From Endurance to Dressage
I wish I could say it was mine, but it's not. I am wondering about Speedy's though. He's had a really rough go of it these past 4 or 5 months, and as a result, he hasn't been very happy. I am starting to wonder if he's ready for retirement.
It hasn't helped that every time I touch him, I am doing something that he finds uncomfortable. I am either giving him pills, scrubbing wounds, picking at his mouth, or scraping mud off his heavy coat.
And that's a whole other load of stress, the Cushing's Disease. Not only does he get that pill every morning - a very special thank you to the ranch owner who does that every day, but he's suddenly looking like a Cushing's horse. For the first year ever, Speedy isn't shedding. His coat is just as heavy as it was in December.
Our winter has been unusually cold and wet, so I am just hoping he's holding on to his hair for good measure. I sure wish he'd start to shed though. I've promised him that I'll wait until April before I clip him. That should give him enough time to begin shedding on his own.
Over the weekend, he just looked so pissy. I really started to question what is right for this horse. Is he tired of dressage? Does he hate the work? Does he just want to be left alone? I can only answer no for the latter. The ranch owner lets me know when Speedy is particularly challenging to dose with his Prascend, and he is always easier to dose on the days after he's been ridden.
Even though he looked so sour on Saturday morning, I saddled him up anyway. He grouched at me and let me know that he wasn't happy with life in general and with me in particular. But then he started trotting, and his attitude changed. He gave me a really lovely ride which let me know that he does enjoy the work.
The next day, he was crusted over with mud. He had paced himself into a nasty sweat that had dried by morning. My heart was crushed. I don't know what has made him so unhappy. I hosed him off, which annoyed him even further, and tacked him up anyway.
I walked him up to the arena fighting back tears. I adore Speedy, but more than anything I want him to be happy in his work and happy living in his field with friends. I started to think he might be happier living somewhere else with someone else. But then we got to work.
A neighbor came over to use the round pen just as I started our warmup, and Speedy got spicy. Like tail over his back, hot to trot, spicy. I just kept asking for leg yields, transitions within the gait (trotting), and a lengthening here and there. Eventually he focused on is work and gave me the most brilliant canter-walk-canter transitions.
After several months off, I didn't think he'd remember how to do them. He did. And after asking for the first couple, he started showing off by offering them if I even thought about a half halt. I could see his self esteem rising after every movement. He was positively glowing with pride in himself.
Is he ready for retirement? I don't know, but I do know he still loves to work. Maybe he just needs to start feeling useful again. This horse has always needed a purpose, and now that he's (mostly) injury free, maybe he'll start to feel more like himself when he's once again being ridden regularly.
While I desperately want to earn my bronze medal on him, I only want it if he's happy to do it. Speedy's happiness is more important.
3/27/2019 06:36:46 am
Horses like Speedy always spring to mind when people say a horse would be happy standing out in a field surrounded by grass. Some yes, but definitely not all. My lease is the same - he was retired out to a 22ha pasture with friends and he got so bored, he started jumping paddock fences.
4/6/2019 08:08:16 am
Absolutely! Speedy loves to work (for now, anyway) and gets frustrated when he feels "unused." :0)
3/27/2019 07:07:50 am
Perhaps just a change in scenery? Maybe trail ride a bit more or camping trips if possible - if he likes that kind of thing. Baby jumping/cavaletti work? Dressage definately gets harder the further up the ranks we go. My boy topped out at 2nd level. He was happy there. Third level made him cranky. It was just too much. I had to readjust my expectations and goals, realizing that HE didn't care what awards or accolades we achieved. Although I was a bit disappointed, having my happy horse back was worth it. Pie is 21 now, mostly retired but still enjoys a good hack across our rolling hunt country every now and then!
4/6/2019 08:09:47 am
Now that he's being worked a few days a week, he is getting much happy. On the days that I can't ride, I've been at least turning him out into the yard which he loves. The other day, he made me "chase" him around the property before he'd "let" me catch him. He walked just fast enough that I couldn't catch up tp him. He was laughing the entire time. :0)
4/6/2019 08:10:57 am
Thank you, Tracy. I certainly try to do what's right by my boys, but if they would just learn English, it would be a lot easier. :0)
3/28/2019 12:19:19 pm
From my experience with an aging horse, I'd recommend riding him as long as you can. Your expectations may change but "use it or lose it" is real! :)
4/6/2019 08:12:03 am
For this horse, I totally agree. In fact, that's been my experience with all of my Arabs. The trick is to figure out how much work he needs to stay happy. :0)
Comments are closed.
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%: