From Endurance to Dressage
"J" is back on schedule, so she and Speedy were hard at work on Saturday. J only moved to our area a year or two (maybe 3?) ago. In that time, she has begun building relationships and joining in with the dressage community in BVS. Lately, she has been riding a few dressage horses for people like me, riders with an extra horse.
She has been pretty excited about the opportunity to ride more than once a week, and it has been quite gratifying to hear that she has been getting very good feedback on her seat and ability to work with new and different horses. With riding multiple horses in mind, I suggested we focus on her ability to feel when a horse is ready for a transition. Any horse, not just Speedy.
J told me that one of the horses she rides want to run into the transitions instead of lifting the belly and pushing from behind. Speedy is the perfect horse for this type of lesson because his transitions are total shite if you let them be. Set him up correctly though, and he'll give you a lovely transition every time be it walk, trot, or canter.
One of the things J is working on right now is sitting up and back. She still has a tendency to perch a bit - how many of us also fight that same habit? Wanting to "give" too much has the effect of pulling us forward. I had her really focus on sitting and pushing out and up with her belly while not hollowing her own back. When she would get it right, Speedy's own tempo got super quiet and regular.
Long ago, I asked Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, whether to teach the rider what the horse knows or whether to teach the rider what she doesn't know. Chemaine's reply was quick: teach the rider the basics first. Since Speedy is schooled through Third Level, he obviously has a lot of buttons that a lower level rider might enjoy pushing, but Chemaine stressed that every rider needs a solid foundation before asking for more technical movements.
Knowing this, I thought it would help J to do some walk to canter transitions to help her get a better feel for asking the horse to lift rather than run into the transition. It took her a few tries, but eventually she was able to ask without letting Speedy's energy squirt forward. I always think about the walk to canter being something like a plane taking off. You don't want the plane to keep rolling forward; you want it to lift. That means you need a half halt to say not forward, but use more thrust to lift the shoulders and push from behind.
It was pretty exciting to see her be able to put it all together. Speedy always gets sassy in the walk to canter transitions. You can see it in his tail in the photos. He also flips his ears backwards. He's not upset. Instead it's his I'm a badass mofo so get out of my way!
J will be back this Saturday. It's been blistering hot in the afternoons, so I don't know if she'll have been able to ride after work, but I hope so. I am eager to hear whether she was able to apply any of these ideas to her rides. That just now made me wonder: have my own trainers been eager to hear how it went over the week for me? I am always excited to share with my trainer what I've accomplished. Maybe they're excited to hear it.
Any trainers out there who can confirm or deny?
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
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: