From Endurance to Dressage
A few weeks ago I wrote about my wayward, disobedient inside hand. When I ride Speedy, photos show my inside hand closer to my body than my outside hand, especially tracking right. I assumed that I was being overly strong with my right hand. It may actually be that I am allowing Speedy (and Sydney) to take the outside rein away. Hmm...
I had a lesson yesterday; can I digress for just a moment? It was awesome! I have the best trainer. I do not know how she is getting me from here to there, but she is. We may not have a perfect right lead canter yet, but gone is the whirl and bolt. We are now working on softening the outside rein so that I can begin getting some inside flexion. At the canter. To the right. Not get a canter, but improve the canter. I never thought we'd get there.
It was in the softening of the outside rein that JL "caught" me letting Sydney go with the outside rein. Once I had him listening to the outside rein, she asked me to start softening with the inside rein. Right away she coached me about not dropping the outside contact. What? But I could still feel him there. I wasn't dropping the contact. I didn't know what she meant until I glanced down and saw my outside hand sitting a good six inches in front of my inside hand. Oh.
While I hadn't let Sydney go completely, I was setting him up to be able to blow through the shoulder and lose his hind end. I had just gone through all that effort to get him straight with his butt behind his shoulders, and there I was just tossing it away. Every time I give that outside rein away, Sydney (or Speedy) loses his balance, and we fall apart.
As soon as I really saw it for myself, I was able to feel why I had to "guard" that outside rein. Sydney takes it in a very obvious way. He leans heavily on it until my hand slides forward. Once I became aware of it, I was able to keep "sponging" him off of it. Duh … keep him soft on the outside rein.
Speedy is a bit sneakier in getting me to give that outside rein. He roots at it just ever so slightly with an oh, that's not very comfortable for me. If you could just give me a little more room … ah, thank you!
I am really excited about riding him this morning as I want to see if I am right. If I am more vigilant about keeping my hands together and even, can I keep him between my aids more consistently?
6/17/2014 03:59:39 am
Now that I am aware of it, it seems SO obvious. I had two GREAT rides today. I also saw your post about position. I skimmed through the article a few weeks ago, but it seemed too tedious. I think I am going to go back and read it again, this time with a more serious effort. :0)
6/17/2014 12:38:58 pm
Hmmmm!! Good thought... I'll be checking on my hands when I ride in the morning :)
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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.
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