From Endurance to Dressage
Last Wednesday, I was back at M.A.R.E. for week two. For my second visit as a volunteer, I felt much more confident. I knew where to park - at least I thought I did, and I knew that my job was still in limbo. As it turned out, I kept myself busy.
For each day of the week, the volunteer coordinator sends out a reminder email to all that day's volunteers letting them know of anything important for the day. The first week, I didn't get the email - not too surprising as it was to be my first visit, and I probably wasn't on the group email yet. That email was about parking. The pasture parking was super soft and muddy so volunteers were told to park along a different driveway. Not knowing, I parked in the mud. I was pretty sure I was going to need four wheel drive to get out. Thankfully, I didn't have a problem.
The second week, I did get the email, and again, it said to look for the sign directing visitors to a different parking area because the pasture parking was muddy. I drove slowly, but I didn't see the sign, so again, I parked in the mud, but so had everyone else. Apparently things had dried up between sending the email and the arrival of volunteers. My reason for volunteering is to give back without making life more complicated, so I am just rolling with it. If they say turn left, I am turning left. I love not being in charge.
The arena is still under construction, so the kids aren't having riding lessons quite yet. Since M.A.R.E. is a member of P.A.T.H. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship), they follow as many of P.A.T.H.'s safety guidelines as possible. One of those requirements is perimeter fencing around the ring. Right now, the roof is built and seems finished. I do know that gutters will be installed soon, but that isn't a safety feature. When I was there on Wednesday, the tractor was working the footing. I don't know if moe sand will be brought in, but it is looking closer to being rideable.
Since I am only at M.A.R.E. once a week, the progress moves pretty quickly. Last week there was a huge ditch alongside one side that had been dug out to create a drain. This week, the ditch was filled in although I was told no one should walk on it for the next several weeks as it needs to dry out. The other thing that had been completed was the poles for the perimeter fence. As wet and rainy as it has been here, I am surprised they were able to accomplish so much in just one week. I'll be at M.A.R.E. again tonight, so I am eager to see how much more progress has been made on the arena.
Without an arena to ride in, M.A.R.E.'s two instructors have had to get creative with their lessons. Last week, one of the instructors hid grooming tools around the barn for her rider to find. The little girl was given laminated cards of the different tools, each showing the picture of the tool she was to find. Once she found all of the items shown on the cards, the instructor helped her use each tool on Haven and discuss its purpose. It's not as much fun as riding, but the instructors are still working on skills that the kiddos need. From what I've observed, the lessons have been centered on social skills, communication, and following directions.
Wednesday's Barn Captain is a really kind woman who has been patient with all of my questions. Since I couldn't really help during the non-riding lessons, she and I pruned some small rose bushes; she pointed, and I clipped. I have no skill when it comes to gardening. Later, she let me know that she had to leave early but felt confident in my ability to bring a horse in to the cross ties and help with the feeding. While that sounds patronizing, it was actually quite complimentary. It was only my second day, so to be left on my own was quite flattering.
Besides doing some gardening, we brought all of the turned out horses back into the barn. I almost know each horse by sight. Reina and Knightly are easy because they are the two giants; Knightly is 18'3. Haven is a fine boned chestnut pony, and Cricket is the Halflinger. George is a former dressage horse, and Morrey is the mini. There are four others, one of whom I blanketed, but I don't have his name memorized yet. By today, I think I'll have them all.
While the instructor gave her lessons, I looked around for something else to do. M.A.R.E. has a lot of volunteers so there isn' much left undone, but there is always something to sweep. I swept out the feed room and then moved on to the tack room. I noticed a box filled with a jumble of grooming equipment along with some mini tubs, so I put all of the rubber curry combs in one tub, the metal combs in another, the hairbrushes in their own space, and then lined up all of the bristles brushes. The full-time trainer laughed, but I think the effort was appreciated.
The full-time trainer recently reorganized the entire tack room. It looks great, but it's obvious there are a few tasks left to tackle. I asked if I could do all of the pads for her when I go back today. She looked surprised that I wanted to do that kind of work, but I rubbed my hands together in glee. Organizing is one of my super powers. I'm going to get there early today so that I have enough time to sort out all of the pads and still have time for whatever tasks might be assigned.
I was worried the time commitment would be too much. I am not worried any more.
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%: