From Endurance to Dressage
Oh, man oh man, am I ever excited! Over the weekend, I finally got tired of making excuses for Izzy and decided to take him to Summerlane Farm's annual trail ride. It's about time he starts earning his keep.
With Speedy being such a complete rock star, it's hard to justify taking a horse with questionable brakes and unreliable deportment on a group trail ride. I never want to be that rider, the one who causes the wreck or forces everyone to scatter in fear for their lives. So whenever one of these events comes around, I always chicken out and leave Izzy at home. Not this time!
I pulled into Summerlane Farm just after a few other riders had unloaded their horses. I parked close enough that Izzy could see them, but not close enough that he would start to feel attached to any of them. I backed him off the trailer and let him get a good eyeful. I was tempted to walk him around, but knowing him like I do, I knew that would just give him a reason to over-react. Instead, I hung a hay net, filled a bucket of water, and told him to just chill out.
On the drive out to Summerlane Farm, I waffled between feeling supremely optimistic (our lesson with STC Dressage a few weeks before had shown me that Izzy can handle being off property) and prepared for the worst. And then, I decided that I have prepared this horse really, really well so there was no reason to expect anything less than a well-behaved equine citizen. That's exactly what I got.
There were eight of us in total, everyone else on an Arab or Arab cross. These are Speedy's friends after all. Izzy looked like quite the tank out amongst his more diminutive cousins, but no one held his size against him. There were a few times that he crowded against someone, but no one took it personally. And when someone ran into him, I laughed and explained that barging into him is like trying to dent a tank; no harm done.
Summerlane Farm is situated just outside of town in the orange groves. There are miles and miles of wide dirt roads, perfect for green beans and horses with little trail experience. Izzy started out a bit tense, jigging his way behind the crowd. But since the trail is my true home, I let my legs drape loosely as I flexed him from side to side, insisting that he unlock his poll. Once I realized that he preferred to be near the front, his back lengthened, and he happily fell into a marching walk.
For two hours we made our way up and down hills, past water tanks, mounds of fertilizer, bee boxes, and even the massively loud (and really weird) machine that saws off the tops of the trees. You can see one here in action. While Izzy gave a few things the hairy eyeball, which strangely did not include the tree chopping thing, he basically just motored right along. After about 45 minutes, he gave a huge sigh, and from that point on, I rode him on the buckle.
When we got back to Summerlane Farm, I hosed him off, freshened up his water, and left him to rest for the better part of two hours. This group always does a potluck lunch which is hard to walk away from. I never once worried about him. Like I said, I've prepared this horse well. When I walked back to the truck to load him up, Izzy turned to look at me as he continued chewing. As expected, he had stood patiently and completely relaxed.
I loaded him up for home as though Saturday group trail rides were his normal. When we got home, he seemed almost surprised to be back so soon.
My old endurance partner just got a new horse that she rode with us. She and I have made some tentative plans to ride together over the next month or so. I remember feeling so connected to my horses after finishing an endurance ride. There is just something about the trail that gives horses confidence in both themselves and their rider.
I think Izzy and I could really use some trail rides to strengthen our relationship. Saturday is looking like a good day to do that.
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%: