From Endurance to Dressage
Those two things are what I now think about during my rides on both Speedy and Izzy. They seem like such simple ideas, but I am suddney feeling them at a whole different level. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has said each of those things to me (A LOT) - consistency of frame and self-carriage, over the past two months. In this sport, you only realize how much you don't know once you learn, or in my case, feel something new.
Revisiting the purpose of a level is something I like to do occasionally, especially when we get stuck or find ourselves plateauing. For Third Level, the purpose is:
Before I go any further, I have to explain that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. quote. We were watching Sunday's NASCAR race at Watkins Glen when we heard Dale Earnhardt, Jr. poke fun at Kyle Petty. Before the race started, Kyle Petty, a retired driver, took Olympic diver, David Boudia, on a "joy ride" around the 2.5 mile track. At the corners are these really bumpy sections called rumble strips. They can wreak havoc on a car's suspension if the drivers hit them wrong. Dale Jr. had suggested that Kyle Petty hit them pretty hard to give Boudia a taste of what a real lap at Watkins Glen feels like. When Junior saw the "joy ride," he quipped to Petty, "I am not too proud of your commitment," referring to Petty's soft approach to the rumble strips.
I just about died laughing. It was hilarious and struck me as something that trainers, especially mine, would say to a half-hearted attempt at anything. I can just picture Chemaine's face as we come through the corner hitting those "rumble strips" softly instead of half halting and revving up Speedy's engine.
So what was I saying? Oh, yeah - self-carriage. I know what that means of course, but now, Speedy has to actually DO IT, and I need to show some commitment by insisting he DO IT. For us to bump up our scores to the 60s, Speedy needs better engagement. He cannot rest on my hands. Instead, he has to start carrying even more of his own weight, especially since I now feel what that means.
For so long, Speedy has felt that a half halt was me saying you've done something wrong. Chemaine pointed out that means I need to be doing a lot more of them so he figures out it simply means he needs to rebalance himself.
When the half halt goes through correctly and he actually sits down a bit, the canter is a totally different thing. And now that I've felt that more collected canter, I want it all. the. time. When he shows more engagement in the canter, his shoulders lift which makes the canter half pass much easier.
We haven't fixed everything this week, but simply riding with the need for self-carriage in my mind is definitely improving everything. I am already looking forward to next year's show season. We'll have all winter to get really confirmed at Third Level.
Especially if we show some commitment.
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%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%