From Endurance to Dressage
Hey! I finally have a new exercise to share with you. I am not sure that it is a useful one for broke ponies, but for a green bean like Izzy, it worked like magic!
During the lesson on Wednesday, Izzy continued to question my contact and pretty much everything else. He wasn't as obstinate as on Monday, but he was still pretty resistant. Right now, I am riding him near the front of the arena so there is a fence line to "catch" him. At the opposite end of the twenty-meter circle lies the rest of the arena. It's on that half of the circle that he really gets "confused."
HIs confusion looks like this: very crooked body, falling in, shoulder bulging to the outside, haunches in, haunches out, head flinging or jerking, trying to run through my aids, sucking back, ... the list goes on and on. It is amazing how hard he finds it to simply trot around quietly on a 20-meter circle.
It's great to have JL there as eyes on the ground, because she can coach me through the tantrums without me second-guessing myself. So far, she mostly just watches and encourages me with comments like "good catch" or "I like your contact there." I am sure a professional's application of the aids would be quicker, but I feel good about how I am schooling him through this stage in his "training."
Right now, it's mostly about having him accept the contact and move forward in a circle while maintaining the rhythm. While he is a hot mess right now, what I like is that each day there is discernible progress. I am not sure why he was so quiet for the first two weeks of walking and short trot sets, but somehow, he knows that it's now game on.
A lot of Izzy's moves are the same as Sydney's, but Izzy seems to be testing me where Sydney so often was just reacting. When Sydney had a melt down, getting him back in the conversation was near impossible. Izzy isn't having a melt down. He's asking questions, stamping his feet, throwing his weight around (literally), or saying I DON'T WANNA.
I had to really growl at him on Wednesday and pony club kick the heck out of him. Instead of losing it and feeling picked on or resentful, he snapped to and gave me a yes ma'am. He's trying to avoid the conversation, but he doesn't check out mentally. This is a huge difference between the two horses, and it's the thing that makes me feel a lot safer when Izzy is bouncing around.
So while he was in the midst of his tantrum, JL suggested the Loop de Loop exercise. When I asked for a sideways step into the outside rein, Izzy didn't understand that he was still tracking left. He kept trying to hustle to the right. So instead of fighting with the outside rein, JL had me ride a couple of sideways steps with an immediate small circle to the inside where I released the outside rein.
It took a few minutes, but Izzy finally got soft and started bending around my inside leg. It was amazing to feel the tightness leave his back. I knew we were on the right track because the whole thing smacked of a "Christian" exercise.
The beauty of the exercise is that you can vary the size and number of the small circles. When he is really naughty, the circle is small, and I might need to do several. When he quits rushing on his forehand, I can make the circle larger and do just one before returning to the 20-meter circle.
I've tried the exercise a few different times and am pleased at how well it works even without JL coaching me. We'll work on it more today and hopefully we'll show JL some improvement before this week's lessons.
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%: