From Endurance to Dressage
I know it's summer everywhere which means it's probably hot everywhere, but holy cow. It's been really hot here on the west coast. Our high was 106℉ yesterday with a low of 81℉. It was 128℉ in Death Valley yesterday, which is only about 200 miles away.
Even knowing that we were in the middle of a pretty extensive heat wave, I still loaded Sydney in the trailer and went to a show. Yes, I knew it was going to be hot showing, but it was the drive home that I was most worried about. To get to the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, I have to cross a 4,200 foot pass, which is low by California's standards, but it's a climb that happens in a relatively short period. Even tougher is the climb coming home.
For the drive over, I was on the highway by 5:30 a.m. so heat wasn't really a factor. The show started and ended early, so I was finished and loaded up by 11:00; it was already 91℉. Not only did I hose Sydney off, but I had soaked his flysheet in a cool bucket of water and placed it in the shade so that it would be ready the second he stepped on the trailer. A wet fly sheet combined with open windows was the closet thing to air conditioning that I could arrange for him.
The drive home proved to be a bit nerve wracking. For the past few months, I had been thinking about replacing my truck, a very long story, but decided that it's doing the job for now, so I decided to keep it. BUT. It's 13 years old, and stuff happens. As I cruised along 4 lanes of busy freeway traffic in near 100 degree heat with a favorite friend stuck in the back, all I could do was send up little silent prayers that we would cross the pass and make it to the valley floor safely.
At every mile, I saw a car or truck parked on the side of the road with it's hood up. At one point, I just quit looking for fear that breaking down was somehow contagious. Even though the gas gauge said I could make it home, I decided to pull over in Gorman which is pretty much the "top" of the grade as you come back to Bakersfield.
The temperature was only 93 degrees there, and I knew I could park in the gas station's shade for a few minutes which would give my truck a break. More importantly, I wanted to check on Sydney and make sure he was feeling okay. As I filled my tank, I opened the back door and was pleased to see Sydney looking pretty relaxed. The fly sheet was about 95% dry so I pulled it off; it had done it's job.
The last 45 miles of the trip would be the hottest as we would be traveling along the valley's floor. There was no way to make Sydney any more comfortable so I continued on knowing that the sooner we got home, the better. It was 103℉ when we pulled into the barn at 1:00 p.m. Sydney was a bit warm to the touch, and he had a small amount of sweat near his flanks, but he was bright eyed and seemed happy to be home.
I unloaded him and walked over to the shade to let him graze for a few minutes. When I was sure that all was well, I took him to the wash rack and hosed every part of his body. I scraped all the excess water and hurried him into the shade of the barn where a nice breeze was blowing. He immediately dove into his hay with a happy expression.
I hung around the barn for nearly an hour keeping an eye on him. He took a long drink, continued to munch on his hay, and then slurped down his electrolyte laden beet pulp mash. Only once I was certain that he looked healthy did I grab my own stuff and head home. I was more hot and beat up than Sydney was. Since I was worried about my truck possibly over-heating, I had ridden with my own AC off and the windows down.
By the time I got home, all I could think about was a cold shower and lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening rotating between the couch and the floor with an ice pack on my neck. There might have also been several ice cream sandwiches devoured as well as a couple of cold drinks consumed.
More about the show tomorrow. Right now I need to get to the barn for a morning lesson.
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: