From Endurance to Dressage
Izzy and I have been peeling back the layers of the dressage onion for way more years than I'd like to admit, especially since we're not nearly as far along as I think we should be. With Speedy looking at retirement, I have finally been forced to start working the big brown horse in earnest. It's not like we've been doing nothing the past six years, but now I am motivated like never before.
We're going to a USDF show at the end of October whether we're "ready" or not. We've done a couple of schooling shows and a couple of CDS shows, and while those have tremendous value, they don't count in the eyes of the dressage world. It is at USDF shows where you really get to put your money where your mouth is. So when I scheduled a mid-week lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner at trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, we put Izzy to work with an eye to actually showing him off at a show rather than merely surviving a show.
While watching the video that Pivo recorded, I think I heard the words more and bend and forward at least 5,000 times. Sometimes they were used seperately, but usually they were strung together, more bend ... more, more, more, MORE BEND! MORE FORWARD! Poor Chemaine. She either thinks me deaf or dumb or possibly both. As a side note, if you are thinking about getting a Pivo, if you don't have a barn full of friends willing to record, if you ride alone, GET THIS GADGET, it really is that cool.
Like I always do, I told Chemaine what I wanted to work on - Izzy's just so flat. I need him to have more bounce. Oh, you mean he needs more swing. Well okay, that sounds good, too! When Chemaine asked me how I thought we would get more swing, I immediately said we need more forward because that seems to be the solution to everything. I was half-way right. What Izzy needs is more sideways with forward. According to her, moving him laterally with get him more supple in the hind end which will allow him to step more deeply which will create more swing. Okay, roger that.
Chemaine walked over to two of my corners and rearranged the poles to create a fan of three cavaletti poles. And then she put Izzy and me through five different exercises using the cavaletti poles to either start an exercise or to finish it.
By the end of the lesson, Izzy was snorting and swinging. Those two things seem to go together. At least they do when he's doing them. Of course, we also did some canter, and that was just a bunch of flex in, flex out, go down if he'll take it. We did it on the circle, around the entire dressage court, on smaller circles, and on the serpentine. That's something that I need to do every single ride. He wants to be so tight in his back and neck at the canter, but it's because he doesn't quite believe me that relaxing feels so much better. He's getting there though.
The Pivo gave me access to so much more information. It's tough for a trainer to teach well and capture great video. By being able to rewatch the entire lesson, I got a clearer sense of where Izzy started, and where he ended up. I was able to see the exact moment that he gave or the exact moment when he got something. An hour of video takes a long time to watch, but it's like getting a second lesson for free.
The video also showed me that we're not as far "behind" as I think we are. We definitely have more nice moments than bad. And in another month, I am excited to see where we'll be.
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%: