From Endurance to Dressage
And That's How It's Done
Lessons with my trainer are a very interesting thing. I ride with her every week which I think is fairly common. I realize that budget, proximity, weather, and work/family schedules probably have a lot to do with how frequently you get to ride with your trainer. My limited experience tells me that weekly is more than some get, but less than others get.
So what do I mean by interesting? I mean that sometimes the lesson is literally a Game Changer. Other times, I walk away thinking, that was cool, but I am not sure how to get that on my own. Those days are great in their own right because I get to feel a better ride than I might otherwise feel on my own. It's the Game Changers that I live for.
In the last couple of months, there have been a number of Game Changers or epiphanal rides. [And that's really a word - I looked it up. It means the state or quality of being like an epiphany.] The first real AHA! came when JL finally taught me how to get a walk that was on the bit. I squeezed Speedy forward, but I didn't let his nose pop up. I asked him to step forward and reach over his back. Oh, it was hard, and there was lots of ROCK THE REIN!!!!, but he and I both got it. It was an epiphany. He and I both felt it. Game Changer ...
Once we learned that, I was able to duplicate the feeling at the trot. That doesn't mean we're perfect, but he and I both know that he can lift himself into the trot nicely, and he no longer needs to claw his way there with his front legs. We're slowly putting the concept to use in the canter. I am still missing something, but we're almost there.
The next Game Changer came with JL's Crack the Nut visual. I know that just came this past weekend, but holy heck has that opened up my eyes! That simple concept is reconfiguring my upper body. We've worked on my seat and legs for quite a long time and hadn't really started on my upper body ... OH MY GOD! I just had ANOTHER epiphany. Man, JL is SMART! She told me last summer that first she would get my leg and seat right and then we'd start moving up my body. Holy crap! That's what she just did, and I only just this very instant realized it. I swear, I am about to cry. What an incredible compliment. That must mean my seat and leg have approached the realm of acceptable. Sniff.
I am truly sitting here with a stunned look on my face.
Okay ... getting over the shock of that particular epiphany, what I was about to say was that during the Crack the Nut explanation, JL added a second part to the visual that I couldn't absorb at that exact moment, but while riding on Thursday afternoon, BAM! I got it. She laughingly said, Stick 'em out! I'm sure the ladies out there, and probably the gents as well, know what she was referring to. I know it's not very classy, but ... she meant boobs. There, I said it! As a junior high girl who was hideously embarrassed to have boobs, the thought of sticking 'em out is a bit embarrassing. That's what hoochie mamas do, not college educated teachers! But there it is. Thursday's ride found me sticking 'em out and loving it.
Cracking a Nut refers to the back side, but sticking 'em out is what happens up front. A word of caution: if you are a rider who tends to arch her back, these two visuals might not work for you. As a rider with rounded shoulders, this is probably right up your alley.
Thursday afternoon was Speedy's turn for some work. I cracked a nut. I stuck 'em out and we had the best ride together that we've ever had. Don't get me wrong. He did a few naughty things like bolting when he heard the chicken in the grass, leaning on my rein, falling in, and kicking out a bit on the right lead canter, but I knew how to school him through every single naughty. And when I did, he just got better and better.
And that's how it's done!
2/24/2012 10:13:13 am
I'm working on it! :0)
2/24/2012 06:05:09 am
Oh, you are slick! I was thinking "my back will hollow", but then I read your little cautionary note. I have spent considerable time "rounding my back" because I was taught to "crack my back" and straighten. I do not recommend that analogy! Great post.
2/24/2012 10:17:39 am
Val - I am not sure which problem is more difficult to over-come: hollow back or rounded shoulders! Hollow back can certainly cause some back pain that doesn't accompany the rounded shoulders. As an endurance rider, I tended to ride with a hollow back since endurance riders don't sit deep. It's a more forward seat. To use your upper body for a whoa, it tends to put a curve in your lower back. I rode with aching shoulder blades for many years.
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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%: