From Endurance to Dressage
A year or so ago, we tried putting Izzy in a double bridle to see if that would make things more clear (and more comfortable) for him. It was an amazing success for about three days. Of course the wheels fell off the bus very quickly, but the whole experiment gave me some good information in general.
Now that Speedy and I are tackling Third Level, we're finding things to be hard again. I can't get him sitting enough, or soft enough, or pushing powerfully enough. During one particularly tough ride, it occurred to me to stick him in one of Izzy's ported bits. I didn't, but at that moment I realized why riders use a double bridle at Third.
When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, came for my most recent lesson, we talked about how Speedy was bridled. She agreed that a double was likely in our future, but not yet. We both agreed on that. I suggested adding a flash, and she agreed.
One of the ways he's been "getting away from me," is by gaping his mouth hugely to avoid the contact, especially when asking for the flying change. He's always opened his mouth a little bit when he's being fussy, but it was never enough for me to clamp his mouth shut with a flash.
Chemaine put it this way: I've always been very nice to Speedy by riding him in a loose cavesson with no flash. Coming from an endurance background where comfort is king, I've never chosen my dressage tack based on what is "normal." Even though a flash is pretty standard for most dressage horses, I didn't use one. I reasoned that if Speedy didn't need one, why use it? I always figured that if you use all of your tools from the start, you run out of options pretty quickly. Well, now Speedy needs a flash.
From the first ride in the flash, I had much better control, and Speedy wasn't able to avoid the contact. I could see him really thinking about things rather than trying to just bolt through it all. For now, I have the cavesson and flash set as loosely as they can be while still doing something, but I am certain both will need to be tightened.
I'd rather wait as long as possible before moving to a double bridle, and If I am the only rider doing Third Level without one, it won't bother me in the least. I am sure Speedy won't mind either.
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%: