From Endurance to Dressage
And What of Sydney?
While it might seem that Speedy has had all of my attention lately, rest assured that Sydney has been hard at work as well.
Over the last few weeks, we've been working on some suppling exercises to help him let go through his poll and the base of his neck. This is one heavy horse. Each time I am able to shorten my reins even just a little, we have to go through the same trust exercises. He is certain that I am going to plant my hands and lock him into position. Sigh …
Things have been going pretty well in spite of the frequent discussions. Sydney is accepting the shorter rein length, and he's learning to let go through his neck. It probably helps that I am also learning how much heavy I am happy with, which I have discovered is not very much. In fact, I have quit worrying about the canter departures and have been focusing on getting him lighter in my hand instead.
The fear has also completely vanished. I don't know how long ago that happened, but it's no longer part of my riding experience with Sydney. When he gets tense and "up," I know how to diffuse the bomb. Helping him before it gets to that point has solved most of the explosions.
Being rid of the fear and wanting a horse that is lighter in my hand hasn't miraculously changed my big, brown OTTB into a show-ready pony though. He has miles and miles to go. Riding Speedy at the championship show pointed that out pretty clearly. Sydney may be a nice mover, but when it comes to changes of direction in public, the pace just gets too fast for him and he panics. We're working on it though.
I set up my camera on Sunday to see just where we are. It was in the mid-90s, and Sydney's winter coat is making an appearance so he was very much behind my leg. No excuses though … it is what it is. I edited out the boring parts (21 minutes of trotting and cantering in circles) and left you with only 55 seconds of boring. You're welcome.
Things I notice: he is definitely behind my leg, my reins could be a bit shorter, and I am letting him blow through the outside shoulder. No biggie, we have all the time in the world to work on it!
10/12/2014 08:13:23 am
10/7/2014 03:43:36 am
He looks so relaxed! What a long way you two have come!
10/12/2014 08:13:58 am
I am definitely starting to feel it AND appreciate it. :0)
10/12/2014 08:15:18 am
It is, but I am getting the hang of it really quickly. Somewhere in the past month, a switch was flipped, and my feel for heavy has changed dramatically. Sydney, too seems to get it! :0)
10/7/2014 01:12:30 pm
This post is so timely for me, as it dovetails with my own little breakthrough tonight w/my OTTB mare. I realized that I am more likely to get in a brace-y tug-o-war with her when I am especially tired. It actually takes energy to create lightness and softness in the contact between my hand and her mouth. If I can put more "flow" into my arms, we don't lock together but actually have a soft place to go forward into.
10/12/2014 08:17:10 am
Thanks, Gina, and yes, movement is definitely the answer. Any tension in my body creates tension in Sydney, and he doesn't need any help in that department; he creates plenty of his own tension! And yeah … getting him light always leaves me gasping for breath. :0)
Leave a Reply.
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%: