From Endurance to Dressage
Can We Talk Shoulders for Just a Minute?
No matter how many years pass in writing this blog, I am still astounded by the many AHA! and D'oh! moments that I still experience. Dressage is far from boring, that's for sure.
Most of you know where Speedy and I started. He was my back up endurance horse who became my only endurance horse. And then, after more than 16 years of endurance racing, I started looking for an "easier" sport. I landed in a dressage court; Speedy made the move with me. Here we are 9 years later showing at Third Level and schooling a bit of Fourth.
Just about the moment that I start to feel like I have a handle on where we are, whether that was at Training Level or Second, a ginormous AHA if I'm lucky, but more likely a D'oh, will come flying out of left field and gobsmack me in the back of the head.
Not that I am complaining. I don't mind looking foolish if the result is that I walk away with a clearer understanding of a concept. That's what this sport is about - developing an understanding about what it takes to get a horse from here to there.
So what was it that dazzled me this time? The shoulders. How to move them and what happens to the hind end when the shoulders get out of the way. Lateral movements are not Speedy's jam. He's much happier powering forward like in a medium trot. He loves those things and is happy to do them all day long. Also centerline. He loves motoring up centerline. He practically swaggers as he does it. Move laterally? Thanks, no thanks. It's a weak area for sure.
While schooling the half pass recently, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, reminded me to open the outside rein so that the haunches could step over. I nodded like I knew what she meant. I didn't. How could opening the outside rein influence the haunches?
But I kept those words in mind, and I started opening the outside rein. And that's when I got gobsmacked. It wasn't really about moving the haunches, it was more about moving the shoulders. Oy veh!
Once I figured that out, I started to play around with the idea. Shoulder in left happens with a firm half halting outside rein because you're bringing the shoulder in off the rail. To achieve haunches in, bring both reins back to the rail, opening the outside rein, but bring the inside rein with it. Seriously. It's like riding a bike. It's just about steering. Our shoulder in has improved a thousand fold with this idea. So has our haunches in. And so has our half pass.
Gobsmacking. AHA. D'oh. Whatever it takes, deal me in. We have a show in three weeks. I need all of the epiphanies I can get!
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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%: