From Endurance to Dressage
Having Some Fun!
I have not had a bad ride on Sydney since we came back from the Christian Schacht clinic (knocking on wood as I type). In fact, each ride get s a little better than the one before it.
I've been focusing on that outside left rein. Before riding with Christian, I had no idea how much weight I could hold. I am not saying I want a heavy horse, but I've been dropping the contact which is probably why Sydney doesn't trust that rein.
Each time he resisted, I softened my left hand (while tracking right) which allowed him to either rear, whirl, bolt, or simply evade the connection. Christian showed me that I can't drop that contact and expect to make improvements. I am also using a much stronger inside right leg.
Over the last week and a half, we've worked on leg yielding across the diagonal. Sydney actually seems to enjoy the challenge of this exercise. When I rode him on Sunday, he was still trying to surge forward out of the corner which meant I had to take a good strong hold of my bucking strap to stabilize my core. Eventually, he figured out what we were doing and tried to keep a more steady rhythm.
The trick with that exercise is when to change the bend. I was trying to change the bend before I was out of the corner. I realized that it was more effective to ride the corner on the correct bend and then change the bend and my posting diagonal once were straight. I also had to really focus on halt halting through the corner so that we came of the corner balanced and ready to change the bend.
Sydney leg yields across the diagonal pretty nicely to the right (on a left bend), but gets a bit wonky to the left on a right bend. This makes total sense as tracking right is where we have the most problem with him not wanting to step underneath with his right hind. This exercise will help us, I am sure.
I am also playing around with JL's slow down canter game. To the left, Sydney seems to enjoy the opportunity to do an extended canter. I now feel really comfortable letting him do a good hand gallop. As soon as I sit back and do a one-two hold, one-two release, he comes right back to me and softens nicely.
To the right, we're also developing some confidence, but we have the added issue of no inside bend this direction. I have to really manipulate both reins to first get a bend, and then to ask him to slow back down. I don't really have to ask him to speed up this direction as he kind of wants to rush anyway. It's been fun though, because I can tell that he's trying to listen to me and slow down. He just gets out of balance again which makes him hurry. As I get better about helping him to balance with that outside rein, he should start to feel more confidence.
Things are starting to feel a lot more like fun rather than Oh, Crap moments!
3/4/2014 10:44:04 pm
your blog has been helpful - i have a terrible time keeping consistent contact with the outside rein. thinking of your blog as i ride, i remind myself the horse needs that connection there. thanks for this!
3/6/2014 10:51:39 am
Glad my weaknesses are at least helping someone! :0)
3/4/2014 11:04:36 pm
Sounds like excellent progress. I was totally blown away when I did dressage with Cuna at just HOW MUCH contact he required. It was a ton. Literally. It made all the difference in the world though.
3/6/2014 10:53:28 am
Speedy is so light that it has taken me all this time to realize how much contact I need with the big brown OTTB. Now that I know, I can't "unknow" it which means we'll be making some big progress now! :0)
3/6/2014 10:54:00 am
It sure seems like it. :0)
I was reminding a fellow rider the other day to keep her reins short and to keep the contact ON at all times. It's a hard concept to grasp at first, but constant unvarying contact is so much gentler to the horse than the fluctuating "bumps" of uneven contact.
3/6/2014 10:56:06 am
The difference wasn't in steady contact but in HOW much contact. The way Christian illustrated the point was very visual. I was carrying what felt like 100 pounds in my hands. I never in a million years would have taken that strong of a hold without guidance. Now that I know I can do it without ruining my horse, my rides have gotten so much more productive!
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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 …
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: