From Endurance to Dressage
Brooke came out during spring break for a couple of rides on Speedy. We did a trail ride through Hart Park and Lake Ming, and she came out and did a lesson. I can't say this enough: I am not a trainer, and no one pays me for lessons. With that said, I think I am actually a pretty good coach. Even if you've never given a lesson, you should try it as it is a great way to see what you've learned.
The last time Brooke came out, we played around with the leg yield. It became apparent right away that Brooke still doesn't have enough control over Speedy's individual parts to do a correct leg yield. Like a lot of riders new to dressage, she struggled with controlling the shoulder so that Speedy's hind end could catch up. In the leg yield, the horse should remain nearly straight - think parallel to the rail, so that he can move sideways by crossing his legs. Instead of any sideways movement, Speedy just headed straight across the diagonal. That's not a leg yield.
For this lesson, I showed Brooke how her position and weight aids directly affect how Speedy moves. Brooke is very athletic - she's a triathlete, so it is more about teaching her about what her body should be doing while she's riding. While Brooke has been riding since at least her teenage years - she knows how to stay on, she hasn't yet learned how to use her body as an aid. And since Speedy is a total rock star, he will do exactly what you tell him to, good or bad.
Brooke is struggling with the things that all riders work on:
Since I am not a trainer, I don't always know what to tell Brook to change, but when I get it right, it's obvious to all three of us. After watching her struggle a bit in the canter, I finally realized that she was pinching at the knees for balance. As soon as I told her to ride "bowlegged," she settled into the saddle and Speedy's canter got super quiet. I could actually hear the difference in his footfalls.
One of the hardest things about "training" is knowing how much a rider needs to learn. I don't necessarily know what to help with first, but I know that it can't all be done in one lesson. As an elementary school teacher, I long ago learned which things to ignore in favor of those things that need to be learned first. The plural possessive apostrophe isn't as important as the apostrophe in a contraction. In giving lessons, I've tried to focus on rider position - sitting up instead of curing forward, weighting the inside seat bone and leg, and turning the shoulders in the direction of the circle over any particular movements.
It sounds a bit nefarious, but playing around with a rider's position and aids is a bit like conducting a science experiment. What happens if I move her leg here? What if I have her look there? How much does she need to exhale to get the walk? I know Speedy very, very well, so it's not like I will create any explosions, but it's fun to see if my coaching is right. Will I get the effect that I am hoping for? So far, I have been right every time. My eyes have not been deceiving me. I truly can see when a rider is not sitting with her seat bones evenly weighted or when she is gripping with her knees.
All of Speedy's ladies have felt that I am doing them a favor by coaching them and letting them ride Speedy. I've said this over and over though: I am the one getting the most out of the relationship. My horse gets to feel useful, and I get to play around with what I think I know. I need to start giving them thank you cards. As long as the universe keeps sending me riders, Speedy and I will keep teaching them.
The real truth is that Speedy does most of the teaching; I am just there to dole out the cookies.
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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
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%: