From Endurance to Dressage
I ride nearly seven days a week. Both boys get ridden on the weekend days, and then I alternate who gets ridden after work. Speedy only needs three or four days of under saddle work each week, so most afternoons, Izzy is the one called to the batter's box.
Wednesday was Speedy's day though. I don't know why it is, but I seem to have my best rides on him when I don't have all the time in the world. And as our daylight hours continue to wane, our weekday rides will naturally get shorter and shorter.
During the weekend, I often feel compelled to Get a Lot Done. I wonder if Speedy is aware of my sense of urgency and replies with tension? When I ride during the weekdays, my attitude is more relaxed as I know I probably won't get to accomplish much. Yesterday was one of those days.
For once, we had a break in the weather so rather than ride when it was 100 and climbing, it was in the lower 90s with a refreshing breeze. That was enough to leave me feeling relaxed. I slowly worked Speedy at the walk asking him to soften his poll and move his shoulders. We did some stretchy trot, and when I felt he had warmed up enough, we moved on to the leg yields.
To my surprise, he did a fairly decent leg yield in each direction. Given how much we've fought over that in the past few weeks, I patted him on the shoulder and moved on to to the 10-meter trot circles. I like doing those before the trot lengthenings. I think they get Speedy a bit more connected and working from his hind end.
I like to do a series of three, 10-meter circles down my (short court) long side and then come out of the second corner into a trot lengthening. I think he's just so happy to really stretch after those little circles.
Again, he got a pat on the shoulder and we moved on to the canter work. I've been really mixing up the canter work: canter lengthenings, 15-meter canter circles, counter canter, and so on. On Wednesday, I did lengthenings and some 15-meter circles, but then for fun I decided to work on the walk to canter transition.
Walk to canter appears in Test 1 of Second Level. Sydney found it super easy to do, when he was focused and relaxed, but Speedy has found it to be a challenge. It's not that it's mentally difficult for him, but he's a smart little fart, so he knows that he has to sit deep and really push off, and that's hard work.
I don't play around with it too often, but on the days when I feel that he is in front of my leg, I use it to work the canter without drilling the canter. It's a little like working walk to trot to walk - I feel like it sharpens him to my aids.
I worked the walk to canter just like Chemaine had me ride her horse, Belle, at the piaffe: think trot, but don't. As I rode Speedy, I thought, canter ... but don't. I could feel Speedy's engine getting revved ever so slightly. When I was pretty sure he had enough impulsion, I slid my hip forward and pressed my inside leg.
From the first request, he lifted rather neatly into a canter. After two or three strides, I asked for a downward to trot and then walk. We played around with the exercise to both the left and the right. He got better and better at the transition until he was anticipating the canter, beating me to the aid. I was okay with that. I really appreciated his willingness to try.
So, my best rides seem to come when my agenda is non-existent and the daylight hours short. I think I might need a weekend attitude adjustment. When do you have your best rides?
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2022 Shows Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Completed …
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: