From Endurance to Dressage
While our first test left something to be desired, like 1.5 points, the First Level Test 3 Green Horse class was certainly an improvement. It wasn't like we went in and kicked a bunch of butts, ours was the only one in the class after all, but Speedy was much more malleable and focused.
This photo says it all. I had no idea at all that other riders were in that warm up end of the arena, and I don't think Speedy did either. He didn't even flick an ear that direction.
While I had been in the Equidome before, Speedy sure hadn't, so I was a bit concerned about how he was going to react. I shouldn't have worried. He was far quieter and more relaxed in there than he was in the large oval where our first ride had been. It was really nice riding inside though. It was quiet, cool, and they played some lovely music that was quite soothing.
Right from the start of the test I knew it was going to go well enough. Speedy was really listening to me and trying (there is video down below). I liked our entry and halt, and I think the first trot lengthening was slightly better than the score indicated. You watch and be the judge.
Chemaine did give me some good exercises for improving the trot lengthenings. The first thing I need to do is keep my hands much lower, and we need to practice doing them for a longer distance. Speedy is showing me that he isn't strong enough to carry the lengthening across the full diagonal. With a bit more practice, we'll both get it.
Of the skills introduced at First Level, the 10-meter circles (and half circles) are definitely our strength. Speedy nails those every time. He finds them easy which is why we practice them a lot. When he gets fussy doing leg yields at home, I'll switch up the work and go to something he likes. He does these well so we do them for fun. I even think these look good on the video.
I spent a lot of time this month working on the trot to canter transitions, and I think this photo shows the improvement. Yeah, his head still pops up a bit, but I like that his croup is getting lower, and he's trying to sit down a little.
Just like the trot lengthenings, the canter lengthenings need more work as well (no photo). It's funny because it feels like Speedy is zooming down that long side, but when I watch the video, I can't see a difference in stride length at all. I've heard my jumper and event rider friends say the same thing. That is definitely something I'll be working on.
The single loop that includes a bit of counter canter is showing improvement though. I am getting Speedy closer to X which means making the loop deeper. It's a tough one to practice at home because I don't have a 60 meter length court. Even so, I am going to start working on deep loops to help improve his balance over all.
The left lead canter is a bit harder as he hangs on my left rein and has trouble moving over onto the right rein. This makes the loop more challenging as he wants to take the bend away.
Not only are the trot to canter transitions really improving, but so are the down transitions to trot. While the quality of this video still is really poor, I like it because it happens at the exact moment of the canter to trot transition, I had to look at it in slow motion about five times to catch the transition. It was that smooth.
And to finish it all off, we had a pretty decent halt, although you'll see in the video that my fan club startles him a little with their enthusiastic applause!
When I looked at the score sheet, I was pretty happy. We earned fives 7.0s one of which had a coefficient of 2, but our total score was still only a 61.765%. Good enough to count towards my USDF First Level Rider Performance Award, but not as high as all of those 7.0s would suggest.
Click images to enlarge.
And now ... the video!
Since I was in a class of one, I did get a lovely blue ribbon. At first I found it puzzling that I was the only one in the Green Horse class, but then I realized that this was a pretty big show and many of the horses and riders there had more experience than Speedy and I do. The Green Horse class was for horses who had five or fewer blues at their level.
Tomorrow ... How We Missed the Mark Completely!
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%: