From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy must have a little radar detector that sounds an alarm when I start writing a for sale ad. Sometimes the ads are about dumping him for cheap, and other times they're to remind me of how much he's learned.
Right now, I am reminded of the days when we couldn't use the whole arena. Every green bean owner knows about this stage. And truth be told, we're still having very strong arguments about one particular corner, but we have reached the point where he will work through the corner, even if it's not easy or pretty.
The other issue I'm working on is reducing the number of minutes with him screaming HELL NO! before he shrugs his shoulders and gets to work. On Wednesday night, it took less than ten, but it took the use of the whip to make it happen.
He warmed up nicely. I started with the 1-2-3-4 change the bend warm up exercise that Chemaine recommends, but we did it at the walk. He was feeling very bendy so I sent him into an easy trot. He made a circle or two and then started to get fussy. The HELL NO showed up loud and proud.
He grabbed the bit and charged several times. I am a pretty physical person and have no qualms about jerking his mouth pretty damn hard when needed. It was needed, but it didn't work. He was simply testing me to see if he could leave the conversation. He wasn't nervous or unsure - he was just being an ass.
I jumped off and grabbed the whip. As soon as I was back in the saddle, I took that whip to him and reminded him what the outside rein means. I goosed him forward and then tapped his shoulder briskly until he was spinning away from my outside leg and rein. And then I did it a few more times for good measure. Every second that he sassed me, I tapped his shoulder again. Within less than a minute, he had quit blowing through my aids and was looking for a correct answer.
Well now, good boy, Izzy!
Chemaine calls it the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde technique. As soon as he is naughty, I am a snarling Hyde ready to kick his butt. The instant he complies, I am the ever pleasant Dr. Jekyll offering a cup of tea with a biscuit. Turn it on, turn it off - I am a machine without emotion.
It is working like a charm. The only problem with the strategy is that you have to be ready to ride though some nasty shenanigans. On this horse, I feel pretty safe when I cowboy up and kick the crap out of him. He can get pretty bronc-y, but I feel confident spurring him forward and riding it out of him. And if I growl loud enough, dig my spur into him, and whack that shoulder a few times, he knows the jig is up.
Once I had his attention, we had a lovely ride (for a green bean). He did a series of pretty impressive leg yields that were nicer than what Speedy can do (sorry, Speedy, G, but it's true). We also did some fun work on a 15-meter circle alternating between shoulder in and haunches in. The dude's got some talent.
We finished up with a right lead canter, something that I haven't been able to get with any consistency. And to make the ride even better, it was the best right lead canter he's offered to date. It was super balanced and light. Oh my gosh was it light! And even though he fell out of the canter a time or two, I was able to squeeze him right back into it.
So for this week, Izzy's off the market. But at the rate that he's improving, I might have to start tacking on some zeros after that first number!
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%