From Endurance to Dressage
Aw ... Sydney gave me a whinny on Tuesday. His first! Now, I know it was just because he knew his lunch was coming, but this was the first time that he's vocalized anything to me.
Some horses bond to you right away. Mickey Dee was like that. I haven't written his story yet, but that horse ADORED me. He chose me as his new person and from that day on, he could find me from a mile away. He would follow me anywhere over anything for any distance. He trusted me with every fiber of his body.
Some horses take a while to decide that they like you. Montoya was that way. She was pretty indifferent for a long time. She had been living in a field with little or no human contact when she came into my life. She wouldn't eat carrots, apples, or other treats for the longest time. Eventually she warmed up to me, and for more than a decade we were a solid team. Like many mares, she demanded a high level of respect from her people, but gave everything in return.
Speedy G pretty much hated me for a year and a half. He didn't like me, or anyone else for that matter, and made it pretty obvious. He didn't like being told what to do, and he was pretty quick to flip you the bird, if you know what I mean. The day Montoya died that all changed. When we came home without her, he looked for her and whinnied and seemed genuinely confused. He stared off into the direction from which she should have come, and when she didn't appear, he walked up to me and rested his muzzle on the top of my head. He took a very long breath and sighed very deeply. He stood like that for many minutes. Just breathing my scent in and lifting some of my grief with each breath he took. It still makes my throat tighten when I think about his behavior that day. It was very out of character for him, but he instinctively knew that something was very wrong. After that day, our friendship started growing. Now of course, I can't get him away from me and he sings and nickers to me the whole time I'm at the barn. Silly boy.
Sydney doesn't dislike me, but he hasn't exactly jumped into my pocket either. He's been a perfect gentleman, but he's had a better not get too comfortable here look on his face. It's as though he's been waiting for the next barn move to come along. I like to keep my barn routine as consistent as possible. I think it helps the horses to build confidence. Monday was the first day that Sydney showed me that maybe he's starting to feel as though he gets to stay.
I always feed lunch as one of my last barn chores. I have this silly notion that the horses will look forward to my visits each day if their very last memory of me is a food-related one. Since Speedy G is first in the barn aisle, I pour his lunch in first. As soon as he sees me head for the food buckets, the "singing" begins. I call it singing because it's this steady and constant wooohoooo. Over and over. I usually chime in which gets him going even louder. Once he has his lunch, I head down to Sydney's stall. For the first few weeks, Sydney would glance my way as I approached with the bucket, but there was that reserved look on his face. It said, quite dejectedly, go ahead and pour it in, but I am not committing myself to this place.
A week or so ago, I noticed the indifference starting to wain. Sydney was now beginning to wait at his bucket with his ears perked, and that new interest grew each day. On Tuesday as I headed down the barn aisle, I was very pleased to hear his whicker as I approached.
Well of course I called back to him and gave him lots of good boys and yu-u-u-ms. I hope he understood me, because I got his message loud and clear, I think I like her!
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%: