From Endurance to Dressage
It doesn't happen very often, but yesterday, Izzy was simply dreamy to ride. There is no other way to describe it. He finally stretched across his topline and opened up his stride. While it wasn't huge, it was a much longer stride than he's been willing to give this past few weeks.
Ever since the CDS Adult Amateur Clinic that I did with Speedy G, I have been focusing on my own seat. I am working on improving my sitting trot, and I am playing around with my aids to see which ones are more effective with Izzy.
Sometimes, his back just stays tight no matter what I try which means his trot and canter are both about 5 inches long and 10 feet high. No one can sit that or do much with it. On those days, I just ask over and over for him to lower his head and (for the love of God) try to stretch down.
Other days, I am able to make a connection with my seat, and he'll stay relaxed, like yesterday. I focused on feeling each seat bone rise and fall with his walk. When he was willing to walk forward with a steady tempo, I squeezed him forward into a sitting trot, paying close attention to keeping my butt plugged into the saddle.
When he would try to hollow his back by snapping his head up, I kept my hands low and insisted he stretch by squeezing him forward. Little by little, his stride opened up, and he started asking to stretch down on his own.
At that point, I scooped my seat ever so subtly and thought left lead canter. The transitions weren't perfect, but he did pick up the canter without rushing or launching forward at mach 10. We made big circles, used the whole arena, and spiraled back down. I took advantage of his willingness to work and let him canter as long as he wanted to. This horse needs to feel how comfortable a relaxed canter and trot can be.
When he finally asked to trot, I remembered to take advantage of the impulsion that cantering had given us and asked him for a big stretchy trot. It's hard not to smile when I get that big lofty trot that he's capable of. I don't get to see it very often, but knowing it's there makes it worth the daily struggle.
When we changed direction, I was equally pleased with his canter to the right. I still need to work on getting him even in both reins - he wants to lean on the inside right rein, but he finally loosened up through his back. It's been weeks since he would canter nicely to the right.
My goal for the summer is to continue working on my own seat. The more balanced I am, the better I will be able to communicate with both of my horses, especially Izzy.
It's tough when it really is me and not him.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%