From Endurance to Dressage
Now that I am committed to working with Chemaine once a month, I feel like Speedy and I are making faster progress. I can't even imagine how totally kick butt we'd be if I could ride with her every week!
For this lesson, my main goal was to work on the leg yields. I know I'm losing Speedy's outside shoulder, especially to the left, but I was also struggling with knowing whether the inside hind was truly stepping under or not.
After warming Speedy up for a minute or so, Chemaine put us right to work on the leg yields. The problem wasn't the inside hind, Chemaine assured me that he is crossing over just fine. The issue is indeed with the outside shoulder.
Speedy will move away from my inside left leg into my outside right rein pretty well as long as I am effective and steady with the outside rein. In everything we do, it is the left rein that gives us trouble. He just doesn't want to soften to it ... ever!
To help both of us figure out how to solve this, Chemaine had me try a few different things. First, as I asked him to move over, she had me ignore what he was doing with his head and simply focus on his hind leg. When I try to get him to give to the rein and step over, I usually lose all of the forward motion, and he simply stalls out.
When I kept the left outside rein steady and low, I could at least get Speedy to step under and over with the inside hind leg. And when he continued to be a brat, she had me finish out the leg yield at a walk. The purpose was to show him that he could step under with that inside leg. Chemaine said it was non-negotiable. I like thinking of it that way as it means that I am not asking for too much. Speedy simply has to do this.
Once Speedy was definitely stepping under, Chemaine had me play around with the outside rein and almost counter flex Speedy so that he had to soften to the outside rein. This is not easy to do. The idea was to keep him straighter so that I don't lose his outside shoulder.
When I got the left shoulder straighter, he threw a little hissy fit which involved kicking out, small rears, and stamping his little front feet NO. Fortunately, I've had him so long that nothing he does is in any way scary. I just laughed at him and gave him a bit of a spur.
We never got it perfect, but I've since watched the video of me schooling that leg yield, and I can at least see what I need to do. Keeping that shoulder straighter without letting him bulge out to the left will help a lot.
We also played around with the trot lengthenings, but Chemaine thought I was improving those pretty well on my own so we moved on to shoulder in. This is not something I school, but Chemaine had a great exercise for them that is an excellent addition to an exercise I already do.
Before I work on the trot lengthenings, I do a series of three, 10-meter circles down the long side. I then half halt in the first corner, use the short side to regroup a little, and then half halt and straighten as I come out of the second corner. After all of that collected work, Speedy is usually thrilled to lengthen his stride across the diagonal.
To add shoulder in to the exercise, Chemaine had me keep the bend of the 10-meter circles along the long side and just when we started to lose it, I put him back in a 10-meter circle. As we finished the next 10-meter circle, I maintained the bend and pushed him down the long side again. In this way, Speedy only had to hold the shoulder in for a few strides before he was doing another 10-meter circle.
The added benefit of this exercise is that when he drifted off the rail, I could leg yield him back without him thinking that it was a leg yield. Win-win!
After my lesson, Chemaine let me know that she was staying the night in town and could do a follow up lesson the next day. I was thrilled! That meant that I actually had four lessons this weekend.
Tomorrow, my first lesson on Izzy.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read