From Endurance to Dressage
How Many Teachers Does it Take?
My experience with trainers and coaches is steadily growing. I’ve now worked with Clinician #1 - whose name I can’t remember, Trainer #1 - local, Coach #1 - local, Trainer #2 – kind of local, Trainer #3 - Leslie Webb (2 lessons only), Trainer #4 - JL, Clinician #2 - Peggy Klump, and Clinician #3 - Betsy Shelton. Eight teachers in three and a half years. Too many? Not enough? Just right?
It’s hard to actually count the first Clinician as a trainer because the circumstances for that lesson were not of the regular sign-up-for-a-spot variety. You see, the local Arabian club, of which I was a part, wanted to bring in a dressage clinician. Although to this day I’m not really sure why as only three or four of the members even participate in dressage. Anyhow, I am a good sport and knew that spots needed filling so I offered to bring my endurance horses for lessons. I paid for two spots even though I didn’t know the first thing about dressage. I figured a lesson would be fun and who knew, I might even learn something. So, I saddled Speedy G in my full endurance tack and entered at I don’t know where as I’d never been in a dressage court before. We may have actually stepped over the rail to enter, good trail practice and all that. What must the clinician have thought?
That was actually my first formal lesson outside of the handful that I received from my grandma when I was a little girl. She had a small farm where she boarded horses and gave jumping lessons. Those lessons didn’t last long although I have a few memories of learned skills. That’s where I learned to pick hooves although it was a scary lesson as I watched someone cut out too much frog and to my young eyes at least, it looked as though the horse had been hurt. I also learned to open a horse’s mouth in order to ease in the bit. That was also scary as I was quite leery of the many teeth I saw. No one showed me that there were no teeth on the horse’s bars. You can read more about my experiences with my grandma here.
Anyway, my first “real” lesson came from that LA Trainer who had to school a woman on a young Arabian decked out in endurance gear. That was in September of 2008. The thing about that lesson though was that it opened my eyes to a whole different way of using my horse. I was genuinely intrigued with the concepts of dressage and knew that real lessons could help me become a better rider. I called Trainer #1, and while I didn’t yet aspire to become a dressage rider per se, I did commit to lessons once a month. Six months after the clinic, I bought a Wintec dressage saddle, and a year later, a better Wintec dressage saddle. Twenty-one months after the clinic, I rode my last endurance ride, and then I bought an even better dressage saddle. I was all in!
Somehow, through a spur-of-the-moment offer to fill up a dressage clinic, I left one discipline where I was competing successfully to begin a new one that I knew nothing about. Life sure does take us funny places, doesn’t it? And who knows? Someday I may write about taking my thoroughbred to a barrel racing clinic to help fill up a spot!
Click photos for captions and larger view.
4/26/2012 01:56:16 am
I LOVE that you attended a clinic when you were riding in a completely different discipline! I was thinking that in order to attend a clinic one needed to know what they were doing....as in already had some lessons. The next opportunity to attend a clinic i think i am just going to go for it!!!!! Thanks sooooo much!
4/26/2012 06:00:02 am
Not sure the clinician was thrilled, but he did give me an honest lesson. You just have to jump in and do it! :0)
4/26/2012 06:01:04 am
How embarrassing, eh? :0)
You can definitely cover a lot of ground (endurance pun intended ;) )
4/26/2012 06:05:24 am
Val, that's really close to what I was saying in a post I have coming. At yesterday's lesson, my trainer and I talked about what I learned, what was confusing, and what we could do to get back on track.
4/27/2012 08:52:04 am
Sarah ... I don't think they were neon, but I think they might have been dark electric blue! :0)
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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 …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: