From Endurance to Dressage
I have two bits of homework to work on with Speedy: more push from behind in the lateral movements and pushing his hind end over for the flying change. Right now, it's all about Speedy's butt.
Last week - I am really behind in sharing this, Speedy got to have a lesson, our first in several months. Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, came down on Sunday. My plan for the lesson was to work on the elements in Third Level Test 1. After watching a boatload of videos, I've concluded that if you have a flying change, 3-1 is much easier than 2-3.
We ultimately worked on two exercises. The first one was designed to improve our scores at the shoulder in (and as a result, the trot half pass). While Speedy generally gets 6s and 7s on his gaits, he's not a big, bold mover like many of the warmbloods. Anything I can do to get him moving bigger with more power coming from behind will only improve our scores.
For the medium trot, Chemaine has taught me to use the corner to "rev" him up. As I straighten Speedy for the medium trot across the diagonal, I can then let him "go." The stored up energy launches us forward. Chemaine wants me to use that same idea for the shoulder in.
The process is still the same: rev him up in the corner. As we approach the second letter (whichever one it is), I need to bend him and start the shoulder in. But rather than let him fly across the diagonal like I would for the medium trot, I'll release that stored up energy by directing his hind end to push stronger and deeper under his body. This will encourage Speedy to carry more weight behind so that he can free up his shoulders for a better shoulder in.
In theory, anyway. It sounds a lot easier than it was. When I "let him go" the first time, Speedy tried to veer off across the diagonal. That's when I discovered my steering needed some work.
The second exercise was for calming down the flying change of lead so that we get less of this.
I've found that Speedy needs a lot of reminding that he can't brace in the change. To address that, I do a lot of bending and counter bending on a circle. This has helped him learn that changing the bend is not the cue for the flying change.
Now that he's more comfortable changing the bend, Chemaine had me work on better positioning his hind end. As we prepared for the flying change across the diagonal, she had me change the bend and then leg yield with the outside leg. Then I asked for a walk followed by a simple change of lead from the walk.
The first time I did it, Speedy's ears flicked quite dramatically. He did the exercise well, but he was working hard to put it all together. The leg yield served to position his hind end, and the walk steps were a big half halt. When he was more willing to walk (wait!) for the cue for the flying change, I was able to skip the walk steps.
I've left the flying change alone for the past few rides to give him time to process what he learned. Instead, I've focused on getting a more powerful, uphill trot for the shoulder in. For our next ride (hopefully this morning), we'll tackle the flying change again.
Speedy's a hard worker, and incidentally, so am I. We'll have the flying change down pat before I know it. I hope.
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%: