From Endurance to Dressage
If she starts talking about that correction bit again, I am outta here!
I know, sorry. Since switching out bits, Izzy's personality has changed completely. Instead of acting fearful of EVERYTHING, he's now a doofus with a stop and smell the roses and then keep on smelling the roses until maybe she quits asking me to move vibe. Be careful what you wish for.
It has really been that dramatic - the tension he carried around was getting problematic. That tension has slowly eased though and now he's less worried about everything.
He still has spooky moments, and his scoot into a bolt is still there, but he has gone back to his favorite evasion which is The Balk. In his version of the balk, he kind of hunches up his back and flicks an ear at me as if to ask what I might do about it.
I very much understand that this is a power play on his part, and after reading more about his personality type (the Wild Card) in Is Your Horse a Rock Star?, I know that my best option is to just play it cool. The expression on my face doesn't change. I simply pause, squeeze gently, and wait for his reaction. When he digs in deeper, I dig my heels in and quietly grind away.
He hates the grind of the spur in his side - who wouldn't? So far, he hasn't been to stand the irritation for long. When holding tight to his spot doesn't work, he next tries to hop up into a rear. It's slow and mostly low so I am not worried about it, especially since he eventually caves and goes forward.
During our most recent rides, my focus has been to go slow when he's tense and get him to drop his head. Once he stretches down, we can move more forward into the stretch down. In the two spooky corners, that means I sometimes walk into the spooky corners and trot out of them.
Big Brown Horse has made the connection. On Wednesday, he decided to just stop on his own as we approached the spooky area. I could almost hear him giggling in delight at his new found trick. Given that that was what I had taught him to do, I gave him a moment to think, and then I asked for forward. When he balked, we went through the spur into his guts routine until he begrudgingly jumped forward.
After that, the whole purpose of the ride was about obedience. I sat as relaxed and chill as possible and simply insisted we go forward at the walk without any sassiness. As soon as he walked quietly through the offensive corner, we moved on to the other spooky corner. When he had walked quietly through that corner, we picked up a trot. My goal for the day was to simply walk and trot when asked and be done. It took 13 minutes.
Once he would walk through the two spooky corners without balking, I asked him to do it at the trot. He got through the first corner in two tries. It took a half a dozen attempts through the second corner, but I could see him working the whole lesson out. When he figured out that the sassing wasn't changing anything and that balking only earned a poke in the side, he gave up.
It was the best 13 minutes ever! I am very much enjoying these kind of rides on him because we are now developing a partnership whose foundation is clearly being built on trust.
Well, that and a good poke with the spurs.
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%: