From Endurance to Dressage
My legs and feet, not Speedy's.
This blog is really about body position, not just legs and feet. But oh, how I wish that's all I needed to work on! Now, I am definitely not an expert, but what I really hate about my lower body position is that my lower leg is so far behind the girth, my toe is pointed out, and my heel is way higher than my toes. Am I right?
The photo to the right was shot in September, so I really hope my position has improved at least somewhat since then.
In my defense, my right ankle is MUCH stiffer than the left and it is almost painful to ride with the right foot pointing forward. "Like you're skiing," says my coach ... without even a hint of exasperation. Given that I hear her repeatedly remind me about my toes, I am surprised that she just hasn't thrown in the proverbial towel about that right foot!
But back to my leg position ... I know, cognitively, that if I get my upper body back and turn that inside shoulder in just a bit, it will open up my pelvis and my leg will lengthen. Knowing it and making it happen are just two different things.
I also need to think about compensating for the raised heel by thinking bear down on the heel. My coach doesn't really like that visual, bearing down on the heel, because it tends to create the "chair position" (legs too far in front). Since I have so much trouble putting any weight in my heels, she's okay with the visual as long as I don't get my leg too far forward. She needn't worry since I only remember to bear down on the heel like once during a ride. Therefore the heel continues to be too high!
This photo was taken in February as I was standing and listening to my coach. I like my leg position here much better than up above. I had just bought new leathers and there weren't enough holes to raise them up to where I "like" them. This forced me to ride with a slightly longer leg. Aha!
It would seem that to achieve that better leg position that I am pining after, I am going to have to get those stirrups down another hole or two.
One more thing ... although It doesn't really seem like a fair comparison, since in one photo we are trotting (top) and in the other (bottom) we are standing still, but it looks like I have a more open hip angle in the lower photo. I am sure that is helping my leg position, too.
What I am really wondering is if advanced riders walk around whining about their leg position, too. When do we get to feel finished, polished, ready? Last summer I would have given ANYTHING to be riding where I am today, and that's not saying a whole heck of a lot. Are dressage riders ever satisfied with where they are? Please tell me that at some point I'll be walking around thinking, boy, do I have an awesome leg position! I should post a photo on my blog so that everyone can admire it!
Well shoot ... that's what I just did!
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
2022 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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