From Endurance to Dressage
On Friday evening, my friend Wendy - the one who brought her mare Beanie to ride last month, brought her friend Bailey along with Bailey's sister, Breanna, to my house. It would take me fewer than ten fingers to count the times that I have done something with friends over the past nine months, and three of those times were with Wendy. I haven't realized how starved I've been for social interaction.
When Wendy was here in November, we rode through the parking lot of the California Living Museum (CALM). Workers were busy installing thousands of strands of lights for the annual Holiday Lights event that has gained in popularity over the past eighteen years. Normally, the lights and displays are erected within the zoo itself, but this year, due to Coronavirus shutdowns, the event is being staged as a drive-through experience. And oh, boy, is it ever worth the price of admission!
Wendy thought it sounded like fun, so I told her that if she wanted to go, she had better invite me! Early last week, she sent me a text, and we quickly planned a girls night out, something I hadn't done in a long, long time. On Friday evening, Wendy, Bailey, and Breanna drove over from the desert. They came to my house where we made hot chocolate with whipped cream, and then we all piled into my truck for the short drive to CALM.
This year, visitors pay for and "reserve" their time online. On your chosen night, you drive to the east side of CALM where your ticket is scanned, your vehicle marked, and then you are routed down a service road which takes you to a specially created grand entrance. As we neared CALM, a sea of lights hovered in the distance. We all oohed and awed appreciatively as the lights grew larger and larger through the windows.
As we passed under the lighted entrance, we turned up the Christmas carols and settled in to be wowed. We weren't disappointed. Everywhere we looked, millions of twinkling lights spread as far as the eye could see. Rising out of a sea of blue lights, a whale began to shoot "water" up into the sky. Everywhere we looked, lights were in motion.
Spread out over numerous acres, the designers created a twisting, spiraling path that wound through the different themes - the ocean, a jungle, a forest, and others. My favorite was the prehistoric world with a volcano spewing colored smoke.
As each car entered the labyrinth, headlights were extinguished. No one was in a hurry, so when the car in front of us stopped, we did too. With so many displays moving, the only way to see the "show" was to stop the truck and watch.
With four of us looking out each window, someone was constantly exclaiming over the next display. Did you see the zebra? Look, at the dolphin leaping in the water! That monkey is swinging in the tree!
As we drove from world to world, something new met us around every corner. The displays were vibrant and packed with animated characters. Wendy's cell phone photos just don't do the display justice.
In the middle of the journey we passed through the lighted tunnel above. The lights flashed on and off, raced ahead of us and back again, all the while dazzling us with their brilliance.
We didn't measure how long the route was, but it took a solid thirty minutes to wend our way through. We were never bored or stuck staring at any one display. If anything, we would have liked to have gone even slower to really take it all in.
If you live within an hour or two, the experience is totally worth it. The fee to enter is $30 per carload plus however much you'd like to donate on top of that. After we exited CALM, we made the short drive back to my house where my husband was just pulling some Papa Murphy's Pizzas out of the oven. He's definitely a keeper.
We ate dinner, laughing and telling stories until we were stuffed. But since it was a girls night out, we topped off dinner with brownies, ice cream, and chocolate sauce. My husband cleaned up and left us to laugh and solve the world's problems. The conversation was even better than dinner.
You know, the world is in a pretty bad place right now which means it is even more important than ever to stay connected with friends. Our governor's attempt to mandate social isolation is creating an unhealthy situation for a lot of people. Spending the evening with such vibrant and energetic people gave me a much needed boost.
Thank you, ladies! I am looking forward to a next time.
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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%: