From Endurance to Dressage
With our debut at Second Level fast approaching, there are a ton of movements that are still not show worthy. Forget getting a 7, right now, I am trying not to get any 4s! The one movement that we've been more stuck on than anything else is the counter canter to walk.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, came to my rescue on Saturday. When I saw that she had brought the Comtek with her, I threw Speedy's reins her direction and asked her to warm him up while I went back to the car for my earbuds.
Like I said the other day, having your trainer warm your horse up is a luxury I could really get used to. Speedy has been a bit of a stinker lately. He's really feeling the pressure of Second Level, and he's letting me know that it's hard. I get it, pony, but toughen up!
Chemaine worked him through a small tantrum, and by the time I got on him, he was much softer and more forward. Right away I suggested we tackle the simple changes and the counter canter work.
Chemaine gave me so many excellent pointers that I can't even begin to share them all. The most important one though was this: quit accepting good enough. Good enough is no longer good enough. Speedy has to give me what I am asking for, and he has to do it well. Right now, that's the walk to canter.
When he gives me a soft and unresisting canter departure from the walk, his canter is immediately improved which means the canter to walk is much easier.
The second tip she shared was how to better ride the counter canter. The first thing is to use renvers so that my half halts go through. The second was to slightly change the bend to straight I as prepare for the canter counter to walk transition.
The tips kept coming. As I straightened him and asked for the walk, Chemaine had me finish changing the bend into a shoulder in for the simple change of lead. It's a lot of aids to coordinate - renvers to shoulder in, but it set Speedy up perfectly for the counter canter to walk to simple change of lead.
To really help put it all together, we spent a good amount of time picking up the counter canter from the walk even though that's not a movement in Second Level. Having this "button" on Speedy helps with the walk to canter and with the simple change.
I am feeling a little better about how we'll do at our first show of the year, but I am still not expecting anything great. If we can at least perform each movement, I'll be happy. We can work on improving it all as we head into summer.
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%: