From Endurance to Dressage
You know how your trainer tells you something over and over or you read the same words again and again and then suddenly, one day, those words have meaning? Yeah, that happened this weekend.
When Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, was here a few weeks ago, she had me work on essentially the same thing we always work on - softening both horses and then increasing their stride. I don't know what she said that was any different, but over the weekend, I was able to put it all together in a new way.
I may have mentioned this a time or two, but Speedy is not exactly forward thinking. Getting a decent stride is hard enough, but lengthening that stride leaves me gasping for breath. For the first time ever, I was able to get Speedy to easily lengthen his stride even though we were half way across the diagonal. That's big, believe me. Usually, I have to crawl around the short side so that it appears we've lengthened his stride across the diagonal.
To increase his stride, Chemaine had me do lots of half halts to soften and then move out again while on a circle. We did it in little bursts. The one thing that was different was that for the half halt, she had me bring both elbows back while thinking about lifting his withers with my seat. Once I got him soft, she instructed me to send him forward without giving the reins away.
I don't really throw away the contact anymore, but what I finally felt over the weekend was that I can give without actually giving any rein length. It's all in the stretch down. During that moment of half halt, when Speedy would stretch his topline and lift his withers, he created space in which to then go forward.
Imagine packing a horse into a cardboard box where his nose and tail are touching the front and back of the box. If he compresses his frame a little by rounding his body and lifting his withers, his nose will no longer touch the box. Now he has "room" to move forward. That's what we did. To lengthen the stride without giving the reins, I just posted "bigger."
I am really happy with where Speedy is going these days. He is getting all kinds of new buttons installed, and he seems to really like them. It's like all these years of working on the basics is finally paying off. His canter is getting so light and balanced that it's all I want to work on. We finally have a leg yield that has some rhythm and bounce, and the turn on the haunches is helping to really supple his body.
Chemaine is coming back for another clinic weekend on January 7th and 8th. If you'd like to ride or just come out and watch, let me know!
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%: