From Endurance to Dressage
After several months, I was finally able to get Izzy back up to CC's place for some body work and that promised ride. The last time I took Izzy up for body work, CC joked about wanting to hop up on him, but we were already unsaddled. I swore that the next time Izzy needed some work, he was more than welcome to get on the big brown horse.
CC has worked on my horses for more than a decade, and every time I see him, I learn something new. Over the years, CC has been incredibly generous with his knowledge and experience. He wears many hats: cattle rancher, judge, trainer, chiropractor; so when he tells me something or shows me something, he gets my full attention. I unloaded at his place early in the morning and asked what the day's plan was.
I didn't want to presume that we'd ride, so I asked what he wanted to do. CC said we'd ride first and then do the body work after. He saddled his mare and insisted I ride Izzy first. I think he wanted to see whether or not we'd improved any since being there in late November. We mounted at the tack room and then walked down to the arena. Izzy wanted to be glued to the mare's side, but I put him to work while CC worked his own horse.
It didn't take CC long to start offering some advice. While he's not a dressage trainer, I can usually translate his western horse vocabulary into dressage terms. Occasionally I have to tell him, no because "that's" not allowed, but not often. In this case, he suggested cotton plugs in Izzy's ears to help reduce the show anxiety. Nope, no can do. A noise cancelling bonnet, yes, but it hasn't worked.
After watching me struggle for a few minutes CC told me to hop down. Finally! His place is filled with spooky things: sheep, cows, young horses, burros, dogs everywhere, so it's a great off-property experience for Izzy. While I am happy to work through stuff, I'll never turn down the help of an experienced horseman. It was very motivating watching CC ride Izzy. He's a great rider and great trainer, but Izzy pulled the same shenanigans with him as he does with me. Here's proof - in slow motion.
This was definitely the worst thing Izzy did, so I don't want you to think that CC wasn't in control because he was, even during that stunt. For most of the time that CC rode Izzy, he had my horse working and bending and giving and yielding in a very good way. I just thought the video was hilarious. And, to his credit, CC did compliment my riding in a roundabout way. He has only really seen me ride the one time, so I think he has sort of felt that I let the big brown horse run roughshod over me. After riding Izzy himself, CC's opinion of my riding ability changed for the better. Go me, I guess.
CCs coaching and discussion about riding is always the tails to Sean Cunningham's heads. Same coin, different sides. Fortunately, Sean, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, doesn't have a problem with me working with someone else. He understands that going to clinics and trying new things can always teach us something new or confirm what we already know. CC's contributions are less about dressage and more about getting control and isolating the different parts of Izzy's body, especially as they connect to the body work that CC does on Izzy. CC left me with a couple of great takeaways.
I rode, CC rode, and then I rode again. I could definitely feel that Izzy had learned something about the rider's leg aids. CC wears a pretty big spur, and while he avoided touching Izzy accidentally, a few times he did feel it necessary to give him a little poke. Even when I rode the next day, I could tell that CC had sharpened Izzy up to the leg aid.
Once CC felt that Izzy and I had learned enough for the day, we headed back up to the tack room for some body work. I can almost always tell when Izzy needs work, but for this visit, I knew there wasn't much. I also knew that CC would find something, but I was right; he only found a little something with the C7, Izzy's go-to spot. But, CC said, Izzy could easily have tweaked that during the morning's ride. Whether Izzy arrived with the C7 needing work or not, it was a very minor adjustment.
CC pointed out that Izzy is a bit unique in that when his C7 needs work, his loins also get sore. But once the C7 gets adjusted the tenderness in Izzy's loins disappears. For this visit, CC again complimented my riding by saying I had done a good job with Izzy's poll and ribs. As I have worked to get more and more control, Izzy rarely jerks the reins from me anymore which was causing problems with his poll and C7. Since he doesn't jerk free, he's not jacking up his poll. You would think that he would make that connection, but no.
Since coming back from CC's place, Izzy has been working really well for me. I know that CC didn't perform magic, but it always inspire me when I see a very competent horseman scuffle with my horse. It tells me that it's not me causing the problem. If I'm not the problem, it's much easier to believe that I can be the solution.
That's something worth doing!
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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%: