From Endurance to Dressage
So How Bad Was It?
Well, we earned our lowest score ever, and that's saying a lot. For Training Level Test 1, Sydney and I earned a dismal 47.920%. That's low. That's pretty much as low as you can get.
Our warm-up was an effort to just not explode and take out the rest of the riders. I didn't even try to trot. I simply insisted on a calm walk without his head twelve feet in the air. His back was so hollow that his belly almost touched the ground, but I kept working him. Eventually, I just walked down to the show ring, and since I was the first rider, I was able to finish warming up in there.
Surprisingly, as soon as we got in the ring, some of his tension melted away and he actually started to relax. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. The only good thing about the test was that we actually got both the left and and right lead canter departures. For the left lead canter we earned a 5 with the comment, needs more forward stretch. For the right lead, we scored a 4.5 with the comment, spooking, good recovery. (The next rider's horse had started fussing near A which caused us some big trouble. We earned a 2 for the downward transition).
I have never earned so few sixes and have never seen so many fours and fives. My test wasn't available to study before my second ride, but it didn't matter. I knew what it was going to show. Instead of worrying about it, I walked back up to the warm-up ring for a minute since there were four riders between my first and second rides. All I did was ask him to walk and relax. And surprisingly, he looked pretty good.
My plan for the second test was to be much more insistent that he focus on me. I can't push him too hard or he'll have a melt down, but I knew that I needed to be much more assertive. I walked back down to the ring and picked a spot to just let him stand. To his credit, he stood rock solid for three full tests. He chewed his bit and shook at flies, but his feet never moved.
When our time rolled around, I walked him into the arena (there was no alley) and down to the judge. We chat for a minute, and then she rang the bell. I continued walking and then at about B, I asked for a trot. The test was still far from good, but finally, we made it through a test that was actually worth scoring. We earned a 57.50%, a full 10 percentage points higher than the first test. We had no 4s and ten 6s! We also had three 6.5s on our collectives.
The best improvement was for impulsion. On the first test, we scored a 4.5, but for the second test, we bumped that up to a 6. In fact, my collective marks rose from 38 points on test 1 to 47.5 points on test 2, a 9.5 point difference! The judge wasn't effusive with her comments, I'd been warned about that, so her very short, Better test. Will be a nice team! was very welcome.
There were other things that went quite well. Sydney trailered there and back like a champ. He was stabled in the show barn completely alone and never fussed about it. He ate and drank like a pro and slept quietly all night. I brought him into the barn aisle to tack up, and he stood ground tied pretty nicely while I saddled and bridled. He stood by the mounting block very relaxed and didn't move when I got on.
During the warm-up, a less experienced rider lost a bit of control and came at us head on. Not knowing which way she was going, I stopped. She came so close to us that she brushed my inside leg. Sydney stood rock solid, for which I was extremely grateful. She apologized profusely, but since no one was hurt. It was fine.
So now, the venue part of the experience is not an issue. I can depend on him to load politely, travel well, and settle in to a strange stall. That's at least one part of showing that I can put in the no problem column. Getting him to focus on me while in the ring is the next hurdle. If anyone knows how long that takes, please feel free to share.
Getting him to focus takes exactly 12 shows.
8/12/2014 10:06:12 pm
OMG, Mia! I laughed out loud when I read your comment. Boy, did I need THAT moment of levity. 12 is a GREAT number; I'll take it!!!! :0)
Honestly, I see a lot of positives in this experience. You know what your horse is good at, and you know how much to push him. You really used that knowledge well at this show. You also know that warming up around other horses might stress him out before you get to the ring. How much experience does he have riding in a big ring with other riders? Sometimes it can really psych them out to be in a busy ring, even if they don't seem to totally lose their marbles.
8/12/2014 12:27:52 am
Sometimes you and I are so alike. "How long exactly will this take, cuz I've got about 2 weeks to invest in it" is a common sentiment for me. I don't know where this mental deadline came from, but it haunts me constantly.
8/12/2014 06:21:01 am
Agreed, there are a lot of positives in there. The ten point improvement is impressive. You're a competent horse person and I know you're an ammy like the rest of us (with similar schedule/time limitations). If it's an option for you, I'd be really curious to see how Syndey did with a longer warm up (or really early morning ride) or a solid ride the day before.
I'm sorry, but a 2?! That's uncalled for at a small time local show (no matter how bad the transition may have been). But you're doing a great job of focusing on the positive and highlighting his improvements. I admit I was nervous when I read about the walking-only warm up, but hey - you gotta try out different things to see what works, right?
8/12/2014 02:23:46 pm
You have really made some great progress! I know it seems that you are taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back but honestly the fact that you improved so much from one test to the next shows what a bond you are developing with him! One thing that helped me with Varro was to hit the trail...many many trail miles with others and alone. That is when we made the biggest strides forward. Now that we have moved and are settled I plan to ride the "PAVED" roads! That will be new for us! I wish I had a friend to go with the first couple times out! Maybe what Sydney needs another foxhunt!!??
8/14/2014 05:22:46 am
I have a teach credential also, even though I work as a programmer and have for the past 15 years. I still remember the purpose of a test. A test is to tell the teacher where the weak points are and where the student needs help. In the end, all you can do is work on those weak points with your big giant student.
8/14/2014 12:06:25 pm
8/17/2014 11:48:07 pm
For added inspiration - Kaytee Mountain hits Prix St. George.
Comments are closed.
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%: