From Endurance to Dressage
The best thing I took away from last Sunday's fox hunt was a renewed sense of confidence. Knowing that I do indeed posses the skills to handle a large, OTTB at a gallop out in the open countryside gave me a fresh sense of power and control. I remembered my endurance seat, and it felt really good.
I took that new feeling with me to Monday's lesson although I wasn't sure either horse would be rested enough for another heavy work day. Speedy looked willing, but he also looked a little tired. Sydney on the other hand didn't look as though he'd done a thing. I grabbed his halter and tacked up.
I was thrilled at his condition, at both of their conditions actually. Neither horse had any filling in his legs, and both had toplines that were free of any tender spots. Speedy needs to lose a few pounds, but he looked as plump as he had on Sunday morning. Sydney had definitely lost a little weight at his flanks, but with having most of this week off, I am sure he'll be back to normal by the weekend.
Both horses were quite dirty, especially Sydney; he had been too wet when we finished on Sunday to even try to scrape off the trail dust. It took a while to pick the matted dirt out of his coat, but by the time I walked over to JL's, he was his regular shiny self.
Jl and I discussed the hunt and how everything had gone. We also talked about bits. She suggested something with a slow twist for the next time I head out. Like this ...
We didn't do anything new or exciting during the lesson, but she helped me focus on making faster and clearer corrections. I could feel the need for the correction before she had time to even say it.
Tracking left, the most he needs is a half halt to maintain the rhythm. To the right, he needs regular corrections to maintain the bend. As I get quicker and quicker at catching him as he even thinks about taking away the inside bend, the less he tries it.
We worked on maintaining an inside bend while tracking right at the trot, but then it was on to the canter work. He fussed a little here and there, but I am able to shut him so down so much quicker now (at least in the arena) that he doesn't get too far. JL had me canter a pretty small circle which is the same exercise we do at the trot. The point to the smaller circle is to almost over exaggerate the inside bend while really pushing his haunches out in sideways motion.
A few rounds of that kind of intense work was about the max that Sydney could do. It turns out that Sydney was more tired than he had first thought. Any sassy thoughts were long gone once I put him in that 15-meter canter circle.
I haven't decided where I'll go from here with him. We're certainly not giving up the dressage instruction; he really needs that, but I also can't just go fox hunting every weekend either. For now, we're still going to the Christian Schacht Clinic in a few weeks. I am just going to wait and see what the new year brings.
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%: