From Endurance to Dressage
I am officially working remotely. At first, I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I am slowly starting to regret the decision, and I am only on the fourth day. With COVID-19 still here in California, our governor has locked down our state which means schools are still closed. Kids still need to go to school though which means we are once again learning via computers. My district gave teachers the option to "broadcast" from our classrooms or home. I chose to work from home.
Among other reasons, my thinking was that not only would I save a ton of time and money by not making the 35-minute drive each way, but I'd be closer to the barn at the end of my work day. I also have a better laptop, and after the ransomware virus that attacked my district last year, we're no longer able to connect outside devices to the district's network. Hence, working from home enables me to use a better computer for hosting Google Meets (similar to Zoom). And as an added bonus, I can actually pee whenever I want.
The reality has been that I am working harder by being at home. Somehow, at work, it never bothered me to goof off for 15 minutes. Not like it happens often, but if I really don't want to do anything, the kids never mind. In fact, sometimes we throw in the towel and just go outside and hang out, enjoying the fresh air. We've been known to play P.E. for an hour. From home, I feel like I'd get fired if I took my dogs for a 15 minute walk during the workday. So, I have found myself working every single minute from my 7:45 start until my 3:15 end. I haven't taken breaks, and I even worked during lunch.
Yesterday, I got a text from Tractor Supply that the Three-Tiered Saddle Rack that I had ordered had finally arrived. With purse in hand, I watched the clock until 3:14:59 and then bolted. Here's the thing. Tractor Supply is a 35-minute drive. The same drive I would have avoided had I had actually driven to work in the morning, I could have stopped by on my way to the barn. But no, I drove all the way to the far West end of town in late afternoon traffic.
When I arrived to pick up my order, there was quite a lot of confusion about where my box was even though I had phoned ahead to verify it was actually there. Eventually, someone asked to see the email verifying the box had indeed arrived. Do you know there are TWO Tractor Supply stores in Bakersfield? I did not. I might have dropped an F-bomb or two, and they were not frick and frack.
I was very politely, and apologetically informed that I was at the WRONG STORE (you moron, they no doubt wanted to add but refrained because, you know, professionalism). I climbed back into my truck and drove back towards the center of town so that I could turn south to drive to the farthest southern part of town. The box was of course ready to be picked up, and I again received an apology as though it were anyone's fault but my own.
By this point, I had left my house which is as far EAST as you can possibly go to drive as far WEST as you can possibly go to then drive SOUTH as far as you can possibly go all while still being in Bakersfield. My plan had been to drive to Tractor Supply, pick up the saddle rack, and then head NORTH to the barn. Well, that just didn't happen. As it was, the round and round and round trip took me an hour and a half.
While all of that was more than a little frustrating, the biggest disappointment was that Izzy's BEAUTIFUL new halter had arrived earlier in the day, but because of the above mentioned SNAFU (and yes, I know what that means, Google it if you don't), I didn't get to try it on to see if it fits.
So the moral of the story is DON'T WORK FROM HOME. A secondary moral might be DON'T BE SUCH AN IDIOT. And lastly, LEARN HOW TO READ.
Yesterday was Izzy's birthday. I remembered it during the day, but not until I had already ridden and was parked in front of the TV watching Netflix. I do this every year. I know May is Izzy's birthday month, but I can never remember the day. It's the 14th. He was born in 2008 which makes him twelve years old.
I've told this story before, but what are birthdays for if not for celebrating and reminiscing? Izzy's breeder wanted a warmblood that she could bring up through the levels, much as I am doing - or trying to at any rate. Just when Izzy was getting fun, his owner got pregnant herself and opted to put him up for sale. I bought Izzy when he was just six years old.
Izzy's dam, Banjo Rose, was a Thoroughbred mare who was Oldenburg approved. His sire, Inbegriff, also Oldenburg approved, was by the famed stallion Ideal. No matter which way you look at it, especially if you shove all the Oldenburg stuff aside, Izzy's essentially a Thoroughbred, but not one bred to race. Of Izzy's grandparents, three of them are straight up Thoroughbreds going back as far as the 1700s.
What is interesting though is how far back the Anglo-Arab breeding of his grandsire goes, and there are a boatload of them. If you follow his sire line, beginning with his grandsire Ideal, it takes a bunch of generations before you get to the purebred Arabians in his pedigree.
Interestingly though, once you get that far back on any of his ancestors, all of a sudden, you see the Arabians back in the mix everywhere, including at least two crosses to the Godolphin Arabian though the stallion Trumpator (b. 1782). Like most Thoroughbreds, Izzy also traces back to Eclipse (b.1764), whose sire line also takes you back to the Darley Arabian (b. 1700) and again to the Godolphin Arabian through his dam. Once you go back that far, there aren't records as those Arabians were desert bred. If you look up Speedy's registry, it only takes two pages before you get to the desert bred horses.
While Izzy isn't the sturdy, not-in-a-hurry Halflinger that I've been pining for, I sure do enjoy the heck out of him. It wasn't until Speedy was nearly ten that I really started to like him. It's taken Izzy until twelve, but man is he really coming along. We're now schooling the walk pirouettes, the half passes, and I am am even getting some flying changes. They're far from confirmed, but considering I worried he and I might never anywhere, I am pretty happy with what he's offering.
I love celebrating my horses' birthdays. I love seeing them grow and mature and change. What I don't like is that each year that passes is one less that we have in front of us. Izzy has definitely arrived at adulthood. He's no longer a green bean; he's a fully mature horse, broke to ride. With at least another decade in front of us, I am hoping we can accomplish some great things. And if not, no biggie as I sure do enjoy riding him.
Happy Birthday, my friend!
We have followed the social distancing rules to the letter. We wear a mask when we go out which has been limited to the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, and gas station. Same thing for going to work, the feed store, and the post office. We keep six feet apart. I haven't touched another human being besides my husband since mid-March. I may not agree with every decision that's being made, but we're doing our part to limit our social interactions.
So this past weekend, when Wendy and I found that our schedules had finally lined up, we decided to get together for a trail ride. We knew it would be easy to maintain social distance while still interacting safely. I also invited my friend Edyta to come and ride Speedy. It was the most fun I have had in a really long time.
My friend Wendy lives on the other side of the Tehachapi Mountains in Rosamond, a small town on the very western edge of the Mojave Desert. She brought her mare, Beanie, who was an absolute rockstar of a three-year old.
Edyta is an old friend who has ridden all of her life but who now finds herself horseless as she raises her two girls. When I asked her if she wanted to join us, she was hesitant about riding Speedy. She's known him since his endurance days and has heard plenty about his shenanigans. I laughed and told her that he's only difficult for me. She agreed that it would be fun and met us at the park.
Because it's a trail I like and know well, we repeated the same loop I had done a few days before. Beanie is only three and Edyta hadn't ridden in nearly two years, so I wanted the trail to be fun and easy for everyone, and that included Izzy. This time I remembered to start my activity app as we headed out, but then I forgot to turn it off until we were well into lunch - sheesh. The mileage, at nearly eight miles, was actually a wee bit farther than I had thought.
We averaged four miles an hour more or less - mostly because we stopped a lot, but the last nine tenths of a mile really lowered our average as I had forgotten to end the workout. The whole loop took us a little less than two and a half hours. I think we spent that long eating lunch in the shade.
Our mile split times times weren't helped by the numerous places we stopped to take pictures. It was such a perfect day though that all of us wanted to take photos, especially once we got to my favorite lookout point over Lake Ming. I have a million shots of that view from between Izzy's ears, but this time, Edyta got a shot of his whole body!
Throughout the ride, we laughed, told stories, and just generally took a few hours to relax and let go of all of the stress and anxiety that is plaguing all of us. When we got back to the trailers, we hosed the horses off, made sure they had hay and water, and then we dragged out some chairs and the cooler.
We feasted on pasta salads, guacamole and chips, salami and cheese, flavored mineral water, and some delicious custom made desserts that Edyta thoughtfully brought with her. (We sat at a distance from one another, used Clorox wipes, plastic silverware, paper plates, and avoided touching anything that someone else might touch.)
For many people, including myself, the social distancing is causing its own set of mental and health issues. Connecting with friends face-to-face really helped me feel more balanced and centered. I missed the goodbye hugs that we would have given each other under other circumstances, but we made sure to give air hugs.
Of all the societal norms that may be abandoned when this passes, I sure hope that hugs amongst friends isn't one of them.
You've no doubt already seen this video, but if you haven't, oh, man is it a good one. My stepmom shared it with me on Facebook over the weekend. We both laughed pretty hard. So did my horse racing addicted husband. Even my dad wanted the link.
My two favorite lines - "My Bank Account is way back in the pack, [...] Toilet Paper is nowhere to be seen." After you watch it once, watch it again and maybe even a third time. It took me several plays to get all of the jokes.
"Distance Learning stumbled out of the gate, and it looks like he won't be able to get back in it." Hilarious, and I am a teacher getting ready for my Tuesday morning Zoom meeting.
Which "horse" is your favorite?
That's right. Speedy G is sixteen years old today. Man, does time ever fly.
It seems like just a few years ago Speedy was a gangly eight-year-old who I was finally starting to like. He came to me as a three-year-old, and when he hit four, I swore I'd never buy another three-year-old again. I said the same thing at four, five, six, and even seven. Young horses are tough.
But here we are, all those years later. I threatened to sell him no less than a million times during those first five years. Of course, I am so glad I didn't. Speedy may not be perfect, but he's perfect for me.
Somewhere around age ten, I realized that Speedy was dead broke. Once he hit that level of maturity, things got a lot more fun. He was trustworthy in any situation and is even more level-headed today.
But of course, dead broke and level-headed come at a price. Every birthday means he has fewer good years ahead than when he was a spicy six-year-old. Arabians tend to be long-lived, but with Speedy's issues, that might not be true for him. I try not to think about it too much. Instead, I make an effort to live in the here and now with him.
Happy birthday, my friend. And here's to many, many more!
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. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. 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 schooling and showing at the lower levels. 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%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
10/11 A. Newcomb (c)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS (***)
7/27 Breen-Gurley (c)
8/30 Breen-Gurley (c)
9/20 Caveletti Clinic (c)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read