From Endurance to Dressage
Clinic - Part 3
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!
10/22/2013 11:06:25 am
I did Hilary. It took me a few days to quit being mad though. :0)
10/22/2013 11:07:26 am
That's really king of you to say, Lauren. And you're right. Distance gives us perspective!
10/22/2013 12:52:47 am
Ugh, I so feel you. This is Topper to a T.. only he's still in the phase where he does that sh*t at home. I've stopped schooling at this point and have just been trail riding- where he goes on the bit beautifully with none of the antics. Go figure. I wish I had the same tenacity that you do, I've gotten to where I hate riding him in the arena so I don't. Such a shame because he's so talented, just like Sydney. I totally feel you.
10/22/2013 11:12:12 am
Amanda - surprisingly, you give me hope! Sydney used to be like at home, too. Now, he rarely does that kind of stuff in my own arena so I guess we are making more progress than I realize. And don't get me wrong. It SUCKED for a long time. There were days where i felt physically ill about riding him because I knew my death was very likely going to happen that day. But I did stick it out and I am reaping the benefits, at home anyway.
10/22/2013 12:55:45 pm
Such good thoughts. I kind of decided to stop with the arena and get him out on the trail to where he doesn't have so much pent up energy. This seems to be a big issue for him. I'm thinking after a few weeks of consistent trail riding he'll be more able to focus in the arena. Who knows but all *I* know is I need to remember why I love him.. He's not reminding me of that fighting in the arena. Horses!!
10/22/2013 02:09:01 pm
That sounds like a great plan. Anything we do that establishes relaxation and warm fuzzy feelings can't be wrong. :0)
Oh man! Those types of clinics are tough. Kudos for sticking it out and riding him through all the tough parts.
10/22/2013 11:14:25 am
Thanks, Austen. I didn't share this, but tears were dripping down my face the first day during the lesson. I was so embarrassed and frustrated. I bawled in Sydney's stall after both lessons and fought tears all the way home. It was TERRIBLE, but ... I am glad I stuck it out (like you said) because in the end, I did learn a lot.
10/22/2013 04:01:58 am
While it might not seem like it, I think that you are really making progress with Sydney. It might not be consistent, but look at those photos -- there is serious change in his way of going!
10/22/2013 07:43:46 am
I agree. He looks amazing in the last photo. I like the position of his head and neck very much. And check out that elevation in his steps.
10/22/2013 11:16:00 am
Oh, absolutely. I definitely agree that we were finally able to achieve something, but in reality, the moment was fleeting, and I am surprised that CT caught it at all. We do that kind of frame at home all the time. I guess I should be glad that we got it even fleetingly away from home! :0)
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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.
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