From Endurance to Dressage
I am probably falsely optimistic here, but I feel like I somehow just made Second Level my B*tch. All of a sudden, the level doesn't intimidate me any more. Don't worry, we're not jumping to Third any time soon, but I am starting to actually enjoy Second Level. What the heck?
I mentioned this already, but Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, was here for a clinic two weekends ago. Rather than have everyone travel to my barn, which is on the far east side of town, we all met at Amy's house; I was the only one who had to really "travel." While her dressage court is a teensy bit short, it's 20-meters wide and marked with letters. Swoon!
Right now, I really need a court to help me with the serpentines at Second Level. I told Chemaine that the counter canter was my priority for the day. By the way, I had tons of great pictures, but I accidentally deleted them before I downloaded them to my laptop. Grrrr....
Pictures or no, we covered a lot of little things that have really helped smooth out the rough edges. One of the first things we worked on was getting Speedy soft much more quickly. He and I have been duking it out for the first 20 minutes of every ride which then leaves ten minutes for real work.
Chemaine suggested I do the "fighting" at the walk. She had me visualize touching an electric wire - to do so gives you a zap! Instead of tugging and pulling on Speedy, she had me zap him when he got heavy. When he leaned on me, I gave a quick, sharp snap of the reins to say "no, you can't lean on this. GET OFF!" It worked like a charm!
Once Speedy was lighter in the bridle, we got him more in front of my leg. That's been my number one problem at Second Level. When I ask for collection, he breaks gait, particularly at the canter. It also makes the simple changes nearly impossible when he's not in front of my leg.
Most of you know this already, but for those of you who ride the same struggle bus that I do, the more in front of your leg the horse is, the better he can sit into the walk or push off into the canter. To get Speedy thinking forward, we worked on collecting him, but the instant he tried to stutter and lose the canter, I popped him with the whip. That got his hind leg much more active.
The three loop serpentine was next on my list of must conquer. Speedy can hold the counter canter, but I just couldn't get it on the serpentine. Right away Chemaine was able to diagnose the problem; Speedy has the habit of falling on his right shoulder. When tracking right on the right lead, I have to really work that inside rein to get him to let go of it.
For the left lead serpentine, Chemaine had me look at E as we came out of the corner - I had been turning toward K. By turning my shoulder to the new bend, I could then lift Speedy's right shoulder with my right rein, straighten him, and then push his haunches to the left (think renver) to pivot him around my inside leg.
You can see in the video that it took me a few tries to get it right. We've since been riding it at home, and Speedy is getting lighter and lighter. We have a USDF show this weekend. I'm still riding tests one and two which don't have the single loop serpentine, but knowing how to ride Speedy through the counter canter will still help us for the 20-meter half circle.
I can't believe my attitude toward Second Level has changed so quickly, but I am actually looking forward to this show. I feel like we have a better handle on the movements. We might not score well this time, but I am confident we're on the right track!
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%: