From Endurance to Dressage
Back to More Serious Issues ...
How many times do I need to hear inside leg to outside hand before I finally get it? Apparently, I need to hear it at least 1,000,000 times more as that seemed to be the theme for Monday's lesson.
Right now, I am really focusing on improving the canter transition, lengthening the canter, and most importantly, returning to working canter without losing balance. That happens when Speedy ignores my half halts and barrels through the turn.
I really like the canter lengthen change that was made in First Level, Test 1. In the old test, you had to lengthen for most of the long side and then develop working canter while still on the long side headed into the corner. It was really hard to get Speedy back on his butt, a clear indicator that he was rushing on his forehand.
The new tests make that canter lengthen so much easier. Now we need to lengthen only twenty-four meters (from S to V or R to P) and at V or P we circle for a 15-meter circle developing a working canter in the first half of the circle.
For the lesson, JL asked me to show her our return to working canter; it wasn't bad, but she pointed out that we lost the bend in the 15-meter circle (too much outside rein and not enough inside rein). We tried it again, focusing on maintaining the bend, but Speedy got speedy and started ignoring my outside (right) rein (too much inside rein and not enough outside rein).
JL had me do a couple of pulley halts to remind him what the outside rein means. That's when all holy hell broke loose. Speedy got naughty ... rearing and running off naughty. I've been riding him so long that none of this phases me as his bark is far worse than his bite. And actually, he has a very nice little rear that is quite balanced and deep in the hocks. Even so, it's not a behavior we tolerate.
To help him better understand what I wanted, JL had me improve my pulley halt by using more inside leg than outside hand. Insert palm to forehead smack here. Of course!
From the walk, it went like this: outside hand (slow down), inside leg to move him more sideways than just halting hard. And he had to move parallel, not haunches leading or shoulders leading. Basically, we leg yielded to a halt.
We did this modified pulley halt at both the walk and trot until Speedy was responding with a yes ma'am to the pulley halt, which ultimately will be a simple half halt. That's one of things I love about this trainer - she gives immediate fixes for right now kinds of problems. We'll make it more "dressagey" later.
Once I had a solid feel for pushing him into the outside rein, we picked up a left lead canter, did a short lengthen, and then spiraled down to a working canter. I kept my inside hand fixed to maintain the bend, and then I pulley halted (half halted) with the outside rein while pushing him sideways with my inside leg.
It seems counterintuitive to push your horse sideways when you're trying to make a 15-meter circle, but if you push the inside leg in to a halting outside rein, it asks the horse to sit more and slow down. The explanation may not be quite right, but that's the effect we achieved.
Tracking right, of course, was a totally different thing. Since Speedy has trouble filling up the outside left rein, I had to actually push his haunches in to to get them behind his shoulders. Once he was a bit straighter, I actually had to ride him inside rein to outside leg. Getting him to let go of that right rein is always a challenge.
My biggest take away for improving the canter departure and the return to working canter from a canter lengthen is that it all comes down to what his hind end is doing. And of course that makes perfect sense if we ride our horses from back to front.
1/27/2015 10:53:04 am
Thank you, Katharine. Those are kind words. I write everything down so that I can go back and remind myself what I learned. I just did that today in fact before I rode tonight. Sometimes I go back and read old stuff and laugh. I've learned a lot over the past 4 or 5 years. It inspires me - imagine where I'll be in 5 years! We might even make it to second level!!!!!
AAAH this was so helpful for me! I have the exact same problem -- drifting through the right shoulder tracking left, and "fishtailing" the hind out tracking right. Definitely going to work on these exercises.
1/27/2015 11:02:21 am
Sorry for the slow response ...
1/24/2015 01:58:51 am
That is an excellent improvement to the first level test. It makes a lot of sense.
1/28/2015 09:32:45 am
One thing that's been helping me use my inside hand for flexion, instead of pull on it, has been lifting my inside hand up. I think about flexing my elbow deeply, and reaching my hand straight up (or toward the ears of my horse), while keeping the contact. That flexes the horse, but with my hand UP I'm unable to pull BACK. It makes a HUGE difference, and tends to keep the horse in my outside rein.
1/28/2015 09:41:12 am
I was thinking about your comment while I rode tonight, and I realized that when tracking right, I do the same thing. I can get a right bend pretty easily, but our issue is that to the right, his haunches want to fall out so I have to push them in. Tracking left is a whole different issue! He doesn't want to give me a bend to the left so I can't get him to let go of the left rein. I am really working on how to get him to let go of that rein. Suggestions?
1/29/2015 09:35:13 am
I am waiting. :0)
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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
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CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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