From Endurance to Dressage
My Trainer Broke My Horse
I trust her for one ride. One ride! And what do I get get? A busted, broken horse, that's what. All I can say is FINALLY!
Of course, I doubt he's permanently broken which means I need her back on him the second he starts to act unbroken.
While I would love to give Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, ALL of the credit, I know I also had a lot to do with it. It's taken us several years, but Izzy has slowly gotten on board. At our lesson in November, both Chemaine and I were quite surprised at how rideable he has become (most of the time).
When I got so sick a few days after that November lesson, I was pretty frustrated at the ground I was sure we would lose. Rather than ride him myself during our December lesson, I asked Chemaine to hop on board. I just didn't have the physical strength to ride him through any hooligan moments. We all know that turned out to be the right call as Chemaine ended up working him for nearly two hours. It was during that ride that she broke him.
After that ride, I got on a totally different horse. He was so submissive that I wondered if he was drugged. Over the past two weeks he's kept her lesson in mind, but he's not quite as soft and malleable as she left him. However, with her strategy in my mind, I am keeping him pretty respectful.
So what magical powder did she coat him with? As far as I can tell, it was called BEAT HIM WITH A BIG STICK; apply as needed. Yep. She pretty much just called his bluff. For so long I've felt that there was a fear element involved in his spooks and resistance. Nope. He's just a jerk. Chemaine called them Dick Moves. And when he pulled them, she beat him with a big stick. Sometimes literally and sometimes metaphorically.
Remember that this horse is nearly 17 hands. And it's not just height. He's big. He's strong. And he knows it. He's also very opinionated and not at all reluctant to share said opinions.
Chemaine insisted on one simple rule: his attention was to be on her/me EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. That meant that he is no longer allowed to look around, ever. That includes walking to and from the arena. Getting groomed. Being tacked up. It doesn't matter where we are. He doesn't get to look around. And if he does, hell fire is about to rain down on him.
I am sure someone is asking why I didn't just try that three years ago. Yeah, I know; I wish it was that simple. It's just that now he's ready for this rule. In a few months, he'll be ready for a new rule that will get him even more broke.
Again, it's a good thing I like this horse!
I was so excited about spending my fifty bucks yesterday that I shared what I ordered before it even had a chance to make it here. That's not the best kind of writing as I might not have liked it in real life, or it might not have fit. Not to worry; I love it, and it fits.
For well under $40, the Horseware Quilted Vest checks off most of my boxes. It has hand warmer pockets lined with fleece - one of my must haves. There's also an inside pocket at the chest perfect for smaller items like lip balm or car keys. While the collar is fluffy, it does fold down so that it won't interfere when unzipped. I also like that the collar is lined with the same fleece as the interior of the pockets.
If there was one thing that I would change about the vest, it would be to add either zippers or an elastic panel along the sides for a bit of stretch and give. But really, at this price point, that seems a lot to ask.
Like I said yesterday, our winters are so warm that I never ride in a coat, and I frequently toss my vest to the fence once we start trotting. This vest feels like it will work from the saddle, but I won't know for sure unless I get out there pretty early. It was in the 60s yesterday!
And truthfully, the vest is so cute that if it becomes street wear, I'll be just as happy with it!
I Missed All the Sales ...
Well, that's not entirely true. While I was stuck at home sick, my credit card got a workout, but it was all house stuff. I redid the bedding in two bedrooms, bought two arm chairs (and last night ordered a third), and topped it all off with two new tables - a side table and a sitting down for cocktails table. I must have had Noah on the brain - two of everything!
After spending all that "free" money, I was forced to resist every one of Riding Warehouse's 12 Days of Christmas deals. Believe me, it wasn't easy. And then, just when I thought I'd make it to the New Year, THIS showed up.
This is my favorite kind of sale because the discount is automatically applied at check out. You don't have to remember to enter a promo code, which I have forgotten to do. Luckily for me, Santa delivered a $50 gift card to spend at the Riding Warehouse, so I was finally able to benefit from the post-Christmas sale.
Not that splurging requires any type of justification, but for the record, I did use my money for things that needed replacing such as ...
It probably occurred to me to buy this because my last bottle ran out just yesterday. I use a variety of leather cleaners and conditioners, but I like this stuff for removing the gunk that builds up beneath my boot on my saddle's panels.
Our winters are too warm for jackets while riding, so my vests get a lot of wear. Since I already own two, I don't need a new one. Both of mine are fleece though, so when it's damp out, they get a bit damp as well. One of my vests is also on the small side (too much good food and wine?). The other has suffered some damage caused by equine teeth. The zipper is bent, and it has a large patch on the front. Like I said, the teeth are a problem. I'll still continue to wear it, but it will be nice to have a more weather proof version.
These need no justification. They're all I wear now, and they earned me free shipping. My final bill was $54.72 with free shipping. Aind since RW offers such fast shipping, it will probably get here today. Sometimes I wonder how Riding Warehouse can offer such great bargains.
If you're not a Riding Warehouse shopper, you must hate bargains, excellent customer service, and fast shipping. What's wrong with you?!?!? I am kidding of course. You're probably just as much a fan as I am. Speaking of which ... my birthday's coming up. I better start refilling my cart.
Schooling Second Level
Speedy and I are firmly committed to showing Second Level this March. We were going to make the leap in October, but he sliced open his hoof a month before the show. So here we are, three months later, now looking at a spring debut.
One of the last times Speedy was laid up - it happens at least once a year, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables, recommended taking one week per level as a comeback strategy. So, if we want to be schooling Second level like we were in September, Speedy would need three to four weeks to fully leg up.
I don't think Speedy got that particular memo. The first day I rode him, we mostly walked. I was still not fully recovered from my month-long bout of bronchitis, and he hadn't had a rider on his back for three months. It seemed a good way to start.
The next ride involved more trotting. By the third ride, we were doing all three gaits. I kept it in my mind that he wasn't as fit as he was three months ago, but he didn't seem to remember that.
While Speedy's hoof was growing out, he remained on his regular turnout schedule which means that he was out all night. Fortunately for me, Speedy is a busy boy which means he kept himself relatively fit over the fall. He wasn't working the collected canter of course, but he moved around enough to maintain at least a degree of fitness.
Even though I know he needs time to increase his strength and fitness, we're already schooling the movements from Second Level, Test 1. I know I say this all the time, but this horse is amazing. He has picked up exactly where he left off.
Over the weekend, I reminded Speedy about the rein back - he thinks those are pretty easy, and we reviewed the turn on the haunches. I think they're scorable, but we need a judge's opinion for sure. We also started re-schooling the walk to canter - definitely better than it ever has been, and the canter to walk. I have to give Speedy props; even after three months off he has been willing to dig deep and go for the downward transition.
On Christmas morning, he actually gave me a really crisp canter to walk followed almost immediately by a walk to canter on the new lead! We were struggling with it three months ago, so I don't know where that came from.
The things we really need to work on over the next two months include the movement where you do a shoulder in right to a right turn followed by a left turn into shoulder in left. He wants to hang on that left rein, so I can't get the new bend in preparation for the left turn and the shoulder in left.
The other issue, and this one really plagued us last summer during those hot show days, is that it is really hard to keep Speedy going at the collected canter. If I take my leg off for an instant, he either comes down to a trot or he anticipates a canter to walk transition. He definitely needs a lesson in keep going until I say otherwise. Also known as USE THE WHIP!
We don't have a lesson scheduled as of right now, but Chemaine's schedule is about to change in a big way, so I think we might soon be getting as many as two or three lessons a month.
Believe me, we need it!
I am not sure if it was because I was so sick during the mad shopping craze that starts with Black Friday and didn't get to "participate," but I have been enjoying this holiday season without the stress of BUY ALL THE THINGS. I have felt a true sense of peace and happiness this past month along with a desire to celebrate the season with my family and friends.
I truly hope that you feel a sense of peace and joy today with your loved ones. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our house to yours!
- Sean, Tobi, Brienne, Speedy, Izzy and me!
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%: