From Endurance to Dressage
... But it's not necessarily a good one. At the SCEC show a week or so ago, Izzy didn't do very well on day 2. Instead of getting relaxed, he got more and more tense until he was nearly unrideable. Rather than continue to push him, I took him back to his stall to rest for a bit before we moved on to test 2. While he didn't score well, his score did improve over the first test of the morning. Letting him "relax" seemed to do more good than continuing to work him might have done.
When we came home from SCEC, I gave Izzy the next day off. Since then, I've ridden him at least five times, some of the rides lasting up to an hour. On Saturday, I schooled Second Level Test 2 until it felt pretty good. On Sunday, I wanted to school the 2-2 test, but the wheels fell off the bus. The more I asked him to lower his neck from the withers, the shorter his neck became. As we worked, his tempo got quicker and quicker, his haunches swung left and right, and he sucked in his neck as tightly as he could. In other words, he tried every evasion he could think of.
I rode test 2, and when it wasn't what I thought he could do, we did it again, but things just didn't improve. He wouldn't let go of his neck, and he leaned harder and hard on my right leg. All of the confidence that we had built from the day before me dissolved leaving me feeling discouraged. I walked Izzy back to the tack room, pulled his saddled, and gave him a quick shower. With only days until our next show, I felt defeated before we had even heard the judge's bell.
While Izzy grazed on the lawn, I pulled out my phone to check my messages. And there, as though it were written just for me, was an email from Amelia Newcomb's Academy. In her article she talked about evasions, and why horses do them. Here's a screenshot:
I suddenly realized why Izzy had been so tough to ride. I always assume it's because he's gone backwards in his training. That may well be some of the time, but in this case, I think he was telling me that he was tired and possibly sore (I've already called his chiropractor, fingers crossed he can make it out before Friday). It's so hard to tell with this horse because his energy never wanes. I can tell when Speedy's tired; he demonstrates all the signs: lazy behind, toes dragging, head hanging, flat gaits ... I've never seen Izzy do any of that. If anything, he gets more and more energized.
Knowing that he's probably tired, he had yesterday off, and I won't ride today either. I'll bring him out for a light trail ride on Wednesday, and then he'll get worked in the warm up on Friday afternoon before the show. I am also going to be very careful in how long I ride him on Friday and during the warm up on Saturday and Sunday. Working him hard to eliminate the tension didn't seem to be the right solution at the last show, so I am going to have to rethink things.
In Izzy's case, less might be better than more.
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%: