From Endurance to Dressage
This horse is going to be broke. And it might even happen sooner than I had originally planned. These trail rides are doing absolute wonders for Izzy's brain and body.
Thursday was unseasonably cool (66℉ in July????) with dark billowy clouds and a chilly breeze first thing in the morning. When I first hopped on, I was pretty sure he was going to be able to get me off. He was higher than a kite and vibrating with energy. He was at his very worst.
Izzy did everything he could think of to explode out from underneath me, but I stuck it out. Over the past week, I've learned how to diffuse or channel his energy while still riding him. I moved him back and forth with my legs, and I played with the rein so that he couldn't quite get a solid purchase on it. KG's gelding was also a tremendous help as he very patiently tolerated Izzy crowding him from behind and the side.
The first day we rode out on the river trail, Izzy was pretty tense for an hour. The second time we rode, it took him forty-five minutes to relax. As wired as he was on Thursday, it only took him fifteen minutes to let it all go. We spent the next hour and a quarter having a grand old time.
Once Izzy's brain clicked back on, he seemed to get it. He was still a little nervous here and there, but for the most part, he marched his way down the trail. He led nearly the entire way with a big swinging stride.
While on the trail, Izzy did so many things right. When he stepped on crackling branches or on the irrigation hoses, he gave little spooks, but they were really small and he stayed in place. He gave fluttering plastic bags a bit of a stink eye, but it didn't occur to him to run off. At one point, we passed some waterlines that were under repair. There was a big ditch with bright red caution flags fluttering in a group. Izzy stopped, asked to back up, but then just stood there while we waited for Taz to go first.
I am okay with that kind of stuff. That's just a young horse trying to build some confidence and screw up his courage. Stopping and thinking about something scary just shows that he has a brain, and he's using it.
The trail work is helping both of us. I know how to get a tense and anxious horse down the trail, and I can already feel him responding to my confidence. When we've gone back into the arena, I have a better sense of how much I can "push" him. There aren't a lot of choices on the trail - he doesn't get to run off wherever he'd like. Letting him do that would endanger not only us, but my riding partner and other trail users. So when he acts up on the trail, I have to ride him through it. And so far, he's trusted me enough to listen and try. Having an equine buddy helps immensely of course.
We've done this trail in a clock-wise circle each time which means we finish up by passing through the same opening in the fence. There's a large rock right near the opening as well as a gate that swings open with a horrible squeal. Both times we passed through the opening, Izzy balked and insisted that Taz go first. For this trip, Izzy gave everything a good look, but then he marched through the opening by himself without needing Taz to lead the way.
I was really proud of him and thrilled that he was using the thinking side of his brain. When we walked up to the trailer, he immediately dropped his head so that I could pull his bridle. He also drank and munched away at his hay. While he was aware of the hay and water before, he was still too tense to really enjoy them.
KG and I spent a good thirty minutes sitting at her trailer letting Izzy hang out. Taz was sound asleep - lip hanging and hind leg cocked. Izzy was very relaxed, but bored. He played with his water bucket, nibbled at his hay, and tried to peek around the back of the trailer and into the windows.
Again, KG loaded Taz first. Izzy gave a good holler, but then he quickly settled down and seemed to ask when he could get in. He loaded without the butt rope and rode home quietly. These short, but frequent trips are helping him get some trailering confidence, too.
When we got home, I turned him out and did some more free lunging. Since it was still so cool, he had a good amount of energy, and for the first time in a while, he wanted to gallop around. Once he was quiet again and following me around, I put him away.
KG is sticking to the Tuesday/Thursday trail day, so Izzy should get quite a few rides over the next four weeks - I go back to work in mid-August. I'm hopeful that he'll be solidly green broke by then!
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%: