From Endurance to Dressage
While neither of my boys is an easy ride, Izzy is the one who makes my life the most challenging. At least twice a year, I start writing his For Sale ad, and I'll even start choosing photos to use in the ad. Last month was one of those times. I am happy to report that the ad has been torn up and tossed in the trash.
The truth is that I want to show. It's that simple. I don't need to win, but I need to get out there and show off what we've learned. It's frustrating to be stuck at home, perpetually schooling the same basics over and over. Even though I showed him last summer, it was simply for experience and not to show off anything. Our scores ranged from a low of 49% to a high of 58%. We weren't ready.
I don't think we're ready right now either, but we are definitely making progress. The tension is till there, but I have had a few AHA moment this month about how to work through his mental tension.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, teaches a warm up exercise that really works for Izzy. I've written about it before, but it's basically 1) firm up the outside rein, 2) sit on the inside seat bone, 3) flex to the inside, and 4) release the inside rein. I've had to modify it a bit though. I start with number 2 only. Down the long side, I sit on the outside seat bone, but as I approach the corner, I weight both seat bones a moment and then I sit on the inside seat bone. I do the same thing through the next corner until I am again on the outside seat bone.
As we're walking, I think about massaging his back as we walk the rail and cross the diagonal. Ever so slowly, I pick up the outside rein and go from number 2 to number 3. He can look straight ahead, but he can't look to the outside unless I choose to counter flex him.
As I rock from one seat bone to the other, taking a moment to weight both seat bones evenly, I urge him into a larger walking stride. As his back starts to relax, I follow the exercise in the actual 1-2-3-4 order. By using this warm up, I keep his attention on me completely, and the jackassery simply never starts.
That was the biggest AHA of the month. Izzy is a hot horse who is looking for reasons to be scared. If I keep his attention on me, he focuses on the task at hand and forgets to think about the monsters lurking outside of the ring.
I know many riders would have given up on him long ago, but for me right now, this horse is teaching me a whole lot. He's not scary or dangerous, just a slow learner. I forgot to mention this, but my mom and her husband were down a week ago. She wanted to come out to the barn and watch me ride.
I had a typical ride on Izzy, but my mom thought he looked fantastic. She even commented that he looked like he was trying very hard to please me. That really took me by surprise since I always feel as though he's working on his exit strategy. It was encouraging to hear that kind of comment from someone who doesn't ride or spend time with horses. If she could read that expression on his face, it must be true.
More up than down is progress.
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%: