From Endurance to Dressage
For the past two weeks MARE suspended lessons due to Spring Break. The first week they did an Easter Camp, and last week was a week off for everyone except those who clean, feed, and do turnouts. That means I wasn't there for the past two Wednesdays, but I will be there today. I can't say I was disappointed for the break because twelve consecutive Wednesdays in a row was more than I thought I'd do.
Nothing special happened the last week I was there other than the fact that Trainer 1 (T1) hadn't been feeling well so T2 has been filling in for her. I was once again a side walker while T1 took Sadie's lead rope as the horse handler. Because T1 wasn't feeling well, I groomed and tacked Sadie up and then handed her off to T1. Since we were short some extra bodies, T2 asked me to assist in getting all three girls mounted.
One of the students has developed some fear of mounting. I don't know all of the details, but I think she came off a few months ago when one of the horses spooked. This is definitely not a good situation as rider safety is the number one concern. Since that incident, the student has refused to mount. The trainers and the girl's dad have tried all kinds of things to entice the rider to mount up, but so far nothing has worked. For now, she walks to the left of the horse handler, "leading" the horse through the obstacles and performing the tasks the other riders do while mounted.
The newest strategy was to go back to the beginning and not even ask the student to attempt to mount. Instead, she was asked to pet the horse and then "lead" him once in the arena. Even this turned out to be too much. The young rider felt that she was going to be tricked into getting on. Mom had a great idea though. She had the young rider's doll "pet" the horse which proved to be successful. The rider did pet George, and then she lead him through the lesson. The hope is that each week she can be encouraged to pet George, lean on George, and so on. I hope I'll be able to see her feel confident enough to ride again.
As the assistant for offside mounting, my job was to make sure nobody tumbled off the other side as the trainer positioned the stirrups. Again, I did make a mistake, but T2 corrected me ever so kindly. We had walked into the arena with T2 on the left side. As she finished adjusting the stirrup on that side, she asked me to come to the same side to stablize the rider so she could adjust the stirrup on the side I was standing on. I don't know if I had been taught this particular movement or not, but I opted to pass behind the horse instead of around the front. My rationale had something to do with not distracting the horse and handler. I was wrong. T2 gently reminded me to walk around the front of the horse instead. Oops!
I never got a chance to ask her the why, but since I am not in charge, I am happy to walk wherever I am directed. The next time I needed to change sides, I remembered to walk in front of the horse rather than behind. Once the lesson was over, I helped the two mounted riders reach the ground safely and then escorted them to the parents. I also helped the rider on foot walk out through the gate and then cleaned up all of the obstacles and toys from inside the arena. By the time I was finished, I sweaty and tired but in a good way.
I've applied for an extra position at school that would begin in late July, so I am pretty certain that my tenure at MARE will end with this April/May session. The end of the session coincides with the end of the school year, so the timing works out. While I have one more session to go, I can say that I have enjoyed these past three months and recommend that anyone needing to refill their cup should consider volunteering.
It is amazing how giving to others serves to fill our own cup.
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%: