From Endurance to Dressage
At this stage of Speedy's and my training, we've been focusing on tracking left. That's where the largest problems have come from. Like many riders, I had to learn how to control that wayward outside shoulder. In Speedy's case, bending left is harder than bending right so that's the shoulder I had to control. He's a limp noodle to the right.
JL finally liked what she saw to the left and ordered me to track right. I think that counts as a promotion! Tracking right is when we have most of our spooking problems. If he spooks, it's almost almost to the inside on the right bend. He probably gets away from me because we've worked so much to the left that I have better control in that direction. My right side is much stronger than my left so it is easier for me to get a halt when my right hand is on the outside rein. Plant with the left hand, whoa with the right. Easy peasey lemon squeezy.
Tracking right means that I have to have a strong left side. I don't. So when Speedy dives inside, it's because I don't have a firm enough hold of the outside left rein. He gave us an excellent chance to work on it during Wednesday's lesson. Outside of the arena, JL has a cement stairway that winds up to her house. Someone had left a plastic bag filled with some empty plastic containers. It was a windy day (thankfully) so the bag kept snapping in the breeze and occasionally bouncing with the stronger gusts. Speedy eyeballed that thing like it was a fire breathing dragon.
Each time we came around, he tried to scoot inside, blowing through his inside shoulder. I am sure there is a more appropriate description of this maneuver, but that's the best I can do. After several attempts at making him stay out on the circle, JL had me increase the inside bend and add LOTS of inside leg as we approached the "spot." I also alternated sponging the reins in this sequence: right hand, right leg, left hand. The message was you will bend, you will move over, you will not speed up. It worked!
In fact, it worked so well that I had to add a fourth aid, the outside leg, to say now that you're bent and moving away, make the turn! My homework for dealing with the inside spook is to increase the bend, add leg, and remember to alternately sponge the reins so that he hears bend and slow down.
JL seemed quite pleased with how deeply we were able to ride that particular corner and asked to see it at the canter. To say it didn't go too well would be an understatement. Holy Toledo, Batman, was Speedy ever a S-T-I-N-K-E-R! As soon I put my leg on for the canter, he started bucking and kicking to the outside. And I don't mean little eh bucks. I mean HOLY SH*T bucks. I finally had to ask for the canter with his head cranked to the inside so that he couldn't do a bronc-style, airs above the ground buck.
No, this isn't us, but this is totally what it felt like!
After watching me lose my stirrup one too many time, JL finally caught my mistake and Speedy's trick. Since we were tracking right, his super bendy side, he was essentially saying, you want me to bend? Oh, I'll bend. I'll bend right into a little pretzel with a kick!
It took a few "meet Jesus" moments, but eventually I took away the inside bend, took away most of the inside leg, and put my outside leg way back to keep him from kicking, and then I worked the hell out of that outside rein. My weaker side. Like I said, we had some words with the Almighty, but after just a few SERIOUS shut downs with the outside rein, Speedy decided to play ball. What was happening was that Speedy found an open door - the outside rein and leg. Once I kept that firmly closed, he had no where to go but forward.
We never got a really nice canter transition to the right, but it was a huge, huge improvement over what we started with. I have a show on Sunday so I hope I can get that right lead canter without all of the theatrics. Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) is the following weekend, and I would hate to look the guy up above!
Here's to a buck free weekend!
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%