From Endurance to Dressage
Unless you really don't care about the Western United States, you've probably at least heard that there is a pretty severe drought occurring in California. Most of you are probably pretty sick of us Californians whining about our sunny climate, but we are in a serious mess.
A great deal of produce, dairy, nuts, and cotton come from my neck of the woods (among many other agricultural products), and those items are consumed by Americans across the continent (and world). Without water, California's farmers and ranchers can't farm or ranch which means they can't pay their bills. Our drought is so severe that at this point, only massive flooding would fix our water deficit.
On Friday morning, we finally, finally got some measurable precipitation. It hasn't really rained since November of 2013. You wouldn't believe how cheerful people were about it. Everywhere I went that day people were thanking the rain gods for the deluge.
The drought is nowhere near an end, but at least we know it can still rain. For a while there, we were wondering if it would ever rain in California again.
Even though I live to ride, I was so grateful for the rain that it didn't bother me at all that I missed an afternoon of riding. I simply took advantage of the day to work on other things.
After grazing and walking Speedy, I took Sydney out for some walking as well. The arena was just a too wet for a ride, and the clouds looked rather ominous, so I opted for some ground work instead. After a small rearing incident, for which Sydney got whacked, I brought him back to the cross ties for some grooming and "thinking" time, also known as a timeout.
Once I was confident that his attitude had been adjusted, it was only a momentary naughtiness, I started thinking about some exercises I could do in the driveway that wouldn't cause any mud to form. I realized that I had never done a trot out with Sydney and decided that Friday afternoon would be the day.
I think every horse needs to learn to do a trot out in hand. We did it over and over for endurance, of course, but any horse should be able to behave in hand for a trot out. It's a useful skill for presenting your horse to the vet for a lameness exam or for when the farrier wants to check out the horse's way of going.
Realizing that I had never really done a planned trot out with Sydney, I decided to school him. I started by walking quietly to my point of departure. We halted, I patted his neck and then walked off briskly. Once he was walking solidly alongside, I broke into a jog and clucked quietly. He broke into a hurried trot with his head sky high.
I kept my pace even and quiet and gently tugged on his halter to let him know no faster. Before we reached the end of the line, I took a deep breath and said, whoah. He halted quietly beside me, but he still had a giraffe neck. I turned him around slowly, paused a moment, and then began to walk forward again. When he was straight, I started to jog and he fell in step beside me.
We repeated this process a few times until he realized that all he needed to do was a simple trot with no reason to worry. He finally lowered his head and jogged along with me, keeping his stride even with mine. Each time we reached the end of the trot out, I halted him squarely and patted his neck.
I then took a few moment to ask him to flex his neck to the inside while having him step deeply with his inside hind leg. I worked both sides of his body until he was stepping quietly. Then we repeated the trot out, up and back. I was tickled with how quickly he learned what I wanted.
After the last trot out and neck pat, I walked him over to the grass where he grazed happily for a few minutes. It might not have been a schooling ride, but I felt like the time with him was well spent and quite useful. I am really digging this horse right now!
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%: