From Endurance to Dressage
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I blogged about Road ID Bracelets two years ago, but maybe I need to share again.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, this product!
What is it? Road ID bracelets were originally designed for runners, but the product is now marketed to all outdoor enthusiasts. You don't even have to be "outdoorsy;" you just need a heartbeat. There are many styles to choose from, but basically you inscribe the replaceable metal dog tag with anything that you want. For mine, I've added basic emergency contact stuff, the fact that I am an organ donor, and a request to look for my dog or horse if I'm found unconscious. I'll let you check out their site yourself to see the variety of products they offer. You can click my photo for a closer view.
Needing a new color!
Here's what I use, and how ...
I actually have four of these ID bracelets. The one that's pictured is the one that I use for daily riding, schooling, or trail work. The bracelet stays on my helmet chin strap ready to wear with my gloves tucked inside. When I grab my helmet, I strap on the bracelet, slip on my gloves, and I am ready to go. When the bracelets get too gross, I re-order in a new color. The "dog tag" can be removed and replaced on a different bracelet. I had to reorder a "dog tag" this past summer when Hubby got a new cell phone number. The pink was pretty bright when it first arrived, but it's turned into a dingy shade that isn't very easy to see on my wrist. The things are so well made however, that I have to re-order before they wear out.
The bracelets are so comfortable that I wore one for two solid weeks in Peru and didn't even know I had it on. I took it off only to shower and sleep. I wore it again in 20ll for another two weeks while we traveled through Great Britain. It will serve for at least yet another trip this summer while we vacation in Belize. My travel bracelet has my passport number, my name and birthdate, and my husband's name as my traveling partner. Silly, I know, but international travel can be dangerous, and I am slightly worried that I'll be in a bombing, or other terrorist-inspired disaster. If I'm knocked out, I want emergency responders to at least know who I am traveling with and which country I am from!
I have another riding bracelet that stays with my show helmet. Since it's black, it blends in with my coat and doesn't interfere with my show ready "look." When I fill out my show premiums, I always add rider wears emergency ID bracelet below the emergency contact number. The fourth bracelet stays inside my running shoes. When I go for a run, I strap it on, tie my shoes, and go.
Two, slightly funny stories about the Road ID bracelets ...
When we were in Peru, EVERY hotel had to have our passport numbers. I realized that I didn't even have to take my passport out of my hidden money belt because the number was written on the bracelet. VERY convenient. Hubby didn't have a bracelet so he did have to haul his passport out for every check-in; at each hotel, he glared and asked why I hadn't ordered him one!
In the summer of 2010, I had a pretty big wreck with Speedy G. I was thrown into a pipe fence and knocked out briefly. Needless to say I was very disoriented and not thinking too straight. The barn manager and his wife needed to call my husband for an ER run, but I couldn't remember his cell or work numbers. I also forgot that the number was right there on my wrist! I guess the thing only works if you're knocked out and OTHER people check you over for ID or injuries!
It was Yozo's Mom who turned me on to the Road ID products AND who gave me the idea to keep the bracelet on the helmet. Smart rider! I never ride without it.
You might remember that my truck's battery went dead last month. I wrote about it here. I promised myself that I would start it each weekend and drive it around the neighborhood. To make good use of the time, I also promised to load Sydney up each weekend so that he gets more comfortable with loading up.
It's not that he's a bad loader, he's actually pretty good, but he's not a great loader like Speedy G. When I get ready to load Speedy, the door had better be open and waiting because he homes in on the opening like it's the doorway to Heaven. Once he's pointed in the right direction, there's no stopping him. He doesn't load in a rush, but he'll try to squeeze past you if you're in the way. You can just about hear him saying, Ah, squeeze me, you're in my way!
My plan to load once a week hasn't gone too well. I think I did it once in January and then ... nothing. It hasn't helped that I took Speedy to a clinic one weekend, I was busy at Horse Expo the following weekend, and at a show the weekend after that. After Sunday's birthday party ride, I was finishing up and looking forward to getting home for a late lunch when I glanced over at the truck and trailer. Rats! Before I could talk myself out of it, I slipped off my spurs and helmet, tucked a few horse treats in my pocket, and opened the horse door.
Speedy was turned out after his ride and needed a few more minutes anyway. Sydney is used to me taking him out of his stall after he's been worked once already so he took it in stride when I re-haltererd him. As I started walking over to the trailer, I let him grab a few mouthfuls of grass. I always amble him over to the trailer as I approach so that he has time to assess the situation; he doesn't like to feel rushed. I paused at the door, considering whether or not to try and encourage him to self and load, and decided it was better to just load him up. I took one step in and felt a nose poking me in the back.
To my surprise, Sydney was telling me to get out of the way! This is the first time he's loaded without me having to coax that first step out of him. I slipped the lead through the Blocker Tie Ring and offered him a cookie. Once in the trailer, he has been a bit anxious and usually refuses the cookie. On this day, he acted like he was going to refuse it, but then he took it and chewed thoughtfully. Atta boy, Sydney!
I drove around the block, pulled back into the yard, and gave Sydney a good boy! as I peeked at him through the window. I opened the back door and was happy to see him standing quietly. When I asked him to back out, he came out more steadily than he has in the past; my trailer has a pretty big step down. I always offer him a cookie once he's out of the trailer which he usually refuses, but he surprised me again by accepting it. Progress!
It's not that I expect my horses to love traveling, but I do expect them to accept it as part of their job. They need to load and work around the trailer in a way that is non-negotiable. They need to load in a business-like manner and be willing to stand tied there for as long as it takes. I think if I can do more weekly work, Sydney will become as sure about the trailer loading as Speedy is. He already has a good foundation; I just need to do a little more building.
Two posts in a day, I know. Sorry. Who could possibly have that much to say? Is she crazy? Again, sorry, but I had the best ride and needed to share!
Super short story. LONG work day: 7:30 a.m. meeting in regards to a difficult student; 4 then 5, then 6 kids absent - all of whom will need to be helped with the missing work; a student suspended for three days for socking another student in the nose - suspended student will also need to be caught up on work; and then I "made" a student cry ... sheesh, people! A little control PLEASE!
I headed to the barn still grousing about all of it. The instant I saddled Sydney, the day was forgotten. We ambled through this weekend's scary corner like it was nothing. I did a couple of minutes of trot work, moved straight to the left lead canter, asked for a trot in the middle, did a change of direction, and popped right into a lovely right lead canter. It may have been a bit lumbering, but we cantered both long sides, did circles at the ends, and then finished it up with a canter lap around the whole arena with no circling at all.
Life is very good!
The birthday party!
My plan for Sunday was to try and focus on Sydney's right lead canter, but you know how it goes with best laid plans ...
Things started well; I cleaned my stalls, tacked up Sydney, and started to lead him into the arena. As I passed by Speedy's stall and turn out, I noticed that Speedy was quite focused on something in the distance. He's not a faker; if he says something is out there, it's something worth checking out. So instead of mounting up, I started leading Sydney down to the far end of the arena to figure out what had caught Speedy's eye.
I saw it before Sydney did. Just outside of the arena fence, the neighbors had placed a bunch of mylar birthday balloons to mark the turn down their road. I am glad I saw them before Sydney did. I kept on waking towards the balloons curious as to how Sydney would react. Within a moment, Sydney caught site of them, and his head shot straight up as his eyes opened wide. I gave him a minute to look, but then I continued walking. It took a bit to get to the far end of the arena because Sydney had to stop every couple of feet to check out the balloons.
By the time we got to the end, Sydney was in full flight mode. He did a wild spin and threatened to rear. I pat his neck and asked him to walk quietly beside me as we walked back to the barn. I was pleased that once we started heading back to the barn, Sydney relaxed and took a deep breath. I know the hardier riders out there would have taken the opportunity to school through the situation, but I just didn't have the energy. Instead, I walked back to the barn, put Sydney back in the cross ties, and walked over to the neighbor's.
I discovered that there was to be a BIG birthday party that afternoon beginning in the next hour and a half. The neighbors, the nicest people in the world, insisted on moving the balloons into their driveway so that they were completely out of site. I thanked them profusely and want back to re-bridle Sydney.
The neighbors' kindergarten son had friends and cousins over before the party started, and they were busy on the slide and swing structure that sits next to the arena. I grabbed my lunge line as I knew that Sydney's flight mode was still activated. Th kids moved over to a plastic roller coaster thing they have that is quite loud as they slide down it. I actually encouraged them to ride it faster so that it would be as noisy as possible while I was lunging.
Sydney was not thrilled with the sound, but he was able to keep his focus mostly on me as he cantered first to the left and then to the right. When he was breathing pretty heavily, I asked him to walk and pat his neck. I walked him over to the mounting block determined to get my ride done.
He was still tense, but he was willing to work. I spent some time just walking and asking him to relax and soften. I decided that finishing with a quiet walk would be good enough. But then Sydney asked to trot, and I figured I might as well go for it. We ended up having a very productive ride. Our left lead canter work was very solid although I decided not to use the long sides as I knew approaching the balloon end was going to cause trouble even though the balloons were gone.
I was even able to work on his right lead canter. It never was perfect, but he threw a little temper tantrum that I was able to school him through. Overall, I was glad for the birthday party shenanigans as it gave me a chance to work on the kinds of distractions that will be present when we finally start showing (ever the optimist!).
Once I felt that I had accomplished something sound, I asked Sydney for a relaxed walk and was happy with what he offered. The balloon end of the arena beckoned. When Sydney realized where we headed, he balked and tried to whirl. I have worked too hard on making that end of the arena a place where we can work comfortably to just give it up over a bunch of balloons that were no longer there.
I stuck to my guns and insisted that he walk in the corner. We made at least a dozen circles each direction until he finally gave up. When he relaxed, I pat his neck and made a big deal over his relaxed frame. We passed through the corner one more time and then continued on through the next corner and down the long side toward home. We ended the day on a very happy note.
And so begins another week!
... and so does Sydney. Who would have ever thought I'd utter those words? Not me, that's for sure.
Every time that I ride, his left lead canter just gets better and better. So does the right lead canter, but it's much farther behind. I know I should probably spend more time on it, but working to the left calms Sydney and makes him happy. I can literally feel the endorphins flowing through his body as he gets nice and balanced as we canter left. He gives these adorable little snorts and sighs as he works.
Right now, I am much more interested in helping him feel happy and successful while he works than I am in getting that right lead canter solid.
We had such a nice ride on Saturday morning. I started out on the lunge line with the reins over the saddle and under my stirrups; the side rein thing. He bucked a little and shook his head, but then he quickly got to work. I hopped on and planted my hands in my thigh, but he was feeling fresh and wanted to move out so I shortened the reins and asked for a trot. I could tell that he was bunching up, so I asked for the left lead canter.
I can't believe that I am using the canter to relax this horse, but that's what I am doing. His first few strides tried to be wild ones, but I gave a solid half halt and suggested that he swing his neck instead. When he knew I was there to help him balance, he took a deep sigh and got focused. We worked on canter spirals which help him balance and soften in a way that truly surprises me.
For the first time, I really felt how I could lift his shoulders with the outside rein. I rocked the outside rein at every stride and was delighted with how I could feel his withers coming up to me. With my outside leg also asking him to turn and lift, we developed a very nice left lead canter.
We spiraled in and out, cantered down the long sides, and came back to a nicely balanced trot. When he felt more relaxed, I changed direction and began tracking right. He is so incredibly stiff this way. Again, I let the geometry do the explaining as I made the circle smaller and smaller. It is amazing how effective this exercise is for him.
In no time, we were ready to pick up the canter. It was ugly, but not dangerous. I tried to bring him back to a trot, but Sydney knew what I was trying to do; he insisted that we continue with the canter. I focused on pushing his hind end away and weighting my outside stirrup. Eventually, his right side softened and he gave me a really nice bend as he lifted his back and reached forward.
And that was our Saturday ride. Sydney is a really nicely moving horse once you get past his tension and worry. I am having a lot of fun riding him this past few months and see some good stuff coming our way. Maybe we'll even make into the show ring!
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%: