From Endurance to Dressage
HDEC Day 2: A New Day
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!
I LOVE your notes from watching other riders! Way to apply what you'd already seen to your ride. It's so hard to make changes the day of the show, but it sounds like you did a great job!
3/21/2013 10:00:15 pm
I wish I could have written everything I observed - there was more! This was the first time that I've been able to really sit and watch. Most shows here are run in the other order - beginner through advanced which means I usually show earlier in the morning. Since I drive so far, it's just not practical to stay until 4:00 to watch the top rider go especially if I left my house at 6:00 a.m.
3/20/2013 11:58:06 pm
I think your observations were spot on. It's so valuable to watch others. What I have learned from showing is:
3/21/2013 10:02:01 pm
All good advice, Teresa. Speedy also likes to race up centerline, but I already know that about him so I start doing a half halt about half way up. If I don't, he'd run past X and land in the judge's lap!
3/21/2013 10:04:30 pm
Thanks, Lauren. I think what watching did was really put my mind in the game and made me focus on what I was doing. I also realized what i was doing wrong and tried to fix it!
3/21/2013 01:41:26 pm
What great notes! I am going to have to take notes while reading your blog so I can remember everything I want to try once I can ride again!
3/21/2013 10:05:26 pm
Sandra - note what NOT to do as well - there's plenty of that! :0) Hope you've read something helpful. LOL!
3/22/2013 06:53:19 am
I am not sure why it has taken me three years to figure this out ... now that I know, it is definitely a part of my test riding!
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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%: