From Endurance to Dressage
For the past month or so, the ranch owner and I have fallen into a weekend trail riding routine. She's rebuilding some confidence, and I am finding it good motivation to take Speedy out for some fun. For the past two weeks, he had been an absolute stinker, and it seemed like it was a behavior pattern that was getting worse, not better. I decided that a third week of sassy bucking, kicking out, and flat out running through the bridle was not going to be acceptable. I pulled out his old Mikmar bit and dusted off my endurance headstall.
Speedy loved this bit the very first time I rode in it. It looks like a torture device, I know, but it has many great features. The mouthpiece is double jointed so it lays across the tongue without poking his palate. The mouthpiece is also shaped to allow his lips to rest comfortably on the bit. The roller keeps a busy horse busy, and with the three rein attachment options, you can use leverage, direct pull, or nose pressure. Despite not having worn the bit in at least 10 years, Speedy packed it around quite happily.
Before heading out on the trail, I decided to make him work a little in the arena first to remind him of the aids for steering and brakes. I didn't pussy foot around either. When he ignored my leg, I borrowed the ranch owner's whip and and tapped him a few times until he was smartly stepping away from my leg in both the walk and trot. My aid for a downward transition is a deep exhale. When Speedy trotted on like he hadn't heard me, I gave a quick jerk and release of the rein and sat him on his butt. It only took 2 or 3 reminders before I got quiet and prompt downward transitions. As a schoolmaster, Speedy's job is to take care of both beginners and riders looking to refine their aids. He doesn't get to ignore his rider.
After our quick lesson in manners, we headed out to the old golf course and cherry orchard. Speedy was much better behaved. We ended up circling around several different times making a sort of figure eight. As we were nearing the end of the ride. Speedy got a little sassy. Before he could do more than dance a little jig, I told the ranch owner that I needed a moment. She and Alli were perfectly happy to stand and watch Speedy get worked. Despite my annoyance that I needed to remind him again, it was actually pretty fun.
We were out on the old golf course which is mowed regularly and kept pretty green. While there are occasional holes, they're pretty easy to spot, so I like to use the little hills and woop-de-doos for cantering. Since Speedy was feeling so sassy, I did a half dozen or so flying changes which was great fun. I think it was the first time I had ever asked for changes outside of an arena setting. With so much room, I could circle and straighten anywhere without running out of space. After the changes, we did some simple changes through walk, and then I asked for another set of flying changes. By the time we were done, Speedy was breathing a bit and his neck was damp with sweat.
He walked home mostly well behaved. We might need to that again real soon!
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%: