From Endurance to Dressage
Quite a few years ago I came across the expression, Trust Bank. At the time, I had never had a relationship with a horse where trust was an issue. I don't know if I had always been lucky or whether horses whose modus operandi, skepticism first, had just not yet crossed my path. Sydney was the first horse I'd ever owned who did not trust being ridden.
I feel quite justified in saying it wasn't me. Every trainer I worked with felt the same way about that horse. He had a bit of a loose screw. As long as you didn't ask him to travel in a frame, he was willing to go along to get along. Any kind of contact though, and all bets were off. That's when I first learned about the trust bank. I worked hard to make deposits in that bank, but Sydney made such huge withdrawals on a daily basis that our account was always empty.
I have rarely sent a horse packing. In fact, Sydney is the only one that I ever just got rid of. All of the others either died or I found them a new home with an owner they chose. No, really. I waited until the horse told me they had found their new person. With Sydney, I knew he was too difficult to re-home, so I sent him back to where I had bought him three years earlier. Our trust bank had gone bankrupt.
A month or two later, I found Izzy. I thought that I could just start with him like I had every other horse I'd owned, but I didn't realize how hard (trust) bankruptcy was to overcome. For several years trust was a big issue. I tried hard to develop trust, but Izzy wasn't making any deposits into our account. I wanted to sell him many, many times. It wasn't until I met my current trainer, Sean Cunningham, that things started to improve.
With our trust bank now firmly in the black, I work hard to prove to Izzy that he can trust me, and the more he trusts me, the more trustworthy he becomes. All of this is relevant to our recent vacation. Being gone for two and a half weeks withdrew a lot out of trust account. When I got back, I was very careful to make several deposits before asking Izzy to do anything that might worry him. The first day back, all I did was stuff him full of treats and take him for a walk out on the lawn where he grazed for nearly an hour.
The next day, I led him down to the round pen where we worked on listening quietly. All I asked for were walk transitions with a little trot. Unfortunately, we also had a group of tree trimmers with industrial equipment working on many of the ranch's forest of trees, so asking Izzy to do anything with all of that as a distraction was tough. Since we have built such a good relationship though, he was a very willing partner.
The next day, with the tree trimmers still there, we went back to the round pen, but this time Izzy was tacked up. We did the same work from the day before, and after I felt that he was completely relaxed, I slipped on his bridle and walked him in the round pen doing changes of rein through 10-meter half circles. He was very relaxed and calm.
Over the last few days, we've moved back to the arena. The first day we did some simple walk-trot transitions, and each day after, I added a bit more. We did a pretty normal ride on Monday which included shoulder-in, trot half pass, and even a bit of flying changes. Not every horse has trust issues. Speedy is the kind of horse that can go right back to work after months off. Izzy is not that kind of horse. His trust bank has to be pretty full for him to feel confident enough to work when he hasn't been ridden for a while.
To whomever coined the trust bank expression, thank you.
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%: