From Endurance to Dressage
It doesn't happen very often, but today, I am left with nothing to say which means I really have a lot to say but don't want to write about it. Instead of talking about my latest elephant in the room, I'll share a few photos.
I got a new iphone a few months back and can't believe how much better its camera is than was the crappy one on my last iphone. I particularly like the portrait mode, although it's hard to use with the horses.
To use the portrait mode, you have to be within 8 feet of the subject, they have to hold pretty still, and you need a contrasting background. I've had some luck though and managed to capture a couple of really interesting pictures. You've seen all of them already, but here a few of my favorites.
I have no skills as a photographer. My photos are all utilitarian and purposeful; there's no art to them. Even so, this iphone makes even me look like I've got some talent. If you've got any other tips for using the iphone 7 Plus's new camera, pass them along.
I had the camera for several months before I discovered the portrait mode. Who knows what else I'm missing?
Not from me of course, as I am completely lame. My intended post for today was going to be video clips of my Sunday ride. They are super entertaining, especially if you like watching paint dry. I say intended because I left my ipad at work yesterday, and the video clips are on it and not yet uploaded to YouTube. Sorry?
Instead, I'll leave you with this spectacular photo taken by one of the riders who participated in this weekend's clinic with Chemaine Hurtado.
I can't resist - one last comment: what is not to love about this moment? Izzy looks well balanced, soft in the connection, and check out that jump! All of that would be good enough, but a quick look at his rider (yeah ... that's me) reveals someone who actually looks like she's allowing it to happen rather than blocking the motion. And finally, I love the connection between trainer and student. Chemaine is right there in the moment with me, encouraging and coaching.
Many thanks to the photographer, Monica, for such a lovely photo!
I had a lesson with Chemaine last weekend. On the drive home, I was disappointed at what seemed like another two-steps backwards kind of day. While discouraged, I was also motivated to press on, keep persevering, stick it out. Chemaine convinced me that this horse is worth it. She's certain that once he gets it, he's going to literally fly through the lower levels. I didn't really believe her until I started looking at the media that Jen caught for me.
Unlike other lessons, I didn't have to try very hard to find lovely moments; the video clips were filled with them. I watched the videos in order, grabbing shots as I went, so these pictures were caught in order of the lesson.
So, here are nine reasons to love Izzy, and one that will make you go WHAT!?!?
1) Not stepping very deeply, but his poll is nice and high and his face is perfectly on the vertical.
2) He's not bolting through the corner - finally, and he's thinking about softening to the outside rein. He's a bit behind the vertical though.
3) it took us a while to go through this corner this soft and round.
4) And even longer to get through this corner!
5) You can practically feel how strongly he wants to get the heck out of Dodge in this photo!
6) Same thing here, but I like the steady and even connection that I am keeping.
7) I tried to make sure all of these photos were as level as I could get them. Notice that the top end of the arena is pretty darned straight. Then look at how much higher his withers are than his croup. This boy already has some serious sitting power.
8) He finally got soft enough that I could completely give the inside rein.
9) This is my favorite photo of them all. This was the softest and roundest canter that he has ever offered. Stride after stride I reached forward to pat his neck, releasing the inside rein the whole time. Look at how much he has lifted his back underneath me. Swoon! And I did this, me! Chemaine's lessons are the reason of course, but it doesn't change the fact that it was MY riding that made it happen.
During the week, I've been studying the videos and capturing screen shots. The images tell a much different story from the one I told myself on the drive home. It's not just a different story, it's a much better one, and it's true! I don't know how I got so lucky, but Izzy is truly a lovely, lovely horse.
By studying these photos (and the videos), I've been able to make some changes in my position and application of my aids. In just two rides this week, I've been able to affect noticeable change in how Izzy is working, and it is practically intoxicating.
But just so you don't think I've grown a big head now that I have such a fancy schmancy dressage horse, here's a blooper shot to keep me humble. And if I wanted to, I could probably find a hundred or so others just like it.
10) Dude is still pretty opinionated.
No worries, Izzy. I have seen the real you, and you are one fine dude!
My barn is really quiet; normally it's just me riding and puttering around. Shelly, the other boarder is generally there in the mornings and my barn owner doesn't usually pull in until I am about done for the day. This makes it really hard to get riding pictures or conformation shots.
On Sunday, one of my barn owners was working around the barn, so I begged for a few body shots while I tried to stand Izzy up straight. It's not like I have much to compare to however, but I wanted to see if his topline is developing as much as I think it is.
Here's a photo from the day I bought him.
Not a very flattering photo, but I didn't get many from the side that day. His head looks huge here although in real life, he has a a finer head than his body would suggest. He's also sporting the first half of his winter coat which makes him look scruffy. If you enlarge the small photo, you'll see that his coat was actually quite shiny.
When I first saw him, I liked his conformation. His neck ties into his body higher than does Speedy's which I hoped would help him lighten his front end more easily (down the road). He also has very nice withers and a broad back. His badonkadonk is also quiet substantial. Hopefully it will be a load bearing structure.
Here are some photos that my barn owner helped me take over the weekend.
I pulled him straight out of his stall with no grooming, so the shine is all his. Five pounds of rice bran daily are probably helping with that. When I compare these photos to the ones above, I am happy with what I see. While he looks as though he is or was about to take a forward step in the lower photos, you can still see the nice muscling that he is developing.
He doesn't have such a bubble butt like he did in the November photos, and his belly looks much more toned. And to my (very partial) eye, it looks as though his back is filling in, especially behind his withers.
After all the effort to get him to stand square and at "attention," I was able to get this shot while he was turned out. Something had caught his eye, so he froze in place and stood almost square.
I like the little crease there in his butt cheek, and even from this angle you can see that his back is nicely filled in with withers higher than his croup. In this photo his neck looks short, but in the one above it, his neck looks longer with a more open throat latch.
When I look at him, there isn't really anything I don't like. His head could be prettier, but that's just the Arab owner in me talking. I like the finer and more elegant faces of the well-bred (not over-bred) Arabians; Speedy's lovely noggin comes to mind. And of course that hind leg looks terrible (left hind). I am hoping that the lumpiness of the wound eventually goes away.
I will definitely get more shots of him this summer to compare to these spring photos. But so far, I think he's developing nicely.
Speedy has essentially had five weeks off. He's back to work now, but I'm going slowly with him. We started out with a walking ride, moved on to a very short walk, trot, canter ride, and then we did a schooling ride that was fairly short (20 minutes) where we focused on bending and leg yielding from a 15-meter circle to the rail. Over the weekend, we had a regular schooling ride with no modifications. He's sound, but stiff on the left rein.
I want to let myself be bummed out about losing some fitness (both mine and Speedy's), but I am not letting myself go down that path. Instead, I am just focusing on bringing him back to where we were a month ago.
During his five weeks "off," we did get two days with Christian Schacht, so I am hoping we haven't lost as much training and conditioning as I fear. While at the clinic, another rider was kind enough to shoot some pictures of Speedy while we were working. She sent them to me recently, and they couldn't have come at a better time.
They are just three weeks old which means that Speedy can't have lost that much conditioning and training while we struggled with getting him sound. I've enjoyed looking at them. Here are just a few of my favorites.
All photos by Cecile.
Hopefully, Speedy and I get back on track quickly!
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. We're currently showing Third Level for the 2020 show season. 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 schooling and showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2020 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2020 Pending …
7/26 TMC (*)
8/8 - 9 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/30 TMC (*)
9/20 TMC (*)
10/11 TMC (*)
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
2020 Completed …
10/26-27/19 SCEC (***)
6/20-21/20 SCEC (***)
6/29 Ulf Wadeborn (c)
7/11-12 SLO-CDS WC (***)
2020 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
2 Scores/1 Judge:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
3rd Level Qualifying Modified for 2020
3 Scores/2 Judges:
Score 1: 60.405% Atkins
Score 2: 62.432% Atkins
Score 3: 61.750% Johnson
Stuff I Read