From Endurance to Dressage
We Rode the Rainbow
So … here I am, back home, having had some time to think. I learned a lot at this show about sportsmanship in general and about what kind of competitor I am. I mentioned before that I had several experiences to chew on, so this post will be a collection of short stories (starting with one long one). Here's the first one.
Most everyone was friendly at the show. I find that to be the case most of the time. This was the first show that I've been to where I saw less-than-gracious sportsmanship shown. It all started in my own barn aisle.
As everyone was unloading their trucks and settling in their gear for the weekend, conversations were started and horses were admired. Most riders had a trainer with them and often times there were several barn mates as well.
There was one trainer/student team that stands out. The first question the rider asked me was what level I was showing. Just Training Level, was my reply which was followed by some self-depracating comment as a way to appear friendly and to let her know that I was there to have fun.
Her response was that her friend so-and-so was also showing in that level and would probably win because she's really good. I replied with something like, Wow, how exciting! I am sure she will. I found that quite an odd thing to say to someone. As it turned out, she didn't win any of the classes in which I rode.
Throughout the weekend, I heard her trainer make several comments designed to boost the rider's ego while diminishing the success of others. While at the score board, she pointed out to the rider that our scores were all very close which meant that her non-winning placing didn't really mean much because on any other day she could have easily beat everyone; am I invisible? I was standing right there.
I definitely compare my scores to the other riders in the class. I do so because I want to know if I am riding at an appropriate level. If everyone else is scoring 65% and I post a 49%, maybe I am not riding where I should be. I also like to see how far away from the winning score I really am. This gives me an indication of what I need to do to improve. I never look at scores and casually toss out that I should have/could have/would have won if … That struck me as less than a gracious competitor.
Another woman also made a strange remark while I was examining the score board. I like to take photos of how I placed in the class so that I know how many riders there were and what the range of scores was. I do this whether I am dead last or not.
As I was taking the photo, the woman leaned over and said in a rather snarky tone, you must have done well since you're taking a photo. My reply was this: well no, not in this class, but I did do well in that class, as I pointed.
And then, of course, there was the issue of zero applause after my winning ride in the RAAC class. I share all of this not because I thought I deserved any recognition, but because it was the very first time that I was aware of any of the sharper edges that reveal themselves during competition. I am sure that attitude has always been present, but this was the first time that I was the recipient, or even aware of it. Have I just been blind all of this time, or has the subtle snarkiness always been there?
Beware the Deals We Make
True story … I had been considering going to the CDS Championship show, but I needed one more score at RAAC to qualify. Right before going to RAAC though, I decided that even if I got the score, I wasn't going to the championship because it was just too expensive.
And then, as I was on the road without much to do but think, I made this deal with myself: IF I won the RAAC class with a score ABOVE 70%, I would go the championship. I knew I was safe since I've finished dead last in RAAC classes for two consecutive years, and I had yet to break higher than 68% at Training Level.
Who knew I'd not only win but do it with a 72%?
True to my word, I've already sent in my entry for the CDS Championship. There will definitely be more about that show in the coming weeks.
It's a Horse Show, Not a Rodeo!
And then this happened.
When we won the Novice Introductory RAAC class in 2012, Speedy got a neck ribbon exactly like the one he wore this year. He gave it the stink eye the whole time we did our honor round back then, so I knew to be a bit cautious in placing it around his neck. In fact, we had some help.
While standing off to the side with the other riders of my class waiting for introductions, Speedy reached down and ripped the ribbon off. When he did so, he held it in his mouth so that the pieces flapped around his face. He bolted hard to the side (with the ribbon still stuffed in his mouth), scattering the rest of the horses. I gave a hard yank as I rode out the bucks, all the while yelling, look out! He finally dropped the ribbon and gave it a wary look.
I am sure we made quite a sight - the first place horse bolting and bucking through the crowd all because his blue ribbon was stuffed in his mouth! The ribbon was picked up out of the dirt, meticulously dusted clean, and very carefully placed back on his neck (thank you, Donna!). After that, most riders gave us a wide berth.
Of course, as we continued to wait and model for photos, I watched Speedy like a hawk as he continued to worry at his ribbon hoping to get it off. Even Orion, the chestnut Arab, thought he was being a weirdo!
And Finally ...
When I told JL, my trainer, about just getting really lucky at this show, she characterized my "luck" like this: Isn't it funny how the harder we work, the luckier we get? That is a thought I am going to keep in mind!
This is the card my husband picked out for me after I got home. How true for dressage is that?!
Back to real life tomorrow.
8/28/2014 11:53:44 pm
OMG you guys are awesome! I totally wish I could have been there, although it's possible I would have gotten all "stage Mom" snarkey right back at the rude people and totally embarrassed you! Maybe Speedy was unimpressed with his sash as he was hoping for a tiara.....
8/29/2014 08:18:00 am
HAHAHAHA! I read your comment this morning at work and laughed out loud. Yes, I think Speedy WOULD prefer a tiara!!!!
8/29/2014 12:34:29 am
Maybe Speedy playing with his neck ribbon was his way of getting back at all those rude people for you? He seems to have quite the sense of humor!
8/29/2014 08:20:38 am
He does have a sense of humor, that's for sure! Although, I wish he'd express himself in a more dignified manner. Careening around the ring with a ribbon flapping form your mouth is a bit unsophisticated!
Mmmm I think you are reading wayyy too into those other riders comments. I'm not sure what effect it would have on you if another coach is trying to build up their students esteem. As you don't know the student, maybe they are really nervous, or overly hard on themselves, they are hardly hurting anyone by saying the scores are close and to not worry! The show ground is not always the time to say to your student - hey you lost - you really need to work on this/this/this. It seems like you think a lot of the other riders should be aware of your presence near the score board or when you won that class. Most people are just trying to make it through the day and are too busy to worry about who is near them and doing what. Just a thought.
8/29/2014 08:22:29 am
I get what your'e saying, Tori, and it really was only a few people, but it was far more in HOW it was said than WHAT was said. Even I can sense a barb when it's intended. And I never thought the off comments were aimed at me specifically, but more toward whoever was in earshot. :0)
8/29/2014 08:24:26 am
I agree. The school I work at has adopted 5 new "Habits" this year; number 5 is this: Never brag when you win and never show anger when you lose (or something close). I think that' san excellent demonstration of good sportsmanship.
What a sweet and supportive group you have around you! And, I laughed out loud reading about Speedy's ribbon antics. What a silly pony!
8/29/2014 08:26:53 am
My standard MO is to kill 'em with kindness. :0) I was just surprised by the amount of snarkiness that I saw since I am usually completely unaware of any. And yes, I do have many dressage friends who are GREAT. Most of them have been met while showing or doing clinics. It's always fun to go to and show and meet up.
Ugg...so sad that you experienced those types of comments. I once overheard an unkind comment about my daughter at a competition, and while I could overlook comments about myself, it is much harder when it is your daughter. Not to downplay your experience!
8/29/2014 08:30:42 am
It would be hard to hear unkind comments about your child! I hate to hear negative comments made about my friends while they're riding. I try to make it known that I know the person in the ring just so people will keep their negative comments to themselves so that they aren't embarrassed later if they find out that I knew the rider.
8/29/2014 02:13:18 am
Great, Great Post! It all flowed so perfectly from the photo bomb to the ribbon tearing ceremony...haha
8/29/2014 08:35:02 am
As always, Angela, you give me far too much credit, but thank you. I can't imagine how hard it would be to married be to someone who wouldn't support my dreams! And yes, dressage, or maybe just showing in general, does reveal who we are as people. I strive to demonstrate strong character, but I am sure that I miss the mark at least occasionally. Thanks for all your support. I really keep all of you in mind while I am at a show because I feel an obligation to work hard on your behalf. I don't want to let you all down. :0)
I run into the smarmy, passive aggressive comments are dressage shows ALL THE TIME. There are certain trainers that are well known for it. I just try my best to stay away from them, and their students in the warm up ring. As far as other comments, I just try to ignore it and not make it 20 feet deep. People who are insecure make these comments. It does exist, and not only in dressage. But loved your post and keep on keeping on!
8/29/2014 08:36:57 am
Several of my more experienced dressage pals said the very same thing! As a rule, I can read people pretty well and recognize bullshitters, liars, and people with a chip pretty quickly. I smile, act courteously, and then try to steer clear. :0)
Too funny with the neck ribbon! Silly boy, bet he's singing "I'm too sexy" in his head ;)
8/29/2014 12:23:22 pm
She was close to my age, old enough to know better. And Speedy probably was humming a tune with just that message. My step mother commented that he actually wanted a tiara, not a sash! :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%: