From Endurance to Dressage
For humans and well-behaved horses, it's horrible. It was a 104℉ on Thursday, and it was 105℉ (and climbing) as I wrote this post. It's hot.
It's great weather though for naughty horses. This kind of weather gets submissiveness really fast. Izzy is a good boy, but he also has some misguided ideas. Right now, he doesn't think he needs to bend to the right. Or get in the trailer without asking a few questions. Or get his face hosed off. Or have the clippers touch his ears.
As one of my favorite NH trainers says, 'if you find a spot they don't want touched, you better start touching it.' That's not exactly how the quote goes, but you get the idea. Let's just say that Izzy had a busy day yesterday.
We started out with the under saddle work. His trot work is getting nicer and nicer ... to the left. To the right, he has decided that he doesn't need to turn off of my outside leg or other aids. So I worked on moving his outside shoulder. As we tracked right, I started counter flexing him (a little like Chemaine showed me with Speedy), but instead of returning to the correct bend, I sent Izzy sideways (to the right) with the outside leg for one or two steps. Then, I turned it into a left tracking circle.
Of course, the neighbor fired up his sonically loud riding mower, which gave Izzy a serious jolt of energy, but it became a great opportunity to use his forward energy to send him sideways as we did lots and lot of "move off my left leg." One thing JL stressed about this exercise was that when we turned the leg yield into a left circle, the rhythm had to stay the same. It took me a few tries, but once I figured out that I needed to really stay solid in my new outside rein, I could feel the resistance to my left leg slowly melting.
I pulled Izzy's saddle while still in the arena, and scratched his face as he took a deep drink from the water trough. He rolled and came back to the gate ready for a nap. Instead of a siesta, I put him back in his stall so that he could pee, get another drink, and grab a bite to eat. In the meantime, I gathered my butt rope (aka a rope lunge line), and opened up the trailer door.
I am always advising people to practice trailer loading, but I hate doing it myself. It just takes so much effort to get the trailer pulled out and ready to use, and I even have my own trailer that is always hooked up. So what's my excuse? Since I hadn't put the trailer back after our trip to see Chemaine, I decided to take my own advice.
Izzy loaded up really nicely, but as I was putting on his fly mask, he gave me a "whatcha gonna do?" look as he hustled himself backward and off the trailer. I use blocker tie rings to secure my horses, so if they decide to go backwards, nothing will stop them. My trailer is a slant load, so there isn't a butt bar either. When he started backward, I had to just let him, but he was sorry once I got out.
I grabbed the dressage whip, which I keep in the trailer at all times, and told him him that it was fine if he wanted to back up. We have tons of space in which to practice. I thumped his chest with that whip and marched his sassy rear end back, back, back until the expression on his face changed.
We then got on and off the trailer a few more times, with the whip in hand, until he decided that standing there was much better than flying out backwards. At one point, I loaded him, secured him with the Blocker Tie Ring, and then stood outside with the door open. He didn't try to unload himself again.
And then I shut the door and drove him to the gas station. I checked on him as I was filling up, but other then having big eyes, he stood really quietly. I have trailered him a few different times, but it has been awhile, and most of those trips have been to the vet. He needed an easy ride that didn't end in poking and prodding.
When we got home, he unloaded quietly, although he's nervous about the step down. That means he needs more practice, so got on and off a few more times.
For a variety of reasons, I decided to just hose him off at the trailer rather than using our wash rack. When I got the hose near his face, he sat back HARD, and then shook his head, fully intent on getting loose. It wasn't a fearful sit back; it was an I'm done with this pull back. I ALWAYS secure my horses with the Blocker Tie Ring, but this time, I simply pushed a loop of the rope through the tie hook and did a soft half hitch. I am glad I did.
With this kind of half hitch, the rope doesn't over tighten. To free him, I just jerk the tail end of the rope down, and he's free. The rope doesn't even have to feed through the tie loop because I don't run the tail end through the loop, just a small bubble goes through the tie loop. If you look closely at the photos, you can see what I mean.
In this kind of pull back situation, I don't want my horse to get free. I want his butt to be very sorry about pulling back. When he did it the second time, I smacked him on the hip and sent him forward. And then I walked away.
I went in the barn and sat in the shade where he couldn't see me. I could see him though, and was just seconds away if there was a problem. I watched him paw the ground, look to the left, look to the right, and even look in the trailer.
Once he had given up and was standing there quietly (about 20 minutes later), I brought him back inside the barn. But rather than call it a day, I pulled out the clippers and shaved his bridle path. When he was fussy about his left ear, I rubbed the clippers all around his head until he quit trying to get away. I only like to clip that little tuft that sticks out from the bottom of the ear, so I wasn't asking for total compliance. Once he tolerated the clippers being rubbed on his ears, I called it quits.
By the time we had finished for the day, I know he was hot. I was soaked in sweat myself. My eyelids were even sweating. I love the heat for schooling green beans though. We'll do a repeat this morning since the trailer is still sitting where I left it. He'll get ridden, loaded and driven around the block, and then "clipped." Hopefully he reconsiders some of his misguided notions. If so he'll be napping pretty quickly rather than working in the heat.
Yeah for this GREAT weather!
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%: