From Endurance to Dressage
I am saying this with both fingers crossed; it looks like we might get to start showing in June. Last week, instead of extending the ban on showing, USEF released a Tool Kit for show managers. It's a lengthy read with lots of embedded links and a few things that made me wrinkle my nose in disgust/frustration/aggravation?, but at least we are headed in the right direction.
My own chapter of CDS has five shows on hold, two of which we've already rescheduled for the fall. We haven't heard anything from CDS yet as to how many of USEF's rules we need to adhere to, especially since a lot of the rules just don't make sense for teeny tiny shows like ours.
Like this one, Create an Emergency Response Plan specific to a COVID-19 incident or outbreak that includes local medical resources and addresses outbreak protocols including medical evaluation, isolation and quarantine, and reporting. I am sorry, but how is an "outbreak" going to occur at a horse show, and how in holy f--- would we KNOW that an outbreak has occurred? Will people become infected immediately and begin foaming at the mouth? I certainly hope not, but I've seen a lot of movies where that happens.
Here's even more: Require a facemask or face covering for all staff, officials, volunteers, service providers and participants when not mounted on a horse. My one problem with this is what do I do as a competitor if I must lead my horse to a mounting block that is not positioned at my trailer or my stall? Do I wear the mask until I mount and then lower it so it can then serve as my stock tie? If I don't wish it to serve as my stock tie, do I shove it in a pocket? If I don't have a pocket, do I drop it on the ground? I won't have a groom or family member with me, so I won't have anyone "safe" to hand it to, and why would anyone want to touch it anyway? So I guess I am back to dropping it on the ground.
Need more? How about these three:
1. Prohibit the public, spectators, and non-essential personnel such as guests from being on the competition grounds until further notice. What about our small summer show series that's held at an equestrian center? How do we prohibit paying boarders from coming to the barn? I am not sure how we can kick them out for spectating or grooming or riding their own horses. We already can't prohibit them from using the warm up arena during the show. Now USEF wants us to prohibit them from showing up at their barn, the one they're paying to use. We can "prohibit" all we want, but we have no way of enforcing this rule.
2. Organize horse arrivals and departures to limit contact between people. I already get to a show a little before my scheduled ride time and leave when I am done. Are we now going to wait in a line on the side of a road as each person unloads her horses and stuff so that we're doing things in isolation? Funny how 400 people can be in Costco, but 20 ladies can't show up at the show grounds throughout the day.
3. Arrange judges’ and other officials’ areas to comply with social distancing requirements. I can't wait to see how they work this one out. I guess the judge can just shout out her scores and comments to her scribe. Maybe they'll buy walkie-talkies.
I get it. There need to be some guidelines, but USEF likes to offer solutions that are one-sized fits all. SafeSport showed us that. COVID-19 is only reinforcing how USEF likes to deal with problems. They want a solution that can be applied to everyone and at every show. But seriously, some of USEF's requirements are going to be really hard to police, especially since events like ours are held at equestrian centers with their own clients. Our shows, whether it's our little one-star CDS shows or our "bigger" three-star CDS/USDF/USEF shows are already lightly attended. Because our venues tend to be fairly spread out and wide open, we'll be practicing social distancing without even trying. As much as I want the world to reopen and get back to work, I am not sure USEF has thought this through all the way.
My friend Jen, who is the show manager for close to a dozen CDS/USDF/USEF shows each year, sent me an entry for the Summer Dressage II show at El Sueno in mid-June. I filled it out over the weekend. I want to go, I am planning on going, but I am just not sure how much fun it's going to be. And showing is, after all, supposed to be fun.
This past month or so has shown how divided we are as a nation. We have lost the ability to even pretend to listen or respond in a respectful manner. I know that many of you think I am cold hearted without any hint of sensitivity to the issues facing us. I would argue that the complete opposite is true. My heart is breaking for the millions and millions and millions of Americans who are today without jobs. Some of those people are in my own family. Yes, I care that 80,000 have died, but far more than half of them were elderly with preexisting conditions, many of whom would have no doubt died from something else this year.
Yes, that sucks. It really does, but I don't see a huge uproar about flu deaths or about deaths due to gun violence or suicide (more than 48,000 Americans took their own lives in 2018). Did you know that 655,381 other Americans died of heart disease in 2018? How many of those deaths would have been prevented if people hadn't smoked or had exercised or eaten better? Why are we not upset about that? (source)
Bakersfield is California's 9th largest city by population, and Kern County ranks as the 11th largest county by population (3rd largest by area). Out of all of those many, many people - nearly 900,000 here in Kern County, 15 people have died from COVID-19. FIFTEEN. And for that, my county now has a jobless rate of more than 15% as of April. California's population is nearly 40,000,000. Forty million. Do you know how many have died? 2,678.
Do I want to go to a dressage show without having to wear a mask? Yes, I do, but not because I am selfish. It's because I am desperate to see my city, my county, and my state get people back to work. I want kids to go back to school, and I want us to think about what we have lost and given away for 15 people.
In my mind, It hasn't been worth it.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
3/6-7 El Sueño (***)
4/17-18 El Sueño (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read