From Endurance to Dressage
Straighten Up, Mister
Boy howdy. I think Chemaine opened up a big ol' can of worms when we addressed Izzy's lack of throughness at our last lesson. The last three rides have tested my sticky butt and my patience. At several points during each ride, I gave an exasperated, DUDE!
Rather than just TRY, he has decided to refuse to go forward, bolt forward, rear, kick out at my leg, balk, squeal, or whirl and bolt toward the gate. It took me all the way until last night to figure out where the resistance might be coming from.
Since the naughtiness was so sudden, I chalked it up to nervousness since we did our last two rides in the neighbor's arena. He gets turned out there several times a week, but it was the first time I've ridden him there. I really didn't think it was that big of a deal though.
The refusing to go forward unless it was in a rear got so bad that I got off and grabbed a discarded riding crop. Miraculously, the rearing disappeared completely. But when I next rode in my own arena and he threatened to rear as soon as I asked for a trot, I realized we had a problem.
Before I continue, I should mention that when I first started asking Izzy to do more than just walk or trot on a loose rein, meaning I started increasing the contact, he went through all of this same stuff. Last summer, the balking got so bad I had to really get after him with the whip. When that worked, he tried rearing to get me to quit. More use of the whip and he gave up on that as well. He's just kind of an opinionated jerk who is not afraid to let me know what he thinks.
So when all of the rearing and kicking and balking happened in my own arena, a place where he has been happily working for many months, I knew something had changed. At my last lesson, Chemaine had me address his lack of throughness by straightening Izzy's shoulders to put him on the outside rein. To achieve this, she had me compress his stride with the outside rein, put my inside leg on, and keep his shoulders from popping out with my outside leg. As soon as he softened to the outside rein, I could give a little and ask for more stride.
That sounds fantastically easy, but Izzy has decided that it's hard and different, and he doesn't do hard ... or different. Rather than soften to the outside rein, he's figured that it would be a brilliant idea to just get away from it. Balking would do it. If you don't go forward, you don't have to hold the bit. If you rear, the same thing - no bit. and even better, you might dislodge your rider and then you're home free. Kicking out should cure the whole inside leg on his girth thing, and bolting is an easy go-to when things aren't going your way.
While Izzy doesn't scare me, rearing and bolting, especially when done together, are rather unnerving. Even so, the best solution with this horse is first LOTS of praise for a good try or a correct decision. But when he makes a naughty choice, a solid thwack with the whip on his flank or shoulder or a smack with my hand on his cheek/neck send a clear message.
We finally got to canter last night after 20 minutes of Straighten up, Mister! He never got nice and round over his back at the trot, but he did finally agree to just go forward. Our pace was a snail's crawl, but at least he tolerated the outside rein and agreed to soften to it as long as we just poked along.
But really, that's all I wanted in the fist place. He just figured I wanted the whole shebang on Day 1. Dork. Today is just a turn out day and Thursday we'll try again. I have tentatively scheduled another lesson down in Simi Valley on Saturday, so hopefully Chemaine can convince him that he can do this.
3/30/2016 07:01:32 am
Hard work is hard! Taran is also objecting to actually having to be straight with all his body parts, although not nearly as vehemently. His go-to move is to throw himself sideways in the best sidepass you've ever seen. It would be awesome if I'd actually asked for that...
3/30/2016 12:20:31 pm
The good thing about Izzy is that he gives up "fairly" quickly. Why can't it be just a little bit easier? :0)
Izzy! Rearing is not cool man! Just ask Penn, haha.
3/30/2016 12:23:18 pm
Since Chemaine is so far away (2 1/2 hours), I can only make it down there once a month. Fortunately, the last lesson and this lesson happen to be kind of close together. I've found that when we do something "BIG" like this, trouble almost immediately follows. It tells me we definitely pushed him out of his comfort zone. Too bad! :0)
3/30/2016 08:40:03 am
Haha yeah we go through this every time the work gets harder. Not fun, but as long as it doesn't scare you, it's fine to work through. Hang in there.
3/30/2016 12:26:25 pm
Yeah - harder work means we've left a comfort zone. No biggie, we'll just expand the comfort zone.
3/30/2016 12:26:52 pm
Oh boy, do I ever hear you. :0)
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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%
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