From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy is a complicated horse; no one questions that. As I continue to dig for the root of Izzy's anxieties, I am finding more and more hot buttons. The latest one is Izzy's absolute abhorrence of working in the late afternoon. When combined with working past 20 minutes - something else he hates, after-work rides become something I have to really psyche myself up to do. And those aren't the only two things he hates. He also hates working under heavy clouds or fog. Take a guess at what the weather was like this past week.
The difficulty with riding a horse who hates being worked under cloudy skies in the late afternoon for more than 20 minutes is that for four months out of the year, it's cloudy. From September to June, I teach all day which means I have to ride in the afternoon. In order to make any progress, at least some of our rides need to be longer than 20 minutes. Izzy's won't work conditions are just not acceptable.
For a lot of horses, the rider could simply give a sharp kick with a heel and say come on, let's do this. With Izzy, it's not that simple. His bring it mentality is always prepped for a fight, so I have to ask in a way that is firm, but not dictatorial. By Friday afternoon, I was tired and not in the mood for a fight. Even so my response to every balk and spook was to calmly tell Izzy that I wasn't going to be baited. Nothing he could say or do was going to pull me into the fight he so desperately wanted to have.
Did I want to jerk his face off and kick him in the ribs? Absolutely. Would it have helped? Nope. Instead, I just refused to overreact. I kept asking the same questions over and over with the expectation that he would eventually get the answer right.
It took twenty-three minutes, but he finally agreed to go forward without snapping his head around at each little sound. At about the twenty minute mark, that point when he starts to get pissy for real, he gave a deep sigh that either indicated relaxation or acceptance or maybe even both. I didn't care which one it was. I patted him on the neck and finished the ride. I counted it as a win.
This problem isn't solved yet, and I imagine I am going to be pushing that boulder up a hill for a while yet. A win is a win though, and each time I can show him that I am willing to be his partner is one step closer to getting him to join my team.
As they say, what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger.
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%: