From Endurance to Dressage
Having Second Thoughts
If you stop by with any regularity, you already know that Speedy and I are slogging through the hell that has been named Second Level. I am kidding about the hell part - mostly. For so long I've heard about the difficulty of the level and that many folks kind of end up stuck here for the rest of their riding careers. I couldn't figure out why. Now I know.
The jump from First Level to Second seems to be a pretty big one. Training and First Level felt more like the place where you get a horse broke. Second is where the "tricks" start to happen.
Over the past month, quite a few of you have commiserated with me. You've agreed that Second is tough, and in some cases, several have mentioned that Third is easier. Don't worry, I am not skipping Second. After skimming through the requirements of Third and Fourth and even beyond, I realized something: getting an awesome simple change is just the beginning.
After the simple change, I'll have to deal with flying changes, and then the twos and the threes and so on. And it doesn't end there. After we confirm our turn on the haunches, pirouettes will be waiting. Half pass is coming, so is passage and piaffe.
The point to all of this is that I realized that finishing Second doesn't get me anything other than more work. Somehow, that took a ton of pressure off my shoulders. Right now, I am definitely having second thoughts about Second Level. Maybe it's not so bad after all!
1/16/2018 11:07:43 am
The thing is, a second level horse is really so nice to ride. They understand how to move their shoulders and haunches and collect and extend, and to do those things well they have to be quite strong and balanced... but those are the tools you need to do so many things. A haunches in on the diagonal becomes a half pass. Your medium trot gets bigger and more has more suspension as your horse gets stronger and more balanced, and becomes an extended trot. Your collected trot becomes half steps, which eventually becomes piaffe. You ask for a little more each ride because your horse understands your requests, and suddenly you can see so many doors open (even if they are just opened a tiny crack!) So yeah, it's a leap to second, but it's really the beginning of so much awesome!
1/16/2018 01:23:44 pm
That's kind of what I meant about the start of the tricks. Hard work for sure to get them, but they enable you to do so much more. ;0)
My young horse is starting to school Second and it's a doozy. Having been to GP on my last horse though, it's really shaping how I'm training the young horse. Every single movement really matters, and skipping levels or just doing enough to "get through" the level is just setting yourself up for failure in the next one. This time around I'm not using any duct tape for tricks and it's a lot harder and taking a lot longer time, but he's so much better (and the work is so much easier for him) than my much more talented GP horse was at this stage. It's a tricky level but it DOESN'T get easier from here! I kind of laughed and rolled my eyes at the person on one of your posts saying to just skip Second because Third was so much easier. That just screams "slap 'em in the double" to me. Keep plugging along!
1/16/2018 01:25:24 pm
Yeah, I am not much of a skipper. I like to really cover my bases which is why this is taking me so long!!!!! The good thing is that once "I" get it on Speedy, I am able to teach Izzy so much more quickly. :0)
It seems I need to clarify what I mean by “I skip it”. You can’t actually skip training the movements, obviously, because they are called for at the higher levels. What I skip is riding the tests. I don’t much care for showing as it is, and showing 2nd level is pretty much torture. Because 3rd and 2nd are so closely related, it’s not that big of a leap. Also, I school in a snaffle (and showed in one, after it was allowed) so there was no slapping of doubles here. ;D
1/16/2018 01:27:03 pm
My trainer and I just talked about that on Sunday. I am not looking forward to Second Test 1, as Speedy can do the test 2 stuff more easily. I want to just skip test 1, but I'll probably give it a try or two anyway!
I must have mistaken the comment then. Pretty sure it said to skip Second because a rider can skip putting on the simple changes because flying changes were easier. I've put changes on a lot of horses and at least good clean changes come from the simple change. Simple changes are a demonstration of collection. No collection, no quality flying change, no quality of gaits moving forward. Third is impossible to truly do well (like, not just skirting by) without quality simple changes. Just my opinion as a dressage trainer ;) glad there's no skipping important movements/levels around here.
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%: