From Endurance to Dressage
This past weekend was definitely a difficult one. Sorry to be so melancholy about the whole thing. It's not like anybody died. Yet. The Cushing's Disease combined with the abscesses and Speedy's insistence on getting old too fast have really forced me to contemplate his eventual passing. It wasn't a conversation I was ready to have.
I never stay angry for long. Or sad. Or bitter. I move on. After riding Izzy three days in a row out in the neighborhood and out on the old golf course, I decided to do something even more productive. After three months of owning Newt, my new truck, I still hadn't hauled either horse anywhere. Instead of hauling Speedy to a show, I decided to take Izzy to Hart Park on Monday. Alone. It would be the first time to take him somewhere where there wouldn't be any horses to greet him.
Izzy has been to the barn at Hart Park more than several times. My friend Kathy and I like going there. The parking is good, there are water faucets, the shade in the summer is much appreciated, but best of all, there is excellent access to trails. I've taken Speedy there by himself many times, but I'd never felt that Izzy was reliable enough to handle the trip alone. You never know until you try though.
My plan was to ride for two hours, heading east to Lake Ming and then circling back. You can easily ride this loop as a figure eight, which is what I did. The small circle on the left side of the photo is the barn where I parked. The dotted arrow lines show the route and direction we took.
We ended up finishing in less than two hours, but that was because I decided to trot everything that wasn't rocky or covered in asphalt. After the initial surprise of being out there all alone, Izzy settled right in. He trot when asked and came back to a walk when asked, happy to march along without any jigging.
Izzy's done a fair amount of trail work already. I've spent every summer since I first bought him doing boot camp trail rides. This was the first time I felt confident enough to head out alone though. Did he disappoint? Nope! Instead, he handled everything like a seasoned pro.
There was no jigging, no flinching, no flying backwards. Instead, he approached each obstacle with a thinking brain. He stood politely to the side as joggers bounded by with their dogs trotting alongside. He stood calmly as ladies with strollers rolled on by. Even their toddler on a bicycle didn't phase him. I got off to drink from a drinking fountain and then pushed him alongside a park bench to remount. No big deal.
While he wasn't perfect, I enjoyed every minute of the ride. He stayed focused the entire time and never lost his marbles. He spooked once or twice, but they were of the gone weak in the knees sort. He was so well behaved that I rode with a pretty loose rein during all of the long trots.
About a quarter mile from the trailer, he started to plod. In the five and a half years that I've owned him, I've never really seen him tired. Relaxed yes, but not actually tired. I was glad to see him tired; that's when endurance horses really start to learn. While he's not an endurance horse, he has that same go-go-go mentality that keeps him from listening.
Having ridden a lot of tired endurance horses, I wasn't worried about how exhausted he thought he was. I knew he was going to be just fine, but I let him plod anyway. I did find it funny that he never has been all that good with directions though.
I don't know if it's just an Arabian thing or maybe a sixth sense that endurance horses develop, but all of my Arabs have had incredibly accurate homing beacons. They all knew exactly where the trailer was at all times no matter how far out in BFE we found ourselves. We were AT the trailer, and Izzy still didn't realize he was done for the day.
After a quick shower, Izzy walked right onto the trailer as though he does it every day. He unloaded just as calmly. After nipping at Speedy, taking a long pee, and grinding out a good roll in the sand, he settled in to finish his breakfast without ever wondering why I had made him work so hard.
Sometimes, I kind of like that he's more brawn than brain.
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%: