From Endurance to Dressage
And this is where it all began. The trouble that is.
This test is best shared by pointing out my numerous mistakes and positive moments even if I was unaware they were happening.
We started out "okay," but the judge could see that Speedy was bracing in the halt and that he wasn't immobile. She did remark that he was better in the move-off.
After I track right at C, and circle at B, I am supposed to continue on to K where I then change rein and go back up the diagonal. I got to K and went forward. Crap. I forgot where I was. I stopped and waited for the whistle to blow. Before the judge rang me off course, I remembered where I was supposed to be. She didn't mark me off course, but she did have to lower my score to a 4.
I am not sure what happened at the left lead canter. He did give a buck, I know, but I thought we were long done with those kind of canter departs. Back to a 4 for this test. He was seriously on his forehand and trying to blow through my outside hand so I was using a ton of outside hand and leg to make the turn, but I didn't use enough inside rein to get his nose tipped in so he was counter bent through the whole circle.
The "change leads" comment that goes with the 4 for our canter to trot transition is a mystery to me. Does she mean he changed leads before he came to trot? I don't know. The 4 is weird because she then gives me a six for ... can you guess?
The stretchy trot! She gave me a 6? I have no recollection of this being worthy of a 6. She comments that we were losing rhythm, but had some stretch. You can see my comment, WTH? If we were stretching, I was oblivious. It ticks me off that we finally get a passing score and I have no idea that we're "doing it!" She then gives us ANOTHER six for our medium walk but notes that we were unprepared. Well I certainly was, but maybe Speedy knew what he was doing. And then we finish up this apparently wonderful sequence with a 7 for our free walk. Who was riding this horse and where was I?
After shortening my reins for the medium walk, we bounced into a decent trot at C, but the judge felt he lacked attention in the corner. I was happy with the 6 though as picking up the trot in that particular place is tricky for me since it is right in front of the judge. After that trot transition I must have been so relieved to have done it fairly decently that I just sailed right past E. The whistle blew and I lost 2 points for being off course.
I am not 100% sure I am interpreting her comments correctly, but it looks like we scored a 7 FOR the shape & bend with the tempo improving. If this should be read a different way, please correct me. Of course with the 2-point deduction it was only a 5. My fault entirely.
This time I remembered that at the corner I needed to BEND to go up the diagonal to the opposite corner. The judge felt we were losing energy and gave us a 6. We get 7s there frequently so this isn't a great score for us. We can do better.
The next bit of the test could have been really good, but I made another error without knowing it. For our right lead canter at C we scored a 6, yah!, but our circle at B lacked correct bend and shape so we scored a 5. We can pick up the right lead canter, but we do need to improve the quality and shape; I know that. The five was a fair call. Even with a not-so-great canter, we had a decent canter to trot transition which earned us a 6. Again, yah!
And then, I don't know what the hell happened. Look at movement 16 for yourself and ask how this could happen.
After I halted and saluted, I approached the judge to thank her like I always do. She looked up at me in surprise and said, "but you didn't halt and salute." Seriously. I was stunned.
I said, yes, I did. You didn't see me?
"No. Can you trot down the long side and do it again? I'll have to mark you off for being off course."
I knew there was no point in arguing so I just apologized, chuckled, and happily trot past B, made the turn at A, and came up the centerline for my halt. I made Speedy stand for a long time, and then I saluted for an equally long time. You can see from the judge's comment that she recognized that I took the second attempt very seriously; she gave us a 7.
I know there was a recent rule change about the halt needing to be clear and definite. If I didn't halt long enough the first time, it does seem to be my fault. For test 3, I made sure my halt was clear and obvious. For that halt the judge's remark was fairly good halt.
I was puzzled by the 4-point deduction so I did some research. Apparently the first off-course error is a 2-point deduction, the second earns a 4-point deduction, and a third off-course error earns an 8-point deduction. The fourth off-course error gets you a disqualification.
Overall? I think the judge was fair and honest. The errors I made were mine alone, and my head was definitely not in the game. I think I was riding test 3 in my head. I was really nervous about riding that test for the first time and wanted to do well. The lesson of course is to be in the moment.
The judge's collective marks were really consistent with what we normally get: the 7 for gaits is standard for us, sometime I do better on rider position, but overall, this is about where we're usually at.
We'll be better for the next one!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%