From Endurance to Dressage
Not really, but that's the sign I wanted to hang on Speedy's stall on Saturday afternoon.
It started as soon as I haltered him. I could just see that something was brewing. I put him in the cross ties and gave a disgusted snort when he spooked at Little Red Hen who had walked out in the driveway behind him. I started grooming and was baffled as he kept spooking and sitting back on the cross ties. At one point, he was so naughty that I pulled him out into the barn aisle and had a little Come to Jesus meeting. I backed him hard and fast all the way down the aisle (it's dirt) until he dropped his head and did some licking.
I put him back into the cross ties only to have him repeat his shenanigans. For the second schooling session, I picked up the whip and pointed it toward his hind heels. Each time he threatened to jerk backwards, I tapped his heels with the whip. That seemed to get his attention, but it didn't last.
I managed to get him saddled, but since he was still being naughty, I switched gears and decided to do some braiding which he normally finds relaxing. I placed my braiding box/step stool at his shoulder. I had just started when all hell broke loose. Speedy sat back hard, reared, knocked me to the side, kicked the braiding box which them tumbled and rolled beneath his feet. That sent him skyward and out into the aisle. He was now facing the wrong way with the cross ties wrapped around his neck.
Trying to remain calm, I gave a load whoa, whoa while trying to get out of the way of his flying hooves. He managed to spin back around so that he was back in the cross tie area, but his legs were scrambling every which way. I finally heard a loud thwack and assumed the cross ties had snapped, but to my horror, Speedy had simply wrenched his head free of the halter. He was now halterless, but the cross ties were still in place and attached to his dangling halter.
He tried to bolt forward through the thin barricade, but I raised my arms and insisted that he stay put. I quickly freed the halter from the cross ties and managed to get it back on him. I led him forward down the barn aisle while quickly checking his legs for cuts and scrapes.
The braiding box had landed some feet away and was flipped upside down. The mats in the cross tie area had been shoved to the side, and there were several deep divots in the barn aisle from Speedy's hooves. His face was missing small patches of hair, but the skin wasn't broken. He had a look of panic on his face so I just walked him up and down the aisle.
I have no idea what set him off, but it was quite disconcerting. He looked as very tight in his body so I grabbed my lunge line and walked him to the arena. I sent him out at the walk. He was very hesitant to move forward so I let him pick his pace. He didn't seem lame and there were no obvious injuries so I asked him to pick up the trot. There was still nothing obviously wrong.
By this time my BO had appeared at the fence so I walked over to chat and catch my breath. Speedy was immediately happier and began nosing at her and picking at her clothes. I pulled his saddle and sent him to roll and walk around. We watched him shuffle off and roll enthusiastically. I picked up a whip and asked for a trot and canter, but there were still no lame steps.
I eventually re-saddled him and rode him for a few minutes just to see how he felt. There were no further issues. I worried that he would be quite sore and swollen on Sunday morning, but when I arrived, his legs were clean and tight with no sign of heat or swelling. I put him on the lunge line, but no lameness appeared.
I spent a long time saddling him. He was quite fussy about being girthed up. This is an old issue, and one that I thought was long gone. I am not sure what brought it back, but I guess we'll be doing some work on that. Once he was saddled and bridled, I head out for a ride but almost wished I had just skipped the whole day. He was a stinker!
If he gave me an inside bend, he was way behind the vertical. If I got his head back up, he wrenched his nose to the outside. I went through all of the exercises that we've learned, but nothing worked. I gave him several walk breaks and asked again. He finally gave me a somewhat acceptable canter to trot transition so I called it a day.
It's interesting to note that soon after I put him away, a very strong storm system began to move through. We experienced very gusty winds that covered the southern end of the valley in dust clouds so thick you could hardly see across the street. Was he just reacting to the impending weather change? I hope that's all it was. We have a lesson this evening so hopefully JL can help me regain some of the confidence I had after last week's lesson. We have a USDF show on Saturday, and I'd like to go with a positive attitude.
Deep sigh ...
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%: