From Endurance to Dressage
On Sunday, I had another lesson with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables. It was one of those lessons where mini explosions kept going off in my head. Every word she uttered created an epiphany. By the end of the lesson, I felt as though I had never really heard anything before. How could I not have known these things? It was weird, but in a very, very good way.
Like I mentioned a few days ago, I wanted to challenge Izzy which meant challenging myself as well, so I asked to school flying changes. I had already warmed him up, and like most days, he wasn't even close to working over his back and his neck/poll/jaw were locked up tight. We didn't "care;" Chemaine and I have both learned that Izzy gets better the harder he works.
The biggest Really? that I got out of this lesson was that Izzy can counter counter with a counter bend. And not only can he, but he needs to to do the flying change; Speedy too, for that matter.
To prepare him for the change, Chemaine had us pick up the counter counter while on a circle. As an aside here, I am so proud of Izzy (and myself for that matter) that the canter aid is so well built in that we can even do that. We've got some skills.
Of course, none of my skills are perfect, so Chemaine had to adjust my seat. Because it helps a whole lot (not - don't try this at home), I was throwing my upper body towards the lead I wanted him to pick up which in this case was the right. As soon as Chemaine pointed it out and suggested that instead I push my seat in the direction of the lead I wanted, Izzy picked up the counter canter immediately and very gracefully. It sort of helps when your rider isn't a wiggly monkey on your back.
Once we had that straightened out, Chemaine encouraged me to work with the bend. Counter cantering on the right lead means the horse's neck is bent to the right, or the outside of the circle. She wanted me to get him bent to the left, the inside of the circle. Let me just say that being on a counter canter circle is already enough to challenge your brain as you adjust your aids. Counter flexing while on counter canter was causing some short circuiting in my head.
We didn't just change the bend immediately though. Izzy would have crashed to the ground. Instead, Chemaine had me simply straighten the new "outside" of his body, the side on the outside of the circle. She had me think of that 4x4 exercise from the week before: 4 strides true bend, 4 strides straighten, 4 strides true bend, 4 strides straighten. And then I took it from straighten to counter bend, straighten to counter bend.
Once Izzy could cary the counter canter with a counter bend, he was set up for the flying change. BUT, Chemaine cautioned me not to rush it. Before asking for the change, she had me get him so "heavy" on the new outside rein that he had nowhere else to go. That's the time to ask for the flying change.
I'd like to say it happened the first time, but of course it didn't. It did happen though, and I was even able to get it last night when I rode. In BOTH directions no less. On a freezing cold evening. Under conditions that Izzy loathes. Like I said, SKILLS.
The video is a bit long, but you can hear Chemaine really well. Plus, you get to see how hard Izzy can be to ride. You can laugh; it's okay.
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%: