From Endurance to Dressage
But first, here was Sydney during his turnout on Sunday. It's relevant to the lesson ...
There's an elephant in the room. It's my own personal elephant, but he's still in the room. The elephant's name is Fear. Yup. I have some fear issues when it comes to Sydney. He's big, he's stiff to bend, and he's fast. I had BIG fear issues with Speedy for a while. That elephant's name was What If? After Speedy threw me pretty violently two years ago, every time I got on him I got a case of the what ifs? It took about six months to kick that elephant to the curb. God must think I'm running a circus down here. I am trying to convince him that I am not. So this elephant needs to go.
What does this have to do with Wednesday? As soon as I got on, I knew that Sydney was not going to work well for the lesson. The fear started to build. When he's tense like that, he wants to explode. We started with lots of walking as I tried to lengthen his neck and get him to relax. After Sunday's wild turnout, I had hoped that the energy building in Sydney had dissipated somewhat. Nope. He was wound up tight and ready for an explosion. I made a huge effort to keep my fear at bay, but elephants are large and cumbersome and difficult to hide.
JL quickly saw that we were not going to be working a relaxed horse, so her lesson plans changed. Alright, she said, let's just work on letting him move forward without worrying where his head is. She had me keep enough control in that event that he bolted, but I wasn't to ask for anything more. In fact, she encouraged me to think, yeah, forward, that's what I want, too! So instead of slowing him down, which is what I desperately wanted to do, I asked him to trot forward boldly. And I mean BOLDLY. We hustled around that arena. For more than forty minutes.
And little by little, the elephant got bumped and jostled until he squeezed his fat, old frame through the gate. I am sure he was lurking in the bushes somewhere, and he'll no doubt be back, but for that night, I managed to get rid of him. Allowing my can-go-crazy thoroughbred to go a little crazy, gave me some confidence. It wasn't an easy ride, but we made it to the end. And you know how these things go: once Sydney had burned off more than thirty minutes of some serious steam, he finally got down to business. He finally went round and soft, he moved off my inside leg, and we even worked on outside leg to inside rein.
As always, what a great lesson!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%