From Endurance to Dressage
Change of Direction
The thing I most love about giving lessons on Speedy is that I get an opportunity to play around with the ideas that I am currently learning or ideas that I feel are pretty confirmed. On Monday, Brooke came out for another lesson on Speedy. For the past few weeks, I've had her stay on a 20-meter circle, but this week, I thought it was time to play around with straightness, something I am thinking about with Izzy.
The more I learn, the more I forget how hard everything was in the beginning. Making a round circle and doing a change of direction were things that I worked hard to be able to do well. I do them now without needing to think about the aids required to make them happen, but if you really stop and think about it, a change of direction at the trot takes a good half dozen aids. The rider has to steer, watch where she's going, shift her weight aids, change the bend, straighten the horse, change her posting diagonal, and maintain the tempo. Explaining all of this to someone else is no easy task.
To help Brooke figure out how to coordinate her aids, I had her ride more of an oval which included the C end of the arena to E/B. Speedy helped her figure out that as she came through the corner at C/H or C/M, she would ride him straight for a few strides, but then she needed to reestablish bend for the half circle at E/B. Once she had the rhythm of the oval, I coached her through a change of bend through a short diagonal H-B and M - E.
One of the things that makes Speedy such a great schoolmaster is that he pays attention to his rider's level of competence. He only goes as big as he feels is safe for his rider. While Brooke was working on her position in the 20-meter circles, Speedy put himself on autopilot and never deviated. Once he felt Brooke's confidence return, he started to challenge her a bit. I warned her that as she crossed the diagonal, Speedy would start to hustle as he knows where the medium trot should be done. With Speedy trying to change the tempo, Brooke had to really coordinate all of her aids in order to make the half circle at E/B and H-C-M.
I've been really impressed with Brooke's ability to keep Speedy round with a desire to go forward. Every time Speedy gets a new lady friend, I always feel a bit cheated. I jealously wish he had been as easy for me to learn on. But really, it's all good because what he and I learned together, he can now share with other dressage beginners.
Once Brooke looked like she was getting the hang of the change of direction across a diagonal, I had her go back to the 20-meter circle at C for some canter work. She's still struggling with weighting her inside seat bone and stepping into her inside leg, but after just a few short weeks, her balance has improved tremendously. I told her that soon we would do the same oval exercise that we had done in the trot, but we would do it at the canter instead.
She should be out tomorrow morning, so we'll see what other exercises I can throw at her.
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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%: