From Endurance to Dressage
I can't believe I am saying this, but on Saturday (and then again on Sunday, and again on Monday), Izzy gave me the best ride he's ever offered. It was like riding a broke horse. He was respectful, thoughtful, and obedient. No, I am NOT kidding. It was amazing.
I don't think it was one of those outlier rides either. If I could plot his progress from the past few months on a graph, you would definitely see an upward trend. He is finally, finally growing up. And in case the Universe is listening, I am not saying that we won't still have bumpy days; they'e still in there, I know.
I know there are two main reasons for the "sudden" improvement. We know it's not sudden by the way. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, had me start doing two things differently. The first was to no longer allow Izzy to look around. At all. Ever. And I am not kidding. EVER. If I am working with him, be it on the ground or from the saddle, he has to pay attention to ME. All. The. Time. "Yes, dude, even now," is my constant refrain.
The second thing, which is very new, is over-flexing him when he's naughty. Now that he doesn't get to snap his head up (did I already say NEVER?), he also has to maintain a bend. That means when he wants to brace against my hand or charge through the bridle, I simply over-flex him. And I hold the flexion until he softens to it and relaxes through his poll and neck.
Over-flexing has several benefits. When Izzy wants to get heavy and brace against my hand, all I could do before was pull back to slow him down. By over-flexing, I am now able to get him on the outside rein. From there, I can actually do a half halt.
This strategy probably wouldn't work for all horses, but it is crystal clear to Izzy. Over-flexing is what happens to naughty ponies. He has quickly learned that it is much more comfortable to listen to me and offer a bend when I ask for it.
When I rode on Saturday, he was able to maintain a steady tempo and change the bend fluidly. We schooled movements from Training Level all the way to Second. HIs counter canter is really nice, and simple changes should be a breeze on him; he already offers the canter to walk without even trying!
It might be taking us longer than I had hoped for, but this boy is getting better and better!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%