From Endurance to Dressage
Third Level By the Numbers
Back in February, I shared a post wherein I had entered my Third Level scores into a spreadsheet so that I could see if any patterns showed up. Boy did they! What with COVID-19 and the cancellation of all shows this spring, I completely forgot about my spreadsheet until I got home from this most recent show.
As a teacher, I run quite a few different reports, particularly matrices, to track student progress. The reason we use matrices is to check how a student does overall and how a student performs in one particular area. And usually, we look for multiple examples of that performance. If I am checking on a student's understanding of multiplying with fractions, I will run a matrix report that focuses only on the questions that tested multiplying with fractions.
When I create an assessment, I generally test no more than three or four skills. For each skill, I will generate three or four questions designed to show whether a student understands that particular skill. Because we're teachers and like things to be readable and accessible to all types of learners, we often display the data with colors which clearly indicate a student's level of proficiency. Usually, we assign blues and green for mastery, yellows and oranges for students approaching mastery, while red is reserved for far below mastery.
After I input the scores from last weekend's show, I realized that while my spreadsheet showed overall percentages for each movement, I couldn't really "see" the inconsistencies. So, I took a page from my work practices and applied color to my scores.
As soon as I added color, our strengths and weaknesses jumped off the page. I chose to only color the scores at the extreme ends: 7s and 8s were done in shades of green while the 4s and below were done in shades of yellows and reds. The more extreme the score, the darker the color. The 8s are in a dark green, and the 1s are a dark red. The middle scores, the 5s and 6s, I left white. At the bottom of each column is my average score.
While our strong movements are quite obvious, so are our weaknesses. Our flying change from left to right is wildly inconsistent. Out of 19 attempts, we've scored 4s or lower 40% of the time. On the other hand, we've earned 7s 20% of the time and when combined with the 6s and 5s, we've had "okay" scores 60% of the time. Still, there's nothing like a 1.0 to trash your overall score especially since the flying changes have a double coefficient - for you non-dressage peeps, that means the score gets counted twice.
So what does all of this mean? How can I use this information? I am glad you asked! There are two weeks until our next two-day USDF show. The one movement that we desperately need to get right is the left to right flying lead change. I simply can't afford to give away 14 - 16 points by earning 2s and 3s. Earning a 7.0 instead of a 3.0, will raise my overall score by at least 2%. That's the difference between a 58% and a 60%. The other movement that has to get better is the canter half pass, particularly to the right.
Yesterday, I started working on both movements. Instead of telling Speedy he was the best boy for getting one left to right change and then walking away from it, I told him he was a good boy, but I wanted three or four of them. I need him to know that giving me one isn't good enough. So, we did the change, walked around a bit, and then we did it again, and again, and again. I praised him each time, but I also focused on making each one better than the one before.
Then we tackled the half passes. The other day, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, shared a Facebook post from Dressage Today that offered a tip to improve the accuracy of the half passes. In it, Leslie Webb (who lived and worked in Bakersfield for many years) is quoted as saying, "Align your outside hip, inside hand and the bit with your destination letter in one straight line. (This will help you remember to use your inside rein as an indirect rein, not an open one.) Imagine this line, and you will always arrive at the proper destination in all your half passes, whether they are shallow or steep, at trot or canter." —Leslie Webb
Hello. Where have YOU been all of my life? Riding with this in mind didn't fix our half passes, but it did give me a better idea of how to apply the aids. On Izzy, it was a magical solution, but he's an over-achiever. Speedy wasn't too receptive, but with some practice, it should improve our half passes. It certainly can't hurt.
Right now, my goal to is to get my scores up into the mid-60s. Will it happen at this next show? I don't know, but that's what I am shooting for. As painful as it was, I also studied the videos and score sheets from each of the three tests we did this weekend. It's easy to see that I just need to clean up a few things. Speedy and I have some work to do over the next two weeks, but I know it will pay off.
I definitely enjoy a challenge.
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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%: