From Endurance to Dressage
I am in a hurry, but then I am not. If there is anything that I've learned on my dressage journey, it's that hurrying will get you absolutely nowhere. In fact, by zooming ahead, you might end up further behind where you started.
So while I really wish Izzy would get his canter together, I know that it's not going to do any good to rush it or force the issue. Instead, I'm just chipping away at it little by little.
Last night, Izzy was strangely mellow - a result of a tender sheath I wonder? I have an update about that issue coming up. Needless to say, there's some weird stuff happening to his junk, and based on the way it's looking, he's probably a wee bit tender in his back end. And while I am tempted to feel sorry for him, I don't because I've watched him play in turn out, and believe me, there's plenty of bucking, rearing, and racing around going on, swollen sheath or no.
Anyway, back to last night. I took advantage of his mellow mood and did a bunch of figures at the trot. We did about a million changes of bend in serpentines, the tear drops from First Level, and then we did Chemaine's Butterfly exercise - a tear drop into a ten-meter circle into a new tear drop.
When Izzy started to feel a bit bouncy, which is how he gets when he's starting to really work from his hind end, I asked for a left lead canter. Right now, my focus is on getting the lead without Izzy feeling like he has to explode into it. Happily, the transition was fairly decent, so after a half circle, I brought him back to walk and gave him a big pat. If he was sore in his nether regions, I didn't want him to think that it was because of the canter work.
I let him walk a bit and then started to track right. I almost called it quits as I didn't want to pick a fight, but I figured that one more canter transition wouldn't kill him. I set him up for a right lead canter but got a bit of a balk with a kick aimed at my leg. I put my spur into him gently and said, Forward. he wasn't thrilled about it, but he trotted forward. I just sat very quietly, and kept asking for the right lead.
After a bit more fussing and another kick or two, Izzy hopped into the right lead canter smoothly. Almost immediately, I brought him back to a walk and gave him a lot praise. I repeated the request several more times and got two more very nice trot to canter transitions. We walked after each one. I wasn't focused on the quality of the canter but on the correctness of the lead.
It took Michelangelo three years (1501 - 1504) to carve the David. It's a masterpiece that any sculptor would be proud to call his own. How much different is it to mold our horses into works of arts? If it takes three years to turn Izzy into a figure as beautiful as the David, it will be time very well spent, well spent indeed.
Special note; the David is on my mind as we'll be in Italy this summer and seeing Michelangelo's sculpture in person is very high on our list of must see. Have any of you seen it?
Dressage horses are undoubtedly works of art. Who cares how long it takes to finish our work? It's worth it in the end.
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%: