From Endurance to Dressage
In keeping with the how many licks does it take to get to a Tootsie Roll Pop's chewy center? theme, I've thought about how many times I've ridden Izzy. According to some scientists, it takes 364 licks to get to the good part of a Tootsie Pop. I've had Izzy for two years and three months - not quite long enough to get 364 rides in on him, but I am probably getting close.
Kind of a dumb metaphor, I know, but that's how it feels riding Izzy. Sometimes I think I'll never get where I want to be, and then suddenly, some of the yummy candy pokes through, and I know I am close. Like yesterday for example - we had an amazing ride! Granted, it was 80 degrees, and he was a little tired from a lesson, but still.
Yesterday, I shared two exercises from Chemaine: suppling with just a seat bone and getting a stretch down before changing the bend. Here's a quick peek at how we warm up. There's nothing fancy here since I can't ask for a lot early on until he loosens his back.
There were three other tricks that Chemaine showed me. I'll share the last one tomorrow, but for today, here are two more: more inside bend and a firmer outside rein when he wants to whirl away from something, and kick his ass for felonies while letting the misdemeanors slide.
The video for that blooper "hop" is just below. This is an excellent example of needing more inside bend with a firmer outside rein. He loves to dive in at that exact spot. I tend to counter flex which allows the inside shoulder to be falling in - exactly what I don't want. It took a few passes, but with Chemaine encouraging me to get more inside bend while planting the outside rein, we eventually got through the corner successfully.
Chemaine pointed out that during these spooks, riders often lose focus and forget the original goal because the horse has distracted us to the point where we deal with the spook and not what we were trying to achieve. She encouraged me to look at it as a show of disrespect because he's not doing what I am asking.
One thing I've learned about Izzy recently is that if I "insist" too long and hard, he gets mad, stays mad, and then can't remember why he's mad. On those days, I might as well just give it up. Those kind of rides don't happen as much anymore because I try very hard not to let anything escalate.
As hard as it is going to be though, Chemaine told me that I have to get tough again. She explained that I need to categorize his naughties into misdemeanors and felonies. I can let the misdemeanors slide, but the felonies will require swift and sure consequences.
In the video above, some of that is me saying you will move somewhere, but a lot of it is him saying NO NO NO. While he wasn't in full felony mode, he had definitely left the land of misdemeanors. The instant he agreed to go forward, life was good.
Here's another example of not-quite-a-felony, but he got a full on spur in his guts to say MOVE IT, mister.
It's hard cherry picking all of these bad moments to show you because he was actually pretty good for this lesson. Yes, he fussed and whined at me, but compared to last month when Chemaine just sat there saying just stay with him, we actually got some good work out of him.
Every month, the gap between the good moments gets smaller and smaller. A year ago, we struggled with the canter and any type of connection, Now, even with all of the jackassery going on, getting the correct canter lead isn't even an issue. Holding the lead isn't either. He's got the moves, I just need to keep convincing him that this can actually be fun and easy.
Tomorrow, Chemaine's best trick of the weekend revealed.
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%: