From Endurance to Dressage
A Better Teacher Than I Expected
I teach kids in elementary school, but I also enjoy teaching in general. It's just who I am as a person. If I can help someone understand something, my day is made. The one exception has been at the barn. Being at the barn is my sanctuary. It's my way of getting away from the job. Even though I love to teach, I do need a break.
I've done a lot of different boarding situations, but most of them have involved boarding at a private home where there are few, if any, other boarders. I prefer it that way. I've only had to board at a "facility" a few times, and even then I searched out the smallest mom and pop places I could find. Being with other boarders invariably led to can you help me? type situations. Someone always needed me to look at a wound, give injections, haul their horse to the vet, or offer tack fitting solutions. I rarely said no, but it made it hard to decompress after a difficult work day.
So imagine my surprise at discovering that giving a riding lesson is actually a rewarding experience. I think I might be learning more than my student! Again, she's not compensating me in any way, so my adult amateur status is not at risk. T came out for another lesson over the weekend, and while I am pretty sure she enjoyed herself, I know I did.
I don't know that I would feel as invested if she were riding her own horse, but since she's riding Speedy, she has my full attention. The first time T rode, we worked on getting Speedy soft and round and controlling the tempo of the trot and canter. T has enough of a foundation that she knows her posting diagonals and the general cues. For T's second lesson, we schooled the transitions, particularly walk to trot to walk. We also did some trot to canter to trot.
T is an excellent student and clearly wants to know everything there is to know. During the week, she had a chance to ride at the western barn where she does chores in exchange for rides and even attempted to get some softness from a less-than-cooperative trail horse. I showed her how to do carrot stretches from the saddle, explaining that vertical flexion is hard to get if there is no lateral flexion. I am pretty sure she'll asking that trail horse for a lot of nose to knee stretches.
As for me, I started out by parroting my own trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. I've ridden with her for so many years that I hear her running commentary as I ride. I just started repeating it to T. As the lesson progressed though, I realized that I wasn't just repeating what I'd heard. I could actually see that my teaching was having an effect, and my teaching was coming from what I actually know. When T was able to implement what I asked for, I could see it translated through Speedy's movement. It was a very revelatory moment.
All these years when Chemaine has shouted out, There! Did you feel it? Sometimes I can say that I do, but more often then not, it takes me a day or two, a month, or even a year to finally feel what she sees. I found myself doing the same thing with T. Yes! Did you feel that? Most of the time T said yes, but I told her to be honest because I know from my own experience that feeling it can be truly difficult as you're trying to coordinate your aids and put it all together. Sometimes the feel is just so subtle that it can be easy to miss amongst all of the other stuff your body is trying to do.
Even though I've ridden with Chemaine for so many years, there has always been the worry that her Good riding; yes!; now that's what I'm talking about! enthusiasms were just to keep me from feeling dejected. After giving two lessons and using that same feedback (and some of my own), I now know that those validations are genuine. Even with my own fifth grade students I look for even the tiniest reason to give positive feedback, and it's never fake. Being the "trainer" has given me a peek behind that curtain.
For my own dressage education, I sure hope T keeps coming back.
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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%: