From Endurance to Dressage
If I had to write a sale ad for Izzy this week, I might start off with Awesome trail horse, goes where you point him. No, I am not kidding.
As before, I met up on Saturday with my friend Marci at her house along with her Arab gelding Gem. As we first walked out, Izzy wanted to be a giraffe, but that really only lasted a few minutes. Once we were actually out on the trail, he was relaxed and happy no matter which direction we went.
For this outing, we decided to ride the trails that lie north of the river. Since Gem is now working at more of an endurance pace, which means a lot more trotting, I told Marci that we were good trotting the wider, level trails. I didn't want Gem to get too frustrated at having to wait for his much slower friend.
Gem already has a really efficient, ground-covering trot. Izzy doesn't. He had to work really hard to stay balanced without running on his forehand. When Gem would start to put some distance between us, Izzy would try to quicken his pace but hollow his back. Instead of doing that, I half halted to remind him to sit on his hind end, and then I asked him to push forward. We did some fairly long trot sets so Izzy got some excellent practice at lengthening his stride and using his back more effectively.
Izzy was foot perfect on the trails. Hard packed or sandy, he picked up his feet and was careful where he put them. We took a trail that was quite overgrown with low hanging branches, not a problem for shorter Gem, but definitely a problem for my big brown horse. I slid off the side and led Izzy under the limbs. Even though he had to duck, he never batted an eye. And when I finally found a small berm tall enough to use as a mounting block, Izzy stood patiently while I hopped back up in the saddle.
There was only one area where Izzy tried to exit stage right. As we passed through Rancho Rio, a neighboring stable, he gave an emphatic heck no! at the hissing, grinding pump that resides in the middle of the road. Having ridden other horses past, I should have remembered that it's a bit of a bug -a-boo for most horses the first few times they pass by, especially since it starts and stops intermittently.
I don't mind if my horses want to stop and do a safety check. I get it, stuff is scary. Whirling and slamming on the breaks exceeds what I call a safety check though. It also says that my horse has no confidence in my decision-making skills. I started carrying a long thin rope as a "whacker" for moments just like these. I grabbed the line and popped Izzy behind my leg until he shot past the offensive pump.
Stopping and checking in with me is allowed. Taking matters into your hands is not. When we passed by it later, I was quite pleased that he didn't even look at it. It might have helped that it was being quiet, but whatever, I'll take the win.
Other than that one moment, Izzy was quite the confident trail pony. we crossed the weir again, this time with him in the lead. He was tense, but he did it without too much urging. The bicycle bridges have also been a bit scary, but he crossed those again as well without issue. The second time, he even led.
My friend Marci has been an amazing resource. Even though she and Gem are now working at a beginning endurance pace, she's been willing to slow it down so that Izzy and I can join her. At least occasionally.
If we never get to show, at least I know Izzy can always be a trail horse. And we all know that doing different things with our horses gives them broader experience and challenges their minds and bodies in new and often refreshing ways.
And besides that, I think he actually enjoys going out on the trail!
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%