From Endurance to Dressage
Ima Rock Starr
Speedy G is simply a rock star. There's no way around it. What I find so surprising is that I helped him get that way. It's not like I consciously planned it, but I always say it's so important for our equine partners to be good citizens because it guarantees them a long and productive life. Speedy adores attention, especially from humans, but if he weren't such a solid equine citizen, I wouldn't be able to let others ride him.
A month or so ago, "T" started taking a weekly lesson on Speedy. T is getting married in Montana in a few weeks, so between traveling for the wedding and my schedule, she probably won't be back to ride for nearly a month. Since Speedy won't be happy standing around weekend after weekend, I'll probably need to hop up on him once a week or so to keep him tuned up.
T did manage to come out on Saturday for a lesson though. She's definitely got the bug and is rearranging her schedule to ensure she makes it out at least once a week. I've told her that I don't have a formalized program for teaching, but I think I am going to need to get something a little better organized, especially if she keeps coming out. She's a very good student and learns whatever I throw at her. So far, we haven't needed to repeat a lesson.
For this lesson, I picked a few things that I wish I had understood from the very beginning. And the truth is, whatever trainer I was working with at the time probably tried to show me these things, but in the beginning, it's all so overwhelming that it's hard to remember what just happened.
T comes from a bit of a hunter background, so sitting up and back in the saddle is a new feeling for her. So we started out by using just her core to lengthen Speedy's stride in trot and then bring it back. I started out by asking her to adjust his stride every quarter of the circle, but I quickly realized that was too difficult. Instead, I had her quiet her seat for half a circle and then push him forward for the next half of a circle.
What I am enjoying about teaching these lessons is that it really helps me to articulate what I have learned. It's even more impressive to see her take my words and make them a reality. Part of it is because Speedy knows the drill - being a "schoolmaster" and all, but it's also because T is listening and then doing what I am suggesting.
The exercise was challenging for T. When we finally took a break, she was sweaty and gasping for breath, but she was smiling through the hard work. She loves that Speedy shows her when she's done it right!
We also worked on crossing the diagonal at the trot with a change of bend at X. Back in 2010 when I first started dressage, I didn't realize how important crossing the diagonal correctly is. I turned the corner, changed my posting diagonal at X and then made the next corner. Now I know that using the corner effectively is how you get your best shoulder-in or your best half pass. Those corners are so valuable. I showed T how to move the shoulders in the corner so that Speedy was able to leave the corner with his haunches directly behind his shoulders. When she lined him up correctly, she was rewarded with a much more powerful "medium" trot. Each time they got it right, her face lit up and she let out a wheeeeee!
I think what I am most enjoying is being able to help someone else feel what it's like to get it right. I haven't ever had that experience myself. In my lifetime of riding, I've never started with a finished horse. We've always had to learn it together. Long, long ago, a friend gave my teenaged self a trailer ride somewhere. I swore right then and there that if ever the opportunity presented itself to give back to someone else, I was going do it when I was able.
Right now, I have a horse who has a hock that is fusing. He probably shouldn't be schooling Third and Fourth Level, but he is perfectly sound enough to do low level work. There is a young woman who wants to see what dressage is all about. It makes me incredibly happy to share my very wonderful horse with her. It's my chance to pay back the kindnesses that were done to my younger self.
In the end, I really just want my horse to be happy. For him, standing around is not much fun. He loves to come out and play, and I don't think it has to be with me. As long as his rider acknowledges how fabulous he is, he's happy to work with most anyone.
While Speedy's registered name is G Ima Starr, it really should be G Ima ROCK Starr!
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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%: