From Endurance to Dressage
KG and I had big plans to trailer up to Rancheria Road yesterday, but California's weather had something to say about it. We are immeasurably grateful for the rain that the El Niño weather pattern is bringing us, but it did force a change of venue.
Our new plan is to trailer up to Rancheria Road tomorrow. We love this "trail head" because it is a wide dirt road that winds up to several thousand feet in elevation. If you climb long enough, which we used to do regularly but won't do tomorrow, you hit pine trees and much cooler weather.
Instead of RR, we chose to go back to the same staging area that we've been using for the last several weeks. But to make it a new adventure for Izzy, we rode the trails in a counter clockwise direction. You know what they say, different eye, different brain. Izzy proved the adage true.
While he was excited, his brain stayed connected. We started off by walking through the path that has that weird rock in front of it, and then we dropped right down onto some twisty single track trail. Izzy handled it like a pro. Yes, he was crowding Taz and hopping up a bit, but it was very much a This is fun! attitude and not mentally checking out.
For most of the way, Izzy was really relaxed and having fun. A few times though, he noticed things that he hadn't seen when coming from the other direction. While he did spook at those things, I had him on the buckle and never worried about him bolting. His spooks were just flinches or small refusals.
He was doing so well in fact that we rode to the end of the trail on the north side of the river. To continue on, you have to cross over the weir which takes you to the south side of the river.
A weir is a essentially a mini dam. It holds back the river until the city or county (or whoever) needs the water. The weir is then opened up and the water flows underneath. When the weir is completely open, the water rushes really loudly.
This weir is covered with an access road which is part of the designated trail system. What makes it scary is that you can hear the water pouring out from underneath, and the machinery that operates the weir hums along immediately to the side. The whole things is surrounded by a chain link fence, so once you start crossing, you're effectively in a long chute. Some of the horses find the hollow sound beneath their feet a bit disconcerting.
Although Taz is not a fan of this crossing, he obediently marched forward. Izzy didn't have much choice but to follow. We made a small lollipop loop and then came back to re-cross the weir again. Taz was no more eager to cross the second time, but he knows his job. Since Izzy was seeing it from a new perspective, he still clung closely to Taz's side as he crossed, but he did it without any resistance.
Each time that we've ridden out there, Izzy has been really bothered by other horse and rider pairs. People on the ground haven't bothered him. It's people on horses that cause him some concern. KG and I have discussed this at length, and we suspect that he's wondering what the heck those horses are doing out there. He isn't bothered by Taz at all, and in fact, finds him to be a great source of comfort. Other horses with riders however, have made him quite nervous.
For this trip, we came up on a pair of ladies riding two very handsome horses. I stopped and asked if they would mind taking some pictures of us. While they weren't able to figure out my iphone, they were willing to stand and chat with us a moment. To my delight, Izzy was totally comfortable standing with them. He did give them an initial I don't know as they approached us, but once we were all grouped together, he was happy to stand and listen.
Once we were back at the trailer, he dove for the water bucket before I could even pull his bridle. He also asked very obviously for a treat. As promised, he got a scoop of rice bran in a feed pan. He's a quick learner! As before, KG and I hung out for a while so the horses could eat and drink and relax. I want Izzy to enjoy being at the trailer. So far, my plan is working.
Since this particular ride was about challenging Izzy a bit, I decided to load him up first while Taz was still tied to his own trailer. Izzy thought about it a moment, but then he hopped in. He did give a whinny or two, but then he settled down and waited for me to pull away.
Everything about the trailering part of going places is getting much better. Each time he unloads, he gets more and more careful about it. For this trip, he actually reached for the ground without so many panicky steps. I was also able to start saddling him before KG pulled up. And once we got home, he unloaded happily and looked around for some grass to eat.
I am really looking forward to tomorrow's adventure!
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%: