From Endurance to Dressage
When I had my last lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, she showed me an exercise that I haven't yet shared. It came as we ended the lesson, kind of in response to a question I had about getting Speedy to MOVE his hind end over, particularly in the half pass. Be prepared for your brain to melt just a little bit.
Speedy is built to go forward in a pretty level frame. Moving sideways is hard for him. Sitting is equally difficult. Third Level is all about lateral movements with collection though, so we're always looking for ways to show him how to move his body over and stay balanced.
The exercise Chemaine showed us doesn't really have a name. On Facebook, someone called it a "counter canter leg yield." If that helps you visualize it, then the name suits. Essentially, it's a canter half pass with the wrong bend. How do you even ... and why would you? I know, smoke came out of my ears, too.
Here's how it goes: pick up a canter. For us, the more difficult half pass and flying change is the right to left canter, so we started with a right lead canter. As you come through the corner, cross the diagonal. Change the bend, BUT HOLD THE LEAD. Push the haunches to the right with the intention of getting them parallel to the shoulders. Once you arrive at the rail or corner, do the flying change.
The difficulty with this exercise, of the many actually, was keeping my inside leg forward to say hold the lead while at the same time pushing my outside hip into him to tell tell him to move his hips OVER.
We only did the exercise with Chemaine once or twice in each direction, enough so that I understood what I would be asking for. When I rode Speedy a day or two later, I tried it again near the beginning of the ride while he was still fresh. A battle of near epic proportions ensued.
Instead of moving his haunches and body, he barreled through my right rein with his shoulder, and gave me a huge middle finger. I jerked him to halt and then picked up the right lead canter again. And again he blew through my rein and again I halted him. We ran through the exercise until he finally started to respect my right rein, and suddenly, he could move laterally. He gave a very good flying change, and that was it.
The next time I rode him, there was no fight in the exercise, and he did it correctly in both directions. The flying changes were smooth and easy. This exercise is now my go-to for fixing a dragging hind end. Here's a quick video of riding it with Chemaine explaining.
If you've used this, share what it fixed, and if you try it, share how it helped. I am still trying to get the hang of it.
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)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: