From Endurance to Dressage
And Then There Was One
Two weeks ago, I had a horrible lesson with Sydney. He spooked, bolted, whirled to the right, and absolutely refused any inside bend to the right. Repeatedly. Eventually, he gave in and softened on the inside rein and walked and trotted past the offensive spot in the arena, but it was very frustrating.
Two days later, we went through the same routine. This time, I asked for a 20-meter trot circle to the left. He simply couldn't do it. I spent forty-five minutes doing every suppling exercise I know, but the only answer he could give was to whirl and bolt. He never got more than a step away, but he kept trying.
Once he was willing to at least walk a ten-meter figure eight, I got off and decided that I was done. Not done with the ride, but done with riding him. Right then and there, I decided to sell him.
I walked in the door at home and burst into tears. My husband was worried of course, but when I blubbered out that I had decided to sell Sydney, his response was that he had figured that out long ago.
This is the first time in more than 30 years as a horse owner that I couldn't make it work. I've sold two because they couldn't handle the work physically, endurance is hard on horses that way, but it's never been because the horse couldn't handle the job mentally.
JL and I talked about my decision at length. She feels that dressage is simply too stressful for Sydney. I worry that I am just not an educated enough rider for a horse with his high level of anxiety. JL shook her head no to that idea, but still.
In any case, don't all break-ups go that way? It's not you, it's me.
Yesterday, my best friend in the whole wide world hopped in the truck with me to make the two and a half hour drive to Clovis. Sydney will be with Sport Equine until they can find a more suitable job for him. If you've been following our journey and think that you can give it a go, contact Debbie and go see him. He truly is a sweetheart.
So even though I am incredibly sad, I am even more relieved by the decision. I know it was the right choice, for both of us.
I am on the lookout for another horse, but my husband has suggested that I wait through the worst of the winter before buying again. So even though I am (kind of) waiting, I am keeping an ear close to the ground in case the right horse crosses my path.
So for now, it's just Speedy and me as we continue with Not-So-Speedy Dressage.
11/11/2014 09:42:09 pm
11/11/2014 10:51:14 pm
Tough decision, and one that I haven't had to make yet myself. I'll miss reading about your adventures with him, but sounds like you've made the right call. Best of luck to Sydney!
What a tough decision! I completely respect you for selling him and finding him a home where he can hopefully be less stressed. People say dressage is for every horse, but after working hard in it for years, I don't agree. Dressage is stressful and nitpicky, and takes the right brain.
11/11/2014 11:06:01 pm
Been there done that. Tough decision but the benefit of the horse is always the way to go. Don't be too hard on yourself you did a great job!
11/11/2014 11:27:25 pm
I've been in your spot and ending a horse relationship is hard but sometimes necessary. I had a non-horse friend say, "All you do is stress over riding the horse and the horse stresses over being ridden. I thought this was supposed to be fun." I was trying to make my young QH into a hunter, but he was not having any part of it. He hated ring work with a passion. I was sad to see him go, but seeing pictures of him thriving in his new career (as a trail horse and weekend roper) warms my heart.
11/11/2014 11:38:40 pm
It sounds like a wise decision all around. I'm sorry it's a path you had to go down because I'm sure it's a hard decision emotionally, but you are definitely doing the right thing. Lots of luck to him in whichever home he ends up in. <3
Oh Karen, that's so rough. It is a hugely hard decision, but I bet both of you will be a lot happier in the long run. You deserve a partner that loves your job physically and mentally and I know you will find one!
11/12/2014 01:39:16 am
Oh my, that's such a hard decision. I know you've had your ups and downs with him but if you're not having fun, there's no point. Some horses genuinely need a different job, and some horse/rider combinations just don't work. It's super hard, but you're doing what's right for you and for Sydney. I'm sure he'll find an awesome new home doing something he loves, and hopefully you'll be able to find a new equine partner that loooves dressage. :)
11/12/2014 02:15:42 am
What a tough decision, but it sounds like the right one for both of you.
11/12/2014 03:10:21 am
I'm so sorry to hear this Karen, I know how hard you have worked over the years to try to make it work. You have to give yourself huge credit for sticking it out for as long as you did. I commend you! I don't have that perserverence. You will find your perfect horse when the time is right.
Hugs! As you navigate the tangle of emotions, come back to the fact that this is truly the best decision for both of you. You deserve fun (and safety!) and he deserves a job that he enjoys. You're a great rider, and he's a great horse - its just not the right partnership for this job at this time.
11/12/2014 07:19:37 am
Hugs to you. It was a long time coming and it is the right decision. :-) Best wishes to you both (and Speedy!) going forward.
Oh, that's so hard... *hugs* It's a difficult decision to make, and I hated having to make that one myself a while back. But thinking about the happiness and wellbeing of your horse above your own feelings is what makes you a good horse person. You did the right thing by Sydney and yourself. I hope you can be happy about that. Best wishes to you both.
11/12/2014 04:30:18 pm
You've been on my mind all day - I've really enjoyed your 3-year journey with Sydney, seeing it mirror my own issues, especially. When you said, "I'm even more relieved by the decision" I was able to exhale with you. You really did everything possible, especially the clinics. So happy you have Speedy to fully enjoy and have your best weekends ever with: )
4/18/2015 09:20:56 am
I'm thinking about buying a horse from Debbie Davis @ Sport Equine and was looking for info on her reputation for honesty in placing her horses with the right rider. Does she buy from "kill" or auction sales or honest people like yourself? Any further info would be helpful before I plan a trip to see a horse.
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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%: