From Endurance to Dressage
It's Thursday night as I write this. I just worked a thirteen hour day, I am tired, and I've been staring at multiple screens all day. I've wanted to write this post all week, but each day has been longer than the one before it. Even though I am feeling a bit punchy,I finally decided to write about the great lesson that "J" had on Speedy this past weekend. I know it was a great lesson because we both had some satisfying AHA moments. The only problem is that I can't remember what they were. Doh!
I know what my plan was for the day: fixing some of J's geometry. Her canter and trot circles at A have been anything but round, and the circles at E/B have been pretty fat. To help her "feel" a correct 20-meter circle, I set cones at the four points of a 20-meter circle and instructed J to hit them. It took her a few laps around the coned circle, but little by little she started to get the feeling of riding a many-sided circle. I like to think about riding a square, then a pentagon, then a hexagon, heptagon, octagon, nonagon ... you get the idea. Eventually, you can ride a circle with so many "turns" that it begins to look smooth and invisible.
That part of the lesson I remember clearly. It's the rest that is a bit fuzzy. I know we worked on roundness though. You can see in the photos above that Speedy is looking for the path of least resistance. Since J will "let" him poke his nose out, he's happy enough to drop his back and coast around on his forehand. As an introductory level horse, being steady in the contact without being "round" is perfectly acceptable. The thing is that J wants to move into training level, so she needs to know how to begin to ask for more roundness.
Until you feel a horse get light in your hand while still pushing from behind, you just don't know when you've got it. That's what I remember playing around with. When Speedy pushed against her hand, she halted and asked him to get round. Then she sent him forward without losing the roundness. There were lots of moments were Speedy's hind end fishtailed around as he rested pushing forward with his hind end while maintaining straightness. There were many moments when I was so tempted to say, here let me get on and show you. I realized that the only way to learn is to finally feel it for yourself, so I resisted the urge to do it for her.
By the time we were finished, I could see that buzz of excitement on her face; the one that says I got it! I got it! Experiencing a new feel, even if only for a moment, is the reason why I keep doing this. It can truly feel like a drug; once you get a taste, you keep jonesing for your next "fix." I have a lesson myself this weekend - at least I hope I do, and I sure could use a little bit of that "buzz" myself.
More than usual, I am so glad it's Friday.
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%