From Endurance to Dressage
Getting His Rear in Gear
I had lessons with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, earlier this week. I told her what I've been working on - riding with no stirrups, and told her that I had no agenda other than continuing the work we've been doing. Good thing I didn't have a plan because she had one outlined already. Call it operation Move Your Booty!
The biggest piece of the puzzle that we're missing right now is an active hind leg. This does not come as a surprise to me as Speedy loves to be downhill and curled under. We've been working on it, and he is beginning to carry his poll higher, but Chemaine feels that we can do better.
Her plan was to get Speedy's hind leg active at the walk first, and then carry that idea into the trot work. Essentially, she wanted me to feel him lift up as opposed to forward. It wasn't easy. We started at the walk with Chemaine walking alongside. She had me think about piaffe but at the walk. She told me to put my leg on without allowing him to trot. The instant he ignored my leg, Chemaine tapped him with the whip.
When she felt that I had the feeling, we moved on to the trot. Once again, instead of allowing him to crawl forward with his front legs, she encouraged me to insist that his withers come up as a result of pushing off from his hind end.
Each time he tried to initiate the movement from his front end, I half halted and tapped, tapped, tapped with the whip to remind him of what his hind end should be doing. Before too long, Speedy started to develop some new gears.
While Speedy really is a good sport, he's not without his opinions. He doesn't mind being told what to do if that's already what he was thinking about doing. Ask him to do something that he's tired of or that he thinks is too much work, and he'll flip you the proverbial bird.
While Speedy's sassiness looks hugely dramatic, it's actually quite easy to sit and creates no sense of fear. I nearly always laugh because his attitude is just so danged funny!
According to Chemaine, our canter work is where it needs to be for Second Level although she did tweak my position a bit on the counter canter. She had me adjust my shoulders so that they stayed turned with the lead rather than turning in the direction of the counter canter. So if we're on a left lead canter, my left shoulder needs to stay back even when we track right. I was turning my upper body towards the direction of travel.
We have two shows coming up later this month. I am feeling more confident than I was in March, but I know we still have a ways to go. We can do the movements in isolation, but we need to get better at them so they run together more harmoniously.
As long as we keep seeing moments like the one above, I am happy to be at Second forever. The work we're doing right now is giving me a very attractive horse.
Not that I am biased or anything.
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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%: