From Endurance to Dressage
It seems that Wednesdays are our day for dramatic weather. Once again it was a blustery and stormy day on my day to volunteer at M.A.R.E. - Mastering Abilities Riding Equines. With the new covered riding arena though, lessons can still be held.
Each Wednesday, I look around for what is new and improved at the facility. The first thing I noticed last week was that the parking lot was newly spruced up. Handicapped spaces had been freshly painted, and the tarp-covered containers holding the new felt footing had finally been cleared away. Not that the facility had been run down, but it was nice to see that work is constantly being done to keep the property safe and in good working order.
According to the afternoon's schedule, I was slated to be a side walker for the new student. Since the lesson wasn't to begin for another forty minutes, Trainer 2 (T2) dragged out a storage tub full of dusty headstalls and asked if I could clean at least some of them. By now, both trainers know that for me, no job is too menial or too dirty. I am truly happy to help with whatever jobs need doing. I managed to get three of the headstalls cleaned and conditioned before reporting as side-walker. I did give myself a mental pat on the back though when I noticed T1 looking over the bridles appreciatively.
Since I had yet to be a side walker, T2 gave me a quick tutorial. The horse handler tacks up the horse and is responsible for control of the horse. The side walker's job is to be in charge of the student and her safety. That means I met the rider at the office, introduced myself, and got her fitted in an appropriately sized helmet. With her dad's help, we also got some mittens on her hands as it was quite cold. From there, I escorted her to the wheelchair ramp, which all students use for mounting, wheelchair bound or not.
Normally, the trainer assists the student from the ground while the side walker stands on the off side offering support as needed. Since this student was very nervous, I stepped aside and dad helped his daughter get settled in the saddle. Dad was being trained as a side walker for those days when there are not enough volunteers. I took the other side. Both dad and I were instructed to do an ankle hold, but knowing how anxious the kiddo was, I did a modified thigh hold as well so that I had both hands steadying her in the saddle.
For her first lesson, she was led around colored cones and then weaved through poles. Each time we got back to the mounting block, T1 gave the student a choice of block animals which the student then placed into a shape puzzle. As a teacher myself, I appreciated how intentional T1's lesson was. She asked questions like, "Do you want the dog or the chicken?" and "Do you want the red one or the yellow one?" Questions like these help kiddos who are non-verbal, who might have speech or language disorders, and those who might still be learning communication skills.
Since I was not a horse handler on Wednesday, I helped with the removal of the helmet and mittens and then bid my little charge goodbye. Without a horse to take care of, I helped bring in all of the equipment from the arena and then picked up the manure piles that had been left during the afternoon. By the time I had that finished, the horses had been fed and blanketed, and it was time to head home. While I signed up to work until 6:00, it has been nice to finish up earlier as the drive home is nearly forty minutes.
I am looking forward to today's afternoon at MARE.
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%: