From Endurance to Dressage
... but I went past a little greedy into the land of too much.
When I saddled Sydney on Sunday to repeat Saturday's work, I had a good feeling. He marched right past the spooky place near the brick wall which put a smile on my face. Aha - maybe we are on the right path!
I started our trot work with a single focus: maintain the rhythm that I determine. I asked him to play the Speed up and Slow down game and was over-the-moon at how quickly and accurately he responded. Here are the rules, in case you missed it.
I added two variations: when I felt him anticipating where we were to slow down or speed up, I adjusted my start and finish by a quarter of the circle, or I simply held the same rhythm for the entire circle.
The other element that I added was to focus on how slowly I could build to the next "speed." In other words, for the slow down part of the circle, I tried to get a "slow down" per stride rather than a quick slow down. And when I wanted him to lengthen his stride, I tried to get it to build rather than happen instantly with a lurch.
I was stunned at how well he was listening. It was as though I had my foot on a gas peddle, I could shorten or lengthen his stride at will. And that's when I started to get a little greedy.
We haven't been cantering this past week or two so I decided that we ought to give it a try. Once we were in a trot rhythm that I liked, tracking left, I scooped my seat and asked for the canter. He was a bit sluggish to respond, so I added some leg. After a few strides, he was finally able to pick it up. I played around with cantering on the loopy rein, slowing his stride down until it was rocking horse easy.
I should have just stopped right there.
But, I didn't; I got too greedy. I decided to try it to the right, his more difficult way. Getting a smooth, right lead canter has been a problem from the beginning, but I thought this might be a way to get it since he was balanced and carrying himself more efficiently. Nope.
I spent the next however long trying to return to the relaxed rhythm I had established earlier. Rather than rolling into the canter, he had returned to his habit of grabbing the bit from the inside, flinging his head up, and falling in. I finally got the canter, but it wasn't particularly balanced, and we never got the same level of relaxation that we had earned earlier in the ride.
I went back to the ten-meter circle, and was vigilant about not pulling back, but I also refused to let him rush off so there was a lot of hard, one-stride halts. He finished the ride by moving off my inside leg and doing changes of direction at the walk. I don't think either one of us was particularly happy, but no one was angry either.
Ah well, tomorrow is another day.
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%: