From Endurance to Dressage
Getting Izzy off the property more frequently has been one of my summer goals. Getting him to a show has been another. I am not doing so great with goal #2 - getting my Third Level scores with Speedy took precedence, but I have been kicking butt when it comes to taking Izzy places. On Friday, I texted my friend Amy - more about her tomorrow, and asked if I could bring Izzy over for a ride.
Izzy has been to her place for lessons a time or two, but it's been a long while. Amy is super cool and wouldn't mind if I brought him over on a weekly basis, but the problem is that it's a 45-minute drive each way. Bakersfield's summers are typically hotter than the sun, but it's been ridiculously mild here lately, so hauling Izzy across town has not been as likely to cause him (or me) to have heat stroke. So, I threw him in the trailer and off we went.
With the fantastic work that Izzy's been giving me at home and on the trail with my friend Marci, I had hoped that working in Amy's arena was going to be easy and tension free. Nope.
I watched a great video by Amelia Newcomb the other day. It was about avoiding negative self-talk. Lots of what she said resonated with me, but there was one idea in particular that I took with me to Amy's place. Amelia states that it's important NOT to worry about the things that are out of my control - traffic noise, airplanes flying overhead, the spooky corner, and so on. Amelia explains in her video that since those things are out of my control, I need to just ignore them.
I bring this up because Amy has built a large wall at the C end of her arena that blocks out the sudden movements of the goats and dogs that live on her neighbor's property. Both Speedy and Izzy HATE that wall. It is rather intimidating, but come on. It's just a wall, no different than the side of a barn. Izzy was having none. of. it.
I started off walking him at the A end of the arena and then slowly spiraled down to the wall walking towards it at an angle. I stopped, let him look at it, passed by it again and so on. After what seemed like more than enough time to get reacquainted with the wall, Izzy gave an emphatic thanks, but no thanks. I am outta here!
And so began 30 minutes of here is my leg, here is your bend, shake hands. I was sympathetic, but firm. Rearing, balking, bolting, flailing, or otherwise trying to flee the scene weren't to be tolerated. And all of this was at the walk. As I worked on directing his haunches and shoulders where I wanted them to go, I kept reminding myself that the wall simply did not matter. It was one of those things that is out of my control, so I ignored it, and rode my horse as though it wasn't there.
Eventually, Izzy realized that I was up there talking to him. He never gave a huge sigh of relief, but he allowed himself to be ridden. I kept the work to the A half of the arena, and he finally trotted and cantered without plowing through my aids. Mostly. I was actually quite pleased with the canter work. We kept it on a 20-meter circle, but I did lots of canter to trot to canter transitions that were fluid and soft.
When I felt that he was listening, I moved him back down to the wall and did some more work at the walk. He wasn't relaxed, but he agreed to walk down centerline tracking both left and right from G. And when I hopped off, we had to do a bit of in hand work when he decided to race me back to the barn, preferably way before me.
And then, because I wanted him to get the feeling of being in a stall/paddock that was not his own, I pulled his tack and popped him in an empty stall with an attached paddock and went to check out Amy's pottery studio. She's a very talented artist with a newly launched Etsy store that I want to share, but that will have to to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, check out her store here.
Oh, and then Izzy went somewhere else the next day! Like I said, we're out and about!
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%: