From Endurance to Dressage
I recently wrote about the dust control product that the ranch owner uses. I dismantled the dressage court last Monday, and on Tuesday the footing was leveled, and then the ArenaKleen was applied. On Wednesday, I took Speedy to the vet, so Thursday was my first chance to take the dust-free dirt for a spin. Before riding though, the ranch owner and I replaced the dressage court.
I am just going to say right now that a little geometry really helps with your "geometry," if you know what I am saying. When I first started laying out a court, this was at the barn where I was last, I mapped out a space that was 20 meters wide and however long the arena was. Back in those days, the best I could get was around 45 meters in length, maybe. I didn't bother with the letters. Then, I moved to the ranch where I am now, and since the arena was roughly the size and shape of a dressage court, and I mean roughly, I piled my poles off to the side and rode the arena as is.
Once I made the move to Second Level, it was strongly suggested that I get my head out of my butt and create a freaking rectangle as my geometry sucked. I dusted off my meter tape, dragged the poles back in, fumbled with my t-squares, and built a half-assed 20 by 50-meter dressage court. And to make it look good, I added letters that were mostly in the right places. The problem was getting the dang thing "square," and I don't mean that I turned the rectangle into a square. What I mean is that I simply could not get four right angles, even with the t-squares. Without four right angles, I had a parallelogram instead of a rectangle.
Then a month or so ago, the ranch owner volunteered to help me set up the court after we'd dragged it smooth. Oh, hallelujah, but did that ever help. With her sighting by eye and directing me to the left or right, we started to get things a little straighter. After once again dismantling things so we could treat the footing with the ArenaKleen, the ranch owner and I set aside a morning to rebuild the court together. Knowing I was going to have help, I decided we would do it the right way. I pulled out my little map of the court and sat down at my computer to calculate the hypotenuse of a triangle with a 20-meter side A and a 50-meter side B.
We started by measuring out the 20-meter short end at A. Then the ranch owner held the tape in the corner, and I walked down the long side keeping the tape as straight as I could. We then measured out the other short side. As I looked at my calculations for the diagonal line, I realized that something was off, so we both whipped out our phones to recalculate. The ranch owner is a legit scientist, so she used a scientific calculator while I asked Google to do it for me. In the end, we both came up with a hypotenuse that was correct, 53.85 meters or 176.68 feet. For a 60-meter court, the hypotenuse would be 63.25 meters or 207.5 feet. Double check my math.
Having an accurate measurement for the diagonal line cut our work time by more than half. Instead of trying to line things up by sight, we walked back and forth with the meter tape a few times, and suddenly, the dressage court was an actual rectangle with four right angles. Once we were happy with our four corners, we dropped the letters in place and placed the poles down the line. We found another eight poles, so it took a bit of extra time to figure out how to maximize their placement, but when we were finished, the whole thing felt so much straighter, and the added poles created sides that were much more visible.
After taking a break in the shade, I saddled Izzy up for a ride. With the newly treated footing, it felt like we were riding on wet sand. There was absolutely no dust, and the footing had a slightly spongy feel. With the added poles and the newly correct corners, I started feeling like an actual Bronze Medalist. It was glorious.
So, Euclid, Pythagorus, thank you. Little did you all know you would have such a profound impact on the dressage world.
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 Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read