From Endurance to Dressage
Not the Same Horse
I had a much needed epiphany this weekend. It's taken four months, but I've finally realized that Izzy is not Sydney. Of course I don't mean that literally. That wouldn't be much of an epiphany. What I mean is that Izzy isn't going to treat me like Sydney did. Izzy's not going to live in fear, and he's not going to run off and leave me.
I think that's a country song ...
Since buying Izzy this past November, I've worried that at any moment he was going to start blowing up and having the kind of meltdowns for which Sydney was so famous. I've caught myself walking on egg shells this whole winter.
Every time I see a truck coming down the road, I brace for the inevitable duck and whirl to the right. Every stroller that comes by gives me flashbacks of Sydney galloping sideways in terror. I find myself flinching at every bang and clang from the neighbor's barn because I know that should illicit a panic attack. But Izzy, he doesn't hear any of it.
Don't get me wrong; Izzy isn't dull. He hears everything, but I've finally realized that he reacts totally differently than did Sydney. Izzy cranes his head around to get a look at everything, anything, and nothing. He's a wide-eyed baby in love with the world, but none of it bothers him. He doesn't feel threatened, and instead, he's always dying to know more.
So what helped me see this all so clearly? Well, my barn owner is doing some stall remodeling on the other side of the barn. I had finished lunging at the far end of the arena and was getting ready to hop on Izzy bareback. Suddenly, his head shot up, he pricked his ears intently, and then he dragged me as close to the arena gate as he could get.
I stopped what I was doing and listened. Suddenly I heard what he heard - a grinding screeching sound of metal dragging on metal. I immediately went into "Sydney can't handle this" mode and considered calling it a day. But then I paused a moment and studied Izzy and realized that he wasn't scared at all. He was fascinated by what was going on.
The welder who will be doing the work was in the barn aisle so I hollered out to him and asked what was going on. He explained that they were removing a shade netting and a panel from each stall. As soon as I knew what was causing the sound, my tension evaporated, and I matter-of-factly explained it all to Izzy.
I brought him over to the mounting block as usual and hopped on. For the first minute or two, he was still distracted by the loud noises emitting from the back side of the barn, but shortly after he refocused on me and happily went to work. Of course, his attention span is quite small so within no time he was gawking at the neighbor's property, a flying bird, ants crawling, and and other invisible distractions.
It was at that moment that I realized Izzy is not the same horse as Sydney. I loved Sydney, I truly did, but he was simply too unpredictable and explosive in his behavior to be any fun. I feel safer on Izzy with a halter for a bridle and a half pad and surcingle as a saddle than I ever did on Sydney.
While we still have a long way to go before we're actually doing any dressage, I am already having so much fun with this horse. He's a funny boy with a super laid back personality. He gets goofy and "big" on occasion, but it usually takes too much energy to maintain for long. If I just give him a moment to pause and reflect, he realizes that mellow is a lot more fun and usually leads to treats.
I ❤️ you, Izzy Zweibrücker!
3/24/2015 03:58:36 am
Aw ... Thanks 😀
3/24/2015 04:03:22 am
Thanks, Tracy! So far, so good. ;0)
3/24/2015 12:23:26 am
I love hearing this. It takes so much time to get past one like Syndey, but it's very doable with the right horse. :-) Glad you and the big guy are together.
3/24/2015 04:05:45 am
I don't think I am completely over Sydney, but I am getting there. He really left a pretty big scar. I started thinking that every horse in the world was going to be as reactive and fearful as he was. I started to feel as though i had gotten lucky with Speedy when in reality ALL of my previous horses have had good minds. Sydney just didn't.
3/24/2015 05:45:09 am
:0) Me too!
3/24/2015 05:43:17 am
I hope so. :0)
3/24/2015 02:29:14 am
Mark Rashid points out that horses come in two flavors: fear-based or curiosity-based. They view the world through that filter. Sydney was fear-based. Sounds like Izzy is curiosity-based.
3/24/2015 05:42:18 am
Very interesting. Sydney is the first horse that I've ever owned that looked through a filter of fear. I've owned at least ten others and curiosity definitely motivated them. Thanks for teh share. :0)
I *totally* get this. It took me years to recover from the scary stuff the Toad used to pull on me under saddle, even though the Dragon doesn't do anything like that. She has her own issues, but they are much easier to manage. But the fear, it takes so long o get rid of the fear habits!
3/24/2015 10:02:58 pm
I've had scary moments on every horse, including Speedy, but nothing comes close to the all out fear that I would feel while riding Sydney. It wasn't all the time of course, but when he would launch straight up in the air and then rear while up there, it would take me some time to feel comfortable on him again. And even when it wasn't that particular move, I could never completely relax as I never knew when the next bolt, buck, rear, spin, or whirl was going to come. There was no predicting his outbursts. For so long I thought that I had simply lost my nerve. It's nice to know that others have dealt with the same type of fear, and that it goes it away. :0)
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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%
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