From Endurance to Dressage
I had a funny "recall" moment the other day. I'll get to my point, but first ...
Endurance races were grueling, gritty, and hard-core affairs. If your horse crossed the finish line in last place hungrily looking for his hay bag, the day was a success. If the rider could make it to the awards dinner with only a few scratches and some seriously smelly clothes, the entire weekend was worth the multiple tanks of gas to get there. Endurance racing is an extreme sport for sure; it's raw, it's bone crushing, and it will wear you out. I loved it though.
When I first started showing dressage, I thought it was just a big party. White pants? A coat in the summer? Weird, but let's do this! Instead of being mounted for 10 - 20 hours, I rode for an hour. Maybe. Instead of looking for the ubiquitous neon pink trail ribbons, I watched for letters. I tried to get everyone I knew to come and show. It's fun. It's cheap. You'll love it. The most common "no" that I heard was My horse isn't ready.
Upon hearing the scores from my first show ever. The "trainer" I had just lessoned with warned me not to tell anyone that I had ridden with her. She predicted I'd earn a 36% and didn't want my scores to reflect on her. The joke was on her as we earned two scores of 63.5%. You can bet I didn't mention her name.
I wondered how a horse couldn't be ready. Can he walk, trot, and canter? Then he's ready. This was of course as I was making my way through Introductory Level and then Training Level. I honestly believed that any horse who was sound and could stay in the ring was ready. I still felt this way at First Level. So maybe a lengthening of stride wasn't there, but come on, it's just basic stuff.
And now I get it. Third Level. We're just not ready, and I don't see how we will get ready. There simply isn't enough time to get everything show ready by March or April. We have a chunk of the Third Level stuff good to go. I can get a nice bouncy collected trot. Speedy loves the medium trot even if he can't really show utmost ground cover. We have a show-worthy turn on the haunches, and the 10-meter stuff is pretty easy for him.
What we don't have is a reliable flying change, especially after being off for more than a month due to those two abscesses. The half pass isn't that great either. Unlike a trainer from eons ago, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, isn't (too) worried about me embarrassing her. It's really the other way around. I don't want to get out there and make her look bad.
I've made her promise not to let me show if I am going to go out there and look stupid. She always laughs, but I am dead serious. I don't want to end up on some YouTube video or on a COTH thread about riders who are idiots.
On the other hand, I refuse to succumb to the we're not ready excuse. I don't think I am ever going to feel ready for Third Level. I am going to have to settle for at least we're trying.
Besides that, we've already looked like idiots plenty of times. What's one 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%: