From Endurance to Dressage
Some of you have been here with me from the very beginning, and some of you may have dropped in for your first visit today. If you've been around awhile, you already know about my successes - mostly with Speedy, and my failures - mostly with Izzy. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my journey with Izzy and how in most ways, it's wildly unlike my journey with Speedy.
As a quick recap ...
After more than 15 years as an endurance rider, I started dabbling in dressage taking lessons here and there while still competing in endurance races. In 2010, after losing my number one endurance mare, I left the endurance world completely and became a dressage rider. Not thinking it would become my new passion, I started out on my endurance Arabian, Speedy G. After ten long years, I earned my USDF Bronze Medal, having earned all of my scores on Speedy. That was two years ago in 2020.
At the very next show, Speedy performed well, but once we got home, he came up lame on his left hind. Several chiropractic and vet visits later, it was revealed that Speedy's left hock was well on its way to fusing. Both my regular vet and the referral vet felt that it was unlikely he could (or should) continue up the levels. I immediately retired him from regular schooling rides and competition. He didn't owe me another thing. Since then, he has spent the past two years very happily being used as an occasional lesson horse. He has excelled at being a schoolmaster.
With Speedy's retirement, Izzy became my main focus. Somehow, I sort of thought I could just take my goals and dreams and carry right on with the big brown horse. I had been riding him for six years, schooling nearly the same things on him as I did with Speedy. Sure, things were rough around the edges, but with all of my focus solely on him, I thought that surely we'd be up to speed in no time. Boy, was I wrong.
In March of 2021, I started riding with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. A year and a half later, I finally feel as though we are climbing out of a very deep hole. Sean has taught me a whole different way to ride this horse, and things are getting better and better. Now that our ridess are no longer about not dying, I am finally back on the regular struggle bus. You know the one - my changes are late, my half pass doesn't have enough thrust, the medium trot needs more reach ... you know, dressage type stuff.
I actually laughed during Saturday's lesson when I said something similar to Sean. I think I said something about how my homework would be to work on travers in canter down the long side and didn't Sean remember how not that long ago we couldn't even canter politely down the long side. Sean laughed and said he could remember when Izzy couldn't canter the long side without freaking out every which way. The point was that a wonky canter travers was a good problem to have. Needing more reach or having exuberant flying changes means that we're actually schooling "the stuff" as opposed to just trying to stay in the ring.
So here I am again. It's slightly disappointing to realize that having a bronze medal doesn't mean diddly squat. Just because I know how to do a flying change, it doesn't mean I am entitled to have an easier go of it on dressage horse number two. Just because I know how to ask for an extended trot, it doesn't mean that horse number two feels balanced or confident enough to give it to me. There is no room for entitlement in dressage. If you want something, you're going to have to earn it. Doing it once doesn't mean you're entitled to a freebie the second time or even the third time around.
As they say, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
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%: