From Endurance to Dressage
I am just going to start off by saying that I have a TON, yes, a literal ton of stuff to share about this past weekend's California Dressage Society Annual Meeting and Health Fair. Since I can't seem to organize myself, I am just going to start with the most exciting part while the educational stuff percolates for a day or two.
Before I jump into the awards part of the weekend, I should tell you a tiny bit about the meeting just to give you some context. Each January, the California Dressage Society (CDS) holds its annual meeting. On Friday, the Executive Board meets. Saturday is the general meeting where the budget and other things related to the purpose of CDS are discussed. Committee chairs also share, and the chapter chairs hold round table discussions. An awards banquet is held later that evening. Sunday's activities vary from year to year, but this year there were lectures focused on equine and rider health.
A very delicious dinner was served during the awards banquet, and a variety of awards were presented, two of which I was there to receive. While I don't know this for a fact, I am assuming that most of the award recipients don't actually make it to the banquet. California is huge, and not everyone can or even wants to drive ten hours to pay for a hotel room just to receive a $5 pin or an $8 plaque. Only twelve ladies were called up to receive their Gem Awards, but I am certain that many more stayed home and saved themselves a ton of money.
To each her own of course, but we had a laugh-so-hard-it-hurts good time; I am glad I went. Who wouldn't want to cram four punch-drunk ladies (okay one wasn't actually a "lady" as she's only 16, but still ...) in one hotel room with nothing to do but talk horses?
I won't mention any names, but one of us (not me!) schlepped a full-sized printer, laminator, laptop, gift basket for the silent auction, and suitcase full of clothes but forgot to pack something to wear to the banquet. Even more hilarious was that the sixteen-year-old bought blue and pink dye on the drive to Anaheim so that she could dye her hair ... in the hotel room. I am not saying you would have enjoyed it, but we certainly did.
Back to the awards though. So what's a Gem Award? I hear you asking. For me, it was the Ruby Award which is earned when the rider earns qualifying sores at Training, First, and Second Levels. It's a bit like a USDF Medal in that the scores need not be earned in a single season or even on the same horse. I won't even tell you how long it took me to get those six scores. Let's just leave it at a long time.
The pins are typically worn on your show coat lapel. The super cool kids wear their Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal pins down one lapel with their Diamond, Sapphire, and Ruby pins down the other. And if you have Freestyle Bars to go with them, well you're just too cool to be seen with me.
The Gem Awards recognize rider perseverance, but since all of my scores have been earned on Speedy, the pin is just as much his as it is mine. I am sure he won't mind if I pin it to my jacket; pinning it to his "coat" might be painful.
The Second Level Horse Performance Award is given to horses who earn six or more scores of 60% or higher. Scores need not be earned all in one season. I am ridiculously proud of the fact that we earned fifteen scores of 60% or better at CDS and/or USDF-rated shows in just one year. We kicked that requirement's butt.
Jen and I were both a wee bit disappointed that the awards don't come with the horses' names engraved on them though; a cost saving measure I am sure. In case any of the Executive Board are reading, I would have paid an extra three bucks to have Speedy's name on the plaque. Just sayin'.
Never having been to a state level awards banquet, I was very surprised by the camaraderie that was expressed. It didn't matter whose name was called; everyone cheered for each rider no matter which award they were receiving. Being surrounded by so much good will left me feeling empowered and eager for this next show season and beyond.
Throughout the course of the weekend, many people congratulated me personally and introduced themselves as readers of my blog. I am always thrilled to meet the people who actually take five minutes to read over what I've written, but I am also deeply humbled. I still feel like that endurance rider having a go at Introductory Level, Test A.
I feel so lucky to be a member of the California Dressage Society. Besides earning some terrific awards, I totally dug feeling so connected to a larger organization. More on that tomorrow.
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%: