From Endurance to Dressage
Who is this horse, and what have you done with Izzy?
I know as soon as I write about how freaking awesome this horse is becoming he'll turn into a jerk, but I can't help it. Every day that I get on him, his back gets softer with more swing. On Sunday, he felt ten feet tall and fifteen feet long. He was sighing, grunting, snorting, and flopping his ears towards me at every stride.
He is so happy in his work that I am able to try something new every day. His leg yields are getting nicely rhythmical. His haunches in are so much better than Speedy's (sorry, Dude, but it's true). He can do most of the counter canter work from Second Level; I haven't asked for the three loop serpentine yet because I don't want to shake his confidence.
We've also been able to play around with a trot lengthening. His back has been so tight that I couldn't get a regular length of stride. To even be able to play around with lengthening the stride is huge progress.
I don't have a show plan for him yet, but I am thinking about it. There's a lot I'd have to work on before we're ready to try showing again, namely getting him into the legal bit again. That I am even thinking about it shows how much progress he's making.
As I clap my hands in glee, I am so thankful that I didn't sell him. If he never makes it to a show, it will be okay as he is so much fun to ride. I am looking forward to seeing how much more he can do!
First of all, I have them, and secondly, the pressure to achieve all of them this year has disappeared.
I hate to share my goals publicly because talking about something before it happens generally results in the thing not happening. I am not sure if that is Murphy's Law or not, but it seems to be my experience. Besides that, every time I get myself all geared up for something, a horse gets broken. It seems as though I am better off not saying anything at all as I simply send in my show entries and go with the flow.
I've already met some of my goals for this year's show season. We've already earned our Second Level qualifying scores for this year's CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition. My goals do not include winning a third cooler - I have two already (see one above). Nor do they include winning yet another leather halter (see it below); one will do nicely, thank you.
With the pressure of winning at RAAC off the table, my plan is to first keep Speedy healthy enough to compete at this year's event. With that goal met, I'll hope we can just not embarrass ourselves. If we can do that, I'll be more than satisfied.
Another goal that Speedy and I have already achieved this year is earning the final scores for our CDS Ruby Rider Award. They're given out at the Annual Meeting Awards Banquet, so I'll send in the application later this summer. The Gem Awards are a lot like USDF Medals except they're awarded for scores earned at CDS-rated shows (which can also be USDF-rated). The award is a lapel pin that can be worn on your coat or wherever you want to pin the thing.
Strangely enough, I recently realized that I am half-way to earning my USDF Bronze Medal. There is a long, long way yet to go, but before this past month or so, I never really believed that I could earn a bronze medal. All of a sudden, I am one score away from being two-thirds of the way there. I have no doubt that I can earn that score.
While Speedy and I are nowhere near having Second Level vanquished, it no longer feels like we're hanging on by our toenails; we're actually getting it. When I realized that, it popped into my head that we're probably going to make it to Third Level ... eventually. That knowledge gave me goosebumps and a huge kick in the pants.
Before you roll your eyes, rest assured that my head is the same size as it has always been - it might even be shrinking. Crap. something new to worry about. At our most recent show, I apologized at least a thousand times to my trainer during the warm up for looking like such a disaster amongst all of the real dressage riders out there. How can they all look so put together and well-schooled?
So. Goals. Yep. I have them. Not looking stupid is always the first one. Why can't I ever check that off the list?
Back when I started endurance riding in 1996 - can it be that long ago? - there weren't a lot of electrolyte formulas from which to choose. There was Lyte Now Electrolyte Paste, Endura-Max, and a few other cheaper brands that real endurance riders scoffed at. The selection was still so small that many riders mixed their own electrolytes from table salt and other ingredients. Now, Riding Warehouse has an entire page dedicated to just electrolytes.
I never mixed my own, but electrolytes were definitely part of my feed and maintenance program. For hundred mile events, I found Lyte Now paste to be the most convenient, especially when we rode a single loop 100-miler, meaning we never came back to camp until the finish. It was much easier to toss two or three syringes in your crew bag than to pack all the supplies necessary for administering the powdered form.
For rides where we came back to camp every few hours, it was cheaper to give powdered electrolyte and administer them at the trailer. Like many riders, I stocked up on jars of carrot and apple flavored baby food. I simply dumped the baby food into a red Solo cup, poured in my electrolytes, and thinned it all with a bit of water. Like every other rider, I administered it orally using a catheter syringe which looks like the syringe of any vaccination except it holds approximately 60cc and has a really fat tip.
In those days, my choice of electrolytes was Endura-Max. Even back then its formula most closely matched the ideal combination of elements necessary to actually replace what our horses were losing due to sweat. Many of the cheaper brands contained more glucose/sugar than anything else. There are five main electrolytes required by horses, namely: Sodium (Na⁺), Chloride (Cl⁻), Potassium (K⁺), Magnesium (Mg²⁺) and Calcium (Ca²⁺) and all play important roles within the horses’ body. - Source
Given that my horses no longer work nearly as hard nor as long as when I was training and competing in endurance races, their electrolyte needs are different. They still need them, but not at the same levels required for horses working for 10 - 24 hours at a time. Summer Games Electrolytes is made by Kentucky Performance Products, the same folks who created Endura-Max Electrolytes.
Even though it is hotter than Hades here in the summertime - last year we had nearly 70 days of triple-digit temperatures with lows in the high 70s to low 80s, I don't give electrolytes every day. My horses rarely work for more than 40 minutes a day, especially when it's that hot.
During the summer (which lasts 6 -8 months here), I give electrolytes before or after a lesson, any time we trailer somewhere (my trailer does not have A/C, and it gets HOT back there), and when we show. Since I don't administer electrolytes every two to three hours like I did when endurance riding, the syringe is no longer necessary (although I still keep a few around just in case). Now-a-days, I can mix a dose in with beet pulp or LMF Senior. Since Speedy also gets Flaxseed oil, adding a scoop of electrolytes goes unnoticed.
A few weeks ago I used the last bit of my electrolytes during an unseasonably hot spell. Since Riding Warehouse was running that sale on fly stuff, I tossed in a new bucket of electrolytes. Since summer is now here to stay, I'll be needing them for afternoon lessons and shows.
For those of you who live in more humid climates, do you use electrolytes, and if so, how often?
The only birthdays I can remember besides my own and my husband's are one of the dogs' birthdays and Speedy's. The other dog and Izzy get forgotten every time. Frankly, the only reason I remember the birthdays that I do is because Tobi's is the day before mine, and Speedy's is on tax day, April 15th.
The thing is, I like celebrating my four-legged family members' birthdays. I don't go all wild and crazy about them, and in fact, I don't really do anything extra special, but I still enjoy the day. For me, there's a weird sense of accomplishment in having an animal for its entire life, and I love checking off yet another year. Izzy's special day was last Monday, May 14th.
Izzy came to me as a six-year-old, nearly an adult. In reality he was still a baby with a lot of growing up to do. Those first few years with him were tough ones. First, I had to deal with the leg that suffered that terrible laceration, and then I had to cope with all the I don't wanna attitude.
This birthday, his tenth, has revealed a more mature and confident horse. Speedy did the same thing except I had to wait a lot longer before I had a horse I enjoyed. I bought Speedy as a three-year-old, so it took nearly seven years before I really liked him enough to pull down the for sale sign.
While Izzy is probably not completely finished with the temper tantrums and sassy attitude, they're definitely becoming few and far between. Even at fourteen Speedy still likes to flip me the bird.
I've said many times that I hope to never purchase another three-year-old, four-year-old, or even an 8-year-old. Make mine a ten-year-old, and you've got yourself a deal!
Speedy and I are still chipping away at the elements of Second Level which most recently have included collection. While schooling the simple change through walk on Wednesday, I had the most distinct AHA.
Our walk to canter has gotten pretty show worthy. I am not going to say it's 10-worthy, but it is consistent. He still wants to pop his head occasionally, but he's starting to figure out how to really push off from his hind end when I insist on it.
The canter to walk, the other part of the simple change, is where we've had more trouble. I just can't get a true walk unless I haul back on the reins, and then it's a rather ugly transition.
One of the exercises I've been doing is cantering three strides by counting down: three, two, one. On the one, I ask for the walk. I then change the bend and pick up the other canter lead, again counting down to the walk. Sometimes he does a great downward transition, and other times not so much.
While I ride, I have a running dialogue in my head. Usually it's with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, but occasionally I just talk myself through what I am trying to accomplish.
On Wednesday, I am not sure whose voice I was hearing, but I heard Speedy can't walk while he's leaning on your hands. Get him soft before you ask. That must have been Chemaine as that sounds like something she'd say. So for the next canter to walk transition, I counted down, but as I did so, I also asked for him to get soft. To my amazement, he stepped softly into a walk. I actually whooped out loud.
To make sure it wasn't simply a lucky moment, I told Speedy we were going to do a few more just to see. Sure enough, when I got him soft before I asked for the walk, the downward transition was lovely.
Each piece of Second Level is getting closer to being confirmed. Now we just need to start connecting those pieces together so that it all looks "easy." I'll let you know when that happens.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read