From Endurance to Dressage
It's not like we had NO leg yield. We've been showing at First Level all year so the judges have been scoring something. It might not have been a good leg yield, but at least it resembled a lateral movement ... if you squinted.
I took two lessons with Chemaine in September, and since then, things have gotten much better. I don't think Speedy's leg yield is going to be getting any 8s at our next show, but I am hopeful that we might start getting some 7s.
My rides on Speedy are always evolving. I remember so clearly when it was just 20-meter circles. Then we started adding changes of direction across the diagonal. When we started doing figures of eight with that one straight stride in the middle before the change of bend, I thought now we're doing some dressage!
Little by little the exercises have changed - we rarely do 20-meter trot circles any more. Now it's 10-meter circles followed by a shoulder in or serpentines with counter bending to soften Speedy from poll to tail. And of course, we work on the leg yield.
I usually begin the rides with some general flexing and counter flexing just to get Speedy's shoulders moving, and I am also now asking for some shoulder in at the walk which is a bit of a leg yield. I finish the walking part of the warm up by schooling the leg yield. On Saturday, Speedy finally gave me a leg yield at the walk that had a smooth rhythm and was not heavy on the outside rein.
We went on to the 10-meter trot circles with some shoulder in and then schooled the 10-meter trot circle followed by a halt and a 10-meter trot circle going the other way. When I felt like he was listening to my outside rein, I asked for some leg yields across the diagonal.
They weren't perfect, but there was the beginning of some rhythm to them, and we finally made it from one corner to the other without falling into a walk or feeling the need to buck or rear.
The thing that has helped the most was getting control of the outside shoulder. I started riding the leg yield into an almost counter bent outside rein. Instead of having a little inside bend, I keep him pretty straight. By keeping him firmly on that outside rein, he can't bulge through his shoulder rather than step over with his inside hind leg.
When I felt him lean on that outside rein, I gave him a half halt and said HAUNCHES with my inside leg. Looking at his haunches to make sure I am getting them over has also helped. Overall, it feels like I am pushing his shoulders one way and his haunches the other!
I know Chemaine will see improvement this next weekend. Riding with her every month has definitely helped us improve. Now, if she'd just consider moving to Bakersfield ...
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%: