From Endurance to Dressage
Lengthen Your Leg
The last time I rode with Dr. Christian Schacht, he worked on me quite a bit. Usually he works on the horse, but he must have finally arrived at the OH MY GOD I CAN'T STAND THIS ANY LONGER stage. My stirrups were crossed in front of my pommel, my hips were instructed to MOVE, and my heels were commanded to SINK.
I was okay with all of his instructions except for the heel thing. No matter how hard I tried to push my heels down, they just popped right back up. Although once he had me ride with no stirrups, my heels did get lower.
I am not a quitter though so I've persisted in trying to figure out how to lengthen my leg and sink my heels. For the last week or two, I've been experimenting with a loose leg and swinging hips. While riding on the trail, I had even more time to play around with these new "settings."
When you're following a relatively straight trail for miles (even with some curves), it's easy to work on your position because there is not much steering involved, and the trail keeps your horse's go button activated. So while Speedy marched along, I got a definite feel for a swinging hip and how it feels to ride with a loose leg.
As those two ideas were really taking hold, I realized that I could now sink down through my heels as I was doing a rising trot. In fact, when I got it right, Speedy moved out even better.
On our second trip to Hart Park, I did a lot more trotting since I wasn't walking along with my husband and dog. Speedy was feeling mighty fine due to the brisk weather and the change in scenery. Since I didn't have to ask for more go, I was able to work on half halting and softening. It was while I was really focused on getting a big, swinging trot that I realized I was no longer gripping, and I could quite easily push down through my heels as I was posting.
It was a very new sensation ... for both of us. When I insisted on some self-carriage by bumping him off my hands (purposefully) and then being vigilant that I didn't hold him up though the belly and shoulders with my legs, his trot had much more swing, loft, and stretch. Ooh la la was that ever fun!
I am not saying my position and aids have miraculously been perfected, but I definitely added a new piece to my Feelings puzzle. There are some things that just have to be felt. No amount of reading can get you there; you have to feel it for yourself. Believe me, I will now be actively searching for that feeling of swing in my hips with my legs gently resting on Speedy's sides so that my heels can sink down.
Give us another week or eighty-seven. We'll get it.
those trails definitely sound like a perfect opportunity for testing out the new way of moving. i can imagine the Speedy really enjoyed it too! i really need to try out this swinging hips thing bc i tend to be so locked in my seat... our trails are all steep hills and twisty turns tho, so arena it is...
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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)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: