From Endurance to Dressage
I wish I could do weekly lessons, but as I've lamented many, many times in the past, I live in a dressage desert. My trainer, Chemaine Hurtado (owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables) is two hours away, and I work full time. During the summer months, I managed to take a lesson about once every third week. That was awesome.
Once school started, I had to go back to work, and my trainer got busy with year-end championship shows. Her schedule has finally settled down enough that she was able to come to Bakersfield for two days of lessons this weekend.
Whenever Chemaine gets on Izzy, which isn't often enough, I am always hopeful that she'll instantly "fix" of all of his problems. That's never going to happen though as training takes time, not magic. As weird as it may seem, I was happy to see that he behaved just as badly for her as he does for me. That tells me that I am (probably) not causing any of the issues.
So yah for me being a competent rider. The downside is that the issue is Izzy. While Chemaine rode around, she asked me a few questions about his behavior. I explained that the constant looking for danger happened every single day. She was really surprised by his over-all nervousness as she has never seen him that nervous, even at a show.
He tried all of his shenanigans under her, which again, made me feel better. She agreed that the bit change was more than needed. He had definitely learned how to blow through that bit which is not acceptable
While the correction bit is a good choice for the next few weeks, she explained that he wouldn't be able to take a good contact with it. That's fine for now as he needs to lighten up, but once he gets that part re-figured out, I'm going to need to go back to a snaffle.
I had serious reservations about going back to the eggbutt lozenge, and Chemaine could see it on my face. I shouldn't have worried. When she agreed with me that we needed something to keep him from running through my aids, I knew what was coming: The Double. Cue ominous music here. Pretty scary, huh?
Before anyone gets all freaked out and starts criticizing, I agreed with her. Izzy is a challenging horse to ride, and more than one "expert" has pointed out his talent for upper level work. We're not going to intentionally skip any of the lower level stuff, but we may need to do things out of order with this horse.
A bradoon bit, strap, and curb have all been ordered. Chemaine has also given me directions on how she wants me to use them. Besides that change, which is big enough, Chemaine also had some suggestions for reprogramming Izzy's brain.
Chemaine thinks he has developed a habit of being fearful in this arena which probably started when I brought him to the ranch a few months ago. She wants me to bring Speedy up to the arena and tie him to the fence for a while so that Izzy doesn't feel so isolated from the other horses. We tried it during her ride on him, and he did seem to settle down a bit.
Next, she wants him doing more leg yields and haunches in to supple up his body. Along with that, she wants him to slow the heck down. She compared him to a child that stutters. When he gets going too fast, he can't control his legs and he scrambles faster and faster. This is not new information of course, but with the snaffle, I simply couldn't slow him down.
She rode for most of the lesson, but I hopped up on him for a few minutes after she had schooled him. In just that short time he felt so much lighter. She once again reassured me that this horse is worth the time and effort and that yes, I do have the ability to get the job done. It's just going to take a while.
It might seem like a daunting endeavor, but I love having a plan!
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%: