From Endurance to Dressage
At Monday afternoon's lesson (where it was 100℉), we continued working on suppling Sydney's neck, JL added a degree of difficulty though. With the heat, it was probably a good thing because it's hard to be a complete jerk when you're roasting and browning in an oven. (Whenever we work on something new and hard, Sydney doesn't usually behave very well.)
We started out with all of the stretching that I talked about the other day. JL wants me to do as much of that work as I can over the next few weeks. Until he really gives his neck, Sydney won't be able to compress his frame enough to be in an uphill balance.
Once I had him letting go as much as I could, JL changed the stretches. For the next level (at the trot), she had me hold the outside rein and then rock the inside rein without giving the outside rein. When I had gotten all the stretch I was going to get, she had me hold the inside rein where it was while I used my outside leg to shift his shoulders over while also rocking the outside rein. When I had gotten all the stretch I was going to get, I held the outside rein where it was and went back to the inside rein. It felt as though I was reeling him in.
I know it's really hard to picture, but in essence, I was lifting his front end, one side at a time. I was compressing his neck on the left side, holding it there, and then compressing his right side and holding it, back and forth. Picture a window washer's scaffold. Lift the left side, lift the right side.
You can also think of it like reeling in a fish. You take a strong hold and reel it in a little until the fish kind of gives. Then you reel him in a little more. If you try and reel it in too quickly, the line will snap.
After all of the reeling in, lifting, and compressing, we gave Sydney a walk break. Then JL suggested a canter to see what we had. Right away, I could feel that Sydney's balance had definitely shifted; he was actually level and not running downhill.
Whenever we work on something new that Sydney thinks is going to be hard, he gets really tense and tries to run through my aids. This time was no exception. We had to go back to the stretches after a few canters, but that was okay as it gave me more time to work on being effective at the stretching. And when we returned to the canter work, he was still better balanced and far more level than he has been in the past.
Over all, it was a great lesson, and I know that with a few weeks of work, Sydney is going to get looser and looser through his neck which will help him accept the shorter frame. And in the end, getting off of his forehand will only help him stay sounder longer in life. This kind of work is good for all of us!
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%