From Endurance to Dressage
I had a lesson this past Monday, but I was simply too busy to write about it. It was terrible. Speedy had a bug up his patootie and just didn't want to do it. And when I say IT, I mean anything and everything. We persevered, and we did learn something, but it was one of those time when you knew you were doing a whole lot of ugly in effort to ultimately get something pretty.
The problem was at the canter. When I came home from riding the simulator, our canter work improved immediately. It wasn't ooh la la or anything, but at least there was a hint of connection. So on Monday, JL tried to help us get even more connected and uphill.
Our left lead canter has a smoother departure. Speedy is "stiff" to this direction which makes the departure fairly straight. We ultimately need to get a better bend, but at least he canters promptly. To the right is an entirely different can of worms. This is his limp "side" and there is nothing straight about it.
In an effort to straighten him up, both literally and figuratively, I've been riding him straight around the circle. It's not quite in a counter bend, but his nose is not tipped into the circle; it points forward. We do this to get his left ribcage away from my outside leg. If I try to ride a bend before he's straight, he leans on my outside leg and tries to blow through the outside shoulder. And he bucks or kicks out.
With nose pointed forward, JL asked for a right lead canter. I don't know how I stuck to the saddle because Speedy blew a serious gasket. He bucked and bolted and kicked all four legs in all four cardinal directions. We tried a few more times and realized we needed to go back a step.
Instead of cantering, JL had me put him a counter bend and track right at the sitting trot. Every quarter of the circle I asked for a halt with the outside rein until he finally moved his ribs off my outside leg.
We did the counter bend circle for a while and then while maintaining that same bend, we turned left. Eventually, Speedy softened up and we had a nice straight horse. We went back to the canter, but it did no good. He did not want to work off that outside hind leg to the right; he bucked and kicked out for at least 20 minutes.
It was a lot of ugly. We finally called it a night. As I walked him down JL's driveway, he was higher than a kite during his version of the Arabian-Look- At-Me: prancing on rubber band legs, tail flipped over his back, neck arched, nostrils flaring, and eyes big and wide. I gave him some repeated jabs in the neck with my elbow to remind him that HELLO! Your human is under all of this stupidity. By the time we walked up our own driveway, all of his air had gone out and he looked tired, really tired. Good. I hoped he was tired. It served him right.
All of that work paid off however, as he has been much better the last few days. His canter departures still need some work, but he decided that the buck and bolt maneuver resulted in more work than he was willing to do. I rode Wednesday and Thursday and will ride later this morning as well. With a long weekend ahead, he's going to get plenty of canter practice. I'd like to have a shorter, easier lesson this upcoming Monday.
Consider the canter, Speedy G; we can do this the hard way or the right way!
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%: