From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy is slowly but surely becoming the horse that I hoped was in there. He's not finished yet, and may never be, but he's getting closer.
Over the past month, Izzy has figured a few things out. For the first time since I've owned him, he is working much more consistently. There are still moments of jackassery, see below, but those moments no longer dominate our rides.
Most days, he comes to work with a bit more confidence than in the past. He's still on alert, but during those moments when he's thinking about checking out, I'll see an ear flick my way as he tightens up his neck. With a firm half halt and a quick release, he lets out his breath and gets back to work.
Over the past two months, four things have happened that seem to explain his new found confidence. I doubt that any one them is the singular cause. More than likely, it's just a bunch of things that happened all at once that Izzy likes.
First, he's getting older. He's nine and a half which is about the age Speedy was when I really started to like him. With age comes some amount of wisdom and experience. Maybe Izzy is finally growing up.
In September, I had a good lesson with Chemaine Hurtado in which she noticed that I was frequently riding Izzy defensively. When he tensed up and shortened his neck, I choked up on the reins in an effort to keep him from bolting. Chemaine encouraged me to try stronger and firmer half halts with bigger and quicker releases. As hard as it was to trust him not to bolt, I gave it a try, and it is definitely working.
I also continued with my plan to do quarterly chiropractic adjustments. In July of 2016, Izzy was pretty sore, so I had him adjusted. It was ten months before I had CC out again. That was May of 2017. By August, three months later, Izzy was sore again and CC determined that Izzy needed his hocks injected for the second time. That was when I decided he needed to be adjusted at least every third month.
When CC came out in October, Izzy had some muscle soreness, but it wasn't anything that CC couldn't work out quickly. For the most part, Izzy seemed to enjoy the body work for the attention rather than for pain relief. I'll have the chiropractor back out in January. Hopefully, Izzy will look about the same as he did in October.
The last thing that I've changed is Izzy's saddle. I've written about that several times already. While this saddle might fit him marginally better than my Custom, I don't think that's why he's more submissive and focused.
Instead, the saddle has done wonders for me. Izzy is hypersensitive to my every thought and movement. If I even start thinking about picking up a canter, Izzy tenses up all over even if I don't think I've moved a muscle. With this saddle, I can sit deeper and flatter and don't feel as though I am struggling to maintain my balance. I can actually relax.
Chemaine is coming back for a two-day clinic on the 18th and 19th of this month. I know she'll have good feedback for me. I just hope her next piece of advice is as much a game changer as was the last piece. Let me know if you're interested in auditing.
I write the same thing week after week, but it's still true: We're getting there.
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
2022 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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