From Endurance to Dressage
During the week, one of those most-used words apps went around on Facebook. I don't usually click on stuff like that, but that one looked intriguing. I clicked. I am glad I did it; my results were pretty funny. Here are my most-used words on Facebook.
The three most used words - blog post today, come because I share each day's blog post on Facebook for my friends and family. I start each one the same - Today's Blog Post. I obviously need to change it up a bit!
Some of the other word choices are obvious - Chemaine Hurtado (my trainer), horse, and Speedy. Tucked to the right of post is the word socks. That cracks me up, but it's true; I have a thing for socks!
It's a fun image because it really does sum up what I share on Facebook - mostly horse stuff!
This past October, Speedy hooked his hoof on something, tearing the hoof capsule away from the coronary band in the process. I've shared quite a few updates along the way (click here, here, here, here, and here).
Just after Thanksgiving, my vet gave Speedy the all clear. While the injury site has long been healed, the hoof still needs to grow out. Right now, the undamaged portion of the hoof below the crack is not connected to the new growth that has appeared over the past three months.
For now, the hoof is pretty stable, and Speedy is working on it just fine. As it continues to grow out, I'll need to keep my eye on it, especially after the next two trims. As the damaged portion reaches the ground, it might begin to chip away, leaving Speedy with an unsupported hoof.
I don't think that is going to happen though. For now, he and I are back to work. Just this week we started dipping our toes back into the Second Level pool. We've worked on the shoulder in and rein back, and done a bit of collected canter. I haven't quite asked for a walk to canter yet, but he offered to try on Tuesday.
As long as the hoof holds, we should be ready for a show in March. I've sure missed riding him!
To be totally honest, it was actually only seven minutes and fifty-eight seconds. But who's counting?
After Chemaine spent several hours kicking Izzy's butt on Sunday, I wasn't sure what I'd get the next time I got on him. Would he be resentful and sour or meek as a lamb? Since I am a Pollyanna at heart, I decided to be prepared for awesomeness.
As I was grooming, Izzy felt the need to snuggle, which is okay, but the rule is NO TEETH. There were teeth. I smacked him with the tail end of my lead rope as he flew backwards the entire length of his paddock. "NO TEETH!" I yelled.
After the mouthiness discussion, I walked him up to the tack room and plopped his saddle on with zero ceremony. Each time he tried to stare off into the distance, I jerked his halter back into my hemisphere. I wasn't about to waste one ounce of the ass kicking he had received the day before. I wanted him to remember how uncomfortable his life can get when he insists on being the boss.
I don't hold a grudge, and I was still prepared to see some awesomeness out of my big brown horse, so I led him up to the arena with a happy-go-lucky attitude. If I had known how, I would have whistled.
I did some quick stretches, snugged up my girth, and got on. Izzy dropped his head and spent the next eight minutes giving me a yes ma'am as often as he could. Just to check his buttons, I asked for a small leg yield off my right leg, and when he didn't jump away from it, I swatted him with the whip right behind my leg. The next time I asked, he fairly leaped away from my leg. That's right, mister.
We crossed the diagonal, and when he threatened to pop his head up for a look around, I gave him a sharp wiggle on the rein and said, don't you dare try it. He could not get back into shape fast enough. When I asked for a halt, he stood still. And even though he was tempted to take a quick peek, he knew standing there listening to me was his best option.
The eight minute ride - there is absolutely nothing better!
I've had trainers ride both of my horses, but it's never been for more than 15 or 20 minutes. In the past, I've asked the trainer to hop on to show me what I couldn't do, or to get a better sense of what I was feeling. When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables, was here for a clinic this Sunday, she rode Izzy for the entire lesson. I was perfectly happy to stand and watch.
While I had hopped up on Izzy for some light walk and trot on Saturday, he hadn't been ridden for an entire month before that. Not by choice, of course, I had just been too sick to ride.
It was frustrating to watch Chemaine's ride. Not that she was doing anything horrible to him or that I wanted to ride him through the shenanigans myself. It was just that when I last rode him, he had made so much progress. It was like he was finally getting it, so to see him back to fighting the work was a bit discouraging.
Obviously, a month off was simply more than his brain could deal with. To his credit though, he didn't do anything that was actually violent: he didn't rear or buck or bolt out of control. Although that may have been more a testament to Chemaine's riding ability than the attitude of the big brown horse. But I don't think so.
When she was finished, Chemaine explained that what she had been working on was getting him off her inside leg. She didn't feel that he was fearful or not understanding. He was just being a turd. This horse wants to be the boss, and when he can't, he can argue about it All. Day. Long.
As the next rider came into the ring, I joked that Izzy needed to find out just who was in charge here. He "knew" he was finished and had started asking pissy that she was still on him. I told Chemaine that she was welcome to sit on him all day. She laughed and said that it would keep her warm to stay on him for a while longer. And so she did. Through that lesson and partway through the one after that.
By the time Chemaine finally handed me his reins, he was about as pissed as he could be. He was dripping with sweat and gnashing at the bit. Even though it was in the 40s, I hosed off his neck and belly and turned him loose to roll.
He marched over to his breakfast, but his temper got the best of him. He tossed his head, gave a small squeal, and then proceeded to act like a total nut. He bucked and charged around his paddock letting the world know how poorly he had been treated. I was actually a bit concerned that he was going to temper tantrum his way into a colic.
Once he got it out of his system, he finally went to finish his breakfast. By the time I left, he was standing quietly in the sun and was happy to get his face rubbed. I don't know what he'll be like the next time I get on him, but I hope that Chemaine was able to work out the worst of his temper.
Good thing I like this horse.
I have never before been as sick as I was over this past month. Sure, I've dislocated my kneecap, sprained my pelvic bone, and had pneumonia, but I've never been kept out of the saddle or away from the barn for more than a few days. After dislocating my knee, I rode a 50 mile endurance race less than two weeks later. Give me a case of bronchitis, and I am out for a month.
When I got to the barn on Saturday afternoon, no one even looked at me. Speedy's head remained buried in his feed tub, and Izzy stood with a hind leg cocked, resting in the sun. For a moment, my feelings were hurt, but then the happiness of finally being at the barn won me over, and I smiled.
I puttered around doing chores that at first felt foreign, but then the familiarity of the routine took over. As I glanced at my calendar, the empty squares stared at me accusingly. I uncapped my Sharpie marker and slowly began crossing off the missed days of December.
After filling feed buckets and sweeping out the tack room, I grabbed Speedy's halter and my grooming bag. While not as vocal as usual, he still came up to the fence to greet me. It was like seeing a long lost friend. He nosed my hair and face and then rubbed his head up and down my hip like he always does.
I reached out a bit tentatively and stroked his face in greeting and then ran my hands over his body. To my astonishment, Speedy had his full winter coat. Even though I had ridden him for a few minutes the weekend before, I hadn't noticed his annual polar bear coat. It felt so strange that even without me there to keep things rolling along, Speedy had winterized without me.
I tacked him up slowly, giving him extra pats to remind him of how much I had missed him. As we walked towards the arena, I smiled wistfully when I realized that his December Gotcha Day had slipped by me unnoticed. Ten years ago this month, Speedy joined our family. It's been a decade. He's been with me nearly half of my adult life.
Not that he cared about any of that. He was just happy to get to work, and we had a good ride. While we aren't exactly where we were three months ago before his hoof injury, it won't take us long to get there. We actually cantered for the first time in 3 months. And even though he was a little sassy, I know that he enjoyed himself.
As of Friday, I get two weeks off for Christmas. Hopefully I'll stay healthy so that I can enjoy them!
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read