From Endurance to Dressage
My trainer, JL, has me working on some new stuff with Sydney. My goal for the summer was to get a consistent right lead canter. It's there, and I can get it just about every time, but occasionally, Sydney is too tense, anxious, or stiff to offer a nice canter departure. But since I can still usually eke it out, JL thinks we're ready for more, and I agree.
It took a few lessons for me to understand what she wanted from me, but after the work we did during last Wednesday's lesson, I see where we're going, and I LOVE it!. For the first time ever, I felt my horse's croup tuck under as he sat deeper on his hocks.
It was quite the sensation. Sydney's poll (and withers) came up, and his croup went down. If this is what true collection feels like, sign me up for more. Feeling all of that power underneath me, waiting for me to send it somewhere was truly an awesome moment. And now that I've felt it, believe me, I am going to be looking for it again.
What's interesting to me is that I don't feel Speedy's croup lower when he's working really well. Instead, he just feels more engaged and forward. It could be that Speedy is not carrying as much weight on his hind end, or what I think is more likely, is that Sydney has a much harder time stepping deeply underneath while it's easier for Speedy.
From the beginning, Speedy has always been able to step relatively deeply underneath. I suspect that has a lot to do with his conformation and because he put so many miles on the trail as an endurance horse. He doesn't have any hock articulation in the first photo, but at least he's stepping forward. In the second photo (excuse my horrible position - work in progress), there's more articulation, which is hopefully leading to more collection.
The first photo of Sydney is beyond horrible, but it illustrates my point exactly; he is not stepping un himself. The photo is from a clinic in October 2013. He was very tense and tried to bolt repeatedly. I wish I had a photo from our lesson this week to show the comparison, but I don't. You'll just have to believe me when I say that I truly felt his croup lower and his front end come up. And while the second (really crappy) photo shows what I was feeling, this was the first time I actually felt it myself and made it happen on my own.
JL was extremely pleased with Sydney's frame and even happier that I could feel what was happening. The only way for his croup to drop so much would be if he had finally learned to step deeply and rock back onto his haunches.
My homework for this week is to repeat the suppling exercises that she gave us so that I can continue to get the same level of work from him as during the lesson. I'll share more about those exercises in the next day or so.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%