From Endurance to Dressage
Thole Farms: Introductory Level Test A
After our mostly quiet warm up, I was feeling pretty excited to strut our stuff at walk/trot, and Izzy felt ready to actually work a little. We followed best friend down to the ring and walked up and down the walk way, waiting for the rider in front of us to finish.
After her final salute at X, I walked Izzy up the little rise and entered at A. In a nano second all of his tension came rushing back. The E side of the arena was nestled into an avocado grove that was being watered. I couldn't see the sprinklers, but they gave a very loud hiss down the entire long side. Izzy checked out, and I knew that I needed to just get him through the ride as quietly and tactfully as possible.
You can see for yourself what I mean:
I wasn't disappointed or frustrated with him at all. Those sprinklers scared him, and since he was already only barely coping with his nerves, I simply rode the horse I had. When I watched the video, I was actually impressed with how easy I made it look. I suppose others might think I simply looked ineffective, but believe me, riding a powder keg and looking happy while doing it is not as easy as it sounds.
When I finished my final salute, the judge asked to talk to me. The first thing she said was, "Are you an event rider or a dressage rider?" For a split second, I was horrified. I thought she said, Are you even a dressage rider? My brain hadn't processed the event rider part of her question.
Then my brain clicked in, and I realized that she thought I might be an eventer. My head swelled so big that my helmet almost popped off. Eventers are BADASSES. The judge thinks I am a badass. Well who wouldn't after watching all that badassery going on?
I can't say for sure whether the judge thought I was as cool as all that, but she certainly thought my horse was. The next thing out of her mouth was how awesome his talent for the piaffe is. No really. And not only did she say it to me, she even wrote it down!
Best friend is new to dressage so doesn't always know when to start recording. In this case, she missed the judge's bell which means the first part of my test didn't make it on video. That's where most of the piaffe steps happened. I was a little disappointed to not see them, especially after hearing the judge gush over them.
You'll have to indulge me for a moment. This is my first encounter with a judge who LOVED my horse. I've had judges who thought Speedy was a nice horse, and he and I have earned comments like elegant pair, but wait until you see this judge's accolades.
While super engagement and uphill tendency are not necessarily glowing reviews, it's not often that you see those terms applied to an Introductory Level horse. Well, not unless you're riding my super awesome Izzy Zweibrücker!
This comment is all me and was earned for that spook demonstarted above. Even best friend said I was all business. Many thanks to Chemaine Hurtado for teaching me to sit those things out.
I shouldn't be surprised by clear talent for upper level work as Chemaine has said this to me on more than one occasion, but man-oh-man, it is soooo nice to hear it from someone that I am NOT paying.
And then there was this little gem: What a horse! Who doesn't want to hear that about their pony? Although after reading it, I was looking around for Charlotte as that's almost exactly what she says to save Wilbur from the butcher. But that's just me - my feet are solidly rooted in REAL LIFE. While I love, love, love these comments, I am also wondering if the judge was actually watching the ride.
While my common sense and deeply practical side want to discredit the judge's assessment of my horse, I am giving that side of my brain the finger. This judge completed the coursework that gives her the credentials to recognize a horse with potential and talent. I am going to whole heartedly accept her compliments and use them to keep myself motived.
During our discussion, she insisted that I keep working as this horse is more than worth the effort. In fact, she was so effusive in her praise that best friend said that everyone in the vicinity could hear her remarks.
As we walked back to the trailer, I grinned in joy and didn't even try to hide it. Those positive comments from the judge stayed with me as I went back into the warm up for our second test, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that part.
Tomorrow: Introductory test B.
8/17/2016 06:31:17 am
Dang... the nice moments were REALLY nice, and yes, he's going to have a lovely piaffe! Really well ridden and I'm so glad the judge had such positive things to say. :)
8/17/2016 05:53:06 pm
Thanks, jenj. :0) I had fun and he didn't die - I am calling it a win.
8/17/2016 09:31:05 am
I totally agree he is a fancy thing!
8/17/2016 05:53:54 pm
Thanks, Micaylah. I'll be happier when he's a steady fancy thing. :0)
8/17/2016 05:54:27 pm
It was a first for me, that's for sure. :0)
8/17/2016 05:55:39 pm
HAHA! "A test like that." I agree. She saw something that she liked, but even after watching the video twice, I don't see it. :0)
Oh my goodness, you rode that SO WELL. There's nothing ineffective at all about how you were riding - you were the only thing keeping him together in that right! He was trying so hard to listen to you and even though he was tense and nervous, you can tell he was trying reeeealllly hard to listen to you. THAT was a well ridden test. And you should be giving the finger to that nasty part of your brain - sheesh, how many times do we get a judge who makes us feel better after our rides, no matter how well or poor we did? NEVER! I'm so happy for you!!!
8/17/2016 05:57:13 pm
Wow, SarahK - those are kind words. Thank you.
8/17/2016 05:58:56 pm
The good thing is that this horse gives me zero fear. His spooks might look dramatic, but he's an easy horse for me to ride - not fun of course, but easy to stick. Wait until you see how much he improved for the next one!
8/18/2016 04:27:05 pm
Beatufiul ride. You kept both your seat and composure. Bravo! Glad you posted the video..a great example of grace under pressure.
8/18/2016 05:06:20 pm
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Mary. And thanks for the kind words. :0)
8/19/2016 09:11:24 am
I watched the video was so impressed with your riding and you can see his talent. He's trying- which is why you aren't half-way to Canada!
8/19/2016 07:55:34 pm
Thank you, Teresa. He's not easy to ride, but I know him so well now that nothing he does is scary or unexpected. He just needs some more maturity. :0)
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%: