From Endurance to Dressage
Before I write today's post, I would like to thank the many riders who reached out to me privately yesterday. It meant a lot that so many of you took the time to commiserate or just offer a virtual hug. I wish I could say I am over it and moving on, but I am not there yet. If anything, I feel even more pressure to get that bronze medal for Speedy. I know it's sounds selfish, but I really need the world to see how amazing my little Arabian really is. Big sigh ...
Seeing that Speedy was lame with my own eyes literally knocked the wind out of me. After confirming that it was yet another abscess, I wanted to just get back in my truck and go home. I wanted to grab the remote control and stare blindly at the TV for the rest of the day. But I didn't.
Instead, I started unloading my truck. I did it sluggishly, without the enthusiasm of the afternoon before. I figured that once everything was back in its place, I could then go home and find the remote. But again, I didn't. I moved on to the trailer, unloading my tack and the rest of Speedy's weekend wear. I kept thinking about the TV remote as I fought back angry tears.
When everything was hanging in its place or back on its shelf, I paused in the warm sunshine and contemplated what I should do for the rest of the day. It seemed such a waste to park myself in front of the TV, but I knew I wasn't in a healthy frame of mind to give Izzy a good schooling ride. More than any horse I've ever owned, Izzy reads my emotions and responds in kind. It makes him very anxious if I am not present and mentally centered.
Then I remembered my monthly goal of getting Izzy off the property at least twice a month. We were half-way through the month, and I hadn't even thought about going anywhere. Feeling angry was actually just the right attitude I needed to leave the property. Normally, I don't have the energy to deal with his away from home anxiety. With anger and resentment running through my veins, I needed to fight something. Izzy's anxiety was the perfect opponent. I saddled up.
Since I hadn't planned on riding, I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes. I didn't care, I kicked off my tennies and slipped into my muck boots. I grabbed Izzy's correction bit and sent him walking down the driveway.
That ride was just what we both needed. Over the past few weeks, Izzy had gotten so far behind my leg that every ride had become a battle between crazy and lazy. I just couldn't get him stepping up to the bridle, and when i did, it was balls to the wall with no softness or give. Heading out of the arena gave him a reason to go forward without me needing to kick, kick, kick.
For three days I repeated the same ride. I varied the loop just a bit, but each ride took us past the ducks and turkeys of the Haner farm and then out onto the old golf course. The third day we walked by, Izzy was very stoic about Tom turkey's gobbles. He gave him the stink eye, but he marched past without all of the theatrics of the days before.
The "golf course," now a field that is just kept mowed, is the perfect place for a big gallop. Usually I ask Izzy to keep his marbles in his head and just canter politely. That first day out on the course, I got in two point and let him just blast around. For 15 minutes. I rode it like it was a cross country course. We didn't jump anything, but we galloped all of it - the little hills, through the trees, and even over the old greens.
The second day, Izzy knew what was up so I checked in with him a lot more frequently asking for bigger half halts. We still galloped, but I added a lot more changes of direction and pushed him through the narrow openings between the trees.
Its hard to see the undulating nature of the old course, but it made for some fun obstacles. Sometimes we galloped the rim of the hills, and other times, we blasted straight down them. I used the shape of the land to school simple changes of lead. Galloping from the grass straight onto the turf of the greens showed real courage on Izzy's part. I know I had fun, and I am pretty sure Izzy enjoyed the change of pace.
While I am still bitterly disappointed about the weekend, I managed to be productive and give Izzy some much needed time out of the arena. I can't change what is, but I can try and cope with a bit more grace. I am not going to apologize or feel remorseful for my initial outburst of rage, but I am going to try and get back on a more even keel.
Both Speedy and Izzy need that from me.
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%: