From Endurance to Dressage
I didn't love the clinic. I wanted to. I thought I would, but the connection between teacher and student just wasn't there. I enjoyed watching Susanne von Dietze teach, and I kept going, wow - that's an interesting idea as she coached other riders, but when it was my turn, nothing.
I know everyone else was on fairly quiet, well behaved horses so it was easy to hold your arm here and look to the left, and so on. Susanne's work focuses on helping the rider balance and get in touch with her body by performing numerous exercises. Susanne couldn't do any of the exercises with me because I was on Mr. Hyde. There was no way I could hold my hand anywhere but on the reins as I fought my freight train.
The problem is, I went to the clinic hoping that the clinician could help me work Sydey through his away from home anxiety. I knew that he was going to behave exactly as he did. That's been his M.O. for the past year; Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde.
And when I say he was Hyde, I mean it. He bucked, squealed, ducked, whirled, and bolted about every 8 seconds. A very kind rider gave me the best compliment I think I've ever received. After I rode, she said, "no one could have ridden that horse and made it look easy." I appreciated her honesty. He was a complete pain in the ass for both days, but I stayed on through every dirty duck and whirl.
I am not sure we learned a whole lot. When I got home, I spent an hour and a half debriefing with JL. Based on what I was able to tell her about the experience, we were able to put together a good over-view of what had happened and why. Between the two of us, we plotted out a solid course of action for the next two months that I am really excited about. JL's opinion of clinics is that if a rider takes away even two things from the clinic, then it was a success. Our discussion and resulting plan was thing number one.
On top of that, here are two additional things that I found useful:
Susanne von Dietze said many other things that were helpful: always think of helping your horse; move as much as you want to, but do it in the rhythm; and keep your shoulders over your pelvis so you don't get left behind the action.
I guess the clinic was useful. I wish that I had walked away feeling empowered and more knowledgeable. Instead, I left feeling defeated. It was only after discussing the whole thing with JL that I felt energized and ready for more.
Here is an interesting series of photos that my pal, CT, shot on Day 1.
When I started the lesson, Sydney immediately bolted and bucked and threw a fit. He couldn't walk because he was so tense and tightly coiled; all he could do was jump and spin. No matter how much anyone says to simply release the reins and let him reach and stretch, it ain't gonna happen. Instead, putting him on the small circle so he can go as fast as he wants is the only way to get him to start reaching with his hind legs.
I just have to be able to stick all the bucks and whirls until that actually starts to happen!
I wrote this the other day. Since coming back from the clinic, I have had more time to think and practice what I saw. Holy cow! I learned a lot more than I thought. Before you tell me to sell Sydney, give me a few days to tell you more!
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%: