From Endurance to Dressage
To find Your Joy ... Just Lay a Brick
I had the last two weeks off, and I was busy! Normally, I ride every day of my winter break. Not so this year. First, it rained more than normal. Second, I've been working on finding my joy which meant allowing myself to do things other than riding - I saw Avatar, flew north to visit family, and amongst other things, hung out with my husband. I'm feeling very full of joy these past few days and can't wait to share why!
First, of course, would be that I only rode on the days that I wanted to rather than feeling like I had to. The rainy weather helped with that. As soon as I let go of the feeling that I had to ride, my chest opened up, and I could finally take a deep breath. Along with being able to breathe, Izzy's attitude changed from What the hell, dude? to Whatever, dude. This horse is so, so temperamental that he feels my emotional attitude no matter how hard I try to hide it.
With half the arena under water, I was hesitant to ride my fresh and somewhat belligerent Big Brown Horse anywhere close to mud. Despite the puddles, our footing is quite firm, so I wasn't really worried about him slipping and falling. Instead, I was more worried about coming off and landing in the mud. After I gave Brooke a lesson though, Speedy left an easy-to-follow track in the sand. I put Izzy on the circle and stayed on the circle. In no time at all, he adopted a pony ride attitude and pretty much steered himself around the track.
I am not sure why that worked to smooth off his rough edges, but it gave me the opportunity to work on softening his neck and back. I did a ton of walk-trot transitions, and when I realized he was willing to follow the path that Speedy had laid out, I stepped it up a notch and did trot-canter transitions. While our footing is firm, it is still mud, and I think Izzy knew it. He hasn't put a foot out of place for the two weeks I have had to limit our work to that one circle.
"J," Speedy's other rider, shared a really well written post on Facebook that resonated deeply with me. The post included this line, "Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour...You don't have to build everything you want today - just lay a brick." The author went on to explain that if we lay a brick every day for a year, we will build an incredible foundation. And if we continue to lay down bricks day by day, that foundation becomes even more solid and begins to form walls.
As I rode over these past two weeks, I kept the idea of just lay a brick in my mind. While I've only ever laid bricks for a retaining wall, I do remember that it was pretty slow and boring work. It was only after hours of effort when we stood back to admire the wall we were building that we became excited about the project. I've been pretty frustrated with the seemingly slow progress Izzy and I have been making. When I think about my rides as laying bricks though, it makes those boring and tedious rides feel so much more valuable. Without a solid foundation, we'll never be successful. The only thing to do is trust the plan and continue to lay those bricks.
Besides riding only when I felt like it, I did some other things to find my joy. I'll share those over the rest of the week. To be continued ...
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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%: