From Endurance to Dressage
First of all, I owe a huge thank you to my CDS Chapter, Tehachapi Mountain Chapter, for sending me to the clinic. TMC paid my clinic fees.
I would also like to thank our host, Suzie Peacock, of Eastvale Equestrian. Our stalls were her own (and clients') horses' day-to-day living space. She moved the horses to another location so that the clinic's participants had the best of the best. Suzie also arranged delicious and healthy meals for the riders.
A huge thank you also goes out to the Southern AA Clinic's organizer, Sandy Harper. Sandy did a fantastic job of organizing the clinic so that it ran without a single glitch - or, none that we could see! We had a great pizza dinner with drinks on Friday night where everyone got to share a little about their own riding experiences and where they were with their current mounts. Throughout the clinic's duration, Sandy also provided a bevy of snacks and beverages to keep us hydrated and full of energy.
Marisa Festerling was the clinician. She is probably the kindest instructor I have ever met. For rider after rider she was supportive, encouraging, positive, and friendly. And it was really hot. By the late afternoon, even I was starting to get a bit cranky, but not Marisa. She smiled and continued to teach each new rider with the same energy with which she started the day.
Initially, I was slightly disappointed in the first day's lesson. Marisa didn't work me very hard, and I felt like I didn't get enough new stuff to make the day really worthwhile. Day two proved that the work Marisa had done with me on Saturday was essential to the work we did on Sunday. Had she tried to cram it all in on the first day, I would have been overwhelmed. Her step-by-step process allowed me to feel really prepared for the second day.
Right away she "got me" on my left hand. I've been blogging about this for several weeks. She kept insisting that I make a fist and keep my thumb up. When I open my fingers and turn my hand down, Speedy escapes the outside rein and falls onto the forehand. Seeing and feeling the consequence of my poor hand position has already helped motivate me to FIX IT!
Marisa also helped me work on Speedy's bend to the right. Since I've been allowing him to escape the outside rein, especially while tracking right, he hasn't been asked to keep an inside bend. Instead, he's been poking his nose out to the left. Marisa instructed me to keep my left hand closed while vibrating the inside rein to get a correct bend. My habit has been to try to get the bend by using too much outside leg to make the corners. This has caused Speedy to fall in too steeply as we go through the corners.
The next thing Marisa addressed is my tendency to let Speedy gravitate to the rail instead of just touching it at B or E. She pointed out that he's actually making a square instead of a 20-meter circle. By beginning my turns sooner, I was able to control his outside shoulder so that he didn't leg yield himself to the rail (Marisa's description).
The video isn't perfect, and it's a bit long at 31 minutes, but I am pretty happy with the work it shows. Speedy and I have definitely improved over the last few years. The first year that we tried dressage, we were still doing endurance races together. That was just three or four years ago. You would think that in nearly four years we would be further along, but this is a tough discipline to master. I think we're doing okay!
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%: