From Endurance to Dressage
Here in drought plagued California, we sure hope so. We've had more rain in the past week than we did all of last year (almost, anyway). After three years of severe drought, we are so very ready for a wet winter.
It rained nearly an inch on Friday (through 5:00 p.m.), and then rained off and on throughout the evening giving us another quarter of an inch. When I showed up at the barn on Saturday, things were a bit wet, but the barn weathered the storm well.
It was a big storm, the biggest we've had since 2008, but in the scheme of things, even we Californians know it was more like this ...
Our barn was really well designed, so the horses always have a dry place to wait out bad weather.
The barn is located in a river bottom so our footing is pretty sandy which means it drains well. Speedy's stall was wet, but not to the point that he needed floaties.
And somehow, I was blessed with the cleanest white horse on the planet. Speedy hates to be dirty. This is what he looked like straight out of his stall with no grooming ...
Even though I hadn't ridden since last weekend's clinic and was dying to try out some of Christian's exercises, the arena was still too wet to get in a really good schooling ride. I opted for a trail ride instead.
I hadn't ridden on a cold, winter day in a long time. I zipped up my jacket (a pretty light one), and mounted up. As soon as I hit the saddle, a big grin spread across my face. There is nothing finer than the view from between two furry ears.
I rode in my dressage saddle, tall boots, and spurs, but I knew that Speedy would appreciate going bitless. So even though he's been standing around most of the week trying to stay out of the wind and rain, I felt confident heading out on the trail in just a rope halter.
We putzed around our regular neighborhood trail, but I added the bit down along the river which was pretty brown and muddy. As soon as Speedy got a look at it, he tried to high tail it back home. Funny boy.
Dressage on the trail is fun since it serves a purpose. I encouraged him to let go through his neck and withers and leg yielded him into the water. We trekked along the shoreline, plodding through the brown water. The beach was far emptier than I had seen it a while, so I took a bit of chance by going farther down river than I usually go.
Suddenly, Speedy sank to his belly in mud. My first thought was, "Oh crap!" as I considered leaping off. I have a pretty smart horse though so I gave him a squeeze and encouraged him to step back onto the firmer beach. It took him several heave hos, but within a moment, he was back on solid ground. He had mud splattered on his face, and he looked a bit pissed, but we were both fine.
Not that he had a lot of faith left in me, but I encouraged him to get back in the water a back upstream to rinse the mud off his legs. As we continued along the trail toward home, his irritation got the best of him. There was a good sandy spot in which to work, so I let him work out the tension with my inside hand planted on my knee while I asked him to move out onto my outside rein.
Shortly after, we came out onto the old golf course, and I could feel that Speedy had a bunch of built up energy. I didn't want to waste that forward energy, so I took advantage of a great opportunity.
It's just one hole, but there is a ton of room with several little rolling hills that keep things interesting. Since Speedy was nicely in front of my leg, we worked on canter departures. It was the most fun ever. Riding in just a halter gives you a different kind of connection, but with his hind end totally engaged, the departures were enthusiastic and fun.
He wasn't super round, but galloping around that big field in a halter was a total blast. We soared up those little hills and scooted back down the other side laughing all the way. We worked on both leads several times until Speedy started to get a bit sweaty.
By the time we got back to the barn, Speedy was a happy boy. I bought him in December seven years ago. It's hard to believe that he's become the "good one." He was the back up horse to my mare, and even after I lost her to colic, he was still just what I had until something better came along.
Now that Sydney is gone and Izzy is being prepped to take his place, I am starting to see that Speedy is a heck of a good horse. I have so much fun riding him, and he is always game for whatever I throw his way. On Saturday, it occurred to me that he hasn't been a back up ride or a just for now ride in a long time. Speedy G is definitely a keeper.
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%: