From Endurance to Dressage
That Was Disappointing
If you're a regular reader of blogs, you probably already follow Megan over at A Enter Spooking. She writes some pretty interesting stuff. A few days ago, she wrote a statistical piece about rides that are outliers (those that fall way outside the average) and how we can tell when an improved ride is the new normal. I would probably be sobbing right now if hadn't read that post.
If you'll remember, Izzy fell with me last Monday. I seemed to have gotten the worst of it as his injuries seemed limited to a scrape on his knee. I gave him two grams of Bute to head off any stiffness, and he looked great the next day. I was pretty beat up, plus I had some work commitments that kept me away from the barn on Thursday, so given how hot it was on Friday, I opted for turnout and figured we could get back to the riding routine over the weekend.
Saturday's ride wasn't anything special, but Izzy was workmanlike, and I felt progress being made. When I hopped up on Sunday, he was fabulous. He went where I pointed with less resistance, was more willing to bend around my inside leg, and the canter work was definitely improved. It even occurred to me that Sunday's ride was probably not a new normal but was instead a better than average ride. I was okay with that as those kind of rides are what improve your normal.
Monday's weather started out hot and sticky like normal, but by the time I headed out to the barn, a small storm was rolling through. Central California's storms are usually quick and mild. Yes, the skies were dark and threatening and there were little gusts of wind, but it actually felt good compared to the weather we had had the week before.
So even though the weather was not ideal, I took it as an opportunity to school my green bean before the real chaos of El Niño strikes. I knew I was (probably) setting myself up for disappointment, but there was always the chance that Izzy would be able to keep it together for the ten minutes I needed. And that's all I was hoping for - a ten minute walk around the arena.
Yeah. No. That didn't happen.
Things started out okay. He stood politely at the mounting block allowing me to get on, and he even walked about a quarter of the way around the arena before he lost it. And that was that.
He spent 25 minutes bronc bucking, rearing, whirling, darting anywhere but forward, grunting, squealing, and planting his feet. No matter what he did, I acted pretty unconcerned about it. I continued to pat his neck, tell him good boy, and ask for a walk.
I finally planted my inside hand on my thigh and simply asked him to walk a small circle forward. He couldn't (wouldn't?) even do that. I finally got off. He took that opportunity to try and jerk away from me in a pretty violent rear. I just stood there until he was finished, and then I went and got a lunge line.
I didn't want him to run or trot on the line. All I wanted him to do was simply walk. For the most part, that's what he did, but then he'd get a wild hair and shoot forward. I simply reeled him back in until he was walking again. After 5 or 6 minutes, I brought him to a halt and just stood there with him. He knew I was there, but he didn't want anything to do with that arena.
The worst part of the day was that he looked a bit off on the right side while on the lunge line. It was hard to tell though since he'd bucked and spun and reared so many times that he probably was a bit stiff and sore. I would be too with muscles as tense as his.
I don't deal well with lameness, but that comes from my many years on the endurance trail. Lameness usually means an endurance horse's career is over. I am getting better at holding off on calling the glue factory thanks to Speedy, but I still freak out a bit when one of my boys is off.
In all likelihood, Izzy is/was probably really tight through his back and hind end which presented itself as a wonky stride. I am pretty sure that if his fall last week had lamed him, I would have seen it during the week while he was playing in the turnout. And I checked - carefully.
Just to be on the safe side, I did give him 2 grams of Bute as I left. I have an after-work, work meeting tonight, so I won't be able to go to the barn which is actually a good thing. He can stand around for another day without me poking at him while his muscles relax.
The last thing about this that I found disappointing was how far back in his training Izzy went when he was tense. He hasn't been this bad to ride since May. This shows me we have a lot farther to go than I thought.
Monday's ride was definitely an outlier, and as much as I don't want to admit it, Sunday's pleasant interlude was too. Talk about highs and lows. We had both extremes in two consecutive days. Here's hoping our next ride is somewhere in the middle.
Ugh. How frustrating! And, honestly, welcome to my life. Haha... Boo. Pig is always so mentally And physically inconsistent, riding him is always a crapshoot. Luckily, I don't think Izzy is actually like that. He's probably just having a No-Good, Very Bad Week.
That's a bummer and I'm sure it feels way worse living it. That's the life of baby / green horses though. I forgot how frustrating times were with Houston until I rode Annie's first tantrum. Fingers crossed some time off gets him feeling better - physically and mentally.
9/15/2015 06:52:54 am
I'm so sorry he acted up - I hope it fades away quickly.
9/15/2015 07:50:18 am
At times like this, I repeat over and over and over "horse training is not a linear process". I know I tend to overlook how things impact the horse as well as ourselves. They maybe don't understand why the fence bit them or the ground jumped up out of nowhere and that shit is scary for a prey animal.
9/15/2015 01:19:55 pm
Did the storm turn out to include lightning? He may have been responding to something that us humans are not aware of, but was very alarming to him. The good news would be that he shouldn't do it again, although any kind of rearing is really scary.
Comments are closed.
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%: