From Endurance to Dressage
I was supposed to go down to see Chemaine Hurtado this morning for a lesson, but life got in the way. Too bad because I need a bit of help with a few things ...
For those of you who think Izzy is an easy ride, rest assured that I struggle right along with the rest of you. Many of the issues that we struggled with earlier this year are mostly gone: he's a perfect gentleman in the cross ties and enjoys being groomed and tacked up; he gave up bolting (not that it was ever that big of a deal), and I can ride him through his temper tantrums without fear of either one of us getting hurt.
He's very good about lowering his head for the bridle or halter, and in fact, he did such a lovely job of it at his last public outing that someone asked if I had trained him to do that. I had of course and was happy to demonstrate the process.
We can now canter on either lead and make 15 or 20-meter circles. He's learning to move into the walk or trot without flinging his head up, and just yesterday he gave me a very square halt. He'll stand for days at the mounting block without stepping forward, and I can ride him on the buckle anywhere in my arena that I'd like.
Now that I am insisting that he come through with his inside hind to my outside hand, he has started getting quite grouchy. For a long time, turning left was an iffy prospect. I rode with a whip in my right hand to control his right shoulder. Sometimes I needed to give it a whack to tell him to quit falling on it so that he could turn left. Turning left is quite easy now. He takes the outside rein and actually listens to it. Turning right is now the issue.
A few years ago, JL, the hunter-jumper trainer with whom I took lessons, used to say that riding the horse's stiff way (to Izzy's left) was always easy because the rider has something to push on. Riding the horse's limp way (to the right on Izzy) is always harder because there is nothing to push against. She was right.
Tracking right, Izzy has decided that he doesn't want to bend to the inside. Instead of bending, he's trying very hard to go counter bent. I need some inside bend, but when I add inside leg and use the inside rein to bend him, it feels as though he is already stepping way underneath. There's just no place to send his inside hind leg.
To "fix" this, I've been resting my inside hand on my inside thigh to show him the bend that I need. As he softens and agrees to get on the outside rein, I relax my inside hand. I am pretty sure I am on the right path, (Chemaine also says that I am a thinking rider), but I need someone on the ground to confirm that what I think I am feeling is right.
As soon as we get back from vacation, Izzy and I will head down for another lesson. For now, I only have a one or two more days that I can ride before we leave for Italy. Maybe a few weeks off will fix all of the things!
Sometimes you just have to feel out what will work in a tough spot. I like to do an alignment check and see where the "kink" is that is stopping the bend. With Pig that's often because he is falling on the inside shoulder or not putting enough weight on his outside hind. (Not standing up behind to lighten the shoulder enough to step to the inside, if that makes sense.) In that situation, using the inside rein is useless - because it just puts more weight on the inside shoulder. So instead I have push the outside hind in, keep bend with my inside leg, and lift my inside hand to keep flexion.
6/9/2016 01:12:46 pm
My trainer actually reminded me of an exercise that we've done before: shoulders in AND haunches in (like a banana) all while spiraling down to a ten-meter circle. Once he can maintain lightness on the inside rein, I get to let him stretch out as we spiral back out. Worked like a charm, but getting his haunches IN was definitely part of the solution. :0)
6/9/2016 01:13:35 pm
Thanks, Tracy. Yes, he's definitely getting more and more trained as each month goes by. I have to keep reminding myself. :0)
Try riding a square, first at a walk then the trot:
6/9/2016 01:14:53 pm
I did try it and it definitely did some good. After we walked the square, we did it at the trot. We learn so many exercises and then forget to use them when trouble strikes. :0)
Comments are closed.
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%: