From Endurance to Dressage
We all know that Izzy is not an easy horse. He lacks confidence and is suspicious of anything new or different. I don't mind. I do all the showing I want with Speedy, so I don't feel any pressure with Izzy. I just keep working on whatever he needs on any given day.
If you've been following along for any length of time, you know all about our bitting issue. Quick recap if you're new: I started him in a lozenge snaffle which worked fine until it didn't. Moved on to several ported bits that Izzy loved but that weren't legal dressage bits. Experimented with a legal bit that offered lots of tongue relief, but no control. When it seemed as though he was done with all of the jackassery, I finally decided to use the legal bit exclusively.
I wish I could say that the switch to the legal bit went without a hitch. It did not. You would have thought that I was starting over completely. Izzy's world simply fell apart. When he broke his headstall, I bought a new one never imagining that I would have to remind him how to be bridled. He knew it was new and different, and since he doesn't do new and different, he refused to be bridled. It took some patience and a few days, but he once again takes the bridle without any fussing.
Bridling wasn't the only fight. With the legal bit, I have very little control, and Izzy figured that out quickly. We went from a long and stretchy back to a super short back with a tendency to bolt, again.
Izzy brought out all of his old tricks: Balking, bolting, rearing, stiff jaw, running through my aids, and so on. Fortunately, I've seen all of these tricks before and know how to work through them.
When he started balking, which leads to rearing, I brought out my whip and went to town. Every time he even thought about slamming on the brakes, I whacked him with the whip until he agreed to go forward. That's not always guaranteed to work though. One day, he decided to rear after I whacked him. As I was yanking his head to the side, my whip got hung up in my reins. As I struggled to free it, Izzy had a bit of a meltdown, and I experienced a very serous Oh, crap! moment. No one was injured though, and Izzy has since rethought the rearing thing.
When the balking and rearing didn't work, Izzy decided to try bolting at random moments. We would be walking along quite nicely with a drape in my reins when all of a sudden he would launch forward into a bolt. Jerk! I worked him through that by using the pulley halt. I simply planted the knuckles of one hand into his mane and halted with the other. I sent him forward and then halted. Repeatedly. Many times. Eventually, he quit bolting.
I am happy to report that a month later, we seem to be back in business. We still have at least one Come Meet Jesus moment during our rides, but I've finally convinced him that I still have control with this bit and that the rules have not changed. During our last couple of rides, I've been able to ask for a lengthened stride, and I am getting more moments where he is asking to stretch down again.
While I find it a bit frustrating that he is so incredibly sensitive to change, I am happy that he is willing to be talked off the ledge. Like I told my chiropractor the other day, it's not like I have anything better to do. And besides, I kind of like the big jerk.
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%: