From Endurance to Dressage
"J" is still riding Speedy even though we've both been working long days. Right now, I've only been able to get to the barn every other day during the week and both days on the weekend. I am normally there seven days a week. The first month of school is always like that. Besides working twelve hour days, it's also super hot so really, if I have to work long hours, I'd rather it be while it's hot than in the spring when it's nice.
With J's workday, she's only able to come down on the weekends, but lessons two days in a row are too much for me right now, especially since I am taking a lesson too. I took my lesson on Saturday while J watched, and then I gave her a lesson on Speedy. I asked her how boring watching the lesson was because she could only hear some of my side of the conversation. Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at SCT Dressage, was watching through the Pivo Meet, so J couldn't even see him. She assured me that it was quite interesting, and since she could hear some of what I said, she was able to get the gist of what we were doing.
Most of the time I try to make a plan for J's lessons, but right now, my lesson planning energy is being spent at school. My barn time serves as a break from teaching and assessing, so once J was on and ready to work, I had to find a purpose for her ride. During her last lesson we focused on the accuracy of her 20-meter circles. For this lesson, I decided to have her ride a pattern that I like to do. Starting at A, ride a 20-meter circle. Do another at E, another at C, and another at B. When you come back to A, change rein, K-X-M and do the pattern on the other rein: 20-meter circle at C, E, A, and B. If you feel like you need to, change rein H-X-F and repeat the pattern.
The reason I like this exercise is that you can keep having the same conversation with the horse, but it doesn't feel boring because you're having the conversation all around the ring. A variation is to do 15-meter circles, or even better, 10-meter circles at every letter or every other letter. You can also do the 20-meter circles at R,S,V, and P. A third variation is to alternate 10-meter and 20-meter circles. J liked the exercise because it kept her thinking about where she was going while she focused on correct geometry, balance, and suppleness.
After doing it at the trot, we gave Speedy a short break, and then I had her do the four circles at the canter. The first circle at A went well, but in the next circle, things fell apart. When J tried to get enough bend for the second circle, she didn't use enough outside rein, so Speedy fell out through the shoulder and lost the canter. That was a big aha! moment for J. She also discovered that keeping Speedy on the rail meant that she needed to use her inside leg in a different way. If she wasn't careful, Speedy fell away from the rail if she continued to ride the bend of the circle.
There are so many exercises and movements to teach, but I don't always know the correct progression. Usually, I try to think of what should follow from the week before, but I also let Speedy be my guide. Sometimes, he'll tell me if his rider needs to learn something that I hadn't anticipated. On Saturday, he was feeling particularly frisky. After all of that cantering, he was feeling HOT, HOT, HOT which meant he couldn't hear J's aids. Rather than have her fight with him, I had her do a halt at every other letter. He blew through the first half dozen halt requests, but as I knew it would, the exercise flipped the switch in his brain, and he remembered that J was up there.
While I didn't feel that the lesson was particularly creative or entertaining, J had a big smile on her face when we were finished. She walked away with a new feeling which is all I ever ask for at the end of one of my own lessons. If I feel one or two new things, the lesson was a day well spent.
If nothing else, I got to watch my horse looking quite pretty, and that is always a day well spent.
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%