From Endurance to Dressage
February Lessons Day 2 (Izzy)
On Sunday, we continued with the suppling exercises. Unlike Speedy, Izzy is already in front of my leg and doesn't need to be pushed. He's unlike Speedy in a lot of other ways too, but the biggest difference is how stiff he is through his neck and back. Speedy is like trying to wrangle wet noodles. He squirts out all over the place as he tries to avoid pushing through his hind end.
Izzy fishtails his hind end around rather than softening through his neck and back, so that's what we've been working on. Chemaine had me doing several different exercises. The first was at the left lead canter.
As we cantered left, she had me change the bend until he softened, especially when he was fussing with my outside rein. Changing the bend kind of works like a big half halt. Once he softened to the outside rein, I let him swing gently back to the inside.
This is a long video, but the sound quality is good, and you will feel like you're getting a lesson. Chemaine explains the purpose of the exercise and points out where I am being effective and not so effective.
In the latter part of the video, we continued with changing the bend, but we worked at the trot. Instead of letting him come back to the regular bend, she had me use the counter bend to set him up for a change of direction.
I've used this exercise before, but the way we did it this time made a lot of sense for a horse who struggles with confidence. Once he had softened to the counter bend, I simply changed direction which helped him maintain his balance. For Izzy, as athletic as he is, changes of direction challenge his confidence when he loses his balance.
As he gets more and more supple through his neck and back, Chemaine referred to him as muscle-bound, the changes of bend will get easier and easier.
My homework with Izzy is to keep changing the bend. As he gets more and more supple, he will be able to use his body more effectively, and the right lead canter will feel easy for him.
2/25/2016 07:23:22 am
Remember it's not only about changing the bend to get him supple. You are also changing so often to get Izzy to say yes more than no! Great job!
2/26/2016 09:42:54 am
Thanks for that reminder; I kept it in mind last night. I also rode the canter while working on my sitting trot seat and allowing my lower leg to swing. I'd say my brain is about bursting right now. :0)
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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
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Third Level: 62.105%
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