From Endurance to Dressage
Long time, no see. Wow. Sorry about that. I was here one minute and gone the next. It's not often that I disappear. Nothing's wrong; I've just been really busy. Things have settled down a bit which means I once again have time to share what's been going on with my two boys and me. There's a lot to tell, so I'll start with last Monday.
As many of you know, I am an elementary school teacher - fifth grade for the past twelve years, and Back-to-School season is upon us. While our students don't come back until Wednesday, teachers have spent the past week in what we call "Professional Development." That's just a fancy expression for "inservice days." You had them when you were a kid, but all you knew was that you got a day off from school. For teachers, it's an opportunity (?) for more training.
I've been teaching for 27 years - I am starting my 28th, so "training" usually makes me roll my eyes. If I need "training" at this stage in the game, something isn't right. Fortunately, our PD this year was more about our new administration's change in attitude, which turned out to be a good thing, a VERY good thing.
One of the things that really resonated with me during one of the days' training was the idea of "compression." In her book, Mathematical Mindsets [you could so easily substitute the word dressage for mathematical], Jo Boaler writes "... we engage in a brain process called compression. [...] The process of compression happens because the brain is a highly complex organ with many things to control, and it can focus on only a few uncompressed ideas at any one time. Ideas that are known well are compressed and filed away."
Seriously. Read that part again. " ... It can only focus on a few uncompressed ideas at any one time." This is a brilliant explanation for why we struggle for so long in this sport. We can only work on a few things at a time, and most of us also deal with ideas and concepts away from riding, work for example. No wonder we don't "get it" the first time. Or the tenth time. Or even the hundredth time.
Basically, when you finally understand something, it no longer takes up so much space in your brain because it gets compressed which makes room for new stuff. Here's how Boaler describes it, " ... you may struggle a long time, step by step, to work through the same process or idea from several approaches. But once you really understand it and have the mental perspective to see it as a whole, there is often a tremendous amount of compression."
But here's what makes this idea even more fascinating. Boaler asserts that the brain can only compress concepts, not rules and methods. This is why memorizing tests is so hard! But what is it that we spend most of our riding time doing? Learning concepts, ideas, and feels! This means that once we "get" one of those, our brain can compress the idea and file it away to be used as needed. This frees up our brains to begin working on a new concept or idea. I don't know about you, but this idea really explains a lot.
Besides learning some new stuff that I'm able to apply to my riding, I've also been especially busy wrapping my head around my "new" job. A week or two ago, I was chosen to be a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). While the vast majority of our 18,000 plus students will be back for In-person instruction, approximately 200 of them will be at home in front of their computers. I was selected as one of the nine teachers who will continue teaching our remote learners. We have one classroom for each grade TK/K - 8th grade.
I was good at teaching remotely, and our kiddos needed someone with experience, so I applied. While I am excited about the job, I am also panicking. When I left school on Thursday, none of our classrooms were ready. My district is taking portable buildings and converting them into work spaces that can house two teachers each. The left half of each room will be a common area while the right half was split into two offices/mini-classrooms. None of the rooms are ready yet. The interior doors were propped against the walls, and none of the technology needed for remote teaching was installed. We're also missing most of the textbooks and other teaching materials that we'll need. My fingers are crossed that things will be more put together when I arrive later this morning.
So where was I all of last week? First, I was in training from 7:30 to 3:30. After that, I had to go to my old school each evening and pack up most of my materials to make room for the teacher who is filling my position for this school year. Since my new position is a "special assignment," I'll be back at my old school next year. Making room for someone else revealed that I am in fact a hoarder. Today and tomorrow I'll be getting my room ready and lesson plans uploaded.
I'll keep going with the updates tomorrow; there was a show after all!
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%: