From Endurance to Dressage
Back Under Saddle
Speedy hasn't had a dressage ride since October 2nd, almost two months ago. He did pack me around the neighborhood once right after that, and I did have that fun bareback ride on him last month, but aside from that, he's been too lame to really ride.
I have finally resigned myself to the fact that Speedy probably won't ever show at Second Level. Every time I get him schooling the movements, he re-injures himself in his stall or turn out. It's the same old injury that has plagued him for several years - he whirls and paces the fence when he loses a buddy (even though other horses are very nearby), and then he tweaks something in the right front foot.
I've given up taking him to the vet because without a standing MRI, the vet just can't diagnosis it accurately. Whatever it is (farrier thinks bruising), Speedy presents as accurately lame for one or two days and then the lameness slowly fades over a ten day period, and then he's sound again.
For the past two months, we've had a few horses go and come and go again. Each time Speedy got sound, someone would leave triggering the cycle all over again. It's frustrating because he choose the one horse that he adores and ignores everyone else. He currently shares space with Willie who has gone and come back. Even though the two boys share a fence with three other horses, Speedy goes nuts whirling and pacing if Willie is out to be groomed or with the farrier.
For the past several weeks, Speedy has been accompanying Izzy up to the arena where he waits tied to the fence. He's also been led around the property with Evelyn aboard. I've been watching him closely, and last night, I decided that he once again looked sound enough for a real ride.
I saddled him and hacked around the neighborhood. Even after so many weeks (months) without being worked, he was perfectly behaved. We ended up on the old golf course where I decided to see just how sound he really felt. I asked him to pick up a trot which he did happily. We trotted around for a minute or two and then rolled into a nice little canter.
He was sound both directions at all gaits. I texted Chemaine and told her to add Speedy to this weekend's clinic schedule. If you're local, contact me if you'd like to audit or come over for a ride with Chemaine. Hopefully I'll be riding both horses, but if not, Speedy will at least be part of the action as he hangs out with Izzy keeping him company.
More Than a "Bit" Better
I have never had a bit issue before. Yes, I've changed out a horse's bit in the hopes of getting better quality work, or in the case of my best endurance mare, getting brakes. But with Izzy, he was becoming unrideable in this snaffle.
The thing with training horses is that when they do the "wrong" thing, it can be hard to know why. Are they expressing an opinion? Do they not understand? Are they in pain? And when they make the wrong choice rather suddenly, after having agreed with you for many months, their choice becomes even more of a mystery.
I've been using that same snaffle since day one - about a year and a half. A month or so ago, maybe six weeks, Izzy started to be a bit of a stinker about taking the bit when bridling. Gradually, it got to the point where he flat out refused to open his mouth at all.
That should have been a huge red flag for me, but he had taken that bit eagerly for so long that I assumed he was just trying to get the upper hand in a power struggle. I was wrong.
For the first few days that I used the new bit, he was still reluctant to open his mouth, but over the course of a week, he gradually relaxed his jaw and allowed me to slip it in. Now he slurps it up all by himself.
I still haven't made the switch to the double bridle. There's a problem with the bradoon hanger which is a long story and completely my fault. Either way, I can't show with either bit set up. The correction bit is definitely not show legal, and I can't show below Third Level with the double. I'm going to need to find a snaffle that works if we are to get back in the show ring this spring.
When I compared the two bits, the first thing I noticed was that the correction bit allows tongue relief while the snaffle does not. It restricts the tongue and collapses on the bars of his mouth. The center lozenge puts concentrated pressure on the tongue. Is that what bothered him with the lozenge snaffle, the lack of tongue relief?
According to the 2016 USEF rule book, a double jointed bit or snaffle with rotating mouthpiece may be shaped to allow tongue relief. The maximum height of the deviation is 30mm from the lower part of tongue side to the highest part of the deviation. The widest part of the deviation must be where the mouthpiece contacts the tongue and must have a minimum width of 30 mm.
I love the Myler bitting system because their bits address so many issues. When I studied the bits in their book A Whole Bit Better, I came up with a few options. The best choice seems to be the low ported barrel which offers tongue relief and releases when the horse relaxes at the poll (MB43LP). The height of the port satisfies the rule just fine at 1 inch/25.4 mm. While the measurement of the width of the tongue relief isn't listed, I know it's at least an inch wide. I have several other Myler bits, including the correction bit, and they all satisfy the width requirement.
This particular bit comes with "hooks," an opening in the cheekpiece to attach the bridle and or reins to make them stationary. Those are definitely not legal, but I don't have to use them. I am going to keep looking for this bit without hooks, but this bit might be acceptable to Izzy.
If you have one for sale, let me know!
I finally had to bid a sad farewell to my beloved Volants last week. You can see why.
I'll admit that I am probably a little tough on my tall boots. I wear them seven days a week in a dusty environment. While I don't usually clean paddocks or stalls while wearing them, I do other messy barn chores.
For the first year or so that I owned them, I was careful about brushing them off each day when I took them off. After a while though, I quit doing that, but I did condition them every once in while.
For the price (around $500), I expected them to last at least a little bit longer than two years and nine months. I bought them in February of 2014; they didn't last long. Last Christmas, I bought a pair of Tuffrider Baroque tall boots from the Riding Warehouse because I knew my Volants were falling apart.
I've worn the Tuffriders a few times, but this weekend they got called up officially. Each time I put them on, I am reminded of how unbelievably comfortable they are. They're better than my muck boots. The Riding Warehouse has them listed at $161.95, but if you buy them today with the 25% discount, they're only $122! I am thinking of ordering a new back up pair (size 8, regular width).
My Ariat Maestros are still my go to show boots, but I am having a problem with a sticky zipper. Does anyone know of a good lubricating product that I can use? Please share a link, and I will be forever grateful.
Kids, Poop, and a Dirty Bridle
There's a lot of "littles" going on with me right now; a little of this and a little of that. None of it's worth its own blog post, but jam three of them together, and you got yourself something to read.
First up - poop. A few days ago, I was worrying about the ploppiness of Izzy's poop while being tacked up. After just one day of being back on the Platinum Performance, he pooped a delightfully solid "thunk" of a pile as I tacked up. It was so wonderfully firm that I thought long and hard about taking photographic evidence of its robustness. Common sense won out - who wants to see pictures of poop? Instead, you get a picture of equine butts.
Knowing that you're going to be doing a bridle adjustment forces you to more closely examine what you think is a relatively clean bridle. Holy heck. In the light of day, Izzy's bridle revealed itself to be a crusty, hot mess. I have never had a horse that was so hard on his tack.
I brought it home to clean and then decided to measure it to see what size I will need to order for the double. Riding Warehouse provides a link to a Bobby's Tack image that shows the measurements for every single piece of their bridles. Pure genius. My current bridle is almost an exact match for Bobby's full sized bridles. My cheek pieces are slightly longer, but otherwise, a perfect match. If anyone wants to get me the double bridle early, I'll take it in horse size, please.
And then there was a kid. Reggie, the ranch's live-in caretaker, has several children who come out now and then to help or just hang out. Reggie has been telling me how much his youngest daughter admires Izzy. She's been a bit shy and hasn't wanted to approach me, so I told Reggie to tell her that it wouldn't bother me if she said hi.
He must have delivered the message because on Tuesday, she marched her ten year old self up and boldly proclaimed that she wanted to ride the white one. Smart girl. Even I don't usually want to ride the brown one - just kidding (sort of).
After conferring with her dad, we put Izzy away and gave Miss Evelyn a quick lesson in horse grooming and tacking up. This was Evelyn's first real encounter with a horse, and she was plenty nervous. The girl must have the bug though because after I showed her how to pick up Speedy's feet, she bravely motored around cleaning all four, twice!
We threw on the ranch owner's western saddle, and Reggie helped his daughter climb up. She was very nervous and insisted that her dad hold on to her which made Speedy quite nervous. After a few minutes of walking in a small circle, Evelyn let out a breath and Speedy followed suit.
Before long, we were tooling around the ranch. I led Speedy with his lead rope, but I attached a set of endurance reins to his rope halter that Evelyn finally found the courage to pick up. We eventually made it into the arena where she learned to pull right to go right and pull left to go left. She learned how to pull back to stop and thump her legs to go.
It was truly the most fun that Speedy has had in quite a while. Evelyn even had a look at my riding calendar and quite firmly announced that she'd be back on the 23rd (she was) and hoped that I'd be there because she wanted to ride again (she did).
I am a little worried about Reggie; I see a pony in Evelyn's future, and I am not sure dad is ready for that!
The other day, Facebook shared some memories with me, most of which weren't particularly memorable. There was one however that struck a nerve - this Thanksgiving post about being grateful.
Since we moved into this house, which by most people's standards could be called a "dream house" (no horse amenities so I wouldn't go so far as that), I've been having a bit of an existential crisis. You see, I'm more of a Charlie Brown person, but this house definitely belongs to a Norman Rockwell type (you should read the post I mentioned earlier.).
So this Thanksgiving, I feel that I have more to be thankful for than anyone deserves. I am thankful for ...
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%: