From Endurance to Dressage
How to Bowl Your Dressage Rider
Bowling seems like the right word, but it could also be How to Use Your Rider as a Lawn Dart. And in this scenario, I was the bowling ball (or lawn dart). Ouch, but nothing is broken and so far there is no need to go to the emergency room.
I had a great ride on Speedy on Monday afternoon, and there is definitely a blog post coming on what we're working on, but the "bowling" incident happened with Izzy.
I usually keep a short dressage court set up made of poles, but over the summer there were some things I needed to work on that didn't require any accuracy, so I dismantled it. Over the weekend, I started thinking about what I wanted to work on this fall and realized that the court was once again needed. I dug out my measuring tools and cones and reassembled a 20 x 40 meter working space.
My goals with Izzy have been about installing a gas pedal, brakes, and steering. Both pedals get a bit sticky now and again, but at least the buttons are there and (mostly) functioning. Steering has been a problem, but a sharp tap with the whip on the shoulder has been correcting that.
Since Izzy's been showing steady progress every day, I wanted to work on making our circles smaller than 30 meters. The poles give me a more concrete place in which to work, and I hoped that Izzy would use the poles as a bit of a wall to help keep him a bit straighter.
The trot work went well without any major steering issues. The canter to both the left and right also improved. I was delighted to see that he could actually do a 20-meter circle without running through my outside aids.
We were nearly done with the ride, when I decided to work the left lead canter just one more time to see if he could pick it up with a bit more accuracy. He was cantering along so nicely that I started to include some short stretches down the long sides with half circles before we reached the A or C ends.
It was along one of the long sides as I asked for the half circle at the canter that he lost his balance as he started the turn. I am not sure if he hit one of the poles or maybe was trying to avoid the pole, but I knew he was going to hit the ground. He tried really hard to stay on his feet, but once all of his weight was on his forehand, he started to somersault. I saw the ground coming and did my best to sit up and help, but he just couldn't get his front legs back in front of him.
I felt his front end dive down beneath me, and like a massive ship, he nose-dived and keeled over, slamming me into the ground on my elbow and shoulder. I rolled away from him as quickly as I could so that he didn't land on top of me. As soon as I could, I looked over to see if he needed help and saw him looking at me!
The rein had slipped down over his knee and looked like it might be hung up so I pulled it free. He scrambled to his feet, covered with dirt from the top of his head and face all along his body. He had a big chunk of hair missing from his knee, but no blood. When he realized that I wasn't moving, he panicked a bit and raced down to the gate.
It took me quite a while to walk down there myself. My shoulder was on fire, and I knew my elbow was cut and bleeding. Even after having been bowled over, I couldn't help but be glad that Izzy got a big drink and then ambled over to the corner for a poop. As I slowly made my way toward the gate, he kept his eyes on me with a very worried look on his face.
Once I reached the mounting block, I sat down and tried to gauge how injured I was. Izzy came and planted himself next to me. He licked my shoulder and nosed around at my bleeding elbow. Even while assessing my injuries, trying to decide whether or not I needed to go to the hospital, I couldn't help but feel so proud of how Izzy handled the fall.
He didn't just scramble to his feet and bolt for the gate, he watched me and waited for me to move and then help him. Had he leaped right to his feet, he might have stepped on me or knocked me down or hurt himself. But he didn't. When I didn't move to catch him, he did panic and run back to the gate, but once there, he looked around to find me and then kept his eyes trained on me.
After resting for a few minutes, I decided that nothing was broken, but I needed to see how badly cut my elbow was, so I walked over to the water trough and dunked my arm in. It wasn't the most sanitary way to treat a scrape, but since it felt better, I knew that it was probably just minor road rash.
I decided I could make it to the barn on my own. I took hold of Izzy's reins, opened the gate, and walked back to the barn with Izzy continually nosing my shoulder and elbow. One of my barn owners took one look at us and immediately took over. Within no time, Izzy was untacked and given a dose of bute. My elbow was scrubbed with betadine using a clean towel, and I was loaded into my car and driven home.
I took something to ease the pain and napped for the rest of the afternoon. Izzy looked fine when I left him, and the bute should help ease any inflammation to his knee, but I'd like to look at him myself this afternoon. I'll probably take a day or two to let the soreness subside - both mine and Izzy's, but I am definitely eager to be back in the saddle.
Even though Izzy lost his balance, there was nothing naughty in what he did. In fact, he was working better than he ever has, and I want to continue to build on that good work. I hope he isn't too sore today. I feel better already.
9/8/2015 05:50:01 am
Ouch! Glad you are both OK!
9/8/2015 07:02:54 am
I'm just glad neither of you were hurt any worse!
9/8/2015 09:36:51 am
I hope neither of you are feeling too sore today! Falling is never fun but it does sound like it was a good chance to gauge his level of trust in you. Glad everyone is okay!
9/8/2015 09:55:37 am
Oh my goodness! Glad you two are ok.
9/8/2015 10:16:52 am
What a fantastic reaction from him to that fall. Really can't complain.
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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%: