From Endurance to Dressage
Deadman 50 - 2006 (Photo by Alicia M.)
One of the best things about making the switch from endurance racing to dressage showing is the clothes ... I love endurance clothes, but I really love dressage clothes! Endurance riders can wear ANYTHING that they want, as evidenced by my tie-dyed t-shirt and custom-made electric blue tights. (One well-known endurance rider competes in cut-offs and a white tank top ... all the time, winter or summer!)
Many endurance riders originally come from the showing world (both western and English) and after years of boring, tan breeches, navy coats, and plain leather tack most enthusiastically embrace the available wild colors for both tack and clothing.
I went the other way. After many years of neon stripes, giraffe prints, sparkling greens, and other odd combinations, I was thrilled to start amassing my PLAIN schooling and showing wardrobe. Dressage clothing seemed so ... tasteful and elegant. I went berserk last summer shopping for WHITE breeches, WHITE show tops, WHITE stock ties, WHITE saddle pads, BLACK saddle pads, BLACK girths, BLACK bridles, BLACK coats, BLACK boots, BLACK half-chaps, BLACK helmets, and BLACK hair scrunchies. After I was through with that, I started searching for tasteful, dark schooling breeches with equally tasteful, fitted polo shirts for lessons.
Endurance Ride T-shirt
In the past I would have never even considered spending MONEY on a riding shirt. After all, I got those for FREE at the completion of a race. It might be neon green, but it was well-earned and "free!" This Christmas I filled my Dover Saddlery catalog on-line "wish list" with moisture wicking, form-fitting polos, which oddly enough, my husband thought were sensible purchases. I now own a closetful of collared riding shirts that can be paired with coordinating breeches.
After a 12-hour endurance race or a 20-mile conditioning ride, I was always really dirty, my tights might have a tear, and I was probably missing a toenail. I always felt like that kid, Pigpen, from Charlie Brown. Now, when I am done with a lesson, or after a schooling ride, I'm clean (mostly!), my body parts are usually where they belong, and I look cute!
Let me know if you spot any good deals on breeches or tops on-line!
I am sure I will blog about this topic MANY times as it is a favorite of mine. I talk about doing dressage on the trail with anyone who will listen. And that's not very many people. My husband will occasionally indulge me. You know what that means though. As he's watching Sports Center I might get a vacant look before he asks something like, "did you fall off?" followed by, "what's for dinner?" My long time riding buddy, Taz's Mom, will listen for a while, but even her eyes will eventually glaze over.
In my limited experience, trail riders want to spend the day walking along on a quiet horse as they enjoy the conversation and company of their trail riding companion. Dressage riders school in the arena with an occasional hack around the barn. There doesn't seem to be a lot of cross-over.
Endurance horses lead a much different life than either the average trail or arena horse. They're legged up to cover 25 to 100 miles in a single day and are often ready to repeat the same thing the next day. Most endurance horses are awesome trail horses: they have no fear on the trail, but they often lack some fundamental training in proper self-carriage. That's where dressage on the trail comes in!
I had a great trail ride today with Speedy G, my once endurance horse turned dressage horse in training. We worked on lengthening our walk on the way out since he was POKING along with no desire to walk past the lush green grass growing along the trail. On the way home, we focused on containing his "racey" and strung out walk by working in a more medium, march-like walk. During the middle of the ride we worked on gently changing the bend at every ... well, bend! I also used the bends in the trail to work on posting to the opposite diagonal, which can get tricky on really bendy trail!
Trail rides are no longer just about conditioning Speedy's cardiovascular system and strengthening his soft tissue. We now use our time on the trail to focus on the skills that we're learning during our dressage lessons. Too much arena work gets boring for Speedy which has lead to some pretty cranky and non-productive behavior. Working on the trail has kept his mind fresh while keeping his body conditioned at the same time.
See you on the trail!
Hmmm ... What will I write about? I am not really sure, but the website alone just doesn't give me canvas enough to write. And frankly, the newsletter required attendance at chapter meetings. Advanced riders will no doubt be bored by my amateur dressage revelations as in, "so that's what the outside rein is for!" and "Oh! Not with my hands, but with my SEAT!"
So, we'll see where this goes. In all honesty, this could be a one-shot deal that peters out without even the proverbial ball of fire. You might come back tomorrow and wonder where my blog went.
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%: