From Endurance to Dressage
On the same day that we moved Izzy, I realized that he was already sore in his C7, poll and ribs. I am getting much quicker at identifying when he's simply being a jerk and when he's being a jerk because he's sore. While I was hanging around waiting for all of the shenanigans to quiet down, I texted CC. To my surprise - thank you, Universe, for taking care of me, CC texted back immediately. He was in the neighborhood and would be there in 10 minutes. I swear I have a Fairy Godmother.
Before he even laid a hand on Izzy, he dropped his tailgate, hopped up, and settled in for a talk. Basically, he pointed out that something is happening while I am riding. No horse can make himself this sore by himself this often. I agreed. As Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, helps me get deeper into Izzy's brain, and as he helps me figure out how to best ride this horse, reasons for everything are becoming more and more clear. I told CC that I know exactly what Izzy is doing.
When Izzy doesn't want to do the work I am asking for, his ace up the sleeve is to carry his haunches to the left and then take a big fat swing with his neck so that he can jerk the rein from me. To my credit, he rarely gets it from me any more, but he hasn't stopped trying. And as CC so plainly put it, it just takes once to jack up his neck and poll.
From there, we started taking about strategies for gaining control of Izzy's wayward hips and blocked shoulders. After talking through some ideas, CC finally told me to just saddle up. "Right now?" I asked. I had already ridden once, and Izzy had been running around his new sandy paddock in a bit of a temper tantrum.
"Yep. Right now," was CC's response.
Now, I know I am a pretty decent rider, but CC is a very knowledgeable horseman. He knows horses and he knows riders, and I knew I was about to get a bit of an ass kicking. It's one thing to tell someone you're a struggling adult amateur, it's another thing to show him. Even so, I did what he asked.
To my complete shock, CC turned out to be a very encouraging teacher, quick to tell you when you've missed the mark, but even quicker to tell you when you've done it right. We worked at the walk, right there in the driveway. CC wanted to show me how my aids needed to be timed better and more accurate which was not anything I haven't heard before. He also had me drop my bit by a hole and loosen the caveson. He wanted to see Izzy play with the bit and maybe even pick it up himself.
In just 15 or 20 minutes, CC gave me some great exercises for moving Izzy's shoulders and hips around. They are simple things to do as I get on and start warming up. He also encouraged me to do less sponging with my hands in an effort to let Izzy find the release on his own. After I pulled my tack, CC spent just a minute or two adjusting Izzy's C7, poll, and rib heads. The "lesson" took more time than did the body work.
I am so grateful that I have so many fantastic people on Team Izzy. Between my vet, who happened to drop by to introduce us to Bakersfield Large Animal Hospital's newest doctor, Dr. OJ (seriously!), my farrier, CC, and my coach and trainer, there's plenty of support. It is clear that I am the weakest link on this team. Fortunately, all of these people are rooting for us, so I can't do anything but keep on keeping on.
Well, that and keep my hands a bit quieter.
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%: