From Endurance to Dressage
Chemaine wasn't able to coach me on Sunday because she had a schooling show to attend with a different group of students. I am totally fine going to a show myself and wasn't fazed by her absence. Don't get me wrong - it's way more fun when she's there, but I've been hauling my horses to competitions for several decades on my own, so it's no big deal to fly solo.
As it was, she coached both me and another student on Friday and Saturday, so I was more than grateful for her time. She had other places to be. As a side note, that other student rode her very first Prix St. Georges test to earn a 63%. We were all really proud of her!
Chemaine's advice was to warm up with lots of half halts and then push Speedy for MORE! I am not always sure what we need MORE of, but I asked for it in the warm up.
He was ridiculously heavy on the left rein, so I did about 10,000 half halts followed by GO. I did every kind of transition within each gait that I could think of. My whole focus was to get a JUMP forward when I asked for it. When I asked for a half halt, I kept asking until he got soft, and then I sent him forward again with the expectation that he JUMP!
In all honesty, that warm up was a total crap shoot. Speedy and I probably looked like a pair of dorks zooming around the warm up only to halt a few strides later. GO!!!! STOP!!!! GO!!!! Fortunately it was a huge warm up ring and the show was small, so I had the space pretty much to myself. There was the Spanish guy galloping around, but he seemed to know what he was doing and proved quite adept at staying out of my way.
As we were warming up, all I could think about was just wanting to get the whole thing over with. I was tired and super ready to pack it up and head home. When First Level Test 2 was over, I left the ring shaking my head wondering what in the holy hell had just happened. It felt terrible. Speedy was so heavy in my hands that I was forced to jerk on him for every transition. I have no photographic or video evidence of this, which is why it's hard to believe the score we earned.
How is it that we scored better on Sunday than we had on Saturday? The judge gave us a 66.093%. For an Adult Amateur, that's a pretty solid score and one that I'll never turn my nose at. The only thing that I can say is those half halts must have done something, and that feeling of being nearly out of control is one that I should probably start trying to repeat.
My First Level Test 3 ride was just a few minutes after what I was considering "The Disaster" of test 2. There wasn't time to check the scores between the two rides, so I didn't know that the judge had actually "liked" our attempt at test 2. If I had been wanting to get test 2 over and done with, the desire to fast forward past test 3 was almost enough to make me want to scratch.
I am too cheap to throw in the towel though, so unless the TD or judge force me to quit, I am riding no matter how bad I think it's going to go. When I halted and saluted at X for the final time of the weekend, I thanked the judge like I always do, and then told her how happy I was to be done with THAT.
I patted Speedy's neck like I do after every ride, but I shook my head in frustration. How disappointing to work so hard for so little reward. That's what was going through my head as we passed by A. Up in the barn, several people complimented my rides, which I found slightly embarrassing. I was certain both scores were in the 57% range.
I finally stiffened my backbone and trudged over to the show office. I ran my finger down the list of rides squinting through half closed eyes. When I got to the first score from test 2, I did a double take. A what?!?! I shook my head in disbelief. But there it was for all the world to see - a 66.093%. I slid my finger down a bit further and saw the score for test 3. Not only was it slightly higher than Saturday's score at 62.794%, I had actually outscored another rider for a fourth blue ribbon.
Over the course of the weekend, Speedy and I somehow managed to bring home four very satisfactory scores. I am always grateful to break 60%, and the truth is most of my scores are above 60. Anything lower feels like a miss. As time goes on though, I have come to recognize that we are capable of high 60s and low 70s, so just eking out a 60% is not exactly a win anymore.
The judge said it best on my final test:
Nice horse with ability to perform much better. You must get him more forward and correctly into the contact so he accepts the bit and energy travels through the back. Only then will half halts work, and he will start to carry instead of fall on his forehand. - Sue Kolstad, Judge at C
No judge has ever written a better summation of my test. She absolutely nailed it. Chemaine has her work cut out for her to be sure. I think all three of us are up to the challenge though.
I still have some soapbox stuff I want to share, so there's a bit more coming about the show. In the meantime, what's your cut off score for an acceptable ride?
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%: