From Endurance to Dressage
In February, I set a new goal to get Izzy off the property at least twice each month. I started riding out on the old golf course and around the neighborhood pretty regularly. I did the same thing in March. About that time, I was battling Izzy's excessive energy which I now know was due to too much alfalfa in his diet. The work out on the trail helped dissipate some of the energy.
By April, the restrictions around COVID-19 were firmly in place, and frankly, I kind of forgot about going anywhere. We also realized what the alfalfa was doing, so leaving the property didn't seem quite so important.
Instead of leaving the ranch, I started doing short trail rides around the property after every arena ride. We've been able to get a lot of miles out of those eleven acres. I know every spooky spot, so that's where we head. We circle trees and bushes and old piles of junk until Izzy softens and walks forward freely. We do it from the left eye and then from the right eye. We have lots of little roads that crisscross the ranch, so it's easy to keep it varied.
The trail rides out on the property are definitely helping to improve the work we do in the arena. When Izzy gets tense or braced, I treat him like I would if he were tense about a spooky bush out on the property. We circle, and I ask him to step up into my hand. As soon he softens, we move on. Every time I "win," he seems to breathe a sigh of relief. Izzy's a somewhat dominant horse, but he's also fearful which makes him a pretty poor leader.
Me being the leader is something relatively new. It's not an argument we have on the ground, it's a given that I am in charge there. Convincing him that I am also in charge when he's under saddle has taken a long, long, LONG time. When we work now, his ears are on a swivel as he listens to me. For so long, they were nearly always pricked forward as he tried to work and monitor his surroundings.
Yesterday, instead of working in the arena, I saddled up to ride around the ranch. Izzy's been so good lately that I decided to risk shooting video of part of our ride. Normally, I need both hands on the reins. He was still a bit look-y, but just my voice was enough to keep him feeling safe.
Speedy would be bored out of his mind if I asked him to ride these same trails over and over, but Izzy needs it. He doesn't seem to remember that we've circled that stump twenty times or passed by that pile of roofing shingles thirty-two times; he always sees something new. So until he gets bored, we'll keep doing it. Besides the fact that he needs the work, I think we both enjoy the walk without the need to perform.
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%: