From Endurance to Dressage
It is terrible to struggle with PTSD, and I swear I am not poking fun or making light of the condition. Three years with Sydney was enough to really rock my ability to trust big brown horses. The ride I had on Izzy a week ago really gave me some unpleasant flashbacks. I just don't want to be in that kind of equine relationship ever again.
I didn't realize how often Sydney forced me to walk on eggshells until I was riding a different horse. I had to be so careful with every request while riding him for fear that he would have a melt down and try to kill to me. I don't feel that fear at all with Speedy, but I continue to have moments where I worry that Izzy is moving to the dark side. Last Monday was one of those days.
When he was nearly unrideable that day, I didn't know what to hope for. I didn't want it to be because of the weather as winter is coming and he needs to work whatever the weather. But on the flip side, I didn't want it to be him being a jackass either.
Izzy has now twice shown me that when he is a real jerk, something is hurting. Izzy's pain tolerance is probably pretty low, especially when it comes to his back and neck. Even the chiropractor called him a baby. That's okay. Now that I know what to look for, I won't panic and worry that he's turning into another Sydney. As soon as he gets cranky, I'll know to call the chiropractor.
Izzy got some body work done on Friday afternoon, and Saturday was spent resting and recovering. I saddled him up on Sunday morning hoping and praying that my it's too much work to be a total jerk horse was back under my saddle. To my delight, Izzy was his regular old self. His expression was again playful and curious, and he happily canoodled the back of my neck, elbows, and hair while I was dropping my stirrups.
I didn't ask much of him for his first time under saddle since the adjustment. We spent nearly ten minutes walking while I asked him to flex his neck and poll and move his shoulders from side to side.
Once I knew I had my horse back, I asked him to pick up an easy trot. I didn't ask for any type of real connection, but I did ask him to keep his head out of the clouds. We spent 15 minutes trotting the long sides and crossing the diagonal.
My only goal for the day was to establish a rhythmic trot so that I could evaluate his comfort level. While he wasn't lame anywhere, it did feel as though he needed to re-establish his sea legs. He wanted to carry his head to the right, but when I worked the left rein, he could give me some inside flexion. He might still be a bit sore in the poll.
After working him at the trot long enough to really get him warmed up, I decided that he felt sound enough to return to a regular workload this week. He's still on some Bute, but I'll probably eliminate even that over the next few days if he looks comfortable.
It feels as though he's lost a bit of ground in his training over the past two weeks, but I think he'll get back up to speed in no time. I am just glad his personality is back to normal!
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%: