From Endurance to Dressage
I first started this blog back in February of 2011 because I couldn't find the answers to my dressage questions. I figured if I had unanswered questions, so must a lot of other local riders. After a bit of a stuttery start, I launched Bakersfield Dressage.com and soon after, this blog. My goal from the beginning was two-fold: First, I wanted to provide information about how to get started showing, and equally as important, I wanted to share what I learned while on my dressage journey. I think most riders feel that everyone else is way better than they themselves are. I am here to tell you, it's not true.
Most of you already know that I started off at Introductory Level, Test A on my endurance Arabian. I had never shown before, nor had I ever taken lessons. Although that's not quite true. As a small child, I took a handful of lessons from my grandma who ran a small lesson/boarding barn. Outside of those few lessons, I was completely brand new to the world of lessons and showing.
So here I am, eight and a half years later, on the same endurance-turned-dressage horse, Speedy G. A number of years ago I changed my blog's title to what it is today: Not-So-Speedy Dressage. The moniker fits us perfectly. With Speedy as my partner, we've labored through each level, advancing slowly but methodically. We've been sidelined here and there due to injuries, but in 2019, we plan to show at Third Level with the goal of finally earning a USDF Bronze Medal; we're two scores away.
Speedy has not had an easy go of things. He's had to learn all of the movements along with me. When things don't go well, I always, always assume the error is mine. If he won't do it, it's because I am not asking correctly.
When this past summer's show season ended, we started schooling some of the Third Level movements, especially those in Test 1. By the way, I've created links to all of the 2019 tests if you ever need to look at them. The movements introduced in Third Level, Test 1 include extended gaits, half pass at trot, and the single flying change. When I read the directives for the extended gaits - Utmost ground cover with lengthening of frame; I kind of laughed - the only thing Speedy can do to the "utmost" is beg for treats!
So where are we on our preparations for Third Level? Well, the simple answer is that I could probably/maybe eke out a score in the 50s if the judge squinted. The more complicated answer is that we are firmly in the Land of Inconsistent.
Some days, I frantically text Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, begging her to fix whatever is currently wrong with my riding and aids. Her task is monumental because my shortcomings rotate on an unpredictable schedule. Sometimes, it's my hands that are causing the problem, other times it's seat. It is more accurate to say that all of it is due to my lack of knowing what the heck it is I am supposed to be doing.
Sometimes, like this Sunday, Speedy and I are show moments of brilliance. We have a shoulder in that is now more forward. His travers is getting better, and since we need to ride renvers in a later test, I ride the movement off the rail asking for the haunches in both directions.
Speedy's rein back is getting quite nice, and he has even learned that it's four steps back and then forward. I haven't tried rein back to trot yet, but I have a feeling he'll get that pretty quickly. The hardest movement of the level, the flying change, is coming along. They're still a bit ... explosive, but he gets it. He's even arrived at the stage where he wants to throw them in any time I even tweak the bend.
In the end, it's really the journey that is the most important. I am frustrated often, but every once in a while, Speedy and I will ride a movement better than we have before. It is those moments for which I live. Third Level or Introductory, it's about finding those harmonious moments when it all feels easy.
We rarely get there, but when we do, the struggle is all worth it!
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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%: