From Endurance to Dressage
Well, not on Monday. But that's only because I had no lesson or show planned. In fact, it was downright lovely. Our normally 90 plus degrees were tempered with this series of winter storms that has invaded California. So instead of 90 degrees, it was in the 70s. Instead of searing blue skies, we had big puffy clouds. Overall, it was quite a lovely day.
Of course on Sunday, the day I was supposed to ride with Sean Cunningham of STC Dressage, it poured and poured and poured some more. I rode with Sean about a month ago and was really looking forward to hearing what he thought about what we look like now. I also had a stack of questions for him now just growing taller.
Even though Sean couldn't make it to Bakersfield for a lesson, I still tried to ride. If you count saddling up and then hunkering down in the hay barn as the rain cascaded off the roof. I eventually just gave up and pulled Izzy's saddle.
Even without a lesson, things have really started to come together since that lesson a month ago. Shifting my focus to lateral flexion above all else has really helped Izzy relax. When he gets tense or worried, the tension just builds until his brain falls out. Sean's idea of going back to lateral flexion seems to allow the tension to simply dissipate.
It is in the trot work that I am really seeing the relaxation. One thing that I "discovered" on my own about the efficacy of lateral flexion is that when Izzy gets tense and braces through his poll, I flex him to the side and then I turn to look at the hip on the same side. I insist on the flexion as I ride him forward into the turn. Even though it feels like magic, I know it's just a matter of more weight being put on my inside seat bone and aligning my shoulders to his. It still feels like a magic trick though as his tension slowly melts.
On Saturday, we worked on the canter. Lateral flexion, especially to the right, is much harder to get so I asked him for a lot of counter canter and then counter flexing in the true canter. With counter canter I also asked for canter half pass, and then on a whim, I asked for the flying change. Of course he nailed it.
For Monday's ride we did a fair amount of leg yielding in the trot before moving to the canter. And then in the canter, I again asked for shallow counter canter loops. I can't say that he ever truly gave to the right rein, but he actually settled in to a nice rhythm and accepted the half halts.
I am hoping to make the drive to Moorpark in a couple of weeks to meet up with Sean again. While it's more convenient if Sean could make it here, the trip off property will be good for Izzy. We're progressing slowly, but I still have summer plans for him.
A show maybe?
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read