From Endurance to Dressage
We're in the midst of our first heat wave. Here in California's Central Valley, a heat wave is defined as three or more consecutive days that reach 100℉. We're on day two of three. This first heat wave of the summer, while hot, isn't as bad as it will ultimately get as our low temperatures are still quite low. It's when we hit 109℉ with lows in the 80s that we really start to grumble.
Since this is the last week of school, my principal has asked us to be at work for three hours each day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but we can choose the three hours as long as they're between 7:30 and 1:30. Boy, was that an easy decision. Wanting to make sure I got a ride in, I went in at 10:30 on Tuesday with the same plan for Wednesday and today.
On Tuesday, the vet was scheduled to come out and do dentals and vaccinations for the ranch's other horses. While he was there, he was going to also do a blood draw to check Speedy's ACTH levels. I decided not to ride either horse that day so that Speedy would be at his mellowest when the vet arrived. Due to some conflict or other, he wasn't able to make it. I didn't know that until it was too late get a ride in though.
On Wednesday, I showed up at the ranch at 7:00 a.m. for a quick ride and still made it to work by 9:30, all of which meant I got home sooner. I could had ridden longer, but Speedy just didn't need it. After our lesson on Sunday, he was nicely in front of my leg AND soft on both reins. The ride doesn't need to be long if they're giving everything you ask for.
Knowing that I really need him even in both reins, I started off at the walk insisting on lightness from the first step. I didn't let him hang on either rein. It was simply non-negotiable. Speedy doesn't necessarily have a favorite rein; he's fairly opportunistic. If I'll "let" him hang on the left rein, he's happy to oblige. Same thing to the right. Normally, he might have been a bit annoyed by my insistence, but I think Chemaine's voice was still ringing in his ears. It also helped that I asked once and then popped him with the whip when he was sluggish about responding. It's amazing how quickly that improves their memory.
In fact, Speedy was so willing to carry himself that I tackled that line of three changes across the diagonal that comes in Fourth Level Test 1. On the first try he got all three changes and then we got them all going the opposite direction. We haven't schooled that movement in several months. It's made more difficult because my dressage court is ten-meters short. That might not seem like a lot, but when you're usually happy to get one clean change, it's not much room when you're trying to set up and manage three of them.
I don't know that we'll make it to Fourth Level; we still have some work left to do at Third, but we're finally at the point where we're actually schooling some of the movements from the level above where we're showing which does make the movements we're doing seem a lot easier. Three changes make a single one feel easy. Doing a full walk pirouette makes the half pirouette a piece of cake. Now if only I can make those "easy" movements look easy at our next show.
Talk is cheap, you know?
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%