From Endurance to Dressage
How to be less restrictive ...
This is actually a poor title; I don't really know how to be less restrictive. If I knew how, I would obviously not be restricting Speedy's movements. Let me back up. The judge at Sunday's show felt that I was restricting Speedy at the canter and at times, in our turns. Hmm ...
We are improving, of that there is no doubt. The judge's comments used to include words like hollow, unsteady, needs more bend, needs more activity, etc. These comments are being replaced with different ones: some loss of balance, needs better stretch, encourage stretch to contact, and so on.
Speedy had Monday off, but by Tuesday it was back to work. I decided to really focus on the judge's comments and see if I could figure out how I was restricting Speedy and how I could get more suppleness of the back.
I started out at the walk and really focused on maintaing contact while still feeling the slightest movement of Speedy's head and neck. I even closed my eyes and allowed my body to feel like it was melting into the saddle. Our trot transition got a lot softer. Hmm ...
We worked on walk to trot transitions all the while focusing on ME being soft. Speedy is already super "light" in the bridle. His go-to evasion is to get behind the vertical and drop the contact as soon as he can. If I am stiff or "hard," he just tenses his back and there goes any suppleness of the back. So I focused on soft and loose. I kept my elbows bent and tried to get some sway in my shoulders. I finally got the softness that I had been missing over the last week.
We moved on to the canter where I tried really hard to follow his motion without bumping him in the mouth. It took a few efforts, but we got what felt like a more rhythmical canter that wasn't rushed or strung out. The canter to trot transition was also quite improved.
Oddly enough, I am much softer and more relaxed when I ride Sydney. When I hop aboard Speedy, I feel an intensity that causes tension in us both. I know the feeling stems from a desire to improve, but I need to find a way to soften the focus so that my intensity is somewhat diffused. On the flip side, I need to be slightly more intense with Sydney. I get too loosey-goosey on him, and I think he might now appreciate the support of some focused energy.
Riding two very different horses forces me to constantly evaluate my aids. Sometimes they're effective, sometimes less so. Either way, I just keep plunking away!
7/26/2012 11:56:12 am
This reminds me of over-riding vs. being too passive. It is so difficult to find the happy medium. Too much and my horse shuts down, too little and he is not on his toes enough. Very challenging!
7/29/2012 07:32:58 am
yep. That describes it pretty well. :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%
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