From Endurance to Dressage
When Hell Pops in for a Visit
If you live in California, you know that last week we had an early preview of what summer is going to feel like. Holy hell, and I mean that literally, we hit 97 degrees on Thursday and at least 93 on Friday. In July, that will feel almost balmy. In early April, it was horrendous.
I don't mind riding in moderate heat if I can keep it short. Once it hits 100, I'm out. I feel too bad for either of my boys when it's that hot. Below that, I figure they can earn their keep by giving me 20 minutes, half of which is done at the walk. We have really low humidity here in Central California, and I am allowed to hose them off for as long as I feel necessary. On top of the that, my arena is mostly shaded in the late afternoon.
Since I am a teacher, I don't (usually) working during the summer months. I do go back to work in mid-August though which means there are about 6 weeks in the late summer that I do have to ride in the afternoon heat. My riding gets a bit inconsistent during those few weeks because I am usually so busy during the first month of school to find time to ride anyway. So, it works out.
This little heat episode - we can't call it a heatwave because it didn't even come close to checking off the required boxes for that moniker, was brutal. All of our horses still have some vestiges of their winter coats, so none of them looked thrilled about actually doing anything more exciting than swishing their tails at flies. Speedy got a cool shower and them promptly rolled to express his appreciation.
While I would have liked to skip the ride myself - a little acclimating is necessary before I can really work hard when the temps are in the 90s, I just couldn't let Izzy stand around doing nothing. For the hottest day of Hell's visit, all we did was walk in the shade. It was a productive ride though because we schooled a variety of things that are often considered boring. For the 16 minutes I rode, we did square halts, rein backs, and turns on the forehand and haunches. Even that wore us both out.
The next day, it was a few degrees cooler, but because Friday was the last day before our Spring break was to begin, school let out two hours early. That sounds great, and it was, but the sun was still too high to create the late afternoon shade I get when I ride later in the day. I kept a close eye on my watch and made the 13 minutes we worked really count. All I asked for were a few walk/trot/walk transitions and even fewer trot/canter/trot transitions.
The first time I asked for a trot, Izzy flicked his ears at me and said nope. Since I knew we wouldn't be out there long, I kicked him a few times and promised that if he could give me ten minutes of work, he'd get a cool shower and lots of grazing time out in the yard. He made me pinky swear before he agreed to get his big brown self into a canter, but he did it without too much fuss.
I rarely remember to do this, but for this ride, I used my Map My Run app to track our speed and distance. Our ride lasted 14 minutes and 36 seconds. Our average pace was a 20 minute mile, and we covered 7 tenths of a mile. At our quickest, we got up to a 10 minute mile pace for approximately a minute, probably less.
I love using this app because of the speed and mileage data, but what I most love is the map. It is quite obvious that I use my entire arena. The GPS coverage is pretty good although it does make it look as though we crashed through the fence a few times.
Thankfully the weather will be much cooler during my week off. Our highs will be in the 60s with lows dropping down into the low 40s and maybe even the high 30s, especially at the ranch. Izzy is much easier to ride when it's hot, but none of us are ready for the heat we had last week.
Here's to a week of morning rides and afternoon reading by the pool.
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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%: