From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy and I have come to a little bump in the road. I am 100% positive that it is the result of doing so many trips and moving barns all in a short time. His ground manners are fine, but in the saddle, he's fighting the contact.
Since I can't take a lesson right now, I called my trainer instead. After listening to what was going wrong, Chemaine pointed out that it sounded like Izzy had gone back a few months in his training. She asked me what had worked in the spring to get him back on my side, and then she reminded me that I had been working him in the sliding side reins.
Palm to face. Oh yeah.
I had actually been thinking of giving them another go, but things had sort of escalated in the two days before Sunday's show, and I didn't have time to give them a try.
I dug my sliding side reins out yesterday afternoon and popped them on. As before, Izzy stood perfectly quietly as I adjusted them. I can't say that he likes working in them, but he definitely doesn't have any fear or anxieties about them.
From the minute I stood back and asked him to step forward, I was amazed at how much his gaits have improved over the past several months. His walk is freer and his stride is longer. When I asked him to trot and then canter, everything that is happening under saddle was made plainly obvious.
After watching my video from Sunday's show, Chemaine's critique was that i am not riding him forward enough. That's a tough one for me because if I let him go bigger, he dives onto his forehand. When he's using so much power behind and falling onto my hands, my balance and core strength aren't developed enough to keep my own self in place. We end up fighting against each other.
On the lunge line, I could see this happening. Izzy pushes so big with his hind end, but his front end can't keep up so he scrambles and hollows his back. When I used the sliding side reins in the spring, I encouraged him to slow down to find his balance. This time, since he is stronger and has slightly better balance, I decided to let him fight himself.
Eventually, I saw him relax his back and lift his front end. It was the best I've ever seen him move. While it was lovely to see, it also left me feeling a bit frustrated as I want to get that quality of movement while I ride.
I played around with trot to canter transitions and found that if I just let him go forward, he did eventually find his balance. Tracking left was a lot harder for him. He careened around quite a bit before he softened his topline and lifted his withers.
I only lunged him for 20 minutes, but by the end of that time, he was blowing pretty good and was completely wet. I hopped up on him and rode around the ranch's 10 acres to cool him out. His walk was amazing. He tensed up at a few things that he hadn't seen before, but the walk he showed me was definitely show worthy - long strided and very forward thinking.
I am so happy to have a three-day weekend. I am going to lunge each day before I ride. My hope is that he can work out his balance issues on the line without me up there throwing him off. I am also going to get braver and let him move out bigger once I am in the saddle.
I'll let you know how it goes. Have a great weekend!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%