From Endurance to Dressage
Trail Ride #3
You are either finding this detailed struggle interesting, or you're bored as hell. I apologize for the dog with a bone choice of topics, but I am determined to win this battle. I think I deserve a fist bump for Sunday's ride.
I started with a quick ride in the arena just to work on softening our canter transition, apparently I have a tendency to pull back there as well, and then we head out to do The Loop. No Drama. We did it in 10 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly, 10 minutes! The first day it took an hour, and the second time it took 20 minutes. I'd say we've made progress.
Near the beginning, he needed one little reminder circle to help him focus. The rest of the time, I used my legs and pulsed my ring fingers to tell him to get his head back down where it belonged. When he ignored my fingers, I picked up the reins and insisted that he flex his poll to the right and left. As soon as the stiffness was gone from his neck, I gave him all the rein back.
When we passed through the far end of the loop where there are barking dogs on both sides, I noticed that the house on the left had every dog in the yard - 3 HUGE Mastiffs and three little yappy things. The house to the right had two big dogs. Sydney marched right down the middle of a single lane road with all EIGHT dogs barking furiously at him through wrought iron fences. He had Eeyore ears the whole way. Woo hoo!!!!!
There was no way I was quitting after only 10 minutes so we continued on to the dirt loop. The barn owners were parked in the middle of the road with a wooden pole lying over a wheelbarrow with an electric saw and a big orange extension cord. I stopped to chat while they dragged everything to the side so that we could pass. No drama. We then passed by the neighbor's two large labs who did bark at us today; still no drama.
The grass field was next. As Sydney stepped onto the grass, he thought about getting a bit high, but I put him into a 10-meter circle with a lot of inside leg and told him he could trot all he wanted. He made it through several circles before he decided that walking seemed like a better idea.
Instead of making circles to the end of the field, we did loops instead - at the walk. At one point, he begged to stretch his neck so I gave him the rein all the way to the buckle. He ambled along with his nose touching the ground for a bit before he realized that he was walking on grass and that he really likes to eat grass. FINALLY!
He grazed a bit and then we head on back towards home. We passed though our fence with a dry coat. My BO was working in the garage so we stopped and chat with her for a few minutes until Sydney realized that rooting the reins out of my hands wasn't going to happen. I untacked him and gave him lots of love and cookies.
I have no idea how Sunday's show is going to go. I don't know if I am just desensitizing him to our trail, or if he is getting the concept that ignoring my aids is a lot of work. I think I need to ride the loops backwards this week and see what I get. He's also getting the Focus Equine, but I don't think that is having any affect yet.
As before, my confidence is growing which can't do anything but help.
8/20/2013 01:09:51 am
i am fascinated by these posts, cuz they are extremely encouraging to me and also helpful.
Yay! When you wrote "There was no way I was quitting after only 10 minutes so we continued on to the dirt loop." I thought "Oh, no, let him quit! You're asking for trouble!" but alas no trouble was to be had - wonderful!! =) The real question is, have you been working on how to get your subconscious self more relaxed at shows? Gonna try anything new and different at this show?
8/22/2013 11:43:34 am
Awesome question, Sarah. Thanks for asking it because I hadn't really thought of that. I've been thinking about it now, and hope that I
8/20/2013 03:18:40 am
hey, i thought you might be interested in this old thread on deb bennet's site about anxiety in open spaces. one the one hand, according to dr deb, i'm unqualified and it's unethical for me to take my horse on the trail. on the other hand, hey, there's your circle thing.
8/22/2013 11:42:05 am
While I think she is quite knowledgeable, she's also full of shit. Holy hell! No matter how perfect a horse is in the arena, getting out on the trail is going to cause some tension, usually! I did like how she asked the rider to really analyze the situation; that's very helpful.
8/20/2013 03:21:33 am
10 minutes? !
8/23/2013 12:00:52 pm
It felt like it to me. :0)
8/20/2013 05:55:34 am
Karen, don't underestimate the Focus LOL! That stuff is the bomb. Two days and it turned my freak-out, frantic, pacing mess of a horse to quiet and calm. I didn't believe until it happened, but I really think there is something major to it. Good luck :) ~ A
8/22/2013 11:32:54 am
I would like to hear more. So far, I haven't seen anything big, but he's a pretty relaxed boy for the most part. I am "hoping" that it just helps him be more relaxed at Sunday's show. If you have some stories to share, I'd love to hear them.
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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
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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