From Endurance to Dressage
Before starting Tuesday's lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, I told him about Izzy's rear and how I had worked through it all. I was a little surprised by the follow up questions Sean asked. In my mind, I had closed the case. I had worked worked through it, and that was the end of it. Not to Sean; he wanted to probe a bit deeper, and after answering all of his questions, he suspected that we have been packaging Izzy up too much, too soon. Remember, he had most of the summer off as he recovered from two different injuries.
To test his hypothesis, Sean had me work Izzy in a forward thinking canter. He also had me work to lower Izzy's neck from the withers, something I've never thought about in the canter before. I usually work to get him rounder to lift his back, but letting him lower his neck from the withers encourages more swing.
Nothing miraculous happened, but Izzy did stretch down and open his stride a bit. Cantering with an "open frame" did give me a very new feeling though. I could feel Izzy struggling to hold his balance in this new, longer frame, but he struggled in a good way. He didn't feel so "balled up." Sean warned me about doing too much of this work though as it would eventually dump Izzy onto his forehand.
The entire lesson went very well. When I first started riding with Sean two and a half years ago, we had about a 15 minute window where we could work on something new before Izzy's timer went off. These days, we can work for a solid 45 minutes without Izzy checking out or having a melt down. Instead of working on Izzy, Sean is able to work on me. Once he fixes what I am doing wrong, Izzy responds instantly. It's very motivating to know that I am the problem because that can be fixed.
Izzy might be complicated, but Sean has figured both him and me out.
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%: