From Endurance to Dressage
It's been a while since I've written about an AHA! moment or about developing a new feel. As I was riding Izzy yesterday morning, I realized that there's a lot going on in my head right now. And while some of it is about frustration - I hate the half pass with all my heart, so help me God, much of it is good stuff. I am making some connections that only come with experience and good old fashioned hard work.
As we all know, nothing has been linear with Izzy. One moment we're working on a stretchy trot circle, and the next I am asking for the trot half pass - turns out they're not so hard if your horse is good at lateral work. Izzy has a lot more natural talent than does Speedy. That doesn't mean Speedy is without his good points. I'd trade a little of Izzy's ability at the half pass for just a wee bit of Speedy's common sense. Not every lizard is out to maim or kill.
A month or two back, I decided that Izzy was ready for the flying change. His counter canter is confirmed, but not too confirmed, he has a decent simple change, and he knows the canter cue. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, has worked with a us a few times on the changes, and Izzy now knows more or less what I am asking for. It's nowhere near confirmed of course, and 95% of the time I can't get a clean change yet, but at least he now understands that what I am doing up there is an aid.
The way I ask for the change is to first get the horse on the new outside rein by counter flexing, or changing the bend. Then I ask him to move his haunches over with my new inside leg. For the change itself, I make sure to maintain the new inside bend, change my seat and legs for the new lead while asking for the change with the new outside rein. Giving an audible, and CHANGE! doesn't seem to hurt either.
The main problem I am having in the flying change is that Izzy now knows when it's coming. He thinks the change is hard - everything new is always hard in his opinion, so his go-to is to resist as soon as I change the bend. He flips his head up and down violently, locks on to the bit, or just drops down to trot instead of jumping in the canter.
Over the past few days, I've decided to go back to some really basic fundamentals.
Without already having worked through Introductory to Third Level on Speedy, I wouldn't know each of the pieces that a horse needs to understand before offering clean flying changes. For so long it's been daunting to look at how much I don't know. It's nice to finally be able to use what I do know.
So while Izzy doesn't have a flying change yet, I don't feel stuck, and he's not feeling overwhelmed. I now have enough tools in my box to help him when he feels intimidated or doesn't quite understand. He'll get it; he's almost there, and then we'll continue spiraling our way up the levels. Circling back continuously doesn't feel very quick, but it feels right for this horse.
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%: