From Endurance to Dressage
Val, of Memoirs of a Horse Girl fame, posted something about lunging with poles and doing trot to canter transitions. Given that Speedy's lunging skills are a bit weak, it sounded like the perfect exercise to try on a warm afternoon in which I only had a few minutes to school.
I started out by placing my poles at three and nine o'clock on my circle. I skipped the surcingle and side reins for the day and worked with just a plain halter and flat lunge line. I like my rope lunge, but it can get heavy and is really long. The flat cotton line seemed best for this exercise.
I asked Speedy to step over the poles at the walk, and then he picked up the trot. It was really nice to see him actually look at the poles and lengthen or shorten his stride as needed to clear them. He "dinked" them several times, but it seemed to motivate him to step bigger, higher, farther, shorter, the next time around. After finally clearing both poles nicely, I asked for a canter and almost giggled with delight when he leaped over the poles. They're only four inches high, but he made sure he was well clear.
After working both directions, I brought one of the poles closer to the first so that there was only one canter stride in between them. Again, I asked Speedy to trot the poles, and then we worked on cantering over them. It wasn't perfect, but he was trying to adjust his stride to clear the poles. I can definitely see the benefits of throwing this exercise in when lunging.
When Speedy could clear the two poles at both gaits in both directions, I took him off the lunge line and turned him loose. I put the poles in a straight line and we did some work going over them without a line. He "knows" how to work at my side with the stick and string, so we practiced going over them together. That was really just for fun and to develop a bit of respect on his part.
This was a practical and fun exercise that would benefit any horse in any discipline. Thanks for sharing, Val!
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
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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