From Endurance to Dressage
On Saturday, I finally did a full ride on Izzy. It was terrible. After more than two months without regular work, Izzy has last all of his suppleness. At the beginning of June, we spent 17 days in Europe. When we came back, he stepped on a rock and bruised his foot. While he compensated for being sore, he threw out his ribs, C4, and poll requiring two visits to the chiropractor for body work. Just as he was feeling sound enough for riding, he sliced open his pastern and heel. That wound hasn't healed completely, and I am still wrapping each day, but it is healed enough that I feel comfortable riding him.
Like I do for every ride, I started with some long and low walking. I've been doing 10 - 15 minute walking rides for several weeks, so he feels good at the walk. He's even pretty loose at a slow trot. His leg yield it still good, but it lacks any power. Where he fell apart completely was at the canter. To the right, he just couldn't wrap around my leg, and the very balanced and rideable canter we had in May has disappeared.
To the left was worse; he refused to canter at all. When I asked, he crow hopped, balked, and generally just flipped me the bird. While I was disappointed, I knew what to do thanks to all of the work I've done with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. Instead of engaging in the fight, I went back to the right lead canter. I did a few transitions, and then I asked for canter left. Before he knew what he was doing, Izzy was cantering on the left lead.
It was ugly - his head was straight up in the air and there was no canter rhythm, but at least he was moving. I urged him forward and let him "ugly canter" while slowly helping him to balance. I realized that his resistance was fear-based; he didn't feel safe. Rather than forcing him into a frame, I let him try to find his own balance and as we cantered around and around. The longer he cantered, the more willing he was to let me help him.
This week our temperatures will finally be below a hundred, so I am hopeful I'll be able to ride after work. I have a lesson with Sean scheduled for this week - the first in more than two months, and he's confident we'll get Izzy back on track.
I shouldn't be surprised. With Izzy, it's a dance. Two steps forward and one step back.
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%: