From Endurance to Dressage
When I got to MARE last week, I was pretty excited because it was the first rainy day we'd had since the covered arena has been ready for lessons. In the past, all lessons had to be cancelled when it rained or when it hit 100 degrees. Which if you know anything about Bakersfield is more than sixty days each summer. Plus, I had heard that the new felt footing had also been spread. It still needed to be worked into the sand and packed down, but still, it's exciting to have a nearly dust free and shaded arena.
When I walked into the barn though, I knew something was wrong. To everyone's disappointment, nearly all of Wednesday afternoon's volunteers had failed to show up. Each rider needs a minimum of two volunteers - one to be the horse handler and one to be the side walker. The side walker is there to ensure the rider's safety. On Wednesday afternoons, we now have three students which means no less than six volunteers. When there are not enough volunteers, riding lessons have to be cancelled.
Since there are two trainers, one can serve as a horse handler or side walker. The barn captain can also do either of those jobs. I was there and just before the lessons were scheduled to begin, a second volunteer arrived. In a situation where there are not enough volunteers, the volunteer coordinator can be called in which is what happened. In the end, we had five adults; one person shy. For lack of a single volunteer, three kiddos didn't get to ride. It was very disappointing, particularly so since Wednesday was one child's first lesson.
Since I couldn't help with the barn lessons, I grabbed a manure fork and a muck bucket and got to work. Because of the rain, the horses had been brought in early which meant that stalls needed to be cleaned before dinner. I cleaned George's, Diamond's, Smoothie's, Sadie's, Haven's, Cricket's, Morey's, Knightly's, and Reina's stalls. Yep. I now know each horse. Even more interesting is that I know two of the horses' previous owners. George was owned by a local dressage competitor who has since left the area, and Sadie was owned by an acquaintance with whom I have ridden a time or two.
While the kiddos finished their barn lesson, I grabbed the other volunteer and asked her to help me carry in the caveletti, buckets, toys, barrels, and other equipment used for the morning lessons. The week before, I had asked what needed to be brought in, so without waiting to be told, I just brought everything in again. I am pretty sure the arena gets worked each morning, and it is easier job to do without everything in there.
Since the young rider who was taking lessons at 5:00 has moved to Mondays, our day was made much shorter especially since none of the kiddos got to ride. Included in their barn lesson was feeding dinner, so by the time I came back in from cleaning Reina and Knightly's outdoor paddocks and turning them out, everything in the barn was finished. It was nice to be done by 4:45, but I would rather work for the full three hours. Unless we get some new kiddos in the 5:00 slot, we'll probably be finishing up by 5:30 on Wednesdays.
Now that I've seen first hand what happens when a single volunteer doesn't show up, you can bet I will be there every week without fail - not that I would ever flake out on a commitment. While the arena was being built, we didn't do riding lessons so I did sometimes feel a bit useless. Rather than sit around though, I looked for things to do. Many of the volunteers are young - high school and college-age, so they don't necessarily have the same experience or confidence to just go rogue that someone in her 50s does.
Having managed my own horses for so many decades means that I already know what kinds of dirty jobs need doing without needing to be told. There is always a pile of poop to pick up or something to sweep. I've also managed enough classroom volunteers to know how appreciated it is when one of them finds things to do on her own.
For the sake of those three kiddos coming this afternoon, I hope the rest of the volunteers make it out today, especially so since it's stormy yet again.
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%: