From Endurance to Dressage
The other day on Facebook, I read these three articles from Horse Listening: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. They're worth the read, especially if you're a lower level rider like myself.
If I got it right, the first article describes making contact with a horse's mouth through the bit and reins. The second part explains how when the horse lifts and rounds his back, he is on the bit. In the third part, she talks about that amazing feeling of lightness that can happen when the horse is truly on the aids and collected. While these ideas are relevant all the time, the articles took on special importance this week as I continue to focus more and more on my sitting trot.
As I work on my sitting trot, I'm realizing how much more control a rider can have by sitting. The opposite is also true. A crappy sitting trot can wreak havoc on a horse's way of going, especially a horse as ... sensitive as Izzy.
On Monday, I knew Izzy was going to be a handful. He came into the arena and immediately had diarrhea. This is NOT normal. In fact, he rarely poops in the arena at all, and his stool is never loose. Even so, there he was, staring fixedly at something that I couldn't see. I gave a deep sigh, patted his neck, and told him it would be alright. Spoiler alert - it was!
Since my last lesson, I've been forcing myself to stay conscious of what my seat is doing. That means not allowing myself to "perch." When I perch, I squeeze my legs like a clothespin and my seat bones lose contact with my saddle. The instant I feel myself perching, I relax my legs. I also sit back and tuck my pelvis.
One way that I can tell I am really on my seat bones is that my lady parts feel squished. TMI, I realize, but with the whole sit like a queen, and move like a whore thing, it seems very apropos.
I know I am rambling. What I really wanted to say was how excited I was by Monday's ride. Izzy was tense and worried by what-I-don't-know, but by using my seat and legs (rather than going straight to my hands) to really engage his hind end, there was no drama. I just kept pushing that inside hind farther and deeper until he had no choice but to lift his back and create lightness in the rein.
And in the end, we had a few moments of really good collection. It was so good that we cantered a figure eight on the right lead with no change of lead! Small stuff I know, but every positive moment is a step in the right direction.
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%: