From Endurance to Dressage
Sunday dawned warm and sunny. I had been really anxious about the weekend, mostly out of fear of making Chemaine look bad, but after watching everyone else's rides on Saturday, the anxiety disappeared.
Chemaine did a really good job of describing each rider's ability while also letting the audience know that each horse and rider team would perform the exercises differently, depending on the horse and rider's level of training. Knowing that the audience wasn't going to expect Speedy and me to look as good as Jackie on Chemaine's Grand Prix horse was very liberating.
Back at the barn, all four of us saddled up together so that we could ride over to the arena in a group - safety in numbers! It was easily a half a mile walk to the arena, a good part of it through the crowd and past vendors. Our horses handled it all with ease.
Just so you can see what the warm up was like, here's a short video that shows the group that rode in front of us leaving the arena as we entered. The ring was a bit chaotic as they left and we started warming up. Speedy was a bit silly, and for a moment or two, I wondered if he was going to be able to focus on his job.
Once it was just us riding, Speedy started to really settle down and focus on what I was asking him to do. He didn't turn into an upper level horse or anything, but he was pretty business like.
Chemane started things off by giving a quick introduction of each of the riders. This clinic was titled, "The Horse You Rode In On," so Chemaine had a variety of breeds and disciplines represented. There was me on an Arabian who had started life as an endurance horse; Marie on her Quarter Horse, Frankie; Shauna, a jumper, riding Van; and of course Chemaine's assistant, Jackie, riding Chemaine's horse, Belle.
As I was riding, I truly tuned out the audience and focused completely on demonstrating what Chemaine was asking for. It was actually quite challenging to listen to her lecture and try to keep up. Since Chemaine had asked me to be one of her riders, I felt very obligated to provide as good an example of the exercise for the audience that I could.
We started with easy exercises like bending, but then we moved on to a counter canter exercise. We've struggled with this a bit, but with Chemaine's commentary, I didn't feel like a failure for not getting it the first time. In fact, if you listen to Chemaine's comment about my attempts, you get the sense that she expected us to need several tries, just like the audience would if they went home and tried it for themselves. I think that by having "real life" riders, and not just the finished product, the exercises looked more accessible for the average Joe/Josephina.
Chemaine also took a moment to show the audience how to check if your horse is truly supple. She does this neat demonstration where she changes the bend while standing on the ground. Watch for yourself.
My portion of the demo was to show the different ways you can ride 10-meter circles within a serpentine. As you ride a three loop serpentine, you can do a figure eight at the center line. We started with a trot on the three-loop serpentine, but we used the 10-meter figure eight to change the bend through a walk.
After doing the exercise at a trot, we moved on to the canter. When we got to center line, I was supposed to canter a 10-meter circle, walk, change the bend, and pick up the new lead into another 10-meter circle and then continue on with the 3-loop serpentine, repeating the two 10-meter circles on the center line.
This exercise is challenging. First of all, getting the geometry right is harder than it looks, Secondly, if you don't get a correct change of bend, the horse will pick up the wrong lead. While riding the exercise, I didn't stick to the structure of the exercise as much as I focused on getting the bend and the correct lead. Chemaine didn't hassle me about it even though I am sure she wanted the audience to see it done correctly.
After I rode, Chemaine had each of the other ladies demonstrate a different exercise. Marie rode the 20-meter circle wth the 10-meter circles off to the side (think of a Mickey mouse head); Jackie showed off all of Belle's moves which included an unbelievable extended trot, piaffe, and passage; and Shauna showed how lead changes learned through Van's dressage work help her on a jumper course.
While riding was undeniably awesome, visiting with the crowd afterwards was almost as much fun. I knew Speedy would totally dig this part as he is a total show off and loves his "fans." Again, not every horse would have been comfortable standing at the fence line as a crowd of people clambered down from the bleachers to get closer. All four horses took it in stride.
It was great fun chatting with the crowd. I met two blog readers (Hi, Ladies!) and a mother with her two young daughters. The youngest girl rode dressage while her slightly older sister was a jumper. They were simply adorable. I spent quite a bit of time asking them about their own horses as they stroked Speedy's neck and face. He ate it up, the little diva.
All I can say is what a weekend. I can't thank Chemanine enough for giving me the opportunity to ride in such a "big" atmosphere. It was a great learning experience for both Speedy and me. Now we'll be ready for the big time!
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%: