From Endurance to Dressage
With Sydney, not Speedy G. The gray pony gets to do two days at El Sueno at a USDF/USEF show next weekend. Sunday's schooling show was all about well, schooling Sydney.
Shows never begin on show day, though. Things always begin days in advance, like during your last few schooling rides. Every stride that's above the bit or behind the bit is cause for concern. We had a near spin and bolt on Friday, but everything was calm and relaxed by Saturday.
After Saturday's ride, I braided Sydney and gave him a bath. I am "okay" at bathing; fortunately, my ponies are very healthy and clean up nicely without too much effort on my part. I use the EQ Solutions system which doesn't require much exertion to use. It leaves my horses shiny and clean with virtually no rinsing. If I actually exerted myself a bit, I am sure my horses would look like a million bucks with this stuff. As it is, I am more of a function over form kind of girl and am happy with good enough when it comes to grooming.
I am a complete hack when it comes to braiding. Speedy has a long mane so I just do a French braid, which looks decent. Sydney has a pulled mane, at which I am actually getting proficient at doing, which needs to be braided. Since he doesn't yet have a show schedule, I haven't been forced to learn how to braid correctly.
In the meantime, I braid with rubber bands. I did finally get some Quic Braid and liked it very much. Here is my version of dressage braids (the forelock's actually pretty good.).
Just to eliminate the suspense - we scored a 61.50% at intro C and a 57.50% at Training Level Test 1, but you'll have to wait a day or two to hear anything more specific!
On to some other parts of the show ...
I loaded Sydney at 5:50 a.m. in the dark. I turned the trailer's interior and exterior lights on and walked him up to the trailer in a relaxed but committed manner. I was thinking, off to work now, and I hoped he was thinking the same thing, but you just never know. I was quite proud of him as he stepped right onto the trailer without any fussing or anxiety. I shut the door, latched it, and pulled out of the drive before either of us could change our minds.
I haven't taken him very many places in the nearly two years that I've owned him. Over the last six months he's been somewhere twice. He's been driven around the block about a half dozen times, but that doesn't compare to barreling down Interstate 5 at 60 miles per hour with four lanes of noisy traffic traffic over a pretty steep pass.
I stopped for gas on the edge of town and was pleased with how quietly he stood and waited. From there, it was another hour and forty minutes until we pulled into the Hansen Damn Equestrian Center. I arrived at 8:00 a.m. giving myself plenty of time before my 10:00 a.m. ride time.
I knew I would have to do things differently with Sydney than I do with Speedy. The first change I made was that as I unloaded Sydney, I didn't stop walking. He backed out, and I just led him forward. HDEC is a rather large facility which has lots of room for hand walking. Sydney's neck was sky high as we started, but I purposely made my stride long and businesslike.
In no time at all, he was stretching his neck and marching alongside me. We walked up to the show area and made several loops in the dressage court paying special attention to the judge's tent. We spent at least 20 minutes hand walking, and I know it helped. I tied Sydney to the trailer, fixed a few wonky braids, and hung his hay bag and water bucket.
I left Sydney tied, not without being a bit worried, and walked back up to the show office to check in and get my number. I can leave Speedy tied alone for days without any worry. I am not yet confident that Sydney can handle being left alone. Fortunately, there had been a Paso Fino show the day before and many of the riders had horses stabled still so there were people and horses hanging around. I hoped someone would notice a distraught or loose horse in my absence and intervene if necessary.
I can't ever saddle Speedy too soon as he quickly gets bored and looks for ways to be naughty. Sydney thrives on doing repetitive actions, so I decided to dress and saddle him even though we still had an hour before our first test.
He was a good boy for saddling and only whinnied for a friend occasionally. He nibbled his hay and would relax for a few minutes before the anxiety would start up again. Saddling seemed to give him something on which to focus.
It's a bit of a walk back to the show area so I again set off at a determined march. Sydney was still somewhat anxious, but he enjoyed moving and relaxed the farther we went. I spent the next 30 minutes hand walking him back and forth around the show area.
I finally got tired of walking. Knowing that this was only a schooling show, I had worn my field boots rather than my dressage boots. I wanted to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. I had already stripped off my coat and tie and hung them on a chair. I was proud of myself for ditching the jacket. I always felt as though a jacket completed the package, and if you're going to show, do it all the way. What an idiot! Who cares?
Leaving my jacket on the chair, I head over to the mounting block with another 35 minutes to go. I love this schooling show series. Every single person from the show managers, ring steward, other competitors, and spectators are always friendly and welcoming. As soon as I climbed onto the mounting block two strangers quickly stepped up to help. I didn't ask for help and Sydney was being good, but I took the help gratefully.
We walked over to the warm up ring and got to work. It didn't go as quietly as it does at home, but it was much improved over the three other times we've been at a "show" (2 ride-a-tests, and one rated show). He was squirrely and tense, but he kept it together. I spent a lot of time doing curvy walk serpentines, but then he insisted we trot. There was a lot of inside hand planting, but he eventually gave me a somewhat soft bend.
We worked on the left lead canter for quite some time before he finally got balanced and happy. The right lead eventually got sort of okay, but I knew we weren't going to get it for the test.
I can't say I am not a wee bit disappointed. I mean, we all want to hit a home run every time, right? But overall, he was much improved from the show we did in September where we never cantered and could barely even trot. He tried hard to listen, but he just couldn't really relax. More on the first test tomorrow ...
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%: