From Endurance to Dressage
Last Friday, I reviewed the Horze Women's Trista UV Sun Functional Shirt. I like that shirt a lot, especially for the price. At $29.95, it's a good, all around summer staple, and I want at least one more.
Unfortunately for me, I also got a Kastel Denmark Charlotte Signature UV Short Sleeve Top in turquoise. I tried out the Horze shirt first because I didn't want to like the more expensive Kastel. I'll admit it, I am cheap and not influenced by name brands. If I can get the same quality in a lesser known brand, I am all over it.
As soon as I slipped it on though, I knew I was in trouble. Kastel just has the most amazing fabrics, and this one seems even more luxurious than my other three. The short sleeved Kastel boasts all of the same features that I admired in the Horze Trista: it's lightweight, dries quickly, has ventilated underarms, and provides up to 30 UV protection.
I don't know how, but the Kastel does it all better. It's lighter, never felt damp, and it wore effortlessly. Not that the Horze bunched up or twisted either, but the Kastel felt ... invisible. Once I got to the barn, I completely forgot about it. It actually felt like I was in the thinnest tank top. I could not feel the fabric on my skin; it was virtually weightless.
The only negative to this shirt is the price, but it is worth it. I will definitely be asking for more of these as birthday and Christmas gifts, but at $55.00, I don't think I'll be tossing them into my cart for the free shipping.
As I dressed for the barn that day, I had to stop and laugh as I realized I was decked out in Riding Warehouse gear from top to bottom!
I think Riding Warehouse gets more of my paycheck than I realized!
I do a lot of my writing over the weekend, so sometimes life happens after I've written a post. Of course, that doesn't change the good things that have already happened, but it makes a published post feel a bit like a lie.
Yesterday, I told you yet again how awesome Izzy is, but on Monday, I sighed in frustration. My soft as butter and oh-so-willing partner had sent in a replacement who was not up to the task. It wasn't necessarily his fault, but it was still disappointing.
It was windy and blustery - the perfect day for a horse to show his tense side. I could feel Izzy vibrating under my hand. I almost didn't even bother to ride, but then I reasoned that the only way to teach him to relax in stressful situations, like at a show, is to school during stressful situations.
I started him on the lunge line doing very simple walk to trot to walk transitions. I didn't want to get him any more wound up. I just wanted him to see that it was okay to move forward, but that coming back to a quiet gait was what I really wanted. He started to let go of some his tension, but not all of it.
After ten minutes of that, I rode. His back was tight, but at least there was no bolting or spooking. He would soften and lower his neck for a stride or two, but then it would snap back up. We did lots of walk to trot to walk transitions, changes of bend, and ten-meter circles. He never just let his breath go completely, but he did take a breath here and there and let it out.
So you know what, as disappointing as it was that he reverted back to a tense horse, he kept it together and tried really hard to be a good boy.
He's still awesome!
I feel like I keep writing the same thing over and over: Izzy is amazing, Izzy is awesome, Izzy is the best horse ever.
I am not sure when it started, but some time last year, things started to go south. Izzy got heavier and heavier in the bridle until he was simply running away with me. He ignored all of my aids until bolting, spooking, and running around like a giraffe were his normal.
Over the summer, I had the saddle fitter check out my saddle, the chiropractor did some body work, and I had Izzy's hocks injected. None of it made a difference. By the fall, I was genuinely considering selling him. Nothing I was doing was helping him to relax or feel comfortable in his work.
Then he refused to take the bit for bridling. My trainer suggested we change bits, so I switched him to the Myler Correction bit and things started to improve almost immediately. After that we moved him into the double bridle which worked like magic, until it didn't. He had a major meltdown about that, so I went back to the correction bit.
Throughout the late fall into winter, the jackassery began to fade, and we actually started to make some real progress. At the beginning of this year, I moved him into a Myler ported bit which is almost dressage legal. Since then, Izzy has done nothing but be fantastic.
Now, rather than simply get control of a freight train, we are schooling movements from Training through Second Level. We have a decent stretchy trot, we can maintain the canter lead on a single loop, and he can even do a pretty nice little turn on the haunches!
I have a dressage legal bit ready to go, but since I don't have any shows lined up just yet, I am going to wait a bit longer before we transition to it. While he is super fabulous, he still has an occasional brain fart. The ported bit gives me the control I need, so that his shenanigans don't get out of hand.
I've always been creative with my bit selection, but after working with my big brown horse, I am an even firmer believer in adding a bit check when trying to figure out why a horse won't work for you.
I hate flies. Not that anyone likes them, but they drive me batty, and the truth is, our flies are nothing compared to yours (probably). I hear horror stories about the lethalness and cunningness of the flies around the country. Ours are just regular black flies that lazily hover around the manure pile and dive buzz our ears. My least favorite trick is how they like to land on my forearms while I ride because no amount of blowing will dislodge them. I hate the little boogers.
Speedy is pretty immune to them, maybe it's his white coat?, but not poor Izzy. The flies love him as much as they do me. It pains me to watch him do the fly shuffle - lift the right leg and shake, lift the left leg and shake, kick your belly with a back leg, repeat all day long. Fortunately, he's not a stomper, just a lazy lifter. I also hate to see the party going on in his eyeball goop. The flies practically swim in the corners of his eyes.
I don't know how fly season always sneaks up on me, you'd think I know it was coming, but it does, and it did. I have some old fly masks that are still in excellent condition, but they're way too small for Izzy. I am not sure why I have two Speedy-sized masks in storage, but he got one of them this weekend.
Riding Warehouse is running a fly control promotion right now that prooved very timely for me. I really want to get Izzy a fly sheet, but I know he'll just destroy it. Instead, he got a new fly mask and a fresh bottle of Pyranha. Riding Warehouse tossed a $10 gift card into my cart without me even needing to enter a promo number. Nice, right?!
For me, I tossed in a pair of Noble Outfitters Over the Calf Peddies, my favorite socks. I hate paying shipping if I don't have to, so socks are always my go-to for hitting the order minimum.
The Riding Warehouse's Fool the Flies promotion is good through May 11th. If you haven't stocked up on your summer fly defense, this might be a good time to start. Who doesn't love a gift card?
Well, not YOU, the reader you, but you as in Speedy G. After my most recent lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, Speedy now has a permanent (or at least for the immediate future) go button installed. This has opened a new can of worms.
When I put my leg on now, he practically leaps forward. It's awesome. As I collect his walk in preparation for a transition, I can feel him bunch himself up ready for the cue. When he takes that first step forward, it now comes from behind (rather than dragging himself forward) with a rounded back.
It feels amazing, but now I look like a complete moron as I bounce around trying to balance myself and keep that newly found energy from exploding every which way. During the lesson, Chemaine told me that I would get the rhythm, but it's been challenging.
I had just gotten comfortable with a longer stirrup. Now, I am raising them, lowering them, and thinking about chucking stirrups altogether. On a more positive note, the new gel handled whip is working out amazingly well. Who knew that a tip that actually extended out instead of flopping around could be so much more effective?
While I feel like a brand new rider trying to get her sea legs, Speedy's not doing a lot to help me out. I love his new found energy, but dude, soften just a bit, please! He's pushing hard from behind, but he's also against my hand rather than simply lifting his withers.
We've been schooling the medium to collected canter, but it hasn't been easy. I wouldn't have had the courage to stick to it had Chemaine not given me "permission" to ride with such a heavy feel. From the medium canter, I am holding him firmly with added leg/whip until he'll soften. As soon as I get a moment of softness (self carriage?) in the collected canter, I send him forward again.
As we were pounding our way down the long side, I asked him if he was ever going to get it. We took a walk break, and then went at it again. And wouldn't you know it, the dude finally started transitioning from a medium canter to a collected canter without being against my hand.
Maybe Second Level on my slightly downhill, slightly long in the back, non-warmblood Arab is a possibility. If anything, I can stick to it like nobody else!
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%: