From Endurance to Dressage
My friend Marci and I have spent many, MANY hours on the trail together. She was my second endurance partner, and the one I rode with the longest. We traveled all over California and even into Nevada doing endurance rides. Together, we completed grueling 100-milers, cruised the deserts of southern California, and even conquered valleys carved by glaciers in the Sierra Nevada. We rode together for 16 years. I recently asked her how many endurance miles she has now. Her answer? Over 21,000. She's in the top 50 of all endurance riders for total miles ridden. She knows her stuff.
We met up at the Summer Lane Farm trail ride the weekend before last where she brought her brand new horse - she'd only had him a few days. When I realized that her more seasoned horses were all getting some time off, I quickly asked if she'd like a trail buddy for Gem, her new horse. We joked that the pair of Gem and Izzy would be like the blind leading the blind, but neither of us was willing to pass up having a buddy.
She sent me an email during the week and asked if I would be game for a trail ride over the weekend. I immediately replied with a heck yeah! I am 100% committed to getting Izzy out and about this summer; he's ready. Having a friend out there on the trail, even one as green as Gem, is still better than heading out alone.
Riding with a pro like Marci makes bringing along an insecure horse so much easier. Like me, nothing phases Marci on the trail other than outright rudeness. We follow the same trail courtesy: no one trots or canters off until everyone is ready, everyone waits at water until each horse has had his fill, horses who prefer the front take the lead, and everyone waits until each horse has navigated the obstacle safely.
Over the years, we've ridden so many miles together that Saturday's ride was filled with giggles and outright laughter as each horse took his turn worrying about one thing or the other. Gem wasn't thrilled with the muddy puddles while Izzy plodded on through. Izzy wasn't excited with the human contraptions lying around the busy equestrian center we rode though. Gem didn't bat an eye.
Rancho Rio was having a family style barrel racing event that we decided to crash. It was an excellent opportunity to give both boys a look at a "show," or in Gem's case, an "endurance base camp." Marci jokingly called us Mutt and Jeff. Izzy towers over Arabian-sized Gem. With Marci on her Arab in her endurance tack and me in my dressage tack on the monster-sized Izzy, we got more than a few comments and questions. How tall is he? was the most common one.
Izzy had another really great experience. Besides the barrel race, we asked the horses to walk through narrow single track trail closed in with dense brush. We also rode by the canal's weir where water was rushing past. We plodded over the narrow bike bridges made of steel and concrete that echo and vibrate as the horses move across them. We rode alongside the canal and even asked them to step over logs. This is the kind of stuff that turns an insecure horse into one brimming with confidence.
It just might take a few more rides. Or years. Or however long. It's worth it though. You can bet we'll be doing more rides with Gem and Marci.
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%: