From Endurance to Dressage
Every year with Izzy is pretty much the same. By the time summer is over, he is about as steady as can be. He has his jerk moments, but by and large, I enjoy riding him. Then comes the fall, October especially. Suddenly that friendly, mostly submissive horse of summer is long gone, and the horse from hell shows up. By the time we are in full winter, our rides are a series of jerks and spins and I am ready to quit. By February, the hamsters are getting back on the wheel, but the first warm days of spring send him into small head shaking syndrome episodes. By mid-April, I remember why I like him.
This year has been different. October passed by with only a hint of the Izzy of the past. November, too had only a few wonky days, but despite the incessant rain and lack of consistency, Izzy made it through the winter in good spirits. In fact, I really don't remember any horrible rides. And this past month, despite having no lessons for the past six weeks, Izzy has been fabulous to ride.
I just finished watching the video from yesterday's ride, and every time I hit pause to study a moment more closely, I saw a horse with a swinging back whose ears were flicked my direction. There was no doubt about it: we were dancing.
I am still an awkward rider, but Izzy is doing his best with what he's got. A horse like Izzy can only be as good as his rider's aids. Throughout the entire video I saw a happy horse who was trusting his rider.
For the entire ride, Izzy's tail was loose and swinging, and he went where I pointed. There were a few moments here and there where his head came up just an inch or so when he thought he heard something that was worth looking at, but for the majority of the ride, he kept his attention on me.
As I watched the video, I was surprised again and again by how many lovely moments there were. Not just we don't completely suck moments, but moments that any rider would be proud of. This one above is just one moment from many. Izzy is reaching towards the contact, he has bend through his body, and his stride is open and moving freely. And while I might not be Charlotte Dujardin - who is?, I am doing a good job of creating this relaxation and freedom of movement.
As we leave winter behind, the thing I am most proud of is the progress I've helped Izzy make in the flying changes. Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, really helped me break down the flying change so that I could teach it to Izzy without all of the theatrics. Little by little I've gone back to the first steps of the flying change, a relaxed canter and straightness.
I've been working really hard on straightening in the canter and then not asking for the change. The more I didn't ask, the easier it was to straighten him. Then came a day that I kept him straight, and he asked for the change. We don't get it every time, but we get it more than not. Yesterday, he gave me one with a ton of effort, and the other one with a lot of sass, but he did it.
I have this week off, and I already have plans. Today we're dismantling the arena and reworking our footing, Tuesday I might get a lesson, Wednesday we're hauling out to the park for a trail ride, and that leaves another five or so days for riding and catching up. The more that I ride the horse that I have today - instead of the one I had yesterday, the better we both get.
I am having more fun not succeeding than I was when I was failing. And yes, those are two different things.
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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%: