From Endurance to Dressage
I've made a few changes in my riding routine that are making me so much happier. I really hate complaining about a First World problem - having too many horses, but when we live a life that is so dependent on a clock, time becomes as valuable as any other resource.
For most of my adult life, and even as a teenager, I've had two horses. While it was difficult to keep two endurance horses fit at the same time, it was more about choosing who to ride each day and for how long. It was rare to ride both in a single day.
When I made the switch to dressage, it seemed silly to ride for 45 minutes and go home. I was used to riding 4 - 5 hours at a time. That's when I started riding two horses a day. I've been doing that pretty regularly for four years. I am finally tired of it.
I realized that I was rushing through my rides to get them done along with all of my other chores: feeding, cleaning stalls, caring for tack, doctoring, and so on. For the past month, I've given myself permission to ride only one horse each day without feeling guilty about it. Riding is once again fun and the chores seem like a lot less work.
Speaking of fun, I had some really interesting rides on both boys over the weekend. Speedy and I are chipping away at a few things we're going to need for Second Level. For me, that's the sitting trot. I am working on it, and I had some really good moments this weekend, but I have a long to go if I want to sit a trot lengthening.
For Speedy, I need to get a canter to walk transition. The walk to canter is there. It might not get a 7 or an 8, but at least I can get it every time on both leads. Chemaine had me doing some great exercises to teach Speedy to sit so that he can go from canter to walk. This weekend, he gave me several clear canter to walk transitions. They definitely need to be straighter, but they were round and clean. Chalk one up for Team Speedy.
With Izzy, I've been working on the canter: getting it, maintaining it, and steering it. Over the weekend, his left lead was pretty spot on, and he did it without the usual tantrum, although he thought about it. I counted that as definite progress.
To the right, the rodeo continued, but there was a difference. After the work that we had done with Chemaine, I had much better control of the outside shoulder and was able to keep him tracking right without ever losing him to the left. With control of the shoulder, I also started to get control of his haunches.
Each time his haunches fall out, he does a flying change to get on the left lead. Instead of bringing him back to trot and reorganizing, I have been able to counter flex him and push his haunches in. The result is that I get a flying lead change back onto the right lead.
So as we cantered a 30-meter circle tracking right, he could hold the right lead until we came to the gate side of the arena. If I wasn't careful enough, I would lose his haunches to the outside and he would swap to a left lead. Without missing a beat, I counter-flexed him, pushed my inside seat bone forward, pushed my outside leg back, and asked for the right lead canter. He got the flying change every time.
Ideally, I'd rather catch his haunches before I lose them, but I love that he is slowly figuring out my aids and that he is really trying. And if nothing else, it's kind of cool to feel how easy the flying change is for him!
Of course, that was this weekend, last night was a hot mess to the right. One step forward ... two steps back.
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%: