From Endurance to Dressage
After competing in the sport of endurance for more than sixteen years, I eventually reached burnout. Doing training rides every single weekend, month after month, year after year, finally became something I dreaded. I never went to parties, showers, shopping dates, or anything else that happened on a weekend. Nothing was more important than riding my horse.
Besides all of the conditioning miles we rode, every endurance rider copes with a ton of stress. Endurance rides are hard on horses; so many things can go wrong. Besides the obvious things like trailering accidents and pasture mishaps, endurance horses compete right on the knife's edge every time they tackle a 50 or 100-miler. Colics are a concern, but so are torn tendons, strained ligaments, damaged kidneys, popped splints, tying-up, and regular wounds. Crossing the finish line wasn't enough; your horse had to be fit to continue to get a completion, and then there was the drive back home where the strain of travel might induce a colic or a mystery lameness. For most endurance riders, a horse's health is always the priority - even over a completion, but that responsibility is a heavy weight when you are running at speed over long distances. No one takes it lightly.
Eventually, I just got tired of it. Near the end of my endurance days, I started taking dressage lessons. I had fun, my horse didn't get beat up, and no one almost died. When it came time to renew my membership to the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC), I let the renewal date pass by and instead, I joined the California Dressage Society (CDS).
I started my dressage journey way back in 2010, more than twelve years ago. I am starting to feel that same sense of burn out that I felt while doing conditioning rides. Just like in my endurance days, I spend every single Saturday morning doing a lesson. It has begun to feel like a grind. What makes it worse is that my work-to-reward ratio is way out of whack. I put in a massive amount of work and get no tangible rewards. Nothing that I can look at to prove to myself that the work I am putting in is worth it; that the experiences I miss out on are worth missing. There are plenty of adages that express that lack of balance: all work and no play make Jack a dull boy comes to mind. It's not a good place to be in.
I am looking at solutions. Time off or a change of the view I see between my horse's ears are among the possibilities. When I left the endurance world, it started with a break that turned into forever, but with no regrets. I don't know if I am there yet with dressage, but it's something to consider.
I don't think it will happen this week, but I am leaving myself open to whatever possibilities arise.
Comments are closed.
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%: