From Endurance to Dressage
Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, pointed out (in the nicest way possible) that setting out some cones (at the very least) would help my geometry thereby improving my scores. Taking his advice to heart, I've maintained a rudimentary dressage court ever since.
When I first laid it out, I measured it as accurately as possible, but I figured a few missing meters here or there wouldn't really matter. Boy was I wrong. Our arena is plenty wide enough for a dressage court, but it's a bit short. I can fit a 20m by 50m court which is close to full-sized, but those extra 10 meters have to come off somewhere.
I took out a meter between each letter and a bit more than 2 meters from the last letters making the distance from the last letter to the corner pretty short. What I didn't realize was that at Third Level, a lot of movements are either set up or begun at those corner letters. By making the corners "shorter," I made it really hard to do the movements.
Reggie, the ranch's fixer of all the things, dragged the arena a month or so ago, but we didn't move my poles and letters. He just got close enough, but it left a funny ridge. Eventually, the footing finally got so wonky that I asked if we could empty the arena and drag it again. To my delight, Reggie and the ranch owner both dragged everything out so Reggie could do a thorough drag. They left me to reassemble everything. Since I couldn't do the cavaletti clinic and was already at the barn at 6:00 a.m., I used the morning to set my court back up while Speedy enjoyed his breakfast.
Knowing that I needed my measurements to be a bit more exact, I carefully measured out the short side at A, being very careful to place A at exactly 10 meters. I then stretched my meter tape all the way to C, making sure that I used all 50 meters in length. I double checked that A and C were still at the 10 meter mark before I found a spot for B and E.
With B and E resting at 25 meters instead of 30, I then measured out the distances for the rest of the letters. I needed to lose 10 meters somewhere, so this time I took 1 meter out in the M/H and F/K sections and 2 meters out between the rest of the letters, the opposite of what I had done the first time.
By the time I was finished, I must have walked or jogged ten miles. I stretched my meter tape back and forth and up and down that court at least a dozen times. In the end, it looked much better than the first time I did it. I rode Speedy that same day and was super pleased with the adjustments that I had made in the placing of the letters. The court "rode" much more accurately, and the smooth footing didn't hurt either.
I don't know if it was the smooth footing, the better laid out court, or just because Speedy is amazing, but we had an excellent ride that morning. My little endurance turned dressage pony has really developed into a solid mid-level dressage horse.
Now we just all need to stay sound and healthy!
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%: