From Endurance to Dressage
It's feast or famine around here. For a while there, the universe conspired to keep me from getting a lesson at all. And then suddenly, I am getting so many lessons that I can't stay caught up on watching the videos and writing about them. It's a good problem to have. The Sunday before Superbowl weekend, I had a lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables.
The weekend before that, I had attended the CDS Annual Meeting. Being surrounded by so many accomplished riders gave me the push to have higher expectations, both for myself and the big brown horse. I realized that I need to be a more exacting rider, or one who has higher expectations for my horse. That horse, of course, being Izzy.
All of that was just the long way of saying that I asked Chemaine to help me step up my game. I need to push Izzy for harder stuff, and I need to quit making excuses. He can do anything I ask of him; I just need to start asking and expecting it to be there.
We did several exercises during that lesson, both of which got his brain focused on me. The first was an exercise based on the number 4. It went something like this: 4 strides of shoulder in, 4 strides of straightness, 4 strides of haunches in, 4 strides of straightness. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
The exercise can be changed any number of ways. It doesn't have to be shoulder in and haunches in; fill in the blanks with any movements you'd like. We also did it with 4 strides of compression/collection followed by 4 strides of relaxation. The end result was that Izzy relaxed into a much steadier tempo. Knowing that he was going to get a release dissipated a lot of his tension.
The second exercise was one we did to help Izzy stay focused instead of being spooky. He was really having a fit about working down both long sides, the left one in particular. Chemaine had me pick up the canter and come down centerline so that I could leg yield back to the rail. At the far end, I repeated the movement, coming down center line and leg yielding back to the rail. Then we switched it up by doing half pass to the rail followed by counter canter.
In the video, I went a bit rogue here and there by throwing in my own stuff. Sometimes Chemaine would be thinking leg yield, but I had already prepared for half pass. So occasionally it looks as though I am directionally challenged. Which is true, but it's hard to ride a strong horse, listen, and follow directions all at the same time. Walking and chewing gum sort of stuff ... am I right?!
My goal for the next few months is to push this horse for more. He can do it, I just need to ask and expect it to be there. Once I start getting a better quality of work, I need to string it all together into something that will earn at least a 60% percent.
If only they'd let me write my own tests.
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%