From Endurance to Dressage
Each time one of Speedy's ladies comes out for a lesson, I try to think of something new to teach them. While I feel like I am running out of material, it seems that once someone is riding, a new exercise occurs to me. When "J" came out over the weekend, Speedy wanted to be stuck behind J's leg, so we started off with walk-trot transitions.
Walk-trot transitions can get a horse more forward thinking, especially if they're done quickly. In Speedy's case, I had J count down to a walk ... 3, 2, 1 walk. As soon as Speedy took one walk stride, I had her put her leg on, hard if necessary, to have Speedy bounce back into the trot. I had her repeat the transition every five or six strides. Within a few minutes, Speedy was more in front of her leg and ready to work.
Once Speedy was awake and willing to work, I thought about how to take that idea of the walk/trot transition and make it useful. I decided that J could benefit from working on centerline halts. The pattern I wanted her to ride was this: enter at A, halt at X, proceed working trot, at C track right/left, show a tiny bit of trot lengthening down the long side, turn up the centerline, halt at X. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Partway through the first loop, I could see that the walk/trot transitions were less of a problem than was the steering. While J does a great job of keeping a 20-meter circle round, she was suddenly faced with 10-meter half circles followed by straightness. Trotting down centerline and tracking right or left feels so basic to anyone who has shown a dressage test, but once you see it attempted for the first time, you realize how much preparation those basic movements take.
When J halted at X, I had her stop so we could talk about what aids she would need to apply. Essentially, she needed to start planning for the 10-meter half circle long before she got there. Same thing with the halt at X. Once she had it in her mind what she needed to do, I had her start again. It took her a few loops before she started to feel the rhythm, but she improved each time she halted at X.
Each time I give a lesson, I learn something. Sometimes I walk away with a better appreciation for how difficult dressage really is. For every lesson, I am challenged to articulate the how and the why. If I can't explain it, it reveals a hole in my own foundation. Teaching a concept often makes it clearer for me, so it's not uncommon for me to use the lesson I've taught as inspiration for my next ride on Izzy. I don't think any rider can review the "basics" too often. We all need to keep our horses in front of our leg and able to steer.
We all know that the stronger the foundation is, the higher you can build.
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%