From Endurance to Dressage
The good thing is that I am not nervous at all. I am really using this show to gauge where we are at First Level. We've been schooling pretty hard, but I have no idea what the judge is expecting. I suspect that I have been schooling with Second Level in mind, so maybe we'll pull out an acceptable score.
And while this isn't a USDF show, it is CDS-rated which means my scores count for a variety of CDS incentive programs. I could earn RAAC and Championship qualifying scores even though I have no plans to actually attend either event. But still, I like to be qualified. Scores of 60% or better also count towards my 2015 plate which is important as I have yet to show this season, and as such have not earned a single score.
But really, I just want to get out there and see where we need to improve. Since I don't train regularly with a dressage trainer, shows are my way of checking in with someone in the know. What are we doing well, and what do we need to fix?
Even though I get to go later in the afternoon, it's still going to be an early morning as nothing is loaded yet, and Speedy is packing around a rather dusty coat. I also need to get gas and make the nearly hour and a half drive to Tehachapi.
Keep your fingers crossed that I stay in the saddle, that Speedy has his tests memorized, and that we both enjoy ourselves. A full write up will follow!
... under saddle that is! Yep, we've started the canter. Before you get too excited for us, let me share that our problem is actually starting the canter. Oh, my!
I've started a handful of green horses, but as I've shared before, once they had a gas pedal, brakes, and a steering wheel, I've hit the trail. When we wanted to canter, especially the first time, my green beans just followed another horse who cantered. Before you knew it, they figured out the canter cue. And since we always started on a relatively straight path, they didn't really struggle with their balance. And for safety's sake, we usually chose a gradual uphill, or a sandy river bottom trail.
Teaching a horse to canter by himself on a circle, as large as it is, has turned out to be harder than I suspected. And when you add in the fact that Izzy is also on the lazy side, you get a rider doing most of the cantering! It takes a huge amount of core strength (and upper body) to keep him moving forward.
It was JL who suggested we were ready to start the canter work. We've progressed from quiet circles at the walk to trotting a 20-meter circle at the trot while maintaining a rhythm to changes of direction at the trot. Once he was doing all of that without any fear-based tension, JL suggested we pick up the canter.
Fortunately, she knew it wasn't going to just happen when I moved my inside seat bone forward. Nor was it going to happen by putting my inside leg at the girth and my outside leg behind the girth while adding a little scoop to my seat. She warned me that I was going to have to ride like a newbie who doesn't know how to canter a horse. There was a lot of kicking and scooping of my seat (combined with a lot of flailing of my arms) before he finally broke into a rough and unsteady canter.
We've been working on it for a week now - five days straight. He's definitely getting some balance, but getting the initial canter departure is taking a while. I make sure I ask from the sitting trot, I make sure my legs are in the correct position, I scoop my seat, and then I kick, scoop, kick, give a yeehaw, and try desperately hard not to unbalance him!
We've also discovered that he needs to be moving with a lot of forward. I can't ask him to slow down at all or he gets a bit humpy. I also have to ride him in two point so that he can move his back. He's not balanced or strong enough for me to sit the canter yet.
My job is to just help steady him, work the outside rein to get the turn, and just be solid with the contact. Once he settles into a quiet rhythm without all the squealing, head flinging, and careening around, I ask for a walk. His downward transitions are actually very nice. I simply step into my outside stirrup and he transitions to the trot and then walk very quietly.
We've only cantered to the left, and all three gaits still need tons of work, but he is feeling like a green broke horse. Just yesterday, after three good canter sets, we actually made our way to the far end of the arena where we did some walking exercises over the poles. We finished up with a long walk back to the gate with no spooks or worry.
My plan is to continue working him consistently through the week. He'll then get two solid weeks off while we're on vacation. Hopefully he'll be able to use that time to process all that he's learned over the past month or so.
We're back on track! I've tried not to overwhelm you with updates, so even though this is the 15th time I've shared Izzy's progress, you'll have to remember that this has been going on for over four months. Yes, that's right FOUR MONTHS. And it's not quite healed yet.
Fortunately, we're back to where we were a month or so ago when Dr. Tolley gave the all clear. The wound has almost closed, but this time I won't have to contend with the after-effects of a pressure bandage.
The last time I wrote an update, I included photos from the day I stopped wrapping up until I started wrapping again. It's now been ten days of wrapping, and the wound once again looks healthy and well on it's way to being healed.
When I took the first mini-wrap off, the dark red tissue was gone (May 12th photo) and the edges of the wound were once again smooth and flat. The weird hump under the wound had also disappeared. I am starting to think that he had had a little bit of proud flesh along the edges and maybe even a bit of an infection. Either way, both things have been resolved with our pal, white lotion.
In just one week, the wound has healed dramatically. I have no problem continuing to re-wrap every day. It's a mini-bandage which makes it particularly easy and and a lot cheaper. The problem is that I am leaving the country for two weeks next Friday.
I've learned that it's probably better to leave the bandage on for at least several days past the time the wound looks good. I don't think Izzy's leg is going to look that good by next Friday. It's probably going to be in about the same place it was the last time I quit wrapping.
I have arranged for the neighbor to change his bandage at least a few more times while I am gone, but that sure seems like a lot to ask someone. I sure hate to leave him with everything being just about healed, but it's not like I can (or even want to) ditch a vacation that we planned nine months ago.
I trust Laurel to do a good job, and I know she won't hesitate to call Dr. Tolley if she suspects a problem. She's even planning on sending me photos. I just hate to leave such a big serving on her plate. I wouldn't want to be the one who decides whether to stop wrapping someone else's horse's wound.
In any case, I am getting on that plane next Friday. Izzy won't die, and it might even turn out that when I get home we'll be done with the bandages. Hopefully forever!
(I can hear fate laughing at me now!)
I forgot Izzy's birthday, which is not really a big deal to him, but it was his first with me. Speedy's is easy to remember as it is tax day.
Izzy turned seven on May 14th. If I had thought about it enough, I could have come up with some tricks to remember it. For one, it's the very next month after Speedy's, but the day before - April 15 ... May 14. Izzy's birthday also lands on a "heart day" - the 14th. It should be easy to remember next year.
There are many practical reasons for remembering your horse's birthday. It's probably good information to share with the vet and most show entries require an age of horse. Besides that though, I think horse crazy girls dig their equines' birthdays because it's just one more way we can celebrate how special horses are. I know you feel the same way, but anything and everything that I can find to celebrate about my ponies is worth doing.
It would seem that I have not one very special horse, but two! I've already shared Speedy G's blood spot, but I just found out that Izzy has a Prophet's Thumbprint!
There are different versions about how the bloodied shouldered horses came to be, but here is one that I like by Arabian Horse World.
Long ago on the sands of a great desert lived a Bedouin chieftain by the name of Ahmed and his tribe. In the tents of Ahmed was his most prized possession, a beautiful grey mare who was renowned throughout the desert as the fleetest and most beautiful horse in the world. Many people coveted the mare, and kings and chieftains had tried to acquire her, but Ahmed could not be persuaded to part with his beloved mare.
I noted the dimple in Izzy's neck shortly after I brought him home, but I didn't think much of it. During one of our frequent visits to the vet, I asked Dr. Tolley about it and was told that it was likely an old injury to the muscle in his neck. My trainer noticed the mark the other day and pronounced it a Prophet's Thumbprint.
Like the bloody shoulder, the Prophet's Thumbprint also seems to be a mark of Arabian origin. It's not surprising that my Oldenburg/TB cross (registered RPSI) would sport an Arabian marking as the Thoroughbred breed relied heavily on several Arabian foundation sires.
The tale of the Prophet's Thumbprint is told by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.
The Five Mares of Mohammed
The bloody shoulder or other blood marks have long been considered the mark of courage while the Prophet's Thumbprint is thought to be a mark of quality and good luck. I certainly think it is quite lucky that I have managed to acquire one of each.
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 7/24/22
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: