From Endurance to Dressage
To the Right or To the Left?
A few weeks ago, I was ready to throw in the towel. Again. Izzy is not easy, but no one ever said it would be. Or should be. And frankly, I probably wouldn't want to ride him if he were easy. Even so, there are days and weeks when I am just done with the struggle.
During last Saturday's lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, I told him that I always take the harder path. Always. Trail riding wasn't enough. I wanted to do endurance rides. Twenty-five milers, no easy task, weren't enough for me. I had to do hundred milers and multi-day rides. Intro and Training Level were fun, but that wasn't enough either. I wanted a Bronze Medal. I got it, but now I want a Silver one.
While Sean readily agrees that Izzy is not an easy ride, he's not so quick to lay the blame at my feet. In fact, when I tell him that I am the sucky rider making this whole thing more of an ordeal than it otherwise might be, he puts his black booted foot down, hard. Nope, don't even go there. He doesn't put it in those exact words, but you get the drift. I don't think Sean thinks in terms of "bad riders" or "good riders." Like any good teacher, he probably thinks in terms of developing riders. Having a growth mindset - versus a fixed mindset, means you always see potential rather than limits. I guess I'd rather be someone who "has potential" rather than being a bad rider.
As we continue to do our dance, Izzy being resistant and hard to convince one week and pliable and rideable the next, I find myself at a crossroads almost weekly. Over the past month, we've talked about selling Izzy, and Sean has made it clear that he will support my decision whichever path I choose. Right now, I am looking down Frost's two roads that diverged in a yellow wood. Do I take the left path or the right path? During this Saturday's lesson, I rode a very ridable and talented horse. Sean was quiet much of the time; he didn't have a whole lot to say. Months of teaching are continuing to pay off.
When I thought we were done with the lesson, Sean asked for just a bit more. "See if you can get a bigger, more reaching canter." And Izzy gave me more. Sean asked for a longer reaching trot. And Izzy gave me more. It was the most rewarding work he's given me in quite a while. Will this weekend's lesson be as rewarding? I don't know. All I can do is stare at those two roads diverging in that yellow wood. Without fail, I'll no doubt select the one less traveled by.
But in the end, I'll know it has made all the difference.
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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%: