From Endurance to Dressage
If the shoe fits, wear it I say. My husband agrees, swearing that he'd wear this.
With all of the recent drama in my equestrian life (new horse, horse with trainer, broken horse), I may occasionally act a bit like a psychotic equestrian wife. My husband has been very understanding of the constant visits to the barn for rewrapping, hand walking, and ensuring the safety of baby horse. He still loves me though, but I am sure he'll be glad when life settles back into a more normal routine.
Speaking of which, we're taking a much needed trip to the cabin for a day or two, so I'll see you all on Tuesday.
I have the World's Greatest Farrier; I've mentioned this a few times before. Currently, he does not think I am the world's greatest customer. It all started when Sydney and I parted ways ...
Speedy was due for new shoes a week or so after Sydney left. I knew he was feeling a bit stressed about losing his neighbor, but he was coping well. My farrier didn't mention it, but I guess Speedy gave him a little attitude during his visit. Speedy has always been a perfect gentleman, so my farrier chalked it up to whatever.
When my farrier was out a few weeks ago for Speedy's next shoe job, Speedy's attitude escalated into no way, ain't gonna, and you can't make me. He got so bad that my farrier left the job unfinished, went and did my best friend's horses, and then came back hoping Speedy's reset button had been activated. Speedy still wasn't having any of it so my farrier left him with three nails short in a hind foot. The shoe was on snugly, but with only three nails, there was a chance it might get knocked loose.
By the time I got there that afternoon, Speedy was over his snit. I whacked holy hell out of the bottoms of all his feet with my hammer and rewarded his compliance with lots of cookies. I have been hammering and doling out cookies daily since the hoopla began. The only thing to which we can attribute his change in attitude is that Sydney was gone and the gardener was doing something out of the ordinary.
So imagine my frustration when Speedy pulled a shoe on Tuesday afternoon. Seriously? I need to start selling broken horses ... I've got two for a bargain price. Anyone?
Fortunately, I found the shoe, and to make up for my misfortune, the hoof gods left Speedy's hoof perfectly intact. Not a single nail hole was ripped out or chipped. The hoof was so clean and smooth that I was tempted to nail the shoe on myself.
Since my farrier comes from out of town, and I have caused him more trouble than I am worth lately, I called Tyrin, the cowboy trainer/farrier who was/is going to work with Izzy. He was pretty busy, but he said he'd tack the shoe back on if I could trailer up to his place on Thursday afternoon. Could I do that? Uh ... YEAH!
While I would much rather have my own farrier tack on a shoe, there was no way I was going to call him and make him drive all the way into Bakersfield to do so. Besides, I wanted to give Tyrin a try. I liked him immediately when I met him a few weeks ago, and he came highly recommended, but it was nice to see him in action.
He pulled his truck around to where I had Speedy waiting and quite professionally replaced the shoe. And then, I decided to press my luck and asked if he wouldn't mind putting in those last three nails on the hind foot.
While I've been hammering Speedy's hind feet diligently, I didn't know if he had gotten over his issue from a few weeks before or whether I was about to tick off yet another farrier. To my utter relief, Speedy was his regular old self and happily let Tyrin add a few more nails to the shoe.
Tyrin's ranch is only 10 minutes from my barn, so Speedy was back in his stall within 40 minutes. The shoe tacking on deal turned out to have a very beneficial side effect: Izzy got to watch Speedy load and drive away and THEN COME BACK! He whinnied and paced around as I pulled out of the driveway, but as I drove by the barn, he had already quit calling and pacing. He watched us drive by with a puzzled look.
When we got back, I saw Izzy before he realized it was us in the truck and trailer; he was standing in his paddock quietly. Of course, once he realized it was Speedy in the trailer, he started hollering, and Speedy hollered right back. As soon as Speedy climbed out, the hollering stopped and life resumed it's normal rhythm.
Ah ... horses.
By the way, if you're local and looking for either a new farrier or a trainer, give Tyrin Prince a call. He can be reached at 661-632-6163 (permission was given to share his number).
How many times do I need to hear inside leg to outside hand before I finally get it? Apparently, I need to hear it at least 1,000,000 times more as that seemed to be the theme for Monday's lesson.
Right now, I am really focusing on improving the canter transition, lengthening the canter, and most importantly, returning to working canter without losing balance. That happens when Speedy ignores my half halts and barrels through the turn.
I really like the canter lengthen change that was made in First Level, Test 1. In the old test, you had to lengthen for most of the long side and then develop working canter while still on the long side headed into the corner. It was really hard to get Speedy back on his butt, a clear indicator that he was rushing on his forehand.
The new tests make that canter lengthen so much easier. Now we need to lengthen only twenty-four meters (from S to V or R to P) and at V or P we circle for a 15-meter circle developing a working canter in the first half of the circle.
For the lesson, JL asked me to show her our return to working canter; it wasn't bad, but she pointed out that we lost the bend in the 15-meter circle (too much outside rein and not enough inside rein). We tried it again, focusing on maintaining the bend, but Speedy got speedy and started ignoring my outside (right) rein (too much inside rein and not enough outside rein).
JL had me do a couple of pulley halts to remind him what the outside rein means. That's when all holy hell broke loose. Speedy got naughty ... rearing and running off naughty. I've been riding him so long that none of this phases me as his bark is far worse than his bite. And actually, he has a very nice little rear that is quite balanced and deep in the hocks. Even so, it's not a behavior we tolerate.
To help him better understand what I wanted, JL had me improve my pulley halt by using more inside leg than outside hand. Insert palm to forehead smack here. Of course!
From the walk, it went like this: outside hand (slow down), inside leg to move him more sideways than just halting hard. And he had to move parallel, not haunches leading or shoulders leading. Basically, we leg yielded to a halt.
We did this modified pulley halt at both the walk and trot until Speedy was responding with a yes ma'am to the pulley halt, which ultimately will be a simple half halt. That's one of things I love about this trainer - she gives immediate fixes for right now kinds of problems. We'll make it more "dressagey" later.
Once I had a solid feel for pushing him into the outside rein, we picked up a left lead canter, did a short lengthen, and then spiraled down to a working canter. I kept my inside hand fixed to maintain the bend, and then I pulley halted (half halted) with the outside rein while pushing him sideways with my inside leg.
It seems counterintuitive to push your horse sideways when you're trying to make a 15-meter circle, but if you push the inside leg in to a halting outside rein, it asks the horse to sit more and slow down. The explanation may not be quite right, but that's the effect we achieved.
Tracking right, of course, was a totally different thing. Since Speedy has trouble filling up the outside left rein, I had to actually push his haunches in to to get them behind his shoulders. Once he was a bit straighter, I actually had to ride him inside rein to outside leg. Getting him to let go of that right rein is always a challenge.
My biggest take away for improving the canter departure and the return to working canter from a canter lengthen is that it all comes down to what his hind end is doing. And of course that makes perfect sense if we ride our horses from back to front.
Monogrammed stuff, bling on my helmet, a halter name plate ... what has happened to the conservative me, the one who likes black and quiet and unobtrusive? Over Christmas break I watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers ... creepiest movie ever, and wondered, could that be it? Fortunately, there don't seem to be any weird pods stuffed in my closets, so I think I am okay.
While it's been a bit of a slow process, I think that Amanda, from over at Bel Joeor, has managed to set free my inner bling lover. When she bought Izzy a halter name plate for Christmas, I was so delighted with the gift that I bought one for Speedy too.
I can't quit looking at it ... it's absolutely fantastic. Please tell me what else I can bling, monogram, or label. I am totally hooked!
I don't really do gratuitous photo dumps, mostly because I have a hard time seeing beauty over function. I am far more impressed by good movement (which I never get to show since I never have a photographer) than I am by cuteness, but this weekend, Speedy just looked so darned cute in his black tack that I actually walked back to the tack room for my camera.
Since I am his human Pez dispenser, he refuses to stay put for photos, so getting "cute" photos is always a challenge. I have about million up the nose shots because I can't run away as fast as he can chase me.
After so many years together, I find that I like him better now than I ever have. And frankly, he gets better looking every year too!
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: