From Endurance to Dressage
I can't remember which podcast I heard it on (Freakonomics, TED Radio Hour, or maybe This American Life), but some scientists built a mechanical tongue to see just how many licks it takes to get to the candy center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. The answer is 364.
That is exactly how things are going with Izzy. We are getting closer and closer to that candy center. You know the point where you are really sucking it down and then you feel the candy shell start to give way but you don't want to rush it by actually using your teeth? Yeah ... that's where I am with Izzy. That hard candy shell is just about to give way.
Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables, was here for a clinic this weekend. While I always have great lessons with her, this one gave me a handful of nifty tricks for getting to the good stuff with Izzy. Given that it's the freaking crack of dawn which means TIRED, I only have time today to share some interesting warm up strategies.
Since my lesson last month, I've been focusing on how best to communicate with Izzy: what does he need from me to feel confident and successful. A few things have made themselves clear. I cannot ask for too much too quickly which means that most days he needs a longer warm up than any other horse I've owned.
The first exercise Chemaine showed me was about refining the flex and counter flex at the walk. Since he usually starts out with a very tight back, she suggested I ask for some suppleness with just my seat bones. Rather than flex his neck and and use leg, she had me simply sit deeper on one seat bone to see if I could move his back with just that pressure.
As he stepped away from the seat bone, I sat more deeply on the other one. It was a more subtle exercise than I've been doing, and he responded well. Shifting my weight from one seat bone to the other led to the next warm up exercise.
I like to flex him left and then flex him right, but he braces when he's tense and tight. Chemaine encouraged me to get a stretch down before I change the bend. in other words, flex to the outside, ask for a stretch down, flex to the inside, ask for a for a stretch down, flex to the outside. The stretch down becomes a reward for flexing.
And then, because Izzy's candy shell is still intact, he realized that the warm up was wrapping up and work was about to begin. The tantrum began ...
I have some funny pictures and great video of the lesson, but you'll have to check back tomorrow for more.
To be continued ...
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%: