From Endurance to Dressage
Before I get to the show recap, I have to first say something. I've been showing Speedy up the levels since 2010. Every season we struggle with harder movements and worrying about earning the "right" scores for whatever awards program I have my sights set on for that year. With Izzy, I had NONE of that angst or pressure. It was Training Level. How hard could it be? No offense meant. I spent several years at Training Level on Speedy. Repeating a level on a different horse when you have no expectations other than keeping his marbles in his head is a whole lot more fun than when you're doing it "for real."
Before you get too excited, let me just say that we did not blow the judge's mind - or at least not in a good way. We earned a pretty ho-hum 56.923% for Training Level Test 1. But. BUT. Holy cow was I excited! Izzy exceeded all of my expectations.
I showed up at the ranch at 5:30 a.m. to bathe and braid. Was he upset by the radical change in his routine? Nope. He shrugged his shoulders and said whatever ... oh hey! There's hay! He loaded like a champ, traveled like a champ, and unloaded like it was something he did every day.
When he stepped off the trailer, he was a bit looky, but I am fine with looking. Since things were just getting started, I hand walked him up to the show ring and the show office. I walked him around, and before two minutes had passed, he was happily snuffling through the weeds looking for a snack. He started with a coat slightly damp from a nervous sweat, but by the time we made it back to the trailer, he was cool and dry.
I changed my clothes, keeping my eye on him. I then walked him to the warm up ring and back to the dressage court where we watched a test or two, standing right behind the spectators so he could hear the applause. He never even blinked.
I walked him back to the trailer and tacked up. I wanted to give him as much show ground experience as possible, so we walked back up to the dressage court. He got more and more relaxed as the morning wore on. The lead rope was loose as he plodded along behind me. He wasn't as worry-free as Speedy would have been, but his level of trust in me was huge compared to what it was when I tried to show him at Introductory Level back in 2016.
My original plan was to take a full hour for our warm up. On our worst days at home, we go that and longer. After seeing how calm he was, I decided that 45 minutes would be plenty. After 20 minutes of the easiest ride he's ever given me, I realized that I had 25 minutes left to kill. I walked back toward the gate not knowing whether to get off or just stand around. The universe decided for me.
Right in front of us, a woman turned her gray Arabian loose in the round pen. Izzy's head snapped up, and I swear a speech bubble popped up right over his head. THAT'S SPEEDY OH MY GOD SPEEDY IS HERE LOOK AT HIM LOOK AT HIM!!!!!!!
Except we all know it wasn't Speedy, but I could not convince Izzy otherwise. He immediately started hollering and his body exploded with tension. My heart sank. But rather than get too worried, I just put him back to work. It took about five minutes and a lot of cantering, but he slowly let go of the worst of his tension. Not all of it, but his brain reengaged.
We entered at A, I cracked a huge smile. He wasn't exactly relaxed, but he was rideable. We entered with a 5 for our halt, but then we earned a solid string of 6.0s until my lack of preparation reared its ugly head. I had worked on test 3 A LOT but had neglected to learn test 1 until an hour before the ride. During our walk work, I made a course error - oops, bye-bye 2 points.
Our scores got back on track where we earned a string of 6.0s for our trot circle and right lead canter. I was feeling really confident about the test when Izzy slammed on the brakes just before B. He went from a happy little canter to a stuttering halt. I could tell something was bothering him, but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out.
Someone later told me that a breeze picked up at that moment and the odor of cows came wafting up to the arena. There are cattle just down below. Not caring what the issue was, I kicked him no less than a half dozen times before he agreed to trot to which the judge remarked, "rider aids to be less obvious." HILARIOUS. He was rooted to the spot. If I hadn't kicked him so obviously, we'd still be standing there.
We were supposed to do a canter to trot transition just before he skidded to a halt, but I realized there was no way to pick up the canter only to come back down to trot, so I just continued on. We earned a 5.0 for the canter from C-M-B and then a 4.0 for the downward transition which was generous. There was no transition; it was caaaanter, HALT .... kickkickkickkick ... trot. We finished with a 5.0 for our final halt which was no surprise as he was still reeling from his near death experience with cows that he couldn't even see.
The judge was kind with his collectives - Izzy earned a 7.0 for gaits and I got a matching 7.0 for Rider's Position and Seat. So while a 56% isn't anything to write home about, we lost 2 points for stupidity and that unauthorized halt during the canter work didn't do us any favors either. Aside from that, it was a pretty decent little test considering it was his first time showing at Training Level AND his first showing experience since 2016 which we all know was a disastrous year anyway.
Here's the video followed by his score sheet.
Tomorrow, test 3 and redemption?
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%: