From Endurance to Dressage
It was supposed to be a show, but we'll take the miles where we can get them. I am the Vice-Chairperson for the Tehachapi Mountain Chapter of CDS which is my GMO of USDF. We had a show planned for Sunday, but due to COVID-19, we were forced to cancel. In its place, the judge, Ulf Wadeborn, agreed to do a two-day clinic.
Ulf lives and works just two hours from Bakersfield, so he's been a judge at our shows for years. All of our riders love him. Even though he's been the judge at shows where I've competed, I'd never taken a lesson from him. I really appreciated his coaching style. He was very supportive, ignoring the awkward moments while focusing on helping me feel the "right" moments.
Before we started, I told Ulf a little bit about Izzy and then explained that all I was really hoping for was to get Izzy to stretch his topline and reach for the bit. We can get it at home, but off the property his tension frequently takes over. Like most clinicians that I've worked with, Ulf asked me to just ride like I normally would do so that he could see what we needed to work on. At one point he asked for the canter, and then he asked to see the canter going the other way. When Ulf had seen enough, he called me over.
The first thing I was happy about was that Izzy stood patiently in front of Ulf without fidgeting or getting fussy. It was as though he were listening too. I was also happy that Ulf saw the exact same things that Chemaine Hurtado (owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables) and I had just worked on. I have been allowing Izzy's right shoulder to pop out which means he doesn't track up with his hind legs. Since he's not correctly aligned, he can't push forward to the bit.
After the warm up and the quick chat, we spent the next 30 minutes working on controlling the outside shoulder. With Ulf's voice in my ear - I love the Comtek for so many reasons, he softly offered suggestions: sponge the outside rein to capture the shoulder, sit taller when Izzy wants to race off, open the inside rein to invite him to turn, think about riding an octagon. It seemed that within minutes, Izzy's topline lengthened, and he stretched forward to the bit.
We never did anything fancy, but I was fine with that. Working for a solid half hour on just establishing and re-establishing a soft and elastic connection was worth the price of the lesson. It was so wonderful to hear Izzy snorting and sneezing as he loosened his back. He really and truly relaxed. Had we had a bit more time, I am sure we could have gone on to work on leg yields and half passes, simple changes and maybe even flying changes.
Finishing the lesson with a quiet and relaxed horse was all that I hoped to achieve. Not only did I finish with a relaxed horse, but I started with one, too. When we were finished, I rode Izzy back to my trailer and untacked. He stuffed his head in a hay bag and rested quietly for more than an hour while I went and watched Chemaine ride. When I came back to the trailer, he gave a big whinny and a goofy smile. Another rider, who was nearby with his own horse, remarked on how quiet and easy-going Izzy had been standing.
It's taken half a dozen years, but I think we're finally ready.
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%: