From Endurance to Dressage
Operation Boot Camp
Well, I gotta say, Boot Camp is turning out to be a bit of a dud. Hopefully I haven't just jinxed myself, but really. My sassy six-year old is turning out to be far more simple and transparent than I would have ever thought.
Speedy is the opposite of simple; he's a very complicated horse. He's over reactive, hot, and prone to get the hell out of Dodge. He's the freak-out-now, ask-questions-later type. But, he's also willing, super smart, eager to play, quick to ham it up, in my back pocket, and more than happy to strut his stuff in the show ring. I "get' Arabs; I know how they think, and I adore their quirky personalities.
Izzy, on the other hand, seems to be very content to let me call the shots. My big plan to tie him up in various kinds of places to teach him some patience while he forgets about his little herd, well, that seems done. I tied him up to my trailer again for nearly an hour on Tuesday afternoon. All he did was stand there with a leg cocked while offering the occasional long look at what I was doing in the arena. There was no nervous sweating or pacing. B-o-r-i-n-g.
Yesterday afternoon, we did the same neighborhood walk that on Saturday had caused so much yelling and crying. Other than still trying to walk on my heels, he was pretty good. He called once or twice, but they weren't the gut wrenching screeches of the other day, and he knew he was busted as soon as he did it. And of course, as soon as he did cry, my rope was sending his haunches around and around. There were a few times that he wanted to call back to Speedy, but when I gave a tug on the halter to redirect his attention, he thought better of it.
The newest skill I am teaching him is to plant a front hoof on the mounting block like the farrier will do with a hoof stand. When I messed around with the trick on Tuesday, Izzy knocked the whole mounting block over (Speedy would have erupted) and then just stood there looking at it. I put his leg back up and he stood there. And stood there. And stood there. Again, B-O-R-I-N-G!
While I was picking out a front hoof, something he's getting really good at, he lost his balance. I felt him start to buckle so I dropped the leg. The silly dude fell to both knees while in the cross ties. I stepped back while he ever so carefully heaved himself back to all four legs. He had a horrified expression on his face. I told him that is why ponies must hold up their own legs. I picked the same leg back up and got to work. He stood like a statue.
After I clean out his hooves, I take each leg and place it between my knees to hammer on it like the farrier does. When he was first shod with the trainer up north, I was told that he threw an absolute hysterical fit and needed to be sedated by the vet. I don't necessarily doubt that, but on the other hand, this horse must be the fastest learner on the planet. I can whack those feet pretty dang hard and he never pulls back.
I am enjoying the ground work that we're doing. We're definitely building a friendship, and he's learning that he can trust me. I am also learning that I can trust him. He's careful not to hurt me, and I can already tell that he's not going to be a bolter. I am pretty sure that once we start doing some under saddle work, things are going to go smoothly.
Knock on wood, folks, knock on wood!
2/5/2015 10:01:48 am
My smile gets bigger every day! :0)
2/5/2015 10:06:22 am
That never even occurred to me, Austen. I've had Arabs only for so long (2 decades) that I simply don't know have much experience with other breeds. Sydney, while sweet as pie, has left me with a bad impression of TBs. My various trainers have been quick to point out that Sydney was not necessarily a great representative of his breed.
2/5/2015 10:07:52 am
Sheesh ... how many typos can I make!!!!! No edit feature so just muddle through!!!!!
Sydney was certainly not a good fit, and I hope he's happy off where ever he is. TBs can be great horses, just like Arabs, but they're a little different. They can be so much hotter than most other breeds. I don't mean fast here, I just mean reactive and mentally faster. They're always trying to think ahead of you, and figure out what you want. Sometimes (okay, sometimes OFTEN) that gets them in trouble when they get ahead of you and get worried. Some of them are willing to put their trust in their rider and have their rider help them figure it out, with just a little tension or fidgeting betraying their worry. Others are less likely to look to their humans for help, and try to take control of the situation. That latter kind usually doesn't do so well in dressage.
2/5/2015 10:08:19 am
Thanks, Lauren! :0)
I am really, really enjoying reading about all the groundwork you do with Izzy. I have no experience with green horses, so I love how you think out each step of every process and come up with a plan. I never would have thought of half the things you do! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and experience :)
2/5/2015 09:57:13 am
Kind of coincidentally, I just read your recent post about ground work. It sounds like you have a really good understanding of what to do.
This reminds me of something Jimmy Wofford (of eventing fame!) said in a clinic... "You have to get your horse to believe that you are crazy. You'll do anything, and he has to be ready for it, and accept that. You want to come out and jump 4ft right off the bat? He can't think about that, he just has to accept that it might happen, because you're crazy."
2/5/2015 10:09:08 am
I can't wait either!!!! Tonight, I started tossing a leg over his back while standing on the mounting block. No big deal. :0)
2/5/2015 12:17:24 pm
Izzy sounds similar in temperament to my TB, Cartman. They really aren't all nuts!!!
The difficult horses of any breed always stand out. I've known warmbloods like Izzy who just let life come to them and enjoy the ride, and I've know royal terrors that have never seen a correction in their lives. Mikey (TB) will give hard spooks, but he has the same heart of gold that Izzy's got. I can do anything to him and he might go huh, but he'll let me do it. You're building such a great base, you're going to have an incredible partner!
I've always noticed that the TBs tend to really bond with their people, and trust them implicitly. Warmbloods seem less reactive overall, while TBs get less reactive when they open up and start to trust. Unfortunately, some of them never do. Exceptions to every breed, right?
2/6/2015 11:36:49 pm
I really appreciate some TB blood in a warmblood. One of my all time favorite horses was a TB/ Hanoverian cross. She was not an easy horse, but I think some of her best traits came from her TB side. I actually wish she had more of that sensitivity and willingness to try. She had a big lazy streak and that was not TB.
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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
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CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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