From Endurance to Dressage
We are called Not-So-Speedy-Dressage for a reason. It took ten years for Speedy and I to earn a USDF Bronze Medal, so it shouldn't be surprising that it took 6 years to get Izzy ready enough for a USDF show. Speedy we are not. I am okay with that though since my journey is my own, and I can't do more than I know.
I am sure there are many critics out there who think Izzy isn't ready for Second Level. I wrote a bit about that last week. The thing with Izzy, and we all know this, is that the movements are fairly easy for him. For him, it's the relaxation part that is going to hurt our scores. Every comment the judge made this weekend had to do with his tight back and short neck. If I can break through that barrier, Izzy is going to hit it out of the park. The only way to show him that he can relax is with more experience which means showing.
While he wasn't sleepy and ambivalent about the whole thing, Izzy handled the whole show experience fantastically well. This was a big show crammed into a small space. The gigantic barn was packed, the portable stalls were packed, and the warm up ring was packed. Everywhere we went, we squeezed through this or excused our way past that. For such a big horse who has issues with confinement, he kept himself very much in control.
On Friday afternoon, Amelia Newcomb, with whom we had ridden two weeks previously, came out to give us a lesson; she lives in the area. I am so glad she did because the rings were packed, and Izzy was very tense. There had to be ten horses in either ring at any given time. Even Amelia commented on the craziness of it. Izzy started out as tense and spooky as could be, but within a half an hour, Amelia helped me work him down into a much more relaxed frame. By the end of the lesson, his back was swinging, his neck was long, and he was working with confidence.
The next morning, Izzy came out of his stall full of nervous energy. As soon as I got on, he shot forward. I worked him in exactly the same way Amelia had suggested the day before: lots of bending lines, inside leg to outside hand, and a lot of canter work. He wasn't quiet and submissive, but he was rideable, and willing to bend. We headed into the ring when the ring steward gave us the okay.
After the final halt and salute, I almost burst into tears. I was so proud of Izzy. When I think back on our incredibly long journey from a horse that was barely rideable to one that can actually perform at Second Level, I can't help but be amazed. We might have had to skip a few levels to get there, but we're there now.
Our score wasn't great - we earned a 58.919% which was just four points shy of a 60%. Even so, Izzy did better than I had expected, so I was thrilled. Our score sheet looks just like Speedy's always did at the beginning of a level with lots of 5.0s and 6.0s. We scored a 7.0 for one shoulder-in and a 7.5 for our final halt and salute. There were no 4.0s which means we did all of the movements and were at the very least sufficient.
There were only twenty minutes between my two rides, so I walked Izzy back down to the warm up for a stretch. He again handled the warm up well and seemed ready for test 2. At the last minute, I panicked, not feeling confident that I had the test memorized, so my friend Morgan, who had videoed the first ride, quickly shifted gears and jumped in to read the test. I was glad she did, but I was sorry to miss out on the video. We scored better on the second test earning a 60.610%!
While the second test didn't feel as good as the first one, the judge liked it a whole lot better. Test two is pretty tough with the three loop serpentine with simple changes each time you cross X. Unlike test 1, in test 2 there are multiple canter/walk transitions which are challenging. We earned three 6.0s for the simple changes at X and both counter canters earned 7.5. In all, we earned 7.0 or 7.5 on five different movements. Again, there were no 4.0s., and we had an even smattering of 5.0s and 6.0s
I could have loaded Izzy up that afternoon, gone home, and felt like the weekend was a success. Instead, I stuck around for Day 2, and I am glad I did.
Stay tuned for more ...
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%: