From Endurance to Dressage
Taking a Break
Saturdays are nearly always my crank it out, bust our butts, hammer it home riding day. It's the day I don't have to be anywhere else, and it's not going to get dark before I finish what needs to be done. I take my Saturdays seriously.
Not this Saturday. I got a text from a new friend, KM, asking if Saturday would be a good day to come out and meet my boys. For a split second, I remembered how much work needs to get done on Speedy before our first show of the year and thought about saying no. But then I realized that taking it easy for one day might actually do Speedy some good.
KM's husband is a local publisher. My husband and I met him a few times because of the magazine, and the next thing we knew the four of us were having dinner together. It didn't take long for the topic of horses to come up. KM rode as a girl and has lately been trying to reconnect with that particular passion. I invited her to give me a call when she had a free weekend.
People never take me up on that offer, so I was a bit surprised to hear from her this past week. She had mentioned that she'd taken a few lessons at Los Angeles Equestrian Center and that she occasionally rides with a friends up in Bear Valley. I hate to offend, so when people say they can "ride," I always nod politely and act like they've been to the Olympics.
People who spend a lot of time in the saddle have a way of communicating their riding ability without needing to say much. We jump 2'6", I show at Second, we've completed a couple of 100 milers, we just did a 14 second barrel run over the weekend ... In just a few short words, you know those people can handle just about any well trained horse on a 45 minute trail ride. Outside of that, it can be kind of risky if your horse is only well trained and not dead broke.
When I mentioned the ride to the ranch owner, she graciously offered to let me borrow Archie, her senior citizen who happily packs anyone no matter their skill set. Unlike Speedy, who has buttons installed all over the place, Archie's buttons are hard to hit accidentally. In fact, you have to press his buttons quite authoritatively before he'll believe you did it with intent. I texted KM the night before with her riding options.
KM's a pretty smart lady, and she's honest about her riding ability. I don't often find that. As we rode, she was glad that she had opted for the less reactive horse. Even though I was able to ride him on the buckle for most of the ride, Speedy did get a bit excited as we passed the Haner Family Farm. Archie barely looked at the grunting pigs and the honking geese.
We had started the ride in the arena so that KM could get a feel for Archie before heading out, so when we got back to the ranch I asked if she wanted to pick up a trot or canter back in the arena. She declined, but she did say yes to hopping up on Speedy.
As they followed the fence toward the far end of the arena, she quickly called out that he was too much for her and that she thought she should get off. He had coiled himself up and was getting quite tense. I hate to see someone get off out of fear, so I quickly led Archie down to Speedy and had her head back toward the gate.
I encouraged her to ride a small circle around me and Archie, but I gave her a few small directions. I showed her how to bend him to the inside and sponge the inside rein. Once Speedy had some bend, I instructed her to use her outside rein to slow down his run-away walk. He was simply unbalanced and tense because of it.
Almost immediately, he relaxed, and his walk got much prettier. KM felt it, and the tension left her body as well. After walking both directions, she felt confident enough to pick up a rising trot. She was able to change her posting diagonal and keep Speedy on the circle.
By then, KM had been in the saddle for an hour and a half and was ready to be done; Speedy, too. KM thanked me for not letting her get off while she was scared. I was really impressed with her ability to be honest about how she felt, and because of her honesty, I think she added a bit more knowledge to her riding toolbox.
I hope she comes back to ride with us again; even if it's a Saturday.
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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%
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%: