From Endurance to Dressage
First Level For Sure
I don't know exactly what it means to be "confirmed" at a level, but I know that First is definitely where Speedy and I belong. That doesn't mean I'm not looking at you, Second Level, because I am. Just forewarning you. If confirmed means we have the level mastered, no, we're not there. If it means handling the movements confidently and successfully, we're really close.
When I was riding the movements at Training Level, there was a lot of guessing and hoping. I think this is right ... How much do I need to do? ... Do I need more or less? ... What's this supposed to look like? ... and so on.
I don't feel that confusion anymore, and it's not because First Level is some magical portal to the Dressage Kingdom. I think Speedy and I have just made it over a pretty big hump in our training. I also think his body is stronger and more capable of the work that I am asking for.
Just the other day, Laurel - who feeds in the evenings, asked if I wanted to cut back Speedy's hay a little. She wasn't coming out and directly saying he was fat, but you know ... he was looking a bit rotund. I told her his girth was fitting like always, so we went into his stall and started poking around.
We both agreed he's undoubtedly round, but to feel him, he's pretty dang solid. While his neck might appear cresty, it doesn't wiggle and jiggle like a fat neck does. The same goes for the other parts of his body that are typically spongy on a fat horse. She finally conceeded that he is just a well-muscled horse and not obese ... says the proud momma whose kid might be walking around in size husky.
So what's different now that we're showing First Level and eye-balling Second? Well, for starters, Speedy is getting round. No, not round as in fat. What I mean is that he's getting round over his back, especially at the canter. Although with him, round isn't always a good thing as he likes to get overly round (photo below shows that).
For so long, he was definitely hollow, and then came a period where his back was stronger and he could carry my weight and some of his own. Look how long he looks in that baby photo. He's always had a good stride length, but he had no strength in his hind end with which to sit. He couldn't tuck his butt underneath him and push off with any impulsion.
I am now feeling that he is stronger in his hind end. He can now sit deeper, lift his back, and push off with those hind legs. This isn't a great photo, and I've already shared it before, but it does show what I am talking about.
Speedy's also listening to my seat. I guess that was hard to do before as my seat, and the rest of my aids, were quite uneducated. We can now play around within each gait. I can get a bigger trot or a smaller trot, a bigger canter or a much smaller canter. This is new.
For so long, he simply had three gears: a walk, a trot, and a canter. I pretty much got what I got. The walk was pokey, the trot always felt like he was ass over tea kettle, and the canter was closer to a gallop. I am now developing his medium walk, which neither of us knew was in there. At the trot, we're schooling halt to trot transitions which are hard for a lazy worker like Speedy. He's not a fan of a spur poke though, so he's getting it.
And then there's the canter. I almost feel like I am getting the most growth in this gait. Not only can he lengthen his stride at the canter, but he is developing some nice jump in the 15-meter circle. I also love that I am able to move him on and off the rail at the canter, do counter canter circles, and best of all, the change of lead through trot feels really solid.
There are areas that still need a lot of work ... Leg Yield, I have my eye on you! ... but I am feeling excited about our next show and feel that we might have a chance at being somewhat competitive. Even if we aren't, and we bring home one of those disappointing scores in the 50s (59% being the worst), I know we are on the right path.
I am really enjoying this journey with Speedy G. Hopefully he feels the same way!
8/16/2015 05:41:45 am
Don't call him fat until he is mistaken for a round bale with ears! :-}
8/16/2015 07:14:26 am
My thoughts, exactly, Ian. :0)
8/16/2015 07:18:52 am
I think so. And I think that Speedy is a good example. His breed is not known for being "round." Most people think of Arabs as leggy, thin, and angular. I am asked at least once at every show, "Is he part Arab?" Most people are quite surprised to find that he is a purebred.
8/17/2015 01:49:17 pm
Thanks, Megan. This has been a very educational journey. Building a successful endurance horse is NOT the same as building a successful dressage horse. I think Speedy and I doing okay. :0)
8/17/2015 01:50:16 pm
Thanks, Emma. He's a really great horse. :0)
8/17/2015 09:34:10 am
The transformation is amazing!!
8/17/2015 01:51:09 pm
I don't know if amazing is quite the right word, but I think he's shaping up pretty well. :0)
Comments are closed.
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%: