From Endurance to Dressage
Holy hell; what a week this has been. Frankly, it's been one hell of a month, and not in a good way. Yesterday, I sat at my desk from 10:00 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. without getting up once. I am not exaggerating. And with 20 minutes left in my day, my administrator came in with a project that had to be done that day. I cranked it out of course, but not before saying a few choice words. My new favorite is holy shirt!
You know it's been a long week when you can't even stop for a pee break. TGIF
Speedy got a lot of turn out time this weekend, but no ride. I always find it funny that I have to turn out a horse who lives on an eighth of an acre, but I do. The turnout is the grassy alley between Speedy and Dollar's quarter acre and the mares' super-sized pastures. While Speedy loves the grass, he loves chatting up his ladies even more, especially his girl Sarah.
The biggest reason Speedy didn't get ridden was because I just didn't feel like it. I had had a pretty disappointing week and was feeling very blue. I simply didn't have the emotional energy to ride a second horse. On top of that we had a family lunch on Saturday, and then we went to the county fair on Sunday. While riding normally brings me joy, spending time with family and then going someplace so happy did a ton to boost my spirits. By Monday morning, I was feeling recharged.
It might have been the bull ride that perked me up. There is nothing like watching a chunky, middled age woman make a fool of herself. I think the bull was set to "kid speed" because I stayed on way past 8 seconds, but it was still hard! I eventually came off, but I did it gracefully.
When we hit the fair, we go for the food and the exhibits. A friend of ours always enters every food category there is, so we spent time reading all of the labels looking for his entries. I think we found most of them.
We're not interested in the rides or games of course, but we do love the various other exhibits, particularly the animals. We spend an inordinate amount of time watching the 4-H kids show their animals and wandering through the barns. We love the cows (dairy and beef), sheep, goats, fowl, and pigs. Well, my husband doesn't like the pigs, but I think they're hilarious.
We also enjoy the non-farm animals. In the past, the Budweiser Clydesdales have made appearances, although it has been a number of years, and sometimes there are insect or reptile displays, but not this year. We did watch the duck and pig races, which are always entertaining. There was a stunt dog show this year, but they did their show after we left.
Once I spotted the camels and zebra, we hurried over. I've ridden a camel a couple of times as a teenager, so I didn't need to embarrass myself a second time, but I did stand and watch for quite some time. For a small fee - I think it was $5, you could feed a bowl of carrots to the camels and zebra. I didn't feel the need, but I watched as a family of littles fed them.
I've seen zebras at the zoo of course, but it never bores me to see them up close. This zebra, however, looked pretty bored with us and the carnival in general. I guess when you've seen one county fair, you've seen them all. I wish my Big Brown Horse would be as indifferent as those camels and zebra were.
I don't know how big or interesting your county fair might be, but we sure enjoyed ours.
Izzy's never-healing heel has put a big dent in my medical supplies kit. This particular wound, while a royal pain in the butt, isn't requiring anything particularly unusual which means it's depleting my everyday types of bandaging material, namely, vet wrap, brown gauze, hydrophilic foam pads, and saline. These are materials you can use for just about any wound type including abscesses, punctures, and scrapes. Also used for I was an idiot and tried to amputate my foot injuries.
Over the weekend I took stock of my materials and determined that an order was due. The last time I ordered self-adhesive bandages, I inadvertently ordered the 3" rolls instead of the 4". As it turned out, the 3" rolls are the perfect length for wrapping a foot, so I ordered them again.
I thought I could get a better deal on duct tape at Lowe's, but when I stopped by, they only carried duct tape in single rolls and despite being a name brand, it was of terrible quality. It was super thin and didn't unroll cleanly. Fortunately I only bought one roll which I am already partway through. The 5 roll multi-pack that I bought last time was truly heavy duty, so I ordered it again. While duct tape has a million uses around the barn, the stuff I buy for my med kit is reserved for abscesses and other foot injuries. Like the kind where my horse was idiot and tried to amputate his foot. Not that I am bitter or annoyed ... (I am.)
Saline is just one of those things that is great to have around. You can flush out an eye or any other kind of wound in a sensitive or not-so-sensitive area. For this application, I am soaking hydrophilic foam pads that I lay over the wound to keep it moist under the bandage as it heals. Hydrophilic foam pads don't generally stick to a wound when they're moist, and when soaked in saline, they create a slightly acidic environment which is better for wound healing.
A medical kit stocked for any kind of emergency might seem expensive. In the long run, I have found it to actually be cheaper as I don't have to run to the vet every time one of my horses either has an accident or acts like an idiot. Keeping every possible bandage, ointment, or salve also seems to keep most accidents from happening. The more prepared you are, the less you seem to need your emergency kit.
Unless of course your horse acts like an idiot and tries to amputate his foot, then all bets are off!
I had a hot mess of a ride on Thursday - something spooked Izzy down to his bones; I don't know what happened. We were walking along on the buckle in the first minute of the ride when I suddenly found myself hanging off the left side of the saddle. The next instant, I was tossed to the other side. I sat up hard, yanked back on the reins, and found the middle of my saddle.
Izzy spun back the way he had just bolted from and stared fixedly at nothing. All I managed to do for the next half of an hour was walk, and half of it was from the ground. Despite being an actual keg of dynamite, he eventually let out a deep sign, but it took 30 minutes to happen. I have no idea what spooked him, and neither did he. It was just one of those days.
On Saturday morning, he was back to his regular camelephant self. He had one or two naughty moments, but his mental hamsters stayed on their wheel. We didn't do anything fancy, but the ride felt very solid. As Sean Cunningham , owner and trainer at STC Dressage, had suggested the week before, I worked on getting Izzy to lower his neck from the withers as we cantered with a more open frame. To the left, nothing dramatic happened, but to the right, I felt Izzy shift into another gear. He reached forward to the bit and enjoyed a bounding canter. It felt just on the verge of running through my aids, but not quite. We both enjoyed the feeling.
Schooling the minutia can feel slow and tedious, but now that we're not showing, I am never in a hurry. In fact, I now love working on the most basic movements, something I felt was a step backward even a year ago. Today, I understand that continually working on the foundation is like making a bank deposit. It adds up to something really big if you do it often enough.
Since I am still working to reduce Izzy's anxiety about the flying changes, I decided to try a step or two of canter half pass. A step or two is one of Sean's favorite things. He would rather see me ride a step or two of "really great" than an entire long side of meh. I am slowly understanding the value of a step or two. The thing is, a step or two becomes three or four which becomes five or six, and suddenly, you've got a lovely canter half pass across the entire diagonal. That wasn't the point though.
Sean's idea about the flying changes is to teach Izzy that he can move his body in the canter. So instead of asking for flying changes, I am doing a lot of canter work that requires Izzy to move his body without doing a flying change. Crossing the diagonal is what makes him the most anxious, so I decided to ride through the corner in a step or two of canter half pass before over exaggerating the inside bend and then doing a 10- or 15- meter circle. To the left, it worked brilliantly. I was rewarded with a few steps of a nice canter half pass before I circled and did a moment of leg yield or another circle.
The right was a different story; as soon as I left the corner, Izzy began hopping in anticipation of the change. I over-exaggerated the inside bend and rode a small circle. Then I found a place that rode like a corner and got one step of canter half pass before over-exagerating the bend again. After a few attempts, Izzy began to understand that I wasn't setting him up for a change. He began offering a step or two of canter half pass and was noticeably relieved when I turned it into a circle.
With this horse, he needs to be convinced that he can do what I am asking. He doesn't like to try new things because he's convinced that he can't do it. It's a good thing that Sean knows he can do it because Sean is helping me believe that Izzy can do it. It's my job to convince Izzy that he can do it by riding just a step or two at a time.
Two becomes three and three becomes four and four becomes ... the entire diagonal. We'll get there!
Son of a bee-biscuit! This thing just will not heal. Izzy is sound, but the wound just will not epithelialize.
It started to show a bit of proud flesh, so over the weekend I scrubbed it good and hard and then re-bandaged it.
Close up already, dammit!
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%: