From Endurance to Dressage
First Level Fun
I am having so much fun with Speedy now that we are "officially" focused on First Level. My gray pony may not have the big, expressive movement that the warmbloods have, but he sure is fun to ride.
At our lesson on Monday night, my trainer asked what it was that I wanted to work on. It's a little weird telling the teacher what you need, but JL has been a great supporter of my dressage efforts. She recognizes that my path is different from that of her jumping students so she tries to help me with the directives that each level presents.
Now that we're over the most rudimentary basics, meaning we can walk, trot, and canter with some semblance of a frame, she is leaving it to me to let her know what comes next. I reported that I felt comfortable with how we're doing with the 10-meter half circles and the leg yields. Our weak spot at the moment is the canter departure. We also need to slow down the canter so that Speedy can get off of his forehand.
JL had me pick up a trot, which by the way is getting really good. She instructed me to think about really slowing down his front end as I asked for the canter. At the same time, I need to be really strong in my back so that as he tries to shoot forward into the canter, I can resist the lengthening of his spine. I need to gently slide the rein (rock, sponge, whatever) to encourage him to lift up. And, I need to continue to slide (rock, sponge) as Speedy goes through the whole upward arc of the canter.
I tend to to want to throw his neck away as soon as he begins the upward phase of the canter. To help him go up, I need to stay with him all the way through the up and down wave of motion. That was a huge revelation. I only stay with him as he begins the liftoff, but then I let go as he arcs across the top.
Once I maintained the contact by being very resistant in my back, Speedy stayed round and less strung out. The result was a better canter that was uphill as opposed to the runaway wheelbarrow effect that we sometimes get.
I had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday morning which meant I got to be at the barn by noon instead of working. Riding in the middle of the week with no worries about the fading daylight reminded me of all that I have to be thankful for.
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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%: