From Endurance to Dressage
I can't remember who I was talking to about this, maybe it was here, but today's "bad" rides are six months ago's "good" rides. Not like that's a ringing endorsement of my big brown horse's progress, but it's still progress.
When I pulled into the barn on Saturday, Ranch Owner and L were just heading out for a hack around the neighborhood. The mare who lives with Archie was fine with the separation until Archie left the property. They leave now and then, but she always acts like it's the first time.
I groomed and saddled Izzy who paid her no mind until he saw her. She was gazing fiercely in the direction that Archie had gone, crying for him to return. Izzy immediately felt that things were terribly wrong, and so he too began to stare fixedly. He, of course, had no idea what he was looking for, but he judged it to be important.
I let him look for a minute, but then we continued on up towards the arena. I did my regular stretches, I should write a post about that, and then hopped on. Izzy was tense, but he wasn't terrible.
I did our typical warm up with lots of bending, leg yields, and changes of direction. He was more or less settling in when all of a sudden he slammed on the brakes and tensed his body in terror. Ranch Owner and L had just come back onto the property.
I added leg and said go. He planted his feet and threw his head even higher. I asked for forward one more time and then popped him with the whip. When he refused, remember, these are two horses that he knows well and sees every day, I machine gunned him with the whip ... whack! whack! whack! whack!
The little booger refused to move his legs. I took that whip and added some muscle to it until his legs started to scramble backwards. That meant more whip. Eventually he hit the mounting block, scrambled awkwardly, and finally realized he had better do something to make the whipping stop.
Meanwhile, Archie and Willie plodded calmly towards us without batting an eye. L gave a quiet "sorry" while I kept whacking Izzy to go forward. I shook my head in total exasperation. What. The. Hell. Just really.
Of course, his brain was long gone by this time, but I insisted we persevere through the rest of the ride. As I mentioned before, while this was not a good ride by today's standards, I would have been thrilled with it six months ago. He was full of tension and wound tightly, but he still worked.
Eventually, Ranch Owner and L came walking by on foot. Izzy caught sight of them exactly as we approached the Corner of Death. He launched up and forward and for a moment, I was pretty sure I was going to be hitting the dirt. I somehow managed to get my butt back in the saddle, and when we landed, he got a very sharp jerk on the reins.
I booted him back into the canter and worked that corner until he rounded it somewhat decently. I brought him back down to a trot and asked him for a stretchy trot. All at once, I felt a big portion of the tension drain from his body, not all of it, but enough. He gave me a pretty decent stretch, so I let him walk and called it a day.
It wasn't my favorite ride of the month, but once again, I walked away with the win. Izzy might one day be an "easy" horse to ride, but I doubt it. He's just full of piss and vinegar. Some days I wish for an easier horse to ride, and then I remember I have Speedy G.
If Izzy's my spicy, Speedy's my sweet.
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%: