From Endurance to Dressage
I have to continuously repeat this, but I am not a trainer. I am just suddenly blessed with the opportunity to experiment on some willing ladies with what I've learned. I just don't want anyone out there to get the idea that I now think I know everything (or most things). I probably know just enough to get myself in trouble. I also have to remind all the "hall monitors" out there (no offense to hall monitors as that's my pre-COVID Tuesday morning job) that I give lessons for free. As in I don't accept any payment.
According to US Equestrian General Rule (GR) 1306, which addresses Professional/Amateur Status, an amateur cannot accept remuneration (reimbursement or payment) for training or riding or a whole list of other horse related things. It's a pretty tight definition, and one that I hope might someday be changed to allow a little flexibility. You know how it goes though; give 'em an inch, and they take a mile.
As an amateur there are a few things I am allowed to accept though, like small gifts (T did give me a Christmas gift card, and J recently brought Speedy a whole bag of yummy peppermints). I am also allowed to accept reimbursement for some of Speedy's vet bills which is something that I may have to consider. His Prascend is getting more expensive every day. I've thought about putting out a tip jar with the word TIPS crossed out and replaced by PILLS. It won't be my fault that my horse works for drug money.
So now that we all know I am not violating GR1306, and I am not calling myself a trainer, let's talk about what I learned when "J" came out to ride on Sunday. When "T" had ridden the day before, we worked on lengthening her leg by rotating her thigh inward. I decided that it would also be something interesting to work on with J. I hadn't noticed her toes pointing out, but once the image had been planted in my mind, I wanted to explore the idea some more.
J is a medical professional - the kind with a degree, so talking to her about anatomy and how our bodies work is an easy conversation to have. Generally, I start to describe something to do with her body, and she provides me with the correct vocabulary, or at the very least, gets what I am trying to say before I sound like a complete idiot. As soon as I showed her how to rotate her thigh inward toward the saddle, she connected all kinds of dots. She recognized that she was going to be using a whole different set of muscles and tendons.
As with T the previous day, just rotating her thigh lengthened J's leg. It came at a cost though. All of a sudden she had a sense of almost starting over. I could see her struggling with how to fit in this new piece of the puzzle. Speedy is such an awesome dude that he kept up a steady trot rhythm without needing to be micromanaged. His hold my beer, I got this attitude allowed J to experiment with what to do with the rest of her body as she tried to figure out the new position.
I felt like a mad scientist with a mwaahaha cackle and hands rubbing together in anticipation of the results of my little science project. Just what would happen if I placed her leg there. And what if I put it here? As J focused on the new feeling, I watched her body to see the effect created by simply rotating her thigh inward. Suddenly the small hollow in her back disappeared. She was no longer perched, and she found it easier to sit up when Speedy wanted to tug her forward.
Overall, everything about J's position started to look stronger and more balanced. Her heel started to drop on its own - no more forcing it down, and her lower leg became much more relaxed. She told me that she could now "kick" with her legs, something she has struggled with because her lower leg had essential been locked up tight.
I am not a trainer, but I am really enjoying the process of explaining what I do know to such eager and interested riders. It is so rewarding to make a suggestion, see the suggestion implemented, and suddenly, horse and rider are dancing. I don't even feel the slightest bit wistful that Speedy is dancing with a new partner. I am overjoyed that he is happy and making others happy.
I only hope I don't run out of teaching material. We all know what the mad scientist gets in the end!
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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%: