From Endurance to Dressage
That's What Friends Are For
When people ask how Izzy is doing, I always give a little sigh and then launch into a long explanation of our daily struggle. I need to stop doing that. He's not that bad. Really. He's just not perfect, but we are making steady progress toward solid equine citizen. It's just a long journey to get there.
Having Speedy around as a confidence builder is really helping to resolve some of Izzy's tension. My new normal is to bring Speedy out first and let him graze while I go and gather up the big brown horse. Once I have Izzy in hand, I go and find Speedy who has usually wondered off to a patch of grass. I bring both boys up to the tack room. I pick out Speedy's feet first, check him over for any new bumps and scrapes, and then maybe I knock some of the dirt off.
Izzy then gets his feet picked out with the same search for dings and knocks. I saddle him, put boots on us both, and then bridle him up. After a bit of shuffling bodies around so that Izzy is in my right hand and Speedy in my left, we walk up to the arena together where Speedy gets tied in the corner.
I am sure you're sick of hearing it, but Speedy is an absolute saint. He'll stand in that corner all day without flicking an ear. No matter what happens with Izzy, Speedy waits there quietly, projecting nothing but calm and quiet vibes. As we work, I push Izzy down to the far scary end, but then we come back and do 20-meter circles in Speedy's end of the arena until Izzy feels more relaxed.
As Izzy builds more confidence, I plan to move Speedy down to the far end to see if that will help Izzy relax down there as well. It was Chemaine's idea to bring Speedy along for our rides. I would have never thought of it as it irks me to create a dependent horse. In this case though, I think Izzy really needed a friend to help him through this anxiety.
I use my friends all the time to help build confidence or work through a tough situation. It only seems fair to give Izzy the same resource. Best friend cocked an eyebrow at me the other day as she waited for me to ask her to stand in the scary corner. Izzy knows her as his human "goat" so it only makes sense that she could help him too.
I haven't asked her yet, but she's ready for it. After all, that's what friends are for!
11/21/2016 04:08:19 pm
I used to do this also but with two tied up and one working. It was mainly to get the tied two to stay tied quietly with out pulling back. This was for as long as it took to ride one horse about half an hour. Horses are herd animals and need other horses around, especially ones that they trust.
12/8/2016 12:45:06 pm
Very true. At my last barn, the horses' paddocks were just a few feet from the arena so it was never a problem before. It just took someone to point it out for me to realize that so much of Izzy's tension was coming from feeling isolated.
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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
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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