From Endurance to Dressage
While I have shown Izzy a fair amount over the past year and a half (and even before that), it certainly wasn't successfully. As much as I love showing, I don't know that he and I will ever be able to show competitively. That thought used to upset me. It's less upsetting as time passes.
During my Saturday lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, I asked what he thought about us showing this spring. I've never left the decision to show or not to show up to my trainer before, but in this case, I really wanted Sean's opinion.
In the decade that I showed Speedy, I never had to worry about being ready. Speedy always did his very best for me. I didn't have to deal with anxiety or spookiness. Speedy always LOVED to show. Even if we sucked at home, I knew it would be better by show day. Speedy loved showing that much.
Speedy and I got plenty of low scores, but I was never surprised; I always knew more or less where we were score-wise. Even though we started each level with scores in the high 50s, after a few shows, we always managed to get qualifying scores and even win along the way. Things haven't gone that way with Izzy.
Despite being athletic and talented, Izzy doesn't enjoy showing like Speedy did. Izzy's anxiety just takes over, and even though he can perform the movements, his emotions just get the best of him. That's why I asked Sean what he thought. I can keep taking Izzy to shows, but right now, I know exactly what we'd get - a score in the mid-50s. Last year, we thought Izzy just needed more miles. By October, it was clear that he needed more than that. Sean hoped that if we worked all winter, we'd see a big enough change in Izzy's behavior to warrant coming out to show in the spring.
While I am riding Izzy better than I ever have, it's still not enough. He still braces and gets tense. He still spooks hard enough to go off course. And he still won't let the tension go long enough for an entire run through a test. Sean's answer to my should we show? question was a reluctant not yet.
I could tell that Sean hated telling me no. It's hard to discourage a student. I know I don't like telling my own students no. I always say not yet. Mindset is everything when you're still learning and growing. So while we're not yet ready for the April show at SCEC, we're still keeping our options open. There might be a show in May that we'll be ready for, and if not, July and August have some possible show dates.
I know Sean isn't worried about me embarrassing him. I long ago got over that fear. Instead, I think he's more concerned with Izzy's emotional and mental health. He wants Izzy to feel so confident in me as his rider that the show nerves won't be what bring our scores down. Until Izzy will look to me for reassurance at shows, we're not really doing anything except wasting my money. Fortunately, Sean's mindful of my money and doesn't want me to waste it any more than I do.
Right now, we both think my money is better spent on more lessons. Izzy definitely agrees.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%