From Endurance to Dressage
It's been a long time since I've had two lesson in two weeks. I knew Izzy and I both needed it, so on Saturday I again made the drive to Symphony Dressage Stables to work with Chemaine Hurtado. While Izzy now reliably loads and travels well, I liked that he was obviously more relaxed than the week before. Of course, not having 50 mile an hour winds probably as well.
For this lesson, I wanted to cement the ideas that we had worked on the week before: keeping Izzy straight and pushing through with his hind legs even when he's tense. After our last lesson, I had inadvertently begun to over do the "straightness" idea so that Izzy was falling to the inside. As always, Chemaine had a creative fix.
To help both Izzy and me feel the correct bend, Chemaine had me change from over bent to the outside to over bent to the inside. To do that, I rode Izzy counter bent to "straight" to too much bend to the inside. While I should ride with my eyes up and looking forward, she had me actually look at his shoulders. Could I see his shoulders moving in and out as I flexed him left and right? Little by little I could feel Izzy's shoulders shifting in and out.
Since part of the our problem is Izzy's short neck, Chemaine had me ride an exercise that we've done before: 10-meter circles inside each point of the 20-meter circle. With Izzy, the point was to really bend and collect him in the 10-meter circles, so he would want to stretch on the outside of the 20-meter circle. It took a few times around, but eventually, I was able to skip some of the 10-meter circles because he was willing to relax and keep his neck out as we trotted around.
In fact, between riding him counter bent to over bent and doing the 10-meter circles, our little straightness issue was "fixed" but we had plenty of time left on the clock. I looked at Chemaine and asked, now what? True to form, Chemaine pulled out a brand new exercise that she admittedly doesn't teach very often because it's pretty complicated.
The exercise is done on the quarter line. Start with shoulder-in. The trick is to maintain the position of the haunches on the quarter line while gradually moving the shoulders right and left. Your weight aid, your seat bone, is really what influences the movement. It looks fairly easy in the diagram that I created, but riding it is a lot like riding counter canter - your brain has to mange left and right simultaneously.
Chemaine brought this exercise out as a way to help me get Izzy more supple in an effort to lengthen his neck. I'll admit that I haven't played around with it much yet. When I rode on Tuesday, I only had a few minutes of daylight so we rode the 10-meter circles inside the 20-meter circle. I did try it last night, but since it "seemed" so easy, I might not have been doing it correctly. I think I'll need Chemaine to show it to me one more time.
Someday I am going to start writing down all of the exercises Chemaine has shown me and catalogue them. I don't think even she knows how many she has stored away. Put together, they would make a great book.
Just one more thing to do on my list ...
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%