From Endurance to Dressage
Facing the Fear
Yesterday, I admitted that I have some fear in asking Izzy for the flying change. Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, has assured me that Izzy's little leaps are not anywhere near as dramatic as they feel. I've worked with Sean long enough to know that I can trust him. I also know that I am a pretty good rider. I may not be an elegant rider, but it is hard to get me off. Armed with Sean's word and my own resolve, I decided to school the changes on Sunday with Pivo keeping an eye on me.
Sean's advice regarding the flying change was this: don't over prepare and don't react when it doesn't happen. Just keep on riding. I started off with our usual warm up - some walking, trot both ways, and a few leg yields. Then I put Izzy into an easy canter. Instead of coming down to the trot, I used a short diagonal to ask for a flying change of lead. Getting the change wasn't my goal. Instead, all I wanted to do was ask, sit up, and confidently ride whatever Izzy threw my way.
The first "bounce" looked like this ...
Even before I watched the video, I knew it was nothing to get excited about. My plan had paid off - I sat up rather than curling forward (too much) which meant I was able to keep control during the non-change. Not wanting to over-face Izzy but needing some time to work on my own confidence, I kept him in an easy canter down both long sides, sometimes circling, and sometimes asking for a change across a short diagonal. He never really had time to anticipate the change because I just kept cantering along as though nothing exciting were happening. Occasionally he got one, but most of the time he didn't. Either way, I just kept on riding.
Most of the time we didn't get it, but I really didn't care. He won't be able to get the changes if I am tense and worried about an explosion. My goal was to just canter around and around throwing in a request for a flying change here and there. The more I did it, the less anxious I was about them. After only a few minutes, I realized I have nothing to worry about. I did more "asks" in those few minutes than I have done in the past few weeks. Despite combing through the video looking for the "explosions," this was the worst reaction I could find.
So often, once I become aware of "something," it is easy to fix. If it is an issue with my position, simply seeing it will help me address it. I knew I was feeling some fear about the flying changes, but I don't think I realized how much of an affect it was having on my riding until I admitted it to Sean. Getting his honest assessment of my riding and then seeing the "explosions" for what they really were - practically nothing, helped me put the whole thing in perspective. Facing that little bit of doubt head on by deliberately asking for flying changes without a bunch of preparation eased my worry to the point where I think it's pretty much gone.
Now that I'm fixing my part of the problem, maybe I can help Izzy feel less anxious too.
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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%
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%: