From Endurance to Dressage
In the eight or nine years that I've owned Izzy, I've yet to come off him while he was still vertical. That doesn't mean we haven't had a spill because we have, twice, and one of them happened on Monday. Seven or eight years ago, we were cantering. He lost his balance and did a mini somersault spilling us both to the ground. I was unhurt, but he came up sore.
It was close to 100 degrees on Monday, and I was not up to doing any real work, so I opted for a short trail ride. I chose a route that Speedy enjoys even though I knew it might challenge Izzy a bit. You can see from the map that there is nothing inherently tricky about the loop. I follow an unpaved road until I cross the old golf course, then circle counter clockwise through a cherry orchard, and then meander along the river until I cut through a hedge to get back to the barn.
Izzy was being his regular tense and high headed self. He simply can't just mosey along. No matter how many trail rides we've done, his default is still to be high headed and on alert. He is certain dragons are going to swoop out of the sky and cart him off for dinner. I manage him though and we always get home safely. In the photo above, you can see where the Kern River normally is. That's not where it is right now. The river is creeping up closer and closer to the row of houses that dot the landscape above the river.
As we headed toward home, the lower half of the blue-green line, I rode across the neighbor's lawn, almost at his back door because his lawn was saturated with water. Without being able to follow my regular route which tracks closer to the river, I had to find a way around the next house that didn't have me traipsing across his lawn. I saw a small ditch filled with dead foxtails. I paused on the berm as I looked both left and right for the best path to get back on the dirt road.
I turned Izzy to the left and asked him to step forward. Without hesitating, he stepped down into the ditch and quickly sank to his belly in quicksand. He heaved and lunged as he tried to pull himself out, but with my weight on his back, he wasn't going anywhere safely. I quickly stepped out of the saddle and backed up onto the hard packed road. I tugged on the reins to turn Izzy's head my way and encouraged him to push out. He gave a massive grunt and leaped beside me.
He was pretty rattled but otherwise fine. I gave him a quick going over making sure that he was uninjured and that his shoes were still attached. I dusted both of us off - we were both covered in sand, and led him over to a tractor that I used as a mounting block. After patting his neck for a bit, he sidled up next to the tractor and let me get back on. We headed back home where he was quite relieved to get a cool shower and a chance to graze on the lawn.
Throughout the whole ordeal, I kept my wits about me. Surprisingly, this was not my first encounter with quicksand. It wasn't even my second (or third). Living on a river that rises and falls depending on rain or snow melt means that there are frequently boggy or deep sandy spots like the one I stumbled into. The quicksand we found was very dry on top, but I think that deep down the water table has risen so high that it is seeping up towards the surface.
After I untacked Izzy, I gave myself a quick check and discovered sand deep in my boots, down in my sports bra, and even in my ears. I don't think I actually hit the ground as I was mounted the whole time, but I think when Izzy dropped so suddenly through the surface of the sand, we both scooped up a lot of dirt. It was definitely not the ride I was expecting, but I was really pleased with how trusting Izzy was. That is one thing I love about this horse. When he's in trouble, he always waits for a human to help him out.
I am glad he trusts me, but he might really hate trail rides now.
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%: