From Endurance to Dressage
I started Day 2 on Izzy. Unlike the day before, he was super tense.
No matter how tense and "pogo-sticky" he is, he's not scary to ride, but that doesn't mean it's fun or easy. Chemaine's son shot an hour of video, and for at least the first 15 minutes, it shows us bouncing around the arena with zero connection and absolutely no rhythm. But like I mentioned before, Chemaine can overlook the millions of things I am doing wrong and can concentrate on fixing one thing at a time.
To get Izzy focusing, we went right to work on spiraling down to the other end of the arena and then spiraling back. Once we'd done that a time or two, we worked on the leg yield from center line to the long side.
Even though he was tense, and bouncing around, Izzy's brain stayed connected, something that hadn't happened at the first two clinics we did with Chemaine. After doing some leg yields, Chemaine had me do a four loop serpentine at the walk as an alternate way to change reins. It also gave Izzy a chance to settle down, and by alternating the bend, it kept his brain engaged while his body was able to relax.
The serpentine really helped him to focus, at least for a minute. The walk to trot transition after the serpentine was nearly flawless. It's really hard to see in the video, but if you zoom in, you'll see what I mean.
The rest of the lesson, and it was a long one, was spent trying to teach me to get a haunches in. I could feel his haunches swing in at the trot, but when Chemaine had me use the haunches in to get a canter, everything went to hell in a hand basket.
Rather than have both of us feeling frustrated, Chemaine asked if she could get on Izzy. Are you kidding? I couldn't get down fast enough. I am all for training my horse myself, but if there is someone standing around who can show him faster than I can, I say go for it. And since I obviously wasn't clear on the purpose or execution of the aids, seeing it done correctly was a huge bonus.
It took Chemaine 17 seconds to get him to do a haunches in at the trot ...
Of course, that wasn't the end of the discussion as she had to show him a number of times that yes indeed, he had the right answer. Chemaine wasn't schooling the haunches in just to move his haunches around. The true purpose was to help me get a canter departure without him being counter bent.
A few months ago, I could not reliably get the canter lead of my choice. I am not balanced enough or correct enough with my aids to teach a green horse which lead I want. To help me get it, Chemaine had me help Izzy pick up the correct canter lead by asking him to counter bend so that his inside shoulder could fall into the circle. This made it crystal clear which lead I wanted him to take.
That worked well enough so that I can now get a canter departure, but it is unbalanced and takes a lot of work to get him up off that shoulder and onto the outside rein. Enter the haunches in.
To help him take a balanced first canter stride, Chemaine helped me get him on the outside rein by doing a shoulder in first. Then, maintaining that same bend, I opened my outside rein to draw his shoulders to the outside (instead of falling in), and then I pulled back to to get him on his hind end as I used my outside leg to push his haunches in.
If it sounds confusing, it is, and it was really hard for me to coordinate. That's when Chemaine got on. Once she showed him what all of the aids meant together, she cantered him for a while on the left lead to show him that he could do it.
By riding him, Chemaine was able to discover a lot about his personality. She found that he is often resistant because he doesn't have a lot of confidence; he doesn't think he can do it so he doesn't try. Once you get him going however, he realizes that the work is easy and he gets really happy. And truthfully, the work truly is easy for him, especially when his rider helps him.
I got back on and we schooled the haunches in a bit. Once Chemaine felt that I had it, we used it to get the left lead canter. The thing to focus on in the video is Chemaine's coaching, which is constant. It's humbling to share video of myself struggling, but if it helps someone else, the embarrassment is worth it. You'll see that Izzy is not easy to ride.
Even with my bumbling aids, the horse can do it. He just needs me to get better as quickly as I can so that I am more effective at channeling his natural ability. We do get better each time we see Chemaine. She's coming back in December, weather permitting, and I plan to have those departures under control!
Up next: Speedy's second lesson.
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%: