From Endurance to Dressage
Of all of the horses that I've owned, Izzy is by far the most sensitive. When he is uncomfortable, you know it. In fact, when I bought him, his breeder/owner told me a story about a rider who was interested in buying him but didn't. She wanted to try him out with her own saddle, but once mounted, Izzy threw a bucking, galloping fit. Needless to say, the other buyer didn't want him after that. Izzy's owner explained that when he doesn't like something, he tells you.
Izzy has been part of my family for seven years, and I like to think I know him pretty well. It took me a long time to realize it, but when I find myself asking, What's wrong with you?, I know that means he is hurting somewhere. For the most part, he's ridiculously friendly and willing to do what I ask as long as it's not uncomfortable for him. That includes hard. If it's hard, he's not too eager to participate. This makes diagnosing pain somewhat of a challenge because pain and hard work aren't the same thing, but to Izzy, his response to both is always the same: grouchiness and resistance.
During the show we did the weekend before last, Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, finally said that Izzy's expression seemed to be saying get me out of here. That attitude combined with his resistance to bend left, suggested a need for body work. My chiropractor came out last week.
I used CC long before I bought Izzy, so the two of them know each other quite well. It used to be that CC wanted to find Izzy's sore spots on his own without my input. Now, he asks what the training issue is as he looks for the sensitive areas. For this visit, CC knew before he even laid a hand on Izzy. Just by Izzy's facial expression and aggressive behavior, CC knew 90% of Izzy's discomfort was coming from his poll.
As CC worked, he explained that once horses get "broke," they learn to work through pain and discomfort because they know that it's their job to do what we ask. This can make finding pain a bit more challenging because "broke" horses are less likely to complain. This is probably why I didn't see Izzy's discomfort until we were in the show ring where the pressure to perform was much higher.
CC also talked about why Izzy was probably out in his poll; it has been a long time since that issue has cropped up. Like the last time CC saw Izzy, the issue with his poll is most likely because Sean has been having me work Izzy's body in new ways. In particular, we've been asking Izzy to stop pushing against the bit with his under neck muscle, which means he has to let go of it. Instead, we want him to lift his back, stretch over his topline, and reach for the bit. These are two very different ways to use his body. The latter will ultimately be more comfortable, but right now, it's a workout.
Besides working on Izzy's poll, CC also adjusted the C5 (in the neck) and Izzy's ribs. The ribs were the big trouble at Izzy's last adjustment; this time, not as much, which is progress. Knowing that we'll be continuing to work hard over the next two months, I asked CC to be available in mid-October, a couple of weeks before out last show of the year. He thought that would be a good strategy. Once CC was done, we put Izzy away and stood around chatting. Speedy came walking by; he was grazing on the lawn. Izzy spotted him and marched over to catch up with him along the fence line. CC was very pleased by Izzy's long and swinging stride.
I am lucky to have such a strong team of professionals working with 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%: