From Endurance to Dressage
Since December maybe, Speedy has been escorting the big brown horse to work and then standing patiently by as Izzy's moral support. Izzy slowly changed from a horse being chased by the scariest of monsters to a loafer of a pony who was getting pretty happy to just pack me around in ho hum fashion. He liked having a friend nearby.
Over the weekend, I decided to see what would happen if Speedy stayed tucked in his paddock while Izzy and I made the trek to work on our own. The verdict? Some things went great, some things went not-so-great, but nothing was a disaster.
In the what went right category, Izzy saddled quietly, never whinnied, walked when I asked him to, offered some nice stretch downs, and generally went where I pointed him. On the negative front, his back was as tight as it can get which meant his stride was about twelve inches long.
I did a bunch of exercises to help him relax: walk to trot to walk transitions, mini-serpentines along the rail, and changes of rein across the diagonal. To his credit, he would take a deep breath and relax for a moment or two, but then he would remember that he was alone and his tension would come roaring back.
I finally moved on to some canter work and was mostly pleased with the left lead canter. He picked it up, stayed tense, but he never bolted or freaked out. He did a few nice little canter to trot to canter transitions before we came back to a walk.
To the right was a different story. His tension was at maximum power in the right lead. He just couldn't get a bend to the right which meant that he couldn't hold the lead. I did every exercise I know, but things felt like they were snowballing into an avalanche.
The one thing I didn't want for the day was a fight. I finally brought him back to a walk and showed him exactly what I wanted. I straightened out his front end, lined up his back end, and convinced him that he could let go of the inside rein. Then he picked up a round and relaxed right lead canter. We did it twice and then called it a day.
Do I wish he had come to work relaxed and happy? Of course, but Izzy is simply a very hot horse who lacks confidence. Nothing is ever going to be easy with him. I was quite pleased however that he was rideable even if it wasn't always pretty. That's progress.
My new plan is to bring Speedy with us most of the time, but at least once a week, I'll leave him behind. Izzy has shown that he can relax completely and work beautifully when he has a friend nearby. Eventually, he'll be able to do the same work on his own.
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%: