From Endurance to Dressage
The Struggle is Real - Part 1
I am definitely an under-achieving over-achiever when it comes to dressage. This is hard for me because I tend to be pretty good at the things in which I am interested. Why I chose dressage, I'll never know as it is a discipline where perfection is unattainable unless your name is Charlotte, Carl, or Isabell.
I am not making excuses here, but dang is Second Level hard. On Sunday, Speedy and I gave it yet another go. For the first time this show season, I didn't have a horrendous migraine, and while I may still be drugged up, the drugs weren't making me loopy. And you know what? We scored WORSE than before. Insert HUGE eye roll here.
Again, I am not making excuses, but this judge was tough. I rarely, if ever complain about my scores. If anything, I tend to discredit our higher scores believing the judge to be overly generous. I am not doing that again. Out of 23 posted scores (not counting 1 elimination or any of the scratches), 10 scores were in the 40s and 50s. I'll do the math for you; that's 43%.
On the other hand, the judge also handed out some very nice scores. The top two scores were a 71% and a 75%. The rest of the scores were all in the 60s. This either means that this show attracted a LOT of sucky riders and a few good ones, or the judging was a little tough. I guess it depends on who you ask.
Each time I move up to a new level, the struggle is the same. I work hard, I cross my fingers, and I pray for a 60%. Instead of the 60, I bring home scores in the 50s. Eventually, we get better, and I start looking for scores in the mid-60s. Then comes the day where I start praying for a 70%. That's when I know we're ready to move up. We're not there yet. Speedy and I are still stuck in the land of the high 50s.
We had some nice moments on our Second Level Test 1. Our free walk earned a 7 which was great as it has a double coefficient. Our walk to canter at C earned another 7 as did our halt at X. We also had a smattering of 6s for our rein back, the simple changes, and our medium canter. The rest of the test was filled with 4s and 5s.
I did make two errors that were not Speedy's fault. On our second 10-meter canter circle, I glanced down and swore we were on the wrong lead. I brought him back to trot and picked up the left lead. Doing that put us out of position for the counter canter from F to E so I halted again, turned back toward A and picked up the left lead again so I could counter canter back to the rail at E. Out of the 20 possible points for those two movements, I earned 7 points. Ouch. And as it turns out, I was on the correct lead to begin with.
I knew it wasn't a great test, and I was frustrated for second guessing myself. Our score was a dismal 56.515%. Certainly not what I was hoping for, but at least we had a few good moments. I have some homework to do for sure, especially on my sitting trot. Like I told my trainer, last May when I rode with Hilda Gurney at the CDS Adult Amateur Clinic, I couldn't sit the trot for more than two strides. Now, here I am sitting for a whole test. It may not be pretty, but it's getting better.
Here's the video.
Test 2 Tomorrow.
5/31/2018 10:52:57 am
Thanks, T. Moving up is great and not-so-great at the same time. LOL
5/30/2018 08:09:26 am
Being a spectator all morning and ring steward in the afternoon, I got to watch most of the rides. Overall, I hate to say, I think the judge was very fair. Very little connection, tense horses (and riders!), no bend, lots of haunches in... I think you and Speedy are doing GREAT and it will get better! You are so dedicated and Speedy is so willing, it will come!
5/31/2018 10:54:44 am
Thanks for sharing, Tracy :0)
5/30/2018 03:30:00 pm
2nd level is hard!
5/31/2018 10:56:53 am
Thanks, Elinor. I've had this conversation with my trainer lots of times. We can do the movements, hooking them together smoothly is the challenging part. She felt that the reason I am having trouble feeling the canter is my 10-meter circles are too small. They're more like 8-meter circles which are super hard. poor Speedy G! LOL
5/30/2018 05:37:46 pm
I share your frustration when your marks go down and they should be going up! In twelve tests at the same level I got my worst mark ever on my last outing. Some of the frustration stems from the fact that there is a huge dissonance between the best work we are capable of (which has improved greatly), and what comes out in a test (which clearly hasn't improved that much). Test riding is a whole different ball game.
5/31/2018 11:00:15 am
Absolutely, Justine. So very true. I read the comments so closely and always try to pick out something to work on. At the last show, the judge pointed out that in the rein back, I am not supposed to halt after reining back. I didn't know that, so for this show, I did the rein back but asked Speedy to step forward right away. That was a constructive comment.
6/1/2018 12:13:59 pm
The struggle is definitely real.
6/1/2018 01:15:13 pm
I can relate. Judging can definitely be inconsistent!
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%: