From Endurance to Dressage
Forward, Forward, Forward
Izzy has waffled between too much forward and not enough. In other words, he evaded by bolting (too much forward) or balking (not enough). It's taken me a while to work through both issues.
I've been pretty frustrated with him this summer. I've come very close to putting him up for sale, but deep down, I KNOW this horse has huge potential. I am just not ready to quit. When I think about selling him, I always imagine it would be to a stronger, more knowledgeable rider.
That got me thinking. It's not Izzy. There's nothing wrong with him. It's really just me; I need to be a better, stronger rider. As I saddled up on Wednesday, I started asking myself what would a better rider do? All of a sudden, I remembered that super controversial interview with Katie Prudent. She said something that really resonated with me.
see if you can take that animal and get him to do what you want to do.
I decided to take her advice and see if I could get him to do what I wanted. I wasn't going to force him necessarily, but I was going to quite accepting no for an answer.
I started out with the shoulder in exercises that Chemaine showed me last week. But instead of asking him if he wanted to bend his neck, I took hold of the inside rein and did a shoulder in. And I didn't let him out of it until he softened to the inside rein.
And it worked. All of a sudden, I had some bend and he wasn't bracing against the rein. We walked all over the arena changing the bend from right to left. When I felt that he was supple enough at the walk, we did it at the trot. When he said no to the bend, I insisted with added leg.
And he did it.
Then I asked for the canter. He picked it up grudgingly, but then he said no. He balked. He tightened his back and threw up his head, and cried about how he simply couldn't. I realized right then and there that a stronger, better rider would realize that the correct thing to ask for was more FORWARD. And I did.
I cowgirled up and kicked the crap out of him. He grunted and tucked his butt and pinned his ears, but with enough kicking, he shot forward. It dawned on me that softness or bend don't matter if he won't go forward. I quit caring what he looked like or even which lead he was on. The second he hesitated, I kicked the crap out of him again. And again. And again. And again.
There were two spots in the arena that he just didn't want to canter past. I was relentless though. I growled, and kicked, and made a lot of noise when he even thought about slowing down. Within a very short time, his neck softened up, and started to ask if he could stretch a little in the canter.
I am sure all of our problems weren't solved by a little kicking and yelling, but it sure did a lot for my confidence. The scales are tipping in my favor, if ever so slowly. I got his number this time, and that always helps!
7/21/2017 08:25:57 am
You go girl! Some horses really seem to need to be "told" - not meanly or anything, but they just gotta sit down and shut up and do it because you said to and it's not like you're asking for something they are physically or mentally incapable of doing. Annnnd some horses need to be politely asked. It's usually somewhere in between, but yeah... glad you found that the "do it anyway" voice worked!!!
7/21/2017 02:23:56 pm
Love it - "do it anyway." That is EXACTLY what I did, but you said it better. :0)
Whooohooo! In me experience, your responses were SPOT ON. I calling it 'riding like a trainer because that's exactly what a trainer would do. They wouldn't take "no" for an answer. You can certainly insist without forcing, and be firm without being unfair. Seriously, loved reading your post. Great job!
7/21/2017 02:25:02 pm
Thanks, Kelly. This horse is so tough to ride because he's so easy to offend! It's hard to know how much is too much. :0)
7/21/2017 02:25:56 pm
And why am I "remembering" so many things that I've already learned?! I've had that "forward" lesson more times than I can count! Sheesh!!!
8/3/2017 01:45:04 pm
My trainer has pointed out that at this stage, yeah, the expectations have risen! :0)
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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)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: