From Endurance to Dressage
At last Wednesday's lesson, JL pointed out that Sydney's right lead canter is now prettier and rounder than the left lead. So after spending just a few minutes on getting some inside bend to the right, we went back to improving the left lead canter. He's very heavy this direction which requires a lot of leg. It's exhausting to use that much leg, especially when it's as hot as it has been.
This is the first time that I've really asked Sydney to move more forward. For several years we've been teaching him to slow down. JL and I both thought it was rather funny that I was complaining that my bolter had no forward! That's when JL reminded me that I needed to thump Sydney's sides with a more obvious aid. When we play this game with Speedy, I whack hard enough to get a gallop. I don't need that much with Sydney, so a medium-sized thump-thump was what I gave. I was delighted with his immediate forward response; good boy!
Cantering to the left requires a lot of whoa in the front with go from the seat and leg. It was hot on Wednesday, and we'd already been working for nearly a half hour. All at once, Mr. Hyde put in a rare appearance. As we came around the corner, cantering, I felt Sydney get higher and higher in the front, and he quit listening to my outside rein. Within two strides, I knew a massive airborne leap into a rear was coming.
That leap is a trick I haven't seen in more than a year. It was a favorite of his when he was frustrated or confused when tracking left. Once I got good at using the outside rein and leg, that "dirty trick" fell by the wayside, until Wednesday.
Just as I felt him coil up for the take off, and it really is a launch, I grabbed that outside rein and jerked it as hard as I could to the right. Sydney came back to the ground and stopped hard on the spot. I looked over my shoulder, certain that something huge and scary was right behind us. JL also gave a look around to see what might have spooked him that badly.
When nothing became obvious, we got to work because we couldn't end on that note. JL had me school him on stopping with the outside rein. I asked for a few walk steps and then I halted him firmly. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Then we did it at the trot. And again, repeat, repeat, repeat. By about the tenth halt, I almost couldn't get him to go forward; he knew a halt was imminent and wanted to save us all the trouble of asking. And just to show him that he does need to work, we did the exercise at the canter. We cantered a few strides, and then I asked for a quick halt. By about the third one, he was lifting quite nicely into the canter from the walk. That's what it's like to be on your hind end, Dude!
And then, just for good measure, we worked on improving the quality of the halt. From the walk, and later the trot, I asked for a halt that didn't include a head fling or a fish-tailing rear end. It didn't take too long to get it.
By the time we were done with the lesson (less than 45 minutes), Sydney was a bit grouchy, and he didn't want anything to do with either of us. I don't want him to hate his work, so I made sure that the rest of his day was relaxing. I turned him out for a sweaty roll, followed that with a cool shower, and then hand grazed him until his ears were floppy and his pleasant expression returned.
Tomorrow is always 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%: