From Endurance to Dressage
At the western States Horse Expo a week or so ago, Chemaine showed an exercise for helping to know if your horse is truly lengthening the stride or simply getting quicker. I've been doing the exercise at home and have seen some excellent results with Speedy G.
I put two cones down the long side of the arena and a matching pair on the other side. I start out in a working trot or canter and count how many strides it takes to get from one cone to the other. Initially, I try to match the number of strides on both sides to ensure that my tempo is even.
Later, I do trot lengthenings and count to see if Speedy's stride is definitely longer. I can tell he's truly lengthening when we get fewer strides than we did before. It's the canter work that is really showing the most improvement though. And it's not just because I threw out a couple of cones, but that has helped.
Yesterday, I focused on the 15-meter circle into a canter lengthening from First Level. The lengthening has been tough for us because I have a hard time getting him back to a working canter. With the recent work I did with Chemaine, Speedy is now pushing off from behind (instead of dragging himself on his forehand) which helps him sit when we come back to a collected canter. At least that's how I am riding it.
Chemaine informed me that I need to ride the First Level tests as though they're Second Level. Thinking about it this way has forced me to really insist he pick up his poll, accept the contact, and sit.
We have a CDS-rated show on Sunday. I am really hoping to see our scores improve if I actually ride him more forward like I do at home.
as a former h/j rider i'm kinda a zealot about counting strides lol - but still constantly find myself amazed at the applications of counting in dressage. counting down the long side to test for true lengthening is great - but you can also count the number of strides in each quarter of a circle to make sure the circle is really..... circular lol (something i personally struggle with). also there is supposedly some calculation for saying how many strides you should get in each quarter of the circle based on circle size (i think it's 4 strides for 20m, 3 strides for 15m, and 2 strides for 10m, but could be wrong) - but i've had better luck just trying to figure out what the 'normal' number is at circles of that size on each horse. i don't always remember to count tho, but when i do it makes a big difference!
6/22/2017 12:46:37 pm
Without a real dressage court, counting strides on a circle is harder to do! And really, it depends on the size of your horse. Speedy's working trot and Izzy's working trot are very different in length. LOL
6/21/2017 04:37:13 pm
Fingers crossed for you at the show!!
6/22/2017 12:47:23 pm
Aw, that's very kind of you, Elinor. It was fun to have someone count for me and challenge me to get a certain number. :0)
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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%
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