley," I started working on getting Speedy focused on me right away, I bent him this way and that, moved him off my leg, worked on a straight entry and square halt, and then made sure to position him so that we could enter at A with a right bend, our better way. I couldn't believe how much work I was able to do in those few minutes before the judge rang her bell.
Although our halt, salute wasn't perfect, it was much improved, and I knew it. In fact, everything felt better. I wasn't hoping Speedy wouldn't fall apart, I was telling him what to do, and he was trying to listen. I prepared for each turn and transition and focused on keeping a bend. I knew it was a better test when I made the final canter to trot transition (score: 7). A huge smile was plastered across my face as I came down centerline and halted (score:6.5).
The result? I scored 9 points higher than the day before. My score was 60.893% - a definite improvement!
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%: