From Endurance to Dressage
Give yourself one point for each one you've ever done.
If you're anything like me, you scored all ten points. Wanting a horse isn't quite enough to make you a horse girl, but falling off one and then getting back on does. At least I think so, but that might just be because I've fallen off a lot. Speedy has dumped me on more than one occasion, but until last week, he hadn't tossed anyone else. To his credit, he looked horribly embarrassed when it happened.
While on our Poppy Ride this past Sunday, the group agreed to to do a canter to the top of the rise. The trail we were on was actually a wide, dirt road with plenty of visibility in all directions. "J" and I were in front with Wendy and Brenda bringing up the rear. Since J is very new to this kind of trail riding, I explained that we would first pick up a trot and then ask for an easy canter. We would stop at the top of the rise.
J did get a great job getting the trot and then canter transition. Speedy loves to go, so I told her to slow him down just a bit. We all know that a horse in the lead with nothing but miles in front of him will begin to get strong. About the time that I told her to slow it down a bit, Speedy spotted a plank of wood just off the road in the grass. He gave it the stink eye, so J looked over his shoulder to see what he had been looking at. That was all it took.
Speedy felt her lean over, so he dodged left and then right and J lost her balance. For just a moment it looked as though she were going to right herself so I did what every onlooker does. Sit back! I yelled. Rarely does that work, but I tried again, Sit Up! To her credit, J got him nearly stopped before gravity won. To my dismay, she dropped off the side, hitting the dirt with her butt.
The rest of us stopped in place; chasing down a loose horse only gets you the opposite of what you want. Instead, we waited as Speedy circled back and found Izzy and me. I grabbed his reins, and told him that we still loved him even though he should be quite embarrassed. J said that she was fine as she stood up and dusted herself off. Later, she told me that she was very embarrassed which is why I wrote this post. If you haven't come off a horse at least once, you're not a horse girl. Welcome to the club, J.
Once J was back in the saddle, we talked about why Speedy had been able to dump her. I explained that it was her lack of direction that fueled Speedy's uncertainty. Not that it was her fault in any way, but I wanted to help her avoid future tumbles. I explained that when cantering out in the open like that, it's important to keep your eyes forward, watch where you're going, and keep your leg on, ready to push him forward.
I let J catch her breath and relax while we chatted and walked. Seeing that the road continued to stretch before us, wide open and sandy, I suggested we try it again. I didn't want coming off to become "a thing." You know what I mean. Unless we face what scares us, we can't be rid of it. I didn't want J to have time to let it scare her. Before we started, I reminded her to get in a modified two-point position and to keep her eyes up and looking forward. The ladies behind agreed that a canter was a good idea, so off we went.
As we came to a crossing in the road, I had J come back to the walk. To my relief, she had a huge smile and gushed about keeping her eyes forward and her leg on. Speedy loves his job, and I know that at the moment that he lost his rider, he felt quite worried. In all the years that he has expressed his opinion - see all the photos above, he never intended to get rid of me. The times that he did toss me were (almost) always on the trail, and always because something frightened him.
On Tuesday, J came out for a short lesson. She was still a bit sore, but she wanted to get back on as soon as possible. That's what makes a horse girl; the attitude that nothing is going to stop you from riding your horse. One of my favorite quotes has been attributed to John Wayne - "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway."
If you earned at least five points, you're a horse girl.
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%