From Endurance to Dressage
I am not sure I've mentioned this yet or not, but I've been on winter break for a week. Today starts week two. After being so sick for so long, I put last week to very good use. While I may be on break, Izzy is most definitely not. I've worked his not-so-little caboose every single day. I've worked him so much that he's actually gotten tired, and that's just the way I like him!
Given how sluggish he was on Wednesday, I decided to ride him around the neighborhood on Thursday. I couldn't remember the last time we'd done that. He hadn't even been off the property since early August.
I knew he'd have cause to be spooky, but I decided that a trail ride was the perfect way to reinforce the no looking around no matter what strategy. It's not like he hasn't been around our neighborhood plenty of times, and on top of that, it's a horse friendly area with plenty of other horses around to offer confidence.
As we headed out the front gate, he was pretty timid which showed up in the slowest walk ever. I just kept banging him with my legs, and when he threatened to balk for even a moment, out came the whip with a loud thwack to remind him that shenanigans would not be tolerated.
He was actually pretty willing until we got to the Haner Family Farm which abounds with turkeys, hogs, geese, and other farm animals. They're housed very near to the road, and when we walk by, they are always busy honking and grunting. It's a scary spot. I didn't care. I made him march past with his head mostly down and his haunches behind his shoulders.
From there, he was tense and bouncy. I cut him zero slack though and insisted he march forward in a relatively straight line. When we finally got to the old golf course, I decided our quiet walk was done. If he had enough energy to piaffe his way home, he was going to work.
The first few trot steps were a bit zoomy, but he quickly remembered that no bullshit was to be tolerated and got to work. We picked up an easy right lead canter, and I grinned. All was well until I started working to the left. Suddenly, he forgot what the left lead was.
I tried every trick I know: haunches in, counter bend, stay on the incorrect lead until he switches. Nothing worked. When I did get a left lead canter, he would doing a flying change the instant I tried to get some inside bend. The more he picked up the right lead going left, the hotter he got. I finally brought him back to a walk, took a deep breath, and tried to figure out where I was losing him.
Within moments I realized that the whole thing was about the outside right shoulder. I firmed up the right rein and thought about straightness. When he picked up the left lead, I sponged the inside rein for flexion, but I didn't let the outside shoulder go for even a moment. And that was it. He held a left lead canter. After several laps around, I brought him back to a walk with a lot of praise and pats.
As we walked home, I once again insisted on a head and neck that weren't looking around. When we got back to the arena, the ranch owner and neighbor were just getting ready to ride, so I stopped to chat. Within a moment, Izzy relaxed.
While he wasn't perfectly behaved on our trail ride, he was very rideable, and he stayed focused on me. He's getting broker by the minute!
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%: