From Endurance to Dressage
How Much is Too Much?
While Speedy is semi-retired, he's not retired from life. He still enjoys working and playing. When I rode him last night though, I found myself wondering how much work should I be asking for? If he's no longer going to compete, should I still ask for some collection? Should we still play around with the medium gaits? How about the extended gaits?
I rode him in the double bridle as I have since learning about his fusing left hock, but this was the first time that he really resisted sitting. I wasn't asking for a lot, just some feeling of lightness. With "T" riding him weekly (not lately as she just got married and is till out of state), I want to make sure he stays fairly well tuned up for her sake.
Since he's sound, I want him to stay that way, but I also want to keep him fit and strong. Sitting around and "babying" his joints is a surefire way to reduce his ability to articulate those joints. But what's the perfect amount of work? For the first half of the ride, he just would not get off his forehand. When I started thinking in terms of a low level horse, one working at Training Level with an eye toward First, I decided that Speedy could do a little more. I tapped him with the whip.
He bucked. I tapped again, and suddenly I had a much more forward horse who started using his hind end. I played around with canter/trot transitions and had to encourage him to actually trot, not walk in the downward transition. Speedy was so prepared to sit that he was giving me walk transitions instead of a trot. We also did some flying changes as he really enjoys them.
By that point, he was pretty sweaty, but he was also fired up and really moving well. I came to two conclusions. The first was that I don't think he needs to work in the double bridle anymore. He was fussy in it, and seemed a little grouchy at being made to work. When T rides him in his old snaffle bridle, he looks much happier and more willing to work than I felt he did with me in the double.
The second thing I realized is that I am going to have to commit to riding him at least once a week to ensure that he stays fit enough for T to ride, especially if she can't make it out more than once a week. Dressage is hard, even at Training Level. If he's going to do low level work, once a week is not enough to keep him fit. And if he's not fit enough, he's more likely to sustain an injury. In all the years I've owned him, he's never suffered a riding injury, and I don't want one now. He needs to stay fit which means a bit more riding.
Ultimately, I just want him to be happy. For now, he wants to be ridden. At what level, I just don't know. It's hard to know if he resists because it's hard or because it hurts. Speedy's never been one to beg for more challenging work. He's always been the type to do just enough to stay out of trouble. It's going to be a challenge to recognize when he's saying that's too much versus I don't want to. I thinking he's got a few more years of being able to put in a solid work day.
He just might need some convincing.
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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)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: