From Endurance to Dressage
Actual Dressage Work
Saturday's lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, was one of the most fun I've had in quite a while. If you're a regular reader, you'll know that I spent most of December and January finding my joy. I was in a pretty bad place mentally. I know much of it was related to the waning daylight hours, but another part was my frustration with yet another riding roadblock. Izzy will never be an easy horse to ride, but he is even worse in the dead of winter.
During December and January, I took a break from lessons, did some fun things with Izzy, and found joy in giving to others. My cup has been refilled, and I am once again feeling excited about riding. By the time Sean joined me on the Pivo Meet, Izzy and I were well into our warm up conversation. He was listening and seemed happy to be there with me. In fact, he was so relaxed that I couldn't get him to stop stretching down. That's always a good sign.
We didn't do anything special in the lesson; we didn't need to. Izzy behaved exactly like a dressage horse should. He didn't spook, bolt, shy, or refuse - well, maybe once or twice, but he got over it immediately and got back to a work. Since he was so on board, I was able to have fun riding the movements. That's pretty much all we did. We did our leg yields well enough that after two or three in each direction we moved on to shoulder-in.
In the shoulder-in, I've been working on pushing him for more. Since I have him firmly on my outside rein, I can ask for a bigger stride without losing control. After a few of those, I turned them into renvers. I know I am supposed to hate renvers, but I actually enjoy riding them because they reveal how much control you really have. Even more fun is riding the renvers back to shoulder-in.
Because Izzy was so willing, we moved on to travers with Sean letting me know if I had enough haunches. With that going well, we used the travers to tackle our trot half passes. When we worked on half pass a few months ago, the half pass right was a disaster as Izzy just blew through my aids. This time, he stayed round and allowed me to push for just a bit more energy. In fact, I was super excited about the half passes, but of course, me being me, I immediately insisted Sean critique them. When the lesson was over, and I was untacking, I realized that I had cheated myself out of a moment to celebrate some success.
The only part of the lesson that wasn't "successful" was our work on the flying changes. While it wasn't good work in the traditional sense, we did make progress. Every time I asked for a leg yield in the canter, Izzy started anticipating the change which is a good thing. He now knows what I want, but he's still having trouble trusting that he can pop over into the new lead. Sean gave me some exercises to work on.
With spring just in front of us and summer on deck, I am once again feeling hopeful about this year's show season - even if I only do schooling shows or CDS-rated events.
USDF doesn't really need my money anyway.
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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%: