From Endurance to Dressage
Here in California, we don't mess around. If it can be screwed up or made worse, we're all in. Take the weather for example. It's officially fall, but not here. Oh no, you want summer? We'll give you summer; we'll give it to you for eight months. It's still in the mid 90s here in the afternoons. Today should be "only" 92℉. All of this means that while I am still riding daily - my too-hot-ride number is 99℉, it has been HOT.
Once the heat breaks, Izzy is going to be a gigantic handful, so I am riding some of the harder stuff right now while he's too hot to argue about it. That means we're doing a boatload of canter transitions. For the past week that has been my focus: trot-canter-trot transitions and the simple changes. And you know what? My strategy is working. The transitions have shown marked improvement in just a few short weeks. Izzy is far less braced, and he's actually beginning to bend through his body.
In the canter, I am also working on pushing my hands forward for several strides to demonstrate that Izzy is in self carriage. That movement comes in one of the tests from either Second or Third Level; I can't remember which. He's doing a great job with it; he doesn't pop his head up, run forward, or fuss when I bring my hands back. I am also pushing my hands forward to see if he'll follow the contact. He's showing improvement there as well.
Using my spur more intentionally has definitely unlocked a new level of communication for us. For most rides, I only need to really poke him once or twice to convince him that he must move his ribcage. Using a spur effectively does require some education on the rider's part though. Speedy is a small horse, so my leg hung below his belly. To use my spur, I had to really lift my heel up to make contact.
Izzy's barrel is so big, that if I am not careful, the spur pokes him every time I use my leg. This has forced me to isolate my leg aids. As a result, I am much more aware of my calf as an aid than I was before. And, Izzy is now more aware of my calf as well. He is earning that if he doesn't listen to my calf, the spur will soon follow.
Now if we could just get a bit more thrust to get a bit more hang time, that would be groovy!
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%: