From Endurance to Dressage
I realized I haven't said much about the big brown horse lately. His story just hasn't been as interesting of late. It's a lot easier to write about Speedy and our trials and tribulations at Third Level. Double bridles. Flying changes. Canter half passes. Those are topics you can really sink your teeth into. Izzy's last few months have been rather boring.
As with any horse, he's had a few little ... moments. He tried to gouge out his eye a few weeks ago. I showed up to find half of his face swollen with gunk oozing out of what looked like a puncture. Another inch to the right and ... Fortunately he's not dumb enough to actually poke out his eye. At least not this time.
While he didn't enjoy me squeezing and cleaning it, he wasn't too terribly bothered by it. I rode him anyway while it healed. His pain tolerance is really high. Not much bothers him physically. Mentally, now that's another story.
I never have a plan when I ride Izzy. I work on what he brings. Some days, it's simply working through tension. I've discovered that no matter how fresh or well ridden he is, cloudy, oppressive days are not his jam. I don't blame him as I hate that kind of weather myself. Those are the days when I just work on stretching and relaxing.
Izzy is now to the point where getting a long stretchy topline is pretty easy. He's mostly delighted to just trot around in a long frame doing trot to canter to trot transitions. He's getting better and better at transitions within the gait as well. We do a lot of think big thoughts, think small thoughts. That's what I tell him as we lengthen and compress the stride.
I finally realized that he's now ready for a shorter frame. He hasn't been such a fan of the concept. Instead of rounding and pushing, he gets round and leaves his hind end trailing behind. I can't add enough leg to encourage his butt to join us. On those days, I have to actually take my legs off and WHACK him with my heals. Over and over.
For a week or so, I got tired of it and brought out the whip. Izzy hates the whip and is actually a little afraid of it. Without even needing to use it, he engages his hind end instantly, but then he tighten his back, sucks in his neck, and figures traveling at supersonic speed is the answer. Suddenly, his 12 foot long frame is closer to 6 feet, and not in a good way.
I usually end up dropping the whip, but then I have to go back to dramatic half halts to get him to let go of the dang bit. But it's happening. Little by little he's learning to carry himself in a boxier frame. He's learning that he can lift his back, tuck his pelvis, and still push forward.
He now has a forward thinking leg yield, a rhythmic trot half pass, and his canter to trot to canter across the diagonal is pretty balanced. In fact, he can do all of the movements from First Level Test 3. On the days where I can get him in front of my leg AND relaxed, we school the simple changes and canter half pass.
For so long I felt like I was riding a rocket on a string. He was often nearly uncontrollable, and I never felt safe riding with someone else in the ring. I couldn't guarantee that we wouldn't body slam them as we careened around the arena pumping the brakes. Now, I feel as though I am riding a turtle. He can get his back nice and round, but he's not in any hurry.
That's okay, because I am not in a rush either. I am having fun with him, and I know he adores me. He's a regular love bug. He's bitten off more zippers than I can count; he loves to slide them up and down, and he thinks it's quite hilarious to gently grab the back of my breeches and snap them. I also get a daily neck and shoulder rub. Occasionally I have to remind him that there is skin underneath those clothes, but he's usually pretty careful.
Speedy's the horse that I can drive toward a goal. He can handle the mental pressure. Not so with Izzy. He's my take it day by day horse. I am happy, and they're both happy. We make a pretty happy threesome.
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%: