From Endurance to Dressage
At 15 years of age, Speedy knows how to be bridled. I've had quite a few different bits on him over the years - some for endurance racing, some for dressage, so he's very well schooled in getting tacked up. With that said, bridling him with the double bridle didn't go as smoothly as I expected.
Most of the trouble was mine. Figuring out how to get all of that hardware in his mouth and all those straps on his smaller head was quite a challenge. Small horses and ponies don't have as much room on their faces for all of that gear. Bigger horses like Izzy, and his head is just horse-sized, have more room for all of that leather. It took Speedy and me some time to figure out how to get all of that gear onto his small head.
When Izzy started refusing his snaffle bit a few years ago, I developed a technique to encourage him to open his mouth. It worked Just as well with Speedy. Just before I bridle, I pop a candy in his mouth. Hard candies work great because once crunched, they stick to the teeth and encourage the horses to move their jaws while keeping the mouth wet.
In the beginning, Speedy would pull back as I tried to slip the crown piece over his ears. It took me a while to figure out why I couldn't pull the bridle up; I wasn't opening the noseband wide enough. Unbeknownst to me, it was catching on the bit straps and pinching Speedy's face and mouth. Once I fixed that, things went a lot more smoothly.
While Speedy sucks and chews on his peppermint, I also discovered that he prefers me to pull the crown piece over his near side ear first. I've always done the off ear first (which he doesn't mind with a snaffle bridle). If I do the near side first, the bridle is at least partially secured so I can walk around his nose and check to be sure that all of the other straps are free. Only then do I pull the other side up over his ears without pinching him.
Once everything is on over his ears, I always stop and give him a second peppermint. While his eyes go to half mast and he contentedly chews and sucks, I buckle the throat latch, tighten the noseband, and clip the curb chain. I've also started giving him a third candy once everything is in place.
Speedy is a really good guy. He only complains if it's legitimate. And even though I've been bridling horses for 40 years, there was a learning curve to putting the double on him. Since he fussed about it, I knew that I was doing something wrong. It has taken a few weeks to get each step right, but now he's opening his mouth again, trying to grab the bits to "help" me.
Now that I've had time to condition the leather, it should start to get softer and more pliable. Even so, it's still a lot of bridle to put on a little face. I think we've finally worked it out though, Speedy and me. It's helpful to have a teammate who offers such great feedback.
Team Speedy is nothing if not determined.
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%: