From Endurance to Dressage
I mentioned the other day that Speedy and I were to have a lesson on Wednesday. Jl hadn't seen him since the week before the HDEC show. At that lesson we worked on straightness, especially coming out of the left lead canter down the long side. For this lesson, I felt that I needed to improve the inside bend. She agreed.
I had been working on the inside bend for the better part of a week; she noticed the improvement right away. Nothing is ever perfect though, so she had some suggestions. First, she liked my opening inside rein. Speedy has gone back to an old trick, however that I wasn't catching. When he doesn't want to bend, or when I am not being vigilant, he tucks his nose down which allows him to duck behind the contact and straighten out of the bend.
Little booger. When I want straightness, he curls around; when I want a bend, he fights to be straight. Grrr ... When I saw what he was doing, I paid a lot more attention to the inside rein, lifting it when I felt him duck under.
The second part to confirming the bend was to be more effective in lifting the outside shoulder. When I felt him bending, JL had me rock the outside rein to lift his front end. I was surprised to hear, More! Huh? Apparently, Speedy can handle a much more assertive outside rein. She was right, of course. Once I firmly rocked the outside rein in rhythm to his stride, he got lighter and quieter. As I was working the outside rein, I had to be aware of maintaining the inside bend, too, without letting him duck behind the contact. Talk about walking and chewing gum at the same time!
Once that was going well, we worked on the 1-loop serpentine. This is a fun exercise that brings together a lot of different skills. JL had me go back to a standard figure 8 so that I could rebalance Speedy in the straight part where the two circle meet. She had me really slow his outside shoulder as we straightened so that I could begin to move him sideways before actually making the next turn. The point of the exercise was to fix any crookedness that he had without letting his shoulder drift out.
Once I had a better feel of the straightness and moving sideways, I returned to the loops of the serpentine. Ah - much better! The trick to getting the new bend is to slow down the outside shoulder (ultimately just a half half), get him moving away my new inside leg, and then establish the new bend. Once we broke it down into those three parts, the serpentine became quite easy!
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%: