From Endurance to Dressage
While the origin of the expression "to turn the corner" draws its meaning from rounding the last corner in a race, I sometimes see it as working through a maze. Some corners are dead ends, but others get you one step closer to where you want to go. I've hit some dead ends with Izzy for sure, but lately, we seem to be turning the right corners.
A few months ago, I wasn't able to say that. We were definitely hitting dead ends. For whatever reason, the bit I was using was really ticking him off. I lost some ground with him for sure, but since we switched to the correction bit, we are once again building some great momentum.
Bridling is no longer an issue, but I am still working on it. I am not happy with "no fight." I like my horses to almost bridle themselves, so I am teaching Izzy a few things to make bridling even simpler. I want him to lower his head without being asked - he already does this for unbridling, and I want him to reach for the bit rather than waiting to open his mouth until I ask. He's getting close.
In the arena, things are going well too. After our mammoth rain storm on Friday, my arena was filled with puddles. I used them as an opportunity to confirm my leadership and dominance. Rather than let him skirt around the edges, I urged him to step through the middle of each one. Like most horses, he tried diligently to lean around the edges or side-step at the last moment, but with just a bit of steady persistence on my part, he ultimately plodded through them confidently.
A welder pulled into the ranch just as I started my ride which sent little danger! danger! signals to his brain. He could see the welder talking to the ranch owners away in the distance, and he was certain that meant all learning was done for the day. I used that distraction as an opportunity to assert my dominance yet again. To my surprise, he let me talk him out of being worried and distracted.
Knowing that his meltdowns only reveal a lack of confidence makes it much easier to problem-solve. He wants to be dominant but doesn't have the confidence to back it up. Lately, if I show him a safe and calm option, he is happy to follow my plan.
As we worked on Saturday, I reiterated over and over and over again that we go slowly when he's tense, but if he relaxes, we can open his stride. He seems to understand the two rein half halt better and better and as a result is even beginning to soften on his own when I ask him to slow down.
Nothing miraculous has happened over the past month and a half, but I think that by switching out the bit, he is now able to hear me. Instead of running from the pressure, he is now able to soften and get the relief he was looking for before.
Whatever it is, I am liking the path we're heading on, even if there are a lot more corners in our future!
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%: