From Endurance to Dressage
I've been riding with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, for more than a couple of years. I am sure she's wondering what the heck is taking me so long, so I am grateful that she keeps coming back.
After my ride on Speedy, I was a bit frazzled mentally. Learning a boatload of stuff in 45 minutes will do that to you. Even so, I tacked up the big brown horse, ready for whatever he had to offer.
To the good, there was no jackassery which has been a theme for like ever. He still has his moments, but overall, the horse is definitely getting broker. He goes where I point him, and he's mostly willing to work.
To the bad, I just couldn't get the softness and relaxation that I can get by myself. It wasn't like there was a large crowd or anything, but he knew things were different.
To help me help him, Chemaine started suggesting a few suppling exercises, one of which worked really well. I know because I tried it again this week and was quite surprised at how effective it turned out to be, on one day anyway.
She had me leg yield across the diagonal, but rather than focus on keeping him relatively straight, she encouraged me to ask him for a lot of haunches. Like, get BIG steps, and it was okay if his haunches led. The point was to unlock his back a little and get his hind end freer. Izzy likes to kind of pogo stick his hind legs, especially in the canter.
After a bit, Chemaine finally asked if she could get on him. I never have a problem with her riding him. Yeah, I want to learn, but sometimes she just needs to get on him to see how he feels. It's always fun to see my horse ridden by someone else, but since he's such a tough nut, it only happens when Chemaine sees him.
She didn't feel the resistance that I feel. She didn't have trouble with the right bend. She did have a bit of trouble holding the right canter lead, but that was only because she was asking for counter canter on a circle. Mr. Smarty Pants kept throwing in flying changes (much to Chemaine's delight I might add).
I got back on him, and right away Chemaine saw my problem. Our connection needed a change. Chemaine insisted my half halts get quicker and bigger and that my release be faster and more giving. Timing is everything, isn't it?
When I rode him a few days later, I started off at the walk, and when he got spooky in the far corner, I gave a quick, firm correction, and then let go. it took about three good firm half halts, and all of a sudden, he was light in my hands and listening. We had a very relaxed ride, and I got off feeling quite successful.
I got back on on him yesterday afternoon, and I was back on the freight train. I leg yielded across the diagonal, and I tried the big half halts with big releases, but he simply refused to relax his back. After a full hour, I was finally able to get something sort of like relaxation, but neither one of us felt particularly successful.
I frequently question why I am still doing this. I don't have a ready answer. He's making progress; as slow as it is, even I can see it. I am just not sure I want to keep progressing this slowly. On the positive side, he's not a scary ride, and when he's relaxed, he's a lot of fun to ride.
For now, he can stay in my barn, but I sure wish he'd learn to enjoy relaxing.
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%