From Endurance to Dressage
I had a haircut scheduled on Thursday afternoon, but on the way to the appointment, I sent an "I'm running late" text and found out my stylist had been injured and wasn't at work anyway. I have long hair so a haircut wasn't necessary, but the whole thing disrupted my timing so my barn visit turned out to be a ground work day instead of a riding day.
I was actually glad for the break as it gave me time to just hang out with this dude.
There are just so many things that a young horse needs to learn. I had forgotten how many lessons that Speedy has had over the past seven years; I bought him as a three year old. Since Izzy arrived, Speedy is looking more and more like a seriously solid equine citizen. He falls asleep in the cross ties, walks into the trailer without any discussion, and plods along quietly on the lead rope. Now it's Izzy's turn.
So instead of lunging and riding, I put Izzy in the cross ties. It's hard to understand how boring that must be for a young horse, but it must be. Izzy was really patient for the first fifteen minutes or so, but after that, he rattled those cross ties incessantly ... clang, clang, clang.
I made him stand there a good thirty to forty minutes while I pulled his mane, curried his coat, and changed his bandage. I doled out lots of cookies, but he bounced and shook his head without stop anyway. Too bad. Grown up horses have to learn to stand and wait patiently.
Once I knew he'd had enough, I took him to the arena for a different kind of lesson. This one involved lots of moving around. Since I didn't feel like lunging or riding, I figured Izzy could learn how to do a trot out. I think most people take it for granted that a horse just "knows" what to do when asked to trot out quietly beside you. Believe me, they don't.
If your horse just trots alongside you politely, you have either spent time teaching him, or you should send a little prayer of gratitude to his first trainer or owner. Trot outs can be difficult to teach - they either fly around you like a rocket on a string, or they plant their feet and require some dragging. Izzy fell into the latter group.
No matter. I told him that I'd seen that show before. When he balked, I simply turned him into a very small lunging circle and wave the tail end of my rope at his hindquarters until he got them moving. I then jogged along side him as we made the circle bigger. By staying in the circle at first, I could haze him from behind if needed, but then I flattened out the circle until we were trotting in a line.
Each time that be balked, I repeated the small circle and flicked my lead rope's tail at his hind quarters. Within about ten minutes, he was trotting along beside me from a standstill all the way through to a quiet halt.
He'll definitely need some more practice, but I was pretty pleased that he was respectful of my space once we were trotting, and he was quick to halt without running off into the sunset. He's really lazy so I knew the stop wouldn't be the problem. The go button was the piece that he was missing.
We finished the day with a roll and some turn out. He's still not brave enough to wander the entire arena, but he's exploring further and further down the fence line. My spring break begins this afternoon; I am looking forward to a week of solid work.
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%: