From Endurance to Dressage
Probably the best thing about auditing a clinic is the opportunity to see new exercises being ridden so that you can take notes. That's what happened for me this weekend at our third Casual Clinic with Chemaine Hurtado, owner of Symphony Dressage Stables.
That's what I am calling them because the purpose of the rides with Chemaine Hurtado is to show that dressage can be accessible and useful for all levels of riders and for all disciplines. We've had western dressage riders, a hunter rider, and several other ladies who don't necessarily show, but they still want to improve their riding.
I started the day off on Speedy G. My biggest concern was the leg yield. I have been struggling with that movement for months. In the beginning, Chemaine had me get control of the outside shoulder by counter bending to keep the shoulder from leading too far.
The next time she saw us, I was again struggling with the leg yield. The issue was that I had fixed the bulging shoulder which meant that I needed to keep Speedy G straight as opposed to counter bent.
For this lesson, Chemaine laughed and said there was nothing wrong with our leg yield. Speedy was crossing over just fine, but instead of his shoulders leading, his haunches were now leading. Oops. The fix was to open my outside rein and allow the shoulders to lead the tiniest bit to give room for his front legs to step over. Without a place for his legs to go, he was falling over to the outside.
This is not an example of our best riding, sheesh!, but what I love about working with Chemaine is that she is able to focus on one thing at a time and doesn't try to fix everything at once.
We also worked on some shoulder in through 10-meter circles. Speedy has been a bit of a stinker to ride lately, and I think it's because Chemaine has helped me get a lot more "forward" from him. This is all great on straight lines, but it is a lot more work for him on the smaller circles.
For the 10-meter circles he has decided that he doesn't want to bend and push with his hind end. He's happy to give me one or the other, but not both. To help resolve this issue, which ultimately makes the work easier for Speedy, Chemaine had me trot the long sides with as much inside bend as Speedy could give while still trotting forward. It looks awful, but the purpose is to show him that he can bend and stretch.
Little by little he did start to get more supple. Once he was bending, we turned off the rail and did a 10-meter circle. When we returned to the rail, I kept the exaggerated bend. Eventually, we were able to turn the bend into a shallow shoulder in by using the first track or the quarter line. By getting off the rail, I had more room to move his shoulders and haunches without him feeling stuck.
It's not a pretty exercise, but you can really see Speedy (and me) start to get it in this video.
Besides the leg yield and shoulder in work, Chemaine gave all of us a series of warm up exercises to get our horses more supple and ready for work.
1) Start with the leg yield at the walk.
2) Change the bend at trot. This exercise looks like this:
3) Compress the trot to walk to engage the hind end. It looks like this:
Another exercise Cheamine had the lower level or greener horses do was to leg yield into the canter. That exercise looked like this:
More exercises tomorrow!
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read