From Endurance to Dressage
Not too long ago, I wrote about Izzy having a bit of an expiration date. I even told my husband that Izzy had until next spring to start acting like a real horse, or he was out of here. My husband sort of rolled his eyes, he's heard all of this before, and encouraged me to give him more time.
I am not exactly sure what has happened, but it seems as though my hard work is paying off. In just this last week, Izzy has really turned a corner. That doesn't mean that he's "broke" and moving up the levels or anything, but he is definitely showing a whole new level of confidence.
It was after a particularly long ride, where we couldn't get a left lead canter, that I realized that Izzy was really stepping up to the plate. Even though we had been working for 45 minutes, he wasn't having any meltdowns and he wasn't feeling resentful about not being able to do what I was asking for.
My heart simply swelled.
Since the canter issue was not resolving itself, I decided to just back burner that idea and focused on getting a truly relaxed trot. So that's what we've been doing. I can now trot all around the arena doing shallow loops and serpentines. I've been playing around with changing the bend just by weighting the other seat bone, and he's really starting to tune in.
Right now, I don't care about getting things perfect. What I do care about is developing a trusting relationship with him where we are both willing to keep trying without having fear be an issue for either of us. If this week is any indication, then I think we're "there." He still spooks and gets a giraffe neck, but I am not feeling any fear. His "naughties" are sluggish, and he keeps me on his back.
I think he's also gaining confidence in me as well. After a pretty solid ride on Tuesday, I took him out into the neighborhood for a hack. When we got to the first corner, he refused to move forward and instead started to scramble backwards. The neighbor's alpacas were scampering around.
As long as he was standing still, I rubbed his neck and told him it was all good. The instant he started backing up, I kicked him and smacked his neck and withers with the reins. As soon as he stepped forward again, I was his best friend.
It took a while to get past the alpacas, and I did consider getting off and leading him, but his antics never once made me feel unsafe. I just took my time, encouraged him, and praised the heck out of him when he finally mustered the courage to walk by.
The rest of the ride went the same way. He motored up our little steep hill without batting an eye, and when faced with the Haner Family Farm, he showed amazing gumption. They now have pigs, goats, turkeys, geese, and a watch dog. And all of them are loud and bustling around. Across the street are some very aggressive barking dogs, fenced in, so that little stretch of road is really scary.
Izzy planted his feet at the top of the road and asked me if I was really sure that I wanted to go that way. I patted his neck and leaned over so that he could see me. I gave him lots of encouragement and then squeezed him forward. He walked by all of it with his head pretty high, but he never stopped.
After that, the rest of the walk was super easy. By the time we got home, he was relaxed and happy and looking forward to a nap. I know we're still going to have some two steps back days, but he is getting a really solid foundation built that is supporting us when we run into problems.
Izzy's just getting and better!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%