From Endurance to Dressage
"Saddle Up Anyway"
That's been my motto for so many years that I assumed I still believed it. For me, saddling up anyway has meant not allowing everyday life irritations to interfere with my riding. Hot day? Get over it, saddle up anyway. It's cold; saddle up anyway. I'm tired (said with a whine), saddle up anyway. Having grit, perseverance, and determination are how one succeeds in life. If I am not willing to push through mental fatigue or physical discomfort, how will I ever navigate those same challenges while showing? For myself, I've always felt that being a "fair weather" rider creates mediocrity.
And then I turned 50 (now 51), got COVID, and started working for an administrator whose style is to micro manage her staff. Suddenly, I am facing days where I am actually physically tired and mentally exhausted. Speedy is such a generous horse that he could always shoulder my baggage, relieving me of the burden so that I could let it all go and ride. I knew this when my heart horse, Montoya, died. After letting her go that January day, I came back to the barn and cried and cried. Speedy rested his head against me and soaked up all my tears.
Izzy isn't that kind of horse. I know that, but for so long I tried to saddle up anyway; it never strengthened our relationship. I was thinking about this over the weekend. I wasn't feeling my best on Friday, so I pressed my face into Speedy's neck and just breathed. He stood quietly while I rested against him trying to regain my emotional balance. I finally smiled and gave him a hug. I climbed through the fence and wrapped my arms around Izzy searching for that same sense of peace. Izzy couldn't handle the emotions. He quickly raised his head and turned away.
Now that Izzy is my main ride, I face the saddle up anyway conundrum daily. Do I saddle up anyway even if my emotional state is a bit of a mess knowing that Izzy doesn't deal well with my emotional baggage? Or, do I forgo the ride and shove cookies at him instead while we play games? Will powering through advance our relationship, or do I get further by honoring his friendliness which builds confidence? The answer seems obvious when I put it that way. As I get to know Izzy more and more, I have to admit that he cannot be my emotional partner. I can't use him for emotional support; I have to be HIS support. He needs for me to be always expressing confidence and self-assurance.
Instead of feeling obligated to ride him five days a week no matter my emotional and physical state, I have decided to leave the guilt behind and recognize that saddling up anyway is not what is best for this horse. Instead, I am allowing myself to ride on the days that I feel good. That means he gets ridden three to four days a week which is still enough to make progress.
This horse has certainly changed how I ride and think about riding, and that's a good thing.
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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%: