From Endurance to Dressage
When I shared with Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, my Second Level blues, she quickly reassured me that my troubles were everyone else's troubles, too. Getting the horse forward while still getting him to sit is what every Second Level horse and rider team struggles with.
That made me feel better. I think.
Like she did with my ride on Izzy, Chemaine introduced two exercises. The first was a version of the race horse game, and the second was more of the over-bending exercise.
Before we started any of that though, we ran through a bit of shoulder in, haunches in, turn on the haunches, and rein back. As I'd suspected, our rein back and turn on the haunches are good. Chemaine helped me clean up a bit of stickiness on the haunches in, but she felt I could continue that work on my own.
The "move it" exercise is exactly what it sounds like. You had better move off my leg, or you're getting a stronger aid. In order to get a simple change, Speedy needs to get sharper off my leg. In the collected canter, he wants to stall out and drop down to trot. He needs to be convinced that I mean forward when I say forward.
The exercise went like this. From the halt, I asked Speedy to trot forward. If he didn't, or if it wasn't sharp enough, Chemaine snapped the whip. After a few strides, I brought him back to halt and tried again. It took him no more than three times for him to jump forward when I thought trot. And really, Speedy is so respectful that just having Chemaine standing there with the whip did most of the work.
Chemaine stressed that bringing the horse back to walk in this exercise is critical as it allows the rider to re-establish roundness and balance. Once we had convinced Speedy that he needed to move when I asked for it, we repeated the exercise but from walk to canter.
To finish off the exercises and reinforce in Speedy's mind that the second ask was going to come from me, we repeated the exercise but with the dressage whip in my hand. When he didn't jump forward from my seat and legs, I popped him with the whip. It took one tap, and he was nicely forward.
From there we put together the bending exercise with the go forward and worked on the medium trot and my ability to sit it. I am not there yet, but in early October, I couldn't sit the medium at all. So yeah for me.
Over-Flex to Have Something Left Over
The last thing we worked on was the simple change. Left to right, he's pretty good. Our collected canter on the left lead is easier for me because he wants to carry his haunches left. The trouble comes in picking up the right lead because he wants to take the bend away from me immediately.
To remedy that, Chemaine had me go back to the over-bending exercises. If I over-bend him, he'll take some of the bend back in the transition, but I'll have enough built in to maintain some of it which puts him on the outside rein. If I have him on the outside rein, my half halt will go through for the canter to walk.
We didn't get it perfectly, but we had some really good moments, like this transition.
If the judge gave points for trying, we'd win for sure. In the meantime, we're going to capitalize on our strengths, and keep chipping away at our weaknesses. I love this last shot. This is Speedy pushing off from the walk into a left lead canter.
I am staring you down, Second Level!
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%: