From Endurance to Dressage
I made the trip to STC Dressage yesterday for a lesson. The horse I have at home is the horse I had for the lesson which is huge progress. More on the lesson next week. Izzy gave me a gigantic spook at home on Wednesday, so of course, since I had the horse I have at home, he gave an equally rambunctious spook for Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage.
It felt much worse than it looks, but even in the video you can sort of hear me laughing about it.
That one big spook, about half way through the lesson, was all of Izzy's tension let out in one big yahoo moment. For most of the lesson he braced where he always braces and relaxed when he I rode him correctly. The typical, I-am-about-to-die tension though, that was pretty non-existent which was a gigantic step forward.
Enjoy your weekend!
Two dressage competitors walk into the show office ...
I like ribbons as much as the next girl, but I have a lot of them. That's what happens when you're the only rider in the class. After my second test on Saturday, I asked my friend Valerie to grab my test for me. She was heading that way anyway, and I was loading Izzy.
There were only two of us in the class, so I told Valerie not to bother with a ribbon. She asked, “What if it’s blue?”
I said, "If it's blue, it would mean someone else had ridden much worse than me, so in that case, get the ribbon."
She came back with a blue ribbon and a funny look on her face. “You’re kidding!” I said. “Someone rode worse than I did?”
She handed me the ribbon and said, “the other rider scratched.”
Oh, Life, you're so funny!
When you toss on your red Converse sneakers with no socks and wear black riding tights to work that look almost like regular black leggings because it's a virtual teaching day and no one is going to see what kind of shoes or pants you're wearing ...
But when you get to the barn that afternoon, you realize that not only are you not wearing any socks, but you've also forgotten to pack tall socks, so you slip on your muck boots anyway to clean water troughs ...
And then, even though you know know it's going to feel really gross, you slip on your tall boots for an afternoon ride on your amazing big brown horse ...
All because life is way too short to be waylaid by the lack of a pair of socks.
Give yourself one point for each one you've ever done.
If you're anything like me, you scored all ten points. Wanting a horse isn't quite enough to make you a horse girl, but falling off one and then getting back on does. At least I think so, but that might just be because I've fallen off a lot. Speedy has dumped me on more than one occasion, but until last week, he hadn't tossed anyone else. To his credit, he looked horribly embarrassed when it happened.
While on our Poppy Ride this past Sunday, the group agreed to to do a canter to the top of the rise. The trail we were on was actually a wide, dirt road with plenty of visibility in all directions. "J" and I were in front with Wendy and Brenda bringing up the rear. Since J is very new to this kind of trail riding, I explained that we would first pick up a trot and then ask for an easy canter. We would stop at the top of the rise.
J did get a great job getting the trot and then canter transition. Speedy loves to go, so I told her to slow him down just a bit. We all know that a horse in the lead with nothing but miles in front of him will begin to get strong. About the time that I told her to slow it down a bit, Speedy spotted a plank of wood just off the road in the grass. He gave it the stink eye, so J looked over his shoulder to see what he had been looking at. That was all it took.
Speedy felt her lean over, so he dodged left and then right and J lost her balance. For just a moment it looked as though she were going to right herself so I did what every onlooker does. Sit back! I yelled. Rarely does that work, but I tried again, Sit Up! To her credit, J got him nearly stopped before gravity won. To my dismay, she dropped off the side, hitting the dirt with her butt.
The rest of us stopped in place; chasing down a loose horse only gets you the opposite of what you want. Instead, we waited as Speedy circled back and found Izzy and me. I grabbed his reins, and told him that we still loved him even though he should be quite embarrassed. J said that she was fine as she stood up and dusted herself off. Later, she told me that she was very embarrassed which is why I wrote this post. If you haven't come off a horse at least once, you're not a horse girl. Welcome to the club, J.
Once J was back in the saddle, we talked about why Speedy had been able to dump her. I explained that it was her lack of direction that fueled Speedy's uncertainty. Not that it was her fault in any way, but I wanted to help her avoid future tumbles. I explained that when cantering out in the open like that, it's important to keep your eyes forward, watch where you're going, and keep your leg on, ready to push him forward.
I let J catch her breath and relax while we chatted and walked. Seeing that the road continued to stretch before us, wide open and sandy, I suggested we try it again. I didn't want coming off to become "a thing." You know what I mean. Unless we face what scares us, we can't be rid of it. I didn't want J to have time to let it scare her. Before we started, I reminded her to get in a modified two-point position and to keep her eyes up and looking forward. The ladies behind agreed that a canter was a good idea, so off we went.
As we came to a crossing in the road, I had J come back to the walk. To my relief, she had a huge smile and gushed about keeping her eyes forward and her leg on. Speedy loves his job, and I know that at the moment that he lost his rider, he felt quite worried. In all the years that he has expressed his opinion - see all the photos above, he never intended to get rid of me. The times that he did toss me were (almost) always on the trail, and always because something frightened him.
On Tuesday, J came out for a short lesson. She was still a bit sore, but she wanted to get back on as soon as possible. That's what makes a horse girl; the attitude that nothing is going to stop you from riding your horse. One of my favorite quotes has been attributed to John Wayne - "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
If you earned at least five points, you're a horse girl.
Speedy is 17 years old today; he's been with me since he was 3. The older I get, the faster time seems fly. I was in my 30s when Speedy joined my family in 2007, and unbelievably, I am now 50. When I bought Speedy, I planned to have him for a long time, but I never pictured myself getting older. But that's how time works; Speedy and I are getting old together.
I don't know how many times that I've written a happy birthday post, but I do know the first one was in April 2011. For whatever reason, the media connected to that post has been lost, but the one from 2012 is still there. There doesn't seem to be one from 2013, but there is an early one for 2014. There is also one from 2015, a late one in 2016, another late one in 2017, but nothing for 2018 - I was dealing with a health issue that spring. I got back on track in 2019 and 2020, which brings us to today's birthday.
I've shared so much of Speedy's life here in this space that there really isn't anything that you don't already know about him. Some of you have been with us from the very beginning. Back in 2011 when I first started this space, we were just getting into dressage and leaving the endurance world behind. Since then, you've seen all of our ups and downs. There was never anything that I didn't share with you. You've seen our wins, our losses, our injuries, and our recoveries. Through it all, Speedy has led a very full and interesting life.
He started life with me as an endurance horse. He wasn't fast, but he took excellent care of both of us. He earned every single one of my USDF Bronze Medal scores, and now he's proving to be an excellent schoolmaster. I don't know what else his future might hold, but I am hoping it means more of whatever.
While I hope that Speedy lives out the rest of his days with me, I have always known that he might choose another girl. If he does, the only thing I'll be able to do is honor his wishes. I hope that doesn't happen though.
Happy birthday, Speedy G. You are the most special of heart horses, and I don't know how I got so lucky.
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.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
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