From Endurance to Dressage
One Problem Solved
I guess I should actually say one problem solved for now. It's amazing how you can find a solution to something only to discover that it quits working a few months down the road.
While Izzy tries to be a good boy, he still has quite the stubborn streak and has no qualms about shouting his opinion of the exercises that we're doing. In fact, he would be pretty happy to just tootle around with his neck stuck out like a giraffe while I sat on the mounting block watching.
While he's not a particularly complicated horse to ride, he has been pretty reluctant to let me control his shoulders. As much as I hate it, I've been forced to carry a whip. Sometimes it's to reinforce my go aid, he likes to refuse to leave the walk, but usually it's to whack him on the shoulder to get him to turn from my outside rein.
I don't think a whip is a cruel aid, I am just a dork with it. I can carry it pretty effectively in my right hand, but once I change hands, I simply can't keep it across my thigh, so I end up banging it against my knee. I am just uncoordinated with it, and when Izzy starts to be naughty, I end up flinging it around as I am trying to get his head out of the sky or ride through the bucks.
I ride Speedy in a fairly long spur, it's close to an inch long, so I am not anti-spurs at all. For him, I occasionally need them for the forward, but their true function is for the lateral work. You can actually see Speedy screw up his face and push back against my leg if I forget to wear spurs. Even with spurs he's been known to just suck up my poking before he'll take a sideways step.
I've hesitated using spurs with Izzy for two reasons. First, he's a green bean, so I'd like to give him a chance to hear a quieter aid before I immediately assume he needs a hearing aid. Secondly, he's not been the quietest horse to ride so I was a bit afraid of inadvertently poking him during a green bean moment.
Those concerns are now long gone. After a wild and woolly ride on Friday night, I dug out my baby spurs and readied them for Saturday's ride. Izzy's been under saddle long enough now that he needs to start listening more clearly when I ask him to move from my leg, whichever direction. I also know what his spooks are going to look like. I am not going to make anything worse if he gets a bit of a spur in the process.
Since he's still lame (a photo and explanation below), I planned to mostly walk, but I also wanted to get some trot work done to see how sore he really is and whether he would work out of it.
The walking went well. I never had to use the whip or the spurs. I've been using the quarter line a lot at the walk to work on straightness and then crossing the diagonal to play around with changes of bend and leg yielding.
He started to get a little impatient with the walking, so I suggested he trot even though he was sore. Immediately, his giraffe neck showed up and he tried to blow through the outside shoulder. Instead of using the whip, I put him in a slight counter bend and put my heel into his ribcage. As George Takei is so fond of saying ... Oh My!
He tried a few more times, but that little baby spur said it so much better than my uncoordinated whip every could. All of a sudden, Izzy was turning from my outside aids and keeping his shoulders and ribcage where they belong. The spurs are now definitely a part of my riding wardrobe.
My farrier re-set the tweaked shoe on Wednesday, and I talked to him about it on Friday morning. He couldn't see any reason why the shoe itself might have caused Izzy to be sore. It wasn't bent, torqued or poking him in any way. My farrier suggested that Izzy might have hurt himself doing whatever it was that caused the shoe to be tweaked in the first place.
That made good sense so I poked around his heel and coronet band on Friday. Sure enough, there was a scabbed over area just below his pattern. I picked at the scab and squeezed and poked and prodded, but I couldn't get a response.
I turned him out for an hour and a half on Saturday morning and cringed as he bucked, galloped, and played the entire time. When I brought him back in, he was not only a sweaty mess, but he had re-whacked the exact same spot on his foot and had torn away the scab. I hosed him off and scrubbed the scrape. It didn't seem tender to the touch, but he was definitely still off at the trot when I rode him.
I've tried bell boots, but he has quickly ruined every pair I've tried. If I use the velcro style, he simply peels them off during the first few minutes of turn out, and if I use pull-ons, he chews through them within days.
I am in a bit of a pickle because if I don't turn him out to play, he's going to injure himself in his stall. If I don't ride him, he's going to have even that much more energy. My plan is to keep doing the walking rides with a bit of trotting thrown in. I wouldn't ride him if I genuinely thought he had a soft tissue injury. I think this is just a case of a low pain thresh-hold with a bit of a "stubbed toe" type of injury.
Chemaine is coming next weekend for lessons, so I really hope this fades away by then. It's always something, isn't it?
10/11/2015 07:48:05 am
I feel your pain with the whip. I carry one but only rarely tap with it... and heaven help me if I have to hold it with my left hand because I just cannot do it. It's like me trying to write left-handed... not happening. I've started to force myself to carry it left anyway but it's not pretty. Maybe someday I'll be more coordinated?
10/11/2015 12:16:53 pm
You and I have the exact same problem with the whip - stupid left hand! I passed your thoughts along to Izzy - I hope he was listening. :0)
I'm the opposite. I hate spurs. And not because I'm opposed on moral grounds or something, but for the life of me I can't get the pokey part to touch the horse. I have to turn my foot so it's perpendicular to the horse before I can get a spur to make contact. I think I'm deformed. I get so frustrated with spurs. They either slide around the back of my boot, or they're too tight and cutting off circulation, or the bars of the spur are medieval torture devicing my ankle.
10/11/2015 12:18:30 pm
You're so funny, Mia! Maybe you need those swan spurs - the ones that point up! :0)
10/12/2015 07:40:34 am
I'm very pro-spur. I have a set of cheap roller-ball spurs and they are super useful.
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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%: