From Endurance to Dressage
Boxing Day isn't celebrated here in California; I think it's much more of a British thing, but I like the sentiment of giving gifts and money to those in need or in service positions. We did our best this holiday season, but it never feels like enough.
We drove up to the cabin on Christmas afternoon just to spend one night. It snowed last night so we woke to a very pretty morning.
I have a lot to do this afternoon so we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Enjoy the afternoon!
I really wanted to do one of those super cute Christmas pics of Speedy wearing a festive hat with pine boughs woven through his mane ...
Didn't happen. For a variety of reasons. The first of which is that I don't own a festive hat nor do I have the time to gather pine boughs and weave them through his mane. Instead of that, I clipped a crinkled red ribbon to his mane and then spent the next fifteen minutes trying to convince him that there were NO COOKIES in my pockets so please STAY OVER THERE!
Here is the result. Click photos to enlarge.
Speedy and I had a great Sunday. I really love that horse, but I don't always take the time to reflect on how much or why.
He joined my little family in December of 2007, five years ago. When he arrived, he was really only a back-up horse to my mare, Montoya. Yes, I loved him, most of the time, but he wasn't my main man.
When Montoya died in 2010, Speedy G went from back-up pony to front and center. He was still young for the job at only 6, but that's what happens when you're the understudy; sometimes you get called up. We've spent the last three years developing a pretty incredible bond. We did five endurance races together in the first part of those three years and 25 dressage shows in the second part. That's a lot of time together!
I ride a lot, but sometimes I just don't feel like putting in a focused, schooling ride. That was the case on Sunday. So instead of riding, I decided to piddle around and catch up on barn chores. I laundered the people bedding in my horse trailer (in preparation for the Christian Schacht clinic), dug out my show clothes tub from the trailer's closet to be re-organized at home, and then gave both boys haircuts.
I don't body clip, but I do like to keep my boys neat and tidy. Over the last few weeks I have been noticing that Speedy was beginning to look like quite the chunky-monkey. His head was looking rather large and polar bearish. His jawline hairs were at least four inches long! Speedy has quite a lovely Arabian head, not the cartoonish and grotesque thing you see on many show Arabs; yuck, but it was hidden under a very thick winter coat.
I forgot to take a before shot, and I never got a very good after shot, but he looks a lot better! While I did Sydney's ears and beard, I turned Speedy out for a little free time. By the time I brought Sydney back, Speedy was soaking wet from his gallop. The upside was that I got to drag out my RAAC cooler and give it a try. He looks quite smart in the thing even if it is a tad too big!
Speedy was such a good boy for the haircut, he's still wonky about getting his ears done, and since he seemed to be really enjoying his time with me, I decided to go for a hack around the neighborhood. I think Speedy really needed to get out of the arena. We spent nearly 45 minutes ambling through the loop, which even included a wade in the river.
At a narrow section of trail that passes between two properties, I had to get off to remove some recently cut limbs from the path. Speedy was even good as I held his reins in one hand while dragging a particularly large branch with the other. We ultimately had to just wade through the rest of the branches; he followed behind me in a nearly gentlemanly fashion (he did crowd a little bit).
By the time we got back to the barn, the sprinkles that had threatened had turned to big drops. I was rather glad as I just didn't have the mental energy to ride Sydney through any anxiousness. He had been turned out for more than an hour while I had groomed and ridden Speedy so I knew his wiggles had already been worked out for the day. His ride could wait for another day.
My Sunday with Speedy gave me time to appreciate his fun and quirky personality. I think he enjoyed hanging out with me as much as I enjoyed the day with him. Here's to gray ponies!
I am a dressage rider. No, this isn't one of those intervention group things, valuable as they may be. No, this is me having an enlightened moment.
I was at the beginning of my warm-up which means that I was riding Speedy completely on the buckle feeling each of his hind feet swing up and forward underneath me. I was enjoying the motion of my own hips rising and falling as he carried me around the arena. I lifted my outside hand and gently pulled my elbow back to let him know I wanted him to turn down the long side.
It occurred to me right then that I am a dressage rider, no longer an outsider admiring the view. It was a little like looking through a telescope as a child. At first, we simply marvel at the billions of stars in the sky, but they are just a mysterious jumble of lights. Then one day, you look through the telescope, and you are able to make sense of some of the lights. You recognize an order: you see Orion the Hunter, Queen Cassiopeia, and the Big Dipper. You acknowledge that there is an infinite amount of space yet to learn, but you feel a sense of delight at being able to recognize some of it.
When I was still competing in endurance, it wasn't until I had completed my 1,000th race mile that I felt this sense of belonging. Never mind that I had ridden thousands and thousands of conditioning miles long before my 1,000th race mile; those didn't count. Anyone can get their horse through a 5 or 10 mile ride. It's the 50-milers and the 100-milers that really show what you and your horse are made of.
No one in the sport made me feel that way. Every endurance rider journeys through the sport differently. Everyone has a different set of goals and a different agenda. For me, it was a test of how far I could go. Once I reached one thousand miles, I knew there was no limit for me. I could go as far as I wanted. I was an endurance rider.
Click photos for captions and to enlarge.
It's not that I don't have tons to write about; I do, but my time is a little short. So today, it's just a few little blurbs.
First, oh, Hallelujah, school is done for the year. The year 2012. We're not yet half-way through the school year, but we are finished until 2013. I have two solid weeks to work with my boys, and the weather looks promising. We have a little rain forecasted, but nothing that will keep me out of the saddle.
The winter solstice has passed. Every person who enjoys outdoor activities in the late afternoon is celebrating this moment of the year. From here on out, the days will grow longer. It will be by only seconds for a while, but at least it won't be getting any darker. The bonus for me is that I get to ride in the middle of the day for the next two weeks. By the second week in January (when I go back to work) it won't be much lighter in the late afternoons, but just knowing that it's trying to be lighter is encouraging.
I have an entry form and money set aside to ride in a Christian Schacht clinic at the end of January. Normally, I don't talk about something that I am planning until it is official. In this case, I just can't wait to share the news! I saw him at Horse Expo in 2012 and thought he was terrific. When Ventura County Chapter of CDS sent out a flier about a clinic in January, I jumped all over it. So as of right now, I have a tentative spot. Woohoo!
Today, I am off to the barn to continue the great canter work that Speedy and I have been working on. More on that in the next few days. Enjoy your Saturday!
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
(Q) Must Qualify
2022 Shows Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Completed …
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: