From Endurance to Dressage
TMC Spring Mountain Dressage
I wouldn't say I am disappointed per se, but I am certainly not spinning cartwheels either. My goals were to have fun, complete both tests, and get some relaxation. I did all of those things, but only just barely.
I very much enjoyed seeing some friends. The weather was brisk and cool, a welcome changed. The show staff was incredibly friendly and supportive, as usual. The judge was über friendly. The warm up was huge, the dressage court well watered and groomed, and the other riders were very supportive and kind. Except for wanting to throw up for the better part of an hour, I enjoyed the day.
Complete Both Tests ...
Sydney went Looney Tunes in the warm up. Nothing I tried helped. He couldn't walk, he couldn't trot in any kind of circle, and there was no way I was going to canter in a space that large. I pretty much kept an inside hand planted on my thigh and just rode out the bucks, bolts, and squeals. At one point, I could tell that a true explosion was imminent. I hopped off and turned him loose in the round pen where he proceeded to squeal, grunt, kick, buck, fling himself around, and generally cause havoc.
With my eye on the clock, I got back on just hoping for a walk, but if anything, he was worse than before. With fewer than ten minutes until my test time, I told the ring steward that I was scratching, something I've never done before. My second test was in an hour so my plan was just to stay on for the hour in the hopes that he might eventually relax even just a little bit.
Just minutes after deciding to scratch, Sydney took a breath and decided to stretch his neck and walk. I know that most will think that I must have also taken a breath when deciding to scratch, but I really don't think I was the source of his tension. I was actually feeling very relaxed, if not a bit frustrated that I wasn't able to help him relax. Right from the start of the day, I had decided that the day would be what it was and whatever happened, happened. I wasn't aiming for any particular score; I just wanted some relaxation.
The ring steward kept her eye on me and didn't scratch me. When she saw that we were finally walking, she knew there was still a chance I'd make the test. With some very encouraging words from the other rides, I walked up to the dressage court after all. The ring steward very kindly gave the judge a heads up that I might not ride the whole test.
As I came into the arena, still walking, I approached the judge to greet her. She very kindly told me to ride whatever parts of the test that I felt comfortable doing and that I should feel free to school him as necessary. She would still give me scores and comments no matter what happened. That simple gesture took away any last worries I had. Knowing that I could walk the whole thing gave me a different mindset.
I should point out that this was not a schooling show, but rather a rated CDS show. I know that at a USDF show the judge couldn't be so accommodating, but I've never had one be so at a CDS show either.
I walked all the way to A and only picked up a slow trot as I entered. As I trot up the centerline, I debated whether to halt and salute or just keep on going. I could feel that Sydney was trying to listen, so I took a deep breath and sat deep. He halted, I saluted, and then we kept on going.
None of the test had anything good, but it was MUCH improved over last September when I brought him to Tehachapi. Last year, I couldn't get him to move at all forward. He was so sucked back that we did nearly walk the whole thing. This time, he was forward and trying to listen.
As I approached the three-quarter canter circle, I debated whether to just trot the thing and get through the test. But then I reconsidered. I had an understanding judge, a safe venue, and if not now, when? So I gave the canter cue and was pleased that he got the correct lead and even came back to trot when asked. She gave us a 5. And that was for our right lead canter! When we approached the same spot for the left lead canter, I again decided to go for it and we scored a 6. Not bad for a horse who ten minutes before was in the throes of lunacy.
It was not a nice test by anyone's standards, but I am encouraged and equally discouraged at the same time. I know that I rode him as well as he could have been ridden. I was really pleased with what I was able to get from a very nervous, tense horse. He was literally quivering for most of the ride and calling plaintively to no one and anyone. JK, a friend and talented rider, couldn't say enough kind things about how well put together he looked considering what he had looked like just moments before. We scored a 58% which was good enough for a first out of three. I find it funny that I "finally" won a class only to do it with such a paltry score.
I say that I was discouraged, too. It felt like a total crap ride, and yet I have had the same score on Speedy more than once and those rides have felt far better than this one did. My rides at day 1 of last year's RAAC come to mind. I felt so good about those rides only to get this same score. It does confirm for me though that Sydney has a lot of potential. I feel it when we school at home. He gives me so much more roundness and reach than Speedy can or does.
I haven't even read the comments for the directives; I don't need to. I could have written them for the judge. Needs bend, drifting, etc. What he was able to give me at the show was nothing like we have at home. This show was really just for mileage. I just wonder how many "miles" we'll have to do before he starts to relax a little bit more.
On a brighter note, the remarks in the collectives are more meaningful. He scored a 7 for gaits and 6s the rest of the way down which confirmed for me that I really rode this horse as well as I could have. I absolutely love the judge's further remarks, "Good for you." That about sums it up.
The second test tomorrow ...
5/28/2013 12:13:56 am
Poor tense dude! Maybe he's having "race day" flashbacks....
5/28/2013 01:16:08 am
No doubt about it!
5/28/2013 01:35:16 am
You should be proud that you went in and did the test, despite everything working against you! Sometimes that in and of itself is a big accomplishment!
5/28/2013 09:43:33 am
You're right Tracy. Showing is not easy. Showing a tense, anxious 1000 lb + animal makes it even more challenging. Rather than view this as a test of Sydney's ability, I decided it was really a test of my ability to keep a horse together. JK, the friend who was watching, called it a very "handy" ride (more of a H/J expression I think) which I took as a huge compliment.
5/28/2013 04:14:37 am
GOOD FOR YOU!!!
5/28/2013 09:49:50 am
I hope to see YOU riding at the next one. You and Will will no doubt give us a good butt kicking!
5/28/2013 09:57:06 am
he has PTSD but I'm sure he will get over his nervousness as you continue to work with him. I'm glad you didn't give up. Great job!
5/28/2013 04:18:35 pm
5/28/2013 09:57:39 am
As I read this I had flashbacks of the first show I took Varro to! He was a complete idiot until we entered the arena. He did quite well and I achieved my 2 goals: Leave the arena as I entered (on my horse) and no bloodshed! HAHAHA Job well done!
5/28/2013 04:19:18 pm
When you put it like that, I guess we were rock stars! :0)
5/28/2013 02:55:52 pm
You did do great!! I don't even know how you stayed on when that guy was cracking his whip. And then to go right into your class!!! You held him together so well. I still can't believe he did the whole test for you after his semi melt down. You should be really proud. I don't know many people who would have stayed on.
5/28/2013 04:21:55 pm
Aw. Thanks, Jen! That means a lot to me because you actually saw his shenanigans in the warm up. And I've never really thought about him doing it for me, as you said. That would be a huge accomplishment if he did it to please me. That shows real trust on his part, or at least as much as could offer. Thank you. :0)
5/28/2013 03:27:00 pm
I was just watching Discovery Health Networks Psyche week and they were treating people with phobias with "exposure therapy"....sounds like what some horses need to get used to new and stimulating events (showing, group trail rides, etc.)
5/28/2013 04:23:09 pm
That's why I called it mileage. I really think he just needs more trips out and about. I sure hope you're right, though!
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%: