From Endurance to Dressage
It doesn't happen very often, but today, I am left with nothing to say which means I really have a lot to say but don't want to write about it. Instead of talking about my latest elephant in the room, I'll share a few photos.
I got a new iphone a few months back and can't believe how much better its camera is than was the crappy one on my last iphone. I particularly like the portrait mode, although it's hard to use with the horses.
To use the portrait mode, you have to be within 8 feet of the subject, they have to hold pretty still, and you need a contrasting background. I've had some luck though and managed to capture a couple of really interesting pictures. You've seen all of them already, but here a few of my favorites.
I have no skills as a photographer. My photos are all utilitarian and purposeful; there's no art to them. Even so, this iphone makes even me look like I've got some talent. If you've got any other tips for using the iphone 7 Plus's new camera, pass them along.
I had the camera for several months before I discovered the portrait mode. Who knows what else I'm missing?
In late September, Speedy hooked his coronary band on something, separating his hoof wall from the coronary band.
The treatment has been time off to allow the hoof to grow out. If you've ever watched a hoof grow, you know it takes up to a year for new hoof to grow from top to bottom. Fortunately, we won't have to wait that long.
Here's a series of photos showing Speedy's progress.
While he's been sound on it since the first day, I am not thrilled with how the coronary band looks over these past few weeks. The damaged piece of hoof is definitely coming down, but the coronary band itself is looking pretty jagged where it had been smooth before.
In real life, it actually looks pretty good, but even so, I am calling Dr. Tolley today to ask him to check out the photos. It might be that we need the farrier to step in, or it might be that we need to just keep waiting for the hoof to sort itself out.
Izzy is slowly but surely becoming the horse that I hoped was in there. He's not finished yet, and may never be, but he's getting closer.
Over the past month, Izzy has figured a few things out. For the first time since I've owned him, he is working much more consistently. There are still moments of jackassery, see below, but those moments no longer dominate our rides.
Most days, he comes to work with a bit more confidence than in the past. He's still on alert, but during those moments when he's thinking about checking out, I'll see an ear flick my way as he tightens up his neck. With a firm half halt and a quick release, he lets out his breath and gets back to work.
Over the past two months, four things have happened that seem to explain his new found confidence. I doubt that any one them is the singular cause. More than likely, it's just a bunch of things that happened all at once that Izzy likes.
First, he's getting older. He's nine and a half which is about the age Speedy was when I really started to like him. With age comes some amount of wisdom and experience. Maybe Izzy is finally growing up.
In September, I had a good lesson with Chemaine Hurtado in which she noticed that I was frequently riding Izzy defensively. When he tensed up and shortened his neck, I choked up on the reins in an effort to keep him from bolting. Chemaine encouraged me to try stronger and firmer half halts with bigger and quicker releases. As hard as it was to trust him not to bolt, I gave it a try, and it is definitely working.
I also continued with my plan to do quarterly chiropractic adjustments. In July of 2016, Izzy was pretty sore, so I had him adjusted. It was ten months before I had CC out again. That was May of 2017. By August, three months later, Izzy was sore again and CC determined that Izzy needed his hocks injected for the second time. That was when I decided he needed to be adjusted at least every third month.
When CC came out in October, Izzy had some muscle soreness, but it wasn't anything that CC couldn't work out quickly. For the most part, Izzy seemed to enjoy the body work for the attention rather than for pain relief. I'll have the chiropractor back out in January. Hopefully, Izzy will look about the same as he did in October.
The last thing that I've changed is Izzy's saddle. I've written about that several times already. While this saddle might fit him marginally better than my Custom, I don't think that's why he's more submissive and focused.
Instead, the saddle has done wonders for me. Izzy is hypersensitive to my every thought and movement. If I even start thinking about picking up a canter, Izzy tenses up all over even if I don't think I've moved a muscle. With this saddle, I can sit deeper and flatter and don't feel as though I am struggling to maintain my balance. I can actually relax.
Chemaine is coming back for a two-day clinic on the 18th and 19th of this month. I know she'll have good feedback for me. I just hope her next piece of advice is as much a game changer as was the last piece. Let me know if you're interested in auditing.
I write the same thing week after week, but it's still true: We're getting there.
Three weeks ago, I brought home a (used) County Connection dressage saddle to try out. My Custom Revolution was starting to show some wear. Knowing how much I was not looking forward to buying a saddle online, I took advantage of being able to demo a local saddle that didn't include any shipping. After a three day trial, I bought the saddle.
Even with a trial period, I was still worried that the saddle wouldn't be a good fit for one of us and that a few weeks of ownership would reveal some glaring fit issue. I am happy to report that I like the saddle even more now than I did when I first bought it.
I took some photos over the weekend of both saddles, and I am hoping that someone can explain what I am feeling in the County. I know my last lesson, which took place just before switching saddles, cannot account for the sudden improvement in my riding. All of a sudden, I can feel my seat bones, my balance has improved, and I am sitting the trot with a lot less difficulty. Chemaine Hurtado is a great teacher, but she's not a miracle worker.
During the very first ride in the County, I was worried about a chair seat. I just could not get my legs underneath me. If I stretch really well before riding, that is no longer an issue. The funny thing is that if you look at both saddles, the Custom seems to have a more forward flap than does the County.
Both saddles have the same seat size, but I occasionally bump into the pommel of the County when I lose my balance or post while leaning forward. This never happened in the Revolution. This leads me to think that the County is deeper, and however strange it may sound, the seat of the County also feels flatter. How can it be flatter and deeper.
In the County, I can feel both of my seat bones as though I am sitting on a wide chair. Does the County have less padding? I feel more "perchy" in the Custom as though I am hovering over it. It's almost as though I can smoosh my lady parts flatter in the County than I can in the Custom.
I think the twist is nearly identical in both saddles since my stirrup length is the same from one saddle to the other. Rather than use the leathers that came with the County, I took my Webbers from the Custom and used them on the County. If the County feels flatter, does that suggest a wider twist?
One aspect of the saddle that I know to be different is the knee rolls. The ones on my Custom are attached really poorly, and as such, they don't support my leg at all. The rolls on the County are much more firmly fixed. I actually find myself pushing against them, especially when I am lifting Izzy's withers in the canter.
Overall, I am riding Izzy so much better in the County than I was in the Custom. In the County, I feel that my body is in a more correct position. My seat bones are underneath me, and I can feel them. I am more balanced, and best of all, Izzy is working better than he ever has.
What do you think?
As much as I hate to lose an hour's worth of daylight each afternoon, I am so glad the time changed. I get up around 4:30 a.m. each day, and it's been getting harder and harder to do. I get up so early so that I can get to work by 6:00 a.m and finished by 3:00 p.m.
My early day means I can get to the barn around 3:15 each afternoon. I don't have lights, but I have just enough time to get in a decent 45 minute ride before it gets dark.
The extra hour on Sunday morning was so wonderful. I slept in, made biscuits and gravy for breakfast, rode my horse, went grocery shopping, and was still home before noon. Izzy enjoyed the extra hour as well.
When I pulled in, the ranch owner stopped to chat. Apparently, Izzy got out during the night. I am super vigilant about chaining his gate, but somehow it was not chained on Saturday night. Maybe I missed the link when I snapped it shut on Friday, or maybe his finger-like lips managed to undo it. Either way, he had a good old time on Saturday night.
When the ranch owner came out to feed on Sunday morning, Izzy gave her an "oh, crap" look and hustled back into his paddock. He knew the jig was up. She poked around the property to make sure he hadn't destroyed too much but found that his shenanigans were limited to the lawn in front of his paddock.
I gave him a thorough grooming and checked him all over for any hidden bumps or scrape, but all was well. He did seem a bit tired while I rode, but I'll never complain about that.
It would seem that Izzy doesn't get worked enough. Maybe someone can propose a new time schedule that gives us several extra hours. I know I could use more time!
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%: