From Endurance to Dressage
I feel like I have been trapped in a hamster's wheel. I am running like crazy, but I am not sure I am actually getting anywhere.
It seems as though I have been out of town every single weekend for the past two months which means I am riding at weird times on Sunday afternoons and then hurrying through my weekday rides to beat the clock. My trainer went on a short vacation which meant I missed a lesson last week, so it was a bit of a relief to meet up with her on Monday for a normal, regular ride.
We had a very productive lesson. It helps that she checks in on my blog occasionally; I didn't have to explain everything that I had done with Christian Schacht at the last clinic. Instead, I just told her what I felt I needed to work on as a result of the clinic. She's really great about letting me tell her where I think my weaknesses are, and then she comes up with an exercise that either confirms my weakness or reveals something else entirely!
Currently, I am feeling a lack of confidence in my left hand, especially tracking right. JL tried to get me to decide if the issue came from being physically weak, or just fearful. I decided the lack of confidence started as a fear thing: Sydney bolting and me only knowing how to grab and pull. Once I learned how not to pull, I started second guessing myself and was afraid to use the left rein for fear that I would pull back.
To compensate for my issues with the left hand, I've developed the habit of holding the bucking strap to steady my left hand so that I can use my seat to maintain Sydney's rhythm. This is very effective, but it's not very pretty. To help me develop some confidence in my ability to hold Sydney in the rhythm without pulling back and without using the bucking strap, JL had me do lots of lateral work while coaching me from the ground.
We started by tracking right at the trot. Now that I know how much outside rein I really need to use to get a lateral step, I am not afraid to really firm up that outside rein, especially at the walk. My confidence issues do not show themselves at the walk so JL had us quickly move on to some trot work.
My habit has been to hold the bucking strap with my left hand while flexing the inside rein to ask for suppleness all while asking for a sideways step. This hasn't been effective. JL had me rethink what I was doing. Instead, as Sydney begins to rush the rhythm, I am to firm up that outside rein, hold the inside rein steady, tighten my core, stretch up, and add leg. I was thrilled with the immediacy of Sydney's response.
We hung out on a 20-meter circle to the right focusing on maintaining a steady rhythm without doing anything with my hands, only using my core and seat. The quicker he responded, the more confident I got. When he did get quick, I added tons of inside leg to really push him laterally which had the effect of slowing him down and softening him at the same time. Oh, hallelujah!
What became kind of a joke was that at one point, I realized I was no longer holding the bucking strap with my left hand, it was doing what it was supposed to. Instead, I was holding the strap with my right hand! This just illustrated that I still have balance issues.
I am looking forward to a weekend at home, and hopefully, Sydney will continue rewarding me with some excellent work!
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%: