From Endurance to Dressage
I realized I haven't said much about the big brown horse lately. His story just hasn't been as interesting of late. It's a lot easier to write about Speedy and our trials and tribulations at Third Level. Double bridles. Flying changes. Canter half passes. Those are topics you can really sink your teeth into. Izzy's last few months have been rather boring.
As with any horse, he's had a few little ... moments. He tried to gouge out his eye a few weeks ago. I showed up to find half of his face swollen with gunk oozing out of what looked like a puncture. Another inch to the right and ... Fortunately he's not dumb enough to actually poke out his eye. At least not this time.
While he didn't enjoy me squeezing and cleaning it, he wasn't too terribly bothered by it. I rode him anyway while it healed. His pain tolerance is really high. Not much bothers him physically. Mentally, now that's another story.
I never have a plan when I ride Izzy. I work on what he brings. Some days, it's simply working through tension. I've discovered that no matter how fresh or well ridden he is, cloudy, oppressive days are not his jam. I don't blame him as I hate that kind of weather myself. Those are the days when I just work on stretching and relaxing.
Izzy is now to the point where getting a long stretchy topline is pretty easy. He's mostly delighted to just trot around in a long frame doing trot to canter to trot transitions. He's getting better and better at transitions within the gait as well. We do a lot of think big thoughts, think small thoughts. That's what I tell him as we lengthen and compress the stride.
I finally realized that he's now ready for a shorter frame. He hasn't been such a fan of the concept. Instead of rounding and pushing, he gets round and leaves his hind end trailing behind. I can't add enough leg to encourage his butt to join us. On those days, I have to actually take my legs off and WHACK him with my heals. Over and over.
For a week or so, I got tired of it and brought out the whip. Izzy hates the whip and is actually a little afraid of it. Without even needing to use it, he engages his hind end instantly, but then he tighten his back, sucks in his neck, and figures traveling at supersonic speed is the answer. Suddenly, his 12 foot long frame is closer to 6 feet, and not in a good way.
I usually end up dropping the whip, but then I have to go back to dramatic half halts to get him to let go of the dang bit. But it's happening. Little by little he's learning to carry himself in a boxier frame. He's learning that he can lift his back, tuck his pelvis, and still push forward.
He now has a forward thinking leg yield, a rhythmic trot half pass, and his canter to trot to canter across the diagonal is pretty balanced. In fact, he can do all of the movements from First Level Test 3. On the days where I can get him in front of my leg AND relaxed, we school the simple changes and canter half pass.
For so long I felt like I was riding a rocket on a string. He was often nearly uncontrollable, and I never felt safe riding with someone else in the ring. I couldn't guarantee that we wouldn't body slam them as we careened around the arena pumping the brakes. Now, I feel as though I am riding a turtle. He can get his back nice and round, but he's not in any hurry.
That's okay, because I am not in a rush either. I am having fun with him, and I know he adores me. He's a regular love bug. He's bitten off more zippers than I can count; he loves to slide them up and down, and he thinks it's quite hilarious to gently grab the back of my breeches and snap them. I also get a daily neck and shoulder rub. Occasionally I have to remind him that there is skin underneath those clothes, but he's usually pretty careful.
Speedy's the horse that I can drive toward a goal. He can handle the mental pressure. Not so with Izzy. He's my take it day by day horse. I am happy, and they're both happy. We make a pretty happy threesome.
A week or so ago I shared a post about Izzy's sire line. I had photos from several generations of grandsires, but I was missing a photo of Izzy's dad. I knew someone would be able to help, and sure enough my super techy friend, Mia, delivered. Many thanks to her for finding pictures of Inbegriff, Izzy's sire.
So here they are again, this time with all the boys pictured.
While not the worst photo ever, it certainly doesn't show him looking his best, especially lined up alongside his very handsome family. I definitely need to work on getting a more attractive conformation shot.
Thanks, Mia! Now I know what Inbegriff looks like.
I haven't used Izzy's RPSI name in a long time. I almost forgot what it was. It came up while I was reading an article about what makes a warmblood a warmblood. I was digging through his pedigree and was reminded that his sire line is filled with stallions whose names begin with the letter I. Inbegriff (his sire - Oldenburg), Ideal (grandsire - Oldenburg), Inschallah (Anglo Arabian), and Israel (Anglo Arabian).
No matter how hard I search, I can't find a photo of Izzy's sire, Inbegriff. If you spot one, please share the link!
Imperioso ... It doesn't roll off my tongue with any familiarity. It's a very regal name; maybe I need to start slinging it around now and again.
I am terrible about taking conformation photos. I either forget, or I take such bad photos that I am embarrassed to share them. Somehow, my boys always come out looking like lunkheads even though they're both pretty handsome fellows.
When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, was here two weeks ago, she nodded appreciatively at Izzy's developing topline. His neck is getting rounder and the bulge under his neck is getting smaller. She liked how his body was shaping up.
While I don't take many saddleless photos, Izzy's breeder/first owner did. Over the weekend, I started to dig through the pictures that she gave me just to see if I could see any appreciable differences in how his body is shaping up. The verdict? Not really. I see him too often to recognize the changes in his body.
His head looks nearly identical as when he was a toddler, and his color is nearly exactly the same. He's certainly got a badonkadonk; that thing goes on for days. I bought him as a six-year-old, so his growth was mostly done, but now he looks more mature and powerful. I am not sure I see any of his relatives lurking in his bone structure, but I think Noemi did good.
Upon closer inspection though, that hind end does look like it might have come from Inschallah. Love me a good booty!
Izzy's birthday was yesterday. He turned nine. Where does the time go? I feel like he just joined my little family. He was six when I bought him two and a half years ago, but in no time at all he'll be ten, and then when I am not looking, he'll be a teenager. Yikes!
Slow down there, Missy! He's not dead yet. I remember when my mare, Montoya, hit her teens. She was nine when I bought her, and it seemed as though time was flying by us with the best years of her life already gone. Eventually, time settled down, and I found that I enjoyed her even more in her teen years.
It's been the same with Speedy. He turned thirteen this spring and just seems to be getting better and better. I've owned a lot of horses over the years, two of them until their deaths. The rest were with me for a number of years, but none as long as Montoya and Speedy.
I can't say for how long I'll have Izzy, but I sure hope it's a long time. He's really started to grow on me, you know?
In case you missed it, here's the video I shared yesterday.
Debbie, the trainer, still has Izzy in the round pen, but it's a big one. She feels that the circle is helping him to stay balanced. There is also less that he has to focus on in a round pen because he knows where he is going. Right now, she's mostly working on his longitudinal balance with some lateral movement.
I got on him after the lunging but before Debbie rode him. Right away, he got tense and bunched up. He even started to do a baby rear. Not feeling any embarrassment, I suggested that it would be better if Debbie got on to show me what they've been doing with him.
When she got on him, he relaxed and started walking out nicely. She showed me that she gives him all the rein while simply insisting that he keep his head down and stretch. Before he could even pop his nose up, she was sponging the rein and insisting that he keep his head down and stretched.
Once he was moving forward with a nice, relaxed walk, they picked up a trot where she insisted on the same thing: head down and stretching. After watching her work for a while, I felt confident about trying it again.
As soon I got on and asked for forward, Izzy's stride got short, but I quickly figured out that I needed to let my hips swing more, and I had to take my leg off of him. Before too long, he was walking with a big stride and stretching downward. We changed direction, and again he got a little short-strided until I relaxed through my hips and let the rein out.
While he did trot here and there, that wasn't the goal so I brought him back to a walk every time. I wish I had tons of natural feel and could just sense what to do, but alas, that's not the case. Keeping him walking forward took a lot of direction from Debbie and a ton of focus on my part.
I called Chemaine the next day and discussed the training session over with her. She gave me some excellent pointers:
Izzy's in a large paddock with enough room to canter around if he feels like it, and the staff will make sure he's blanketed, fed, and cared for. When I go up, I can work on getting to know him better, encourage more head lowering, and we can do some of the lunging work that Debbie showed me they're doing with him.
He sure looks like a fancy pants to me. I just hope I don't screw things up!
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 Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read