From Endurance to Dressage
I truly have the World's Best Horse. I know everyone thinks their horse is the best, but they'd be wrong. Sorry. While Speedy can irritate me like no other, when it comes right down to it, the boy is an absolute saint.
Last week, when I shared that we were really focusing on the sitting trot, The Fabled Christmas Pony suggested I ride Speedy bareback - if he'd let me. I ride Speedy bareback now and then, mostly when we just want to tool around without any real focus. I thought about it though and realized that now that I have a different feel for the sitting trot, it might be worthwhile to try it out bareback.
I've been riding Speedy bareback for a long time. In the beginning, he would not trot when I rode bareback. It didn't matter if I used the whip or my spurs - no way was his response. Early on, I suspected that it made him uneasy that I wasn't perfectly balanced. I don't know if he thought he was going to get in trouble if I fell off, but he refused to trot.
As I got more and more balanced, I could coax him into a trot, but it was always just a jog. I always appreciated this about him though as I knew he was never going to bolt and dump me.
Both time I got on him bareback this week, we started with some suppling exercises at the walk, including stepping over a line of poles. After we were both warmed up, I asked for a trot. I followed Chemaine's image of tucking my seatbone and pulling my belly button to my spine. Thank you, Fabled Christmas Pony! I can't believe how much easier it was to sit his trot now that I have the motion.
Rather than just trot in a circle, I rode the ten-meter trot circles from First Level, Test 3. We repeated the exercise at least five times, stopping for a quick walk break each time. After working that exercise, Speedy started to offer some trot lengthenings on his own, something he normally does when I school in a saddle. The difference was that he never offers a bigger trot when I am bareback. I am certain that he felt more confident in my ability to stick with him and not unbalance him!
After working on the sitting trot, I decided to give the canter a try. If he hates toting around an unbalanced rider at the trot, imagine his dread at being asked to carry the same rider at the canter. Except this time, he picked up the canter with hardly a question.
Chemaine had me use the canter as a way to loosen my hips by letting my legs swing (or pump) during the canter stride. I was thrilled with how easy it was to do bareback. To the right was much easier as Speedy is happy to balance on the left/outside rein. To the left was more of a challenge as he doesn't want to bend left. It took me a few tries to get him to let go of the left rein, but once he did, I was able to swing my legs to the rhythm of the canter without gripping.
Speedy was such a saint to let me work on ME. I never worried that he was going to take advantage of the situation and duck out from under me. He went where I pointed, and we even got some truly lovely halts between the two 10-meter trot circles. That halt has a double co-efficient on the test.
I had the most fun riding him bareback this week. I laughed during the canter work and enjoyed the feeling of looseness that I was able to achieve. Speedy is truly an awesome boy to just go along with the program. I am lucky to have him.
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%: