From Endurance to Dressage
Guess what? "J," Speedy's rider from last year, is back! When I took Izzy up to the Tehachapi show last month, I was delighted to see that she was feeling better and was ready to get back in the saddle. While Speedy isn't in very good shape, he is plenty fit enough to play around with J. It's a good combination because she needs to rebuild her riding fitness so my fingers are crossed that they'll be able to help each other out.
Speedy is truly a rockstar. He's been ridden maybe three times in the past six months. In May, I rode him almost eight miles in a halter. Before that, I rode him bareback around the neighborhood. In March, a friend who needed some horse time came and rode him for about 45 minutes. And before that, the last time he was ridden was in the fall of 2021. Despite zero work, he behaved like a perfect gentleman each and every time. He does live turned out, and he and Izzy play quite vigorously several times a week, but still, that's a lot to ask of a fellow.
While I finished up my ride on Izzy, J groomed and tacked up. The ranch owner later told me that Speedy slurped up the bit on his own while J was trying to bridle him. Once we were up at the arena, I directed J to ride some ten-meter circles at the walk to work on her own balance and to give Speedy some time to stretch both directions. I really didn't know how fit she was going to be, and I didn't want J to feel over-faced by asking her to do too much too quickly. I needn't have worried.
I am no trainer, so I don't really know how well riders come back after a hiatus. I am pretty sure J has more natural talent than most because she picked up pretty much right where she left off. Her fitness wasn't quite there, but her aids were very good. We kept things pretty simple, mostly for Speedy's sake, so all I had her work on were balanced transitions - I didn't want Speedy to be too strung out for fear of him falling on his nose.
J remembered how to ask for transitions within the gait - we started with the walk. To prepare Speedy for the walk to trot transition, I wanted to make sure he had his hind end underneath himself. Once she could feel that he was volunteering a trot, she gave him a quiet aid, and he picked up a soft trot without popping his head up for balance. They did 20-meter circles both directions and then worked a few minutes on change of directions from one circle to the other.
When Speedy seemed well balanced and warmed up, J prepared him for the canter. The canter transition was something we hd worked on quite a lot back in the summer. J learned how to get a canter that was quiet without letting Speedy "run" into the gait. As I was reminding her what the aids were, Speedy stepped into a delightfully quiet canter that was fairly balanced for an 18 year old that hasn't had any work in the past six months.
The left lead was better than the right. To the right, he was falling in a bit, so after a quick walk break, I encouraged J ask for it again. For the second attempt, I suggested she add inside leg to push Speedy out on the circle, and suddenly, his canter was much improved. And that was it. They worked for a solid 35 minutes. By the end, Speedy was a little sweaty but not out of breath. Nor did he seem particularly tired. J was smiling broadly as was Speedy in his own way.
Unfortunately, I will be out of town for the next two weekends, but I've let J know that she is welcome to come down and ride him on her own if she feels like it. I hope she'll come down. Speedy will enjoy it, and sometimes, it's nice to try things out on your own without a coach or trainer eyeballing your every move.
Hopefully, J is back for more than just a ride or two. Speedy's hooves are crossed.
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%: