From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy and I have been partners for thirteen years. Together, he and I have done more than I ever planned for him. When I bought him in December of 2007, I was simply looking for a backup endurance horse for when Montoya needed time off after a particularly hard endurance race, or in a worst case scenario, due to injury. When she ultimately died in January of 2010. My back up horse, Speedy G, became my main ride. And back then, endurance riding was all I cared about.
When that sport began to lose its luster for me, losing Montoya sort of sped that process along, I started looking for something else to do. I've told this story before, but as time passes, hindsight colors our impressions of the past and maybe even changes the way we remember it. I do know that I had high hopes for Speedy, but dressage was never on my radar.
I've never been content to just ride. I've always felt compelled to achieve things with my horses. Not to prove that I am a good rider or particularly skilled, instead, I love to test the boundaries of our relationship and push them ever farther, strengthening it as we go. When I sat up and looked around at other equine disciplines, dressage seemed as good a place to start as any.
Speedy rose to the challenge, and for the next ten years, he joined me in my dressage journey, happy to go in whichever direction I sent us. We climbed through the levels, agonizingly slowly for the most part, but in the last few years things really started to come together for us. In the summer of 2020, he helped me achieve a USDF Bronze Medal.
In August, when he was diagnosed with advanced arthritis in his left hock, the decision to retire him was made quickly and easily. He has given me more than I could have ever hoped for. The thing is, I don't think Speedy wants to be entirely done with living though. He still loves to go; he just doesn't necessarily want to go to Fourth Level. As easy as it would be to just let him live out his days in his field playing with Izzy over the fence, I think he would rather still work. He always has such a self-satisfied look when he packs around someone new. I know I am not wrong.
In September, I let the Universe know that I was ready to share my horse with others. And while Speedy wasn't such a dependable horse just a year or two ago, he's now ready to get to know other riders. Without me in the driver's seat demanding so much precision and correctness, his patience and tolerance have expanded hugely. Over the past few months, he's packed several riders over the trail and carried them willingly around a dressage court with grace and dignity no matter how little they knew about the correct aids. When they get it right, he rewards them with a feeling of flying. When they don't, he carries on as they struggle to master their own bodies while trying to control his.
When you let the Universe know that your horse needs new friends, you answer that email and you smile and offer your horse to a complete stranger knowing that the Universe has got your back. We all know it's risky to let a stranger hop aboard your most precious friend, but if we never take chances, we never reap the benefits that a gamble can produce.
I get a fair amount of "do you know of any horses I might ride?" emails because I am easy to reach here on this space as well as on the CDS website I manage for our local chapter. So when J reached out to me a few months back asking about the area - she was relocating, I politely replied and answered her questions as well as I could. Once she bought property, she reached out to me again looking for a riding opportunity. As you can see, she found it.
After a few emails and then texts, J and I worked out a day that would work for us both. I introduced her to Speedy, gave her a detailed explanation of his likes and dislikes, and helped her saddle and bridle him. Having been out of the horse world for a few years meant that she was a little rusty, and her dressage experience is pretty much limited to books and TV.
The first lesson was really about letting her find her balance - she'd never been in a dressage saddle before. I gave her a quick tutorial in the basic aids, and then we got to work. After spending a fair amount of time at the walk and trot, I asked if she wanted to give the canter a try. It takes a lot of trust to canter a horse that you've never met especially when you've never before ridden in a dressage saddle. Not having ridden for half a decade also gives a gal a reason to say no.
Not so surprising, J was up for the canter work. I wasn't terribly surprised though as Speedy had given her a very obedient ride which no doubt had her feeling more confident. If I had asked her about cantering before she got on him, her answer might have been different. From the walk I explained the progression of aids. Once they picked up the trot, I started to offer some additional coaching, but Speedy gave me a look that said pipe down over there, Sweaney, I got this.
As though he had listened to my earlier explanation, the instant J got herself in roughly the position needed to ask for a canter, I watched Speedy tuck his pelvis, lift his back, and step smartly into a very collected canter. Maintaining a collected canter is hard for Speedy right now, so I asked J to push her hands forward and send Speedy on. While his canter got flatter and a bit downhill, it was easier for J to move her body with a longer canter. I don't think Speedy minded the easier gait either.
To my utter delight, Speedy has matured into a delightful schoolmaster who is unbelievably patient, kind, and willing to work as hard as his rider wants. He shows great appreciation for their hugs and treats and seems to know that just doing his job brings great joy and satisfaction. His circle of friends is expanding, and having too many friends is never a problem. Scheduling lessons for both "T" and "J" might take some creativity on my part and a bit of flexibility on theirs, but I think Speedy will benefit from it.
Anyone else want to join Speedy's circle of friends? His only request is that you bring treats.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
3/27-28 SCEC (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read