From Endurance to Dressage
I had a lesson last Thursday with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage. Taking lessons from a trainer who lives nearly three hours away has been a challenge, but it has been worth it. It might not look like we're making progress, but we are. In fact, on Thursday, the horse I had for the lesson was the same horse I ride at home. That is huge progress.
I wasn't the only one surprised by the horse who showed up; Izzy took Sean by surprise as well. In fact, Sean kept saying, "Nothing about this upsets me." Sure, Izzy had moments where he was hollow, braced, and reluctant to let his under-neck muscle go, but he wasn't running around like a crazy person either. Overall, he just motored around trying his best not to work too hard.
Since he was so rideable, Sean was able to work with us on more than just rounder, rounder, rounder. He had me steepen the leg yields, adjust my position in the half passes, and work on collecting Izzy in the canter for just a stride as we work to improve the simple changes. We also worked on the shoulder-in to renvers. That is definitely a work very much in progress.
Each time that I ride with Sean, he gives me little bits of homework like focussing on tempo and roundness. Over the past week, my homework was adjustability. Can I ask Izzy to sit for a just a stride or two? Can I ask for just a little more for a stride or two? Sean repeats over and over, "Ask him questions. Change the questions." And probably most importantly, he reminds me to trust Izzy and actually allow him to do the things I am asking for.
Izzy and I are on our way back down to STC Dressage this morning for another lesson and a show. Tomorrow we'll drive to El Sueño for a warm up ride, and on Saturday and Sunday we'll show tests 1 and 2 from Second Level. My goal is no 4.0s, but "J," one of Speedy's ladies, encouraged me to think about getting 7.0s instead.
Both strategies will raise my scores, so why not?
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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%: