From Endurance to Dressage
My New Favorite Exercise(s)
Now that Speedy is on the disabled list for at least the next month or so, I am more motivated than ever to get Izzy into the show ring. At the moment, he's just not quite broke enough. Our transitions are still a little rough, and he's not as bendy through his body as he's going to need to be for First Level. I am not skipping Training Level, but I know the 10-meter circles from First Level will guarantee amazing 20-meter circles at Training Level.
My trainer, Chemaine, suggested a few exercises to get Izzy thinking positively about changing the bend. He needs to give a quick yes ma'am when asked to change the bend rather than the screw you head jerk I am getting now.
One suggestion that Chemaine made was to counter flex him every single time his head snaps up. As soon as he softens to the new bend, I can allow him to slowly swing back to a correct bend. To show him that changing the bend doesn't have to be hard, she also suggested I throw in a counter bend every now and then even when he's being good.
One of the reasons Izzy resists the change of bend is because he is still trying to find his balance. Changing the bend too quickly throws him off balance which makes him feel less than confident, and if there is anything I've learned about this horse, he does not like to feel unsuccessful.
To help Izzy stay balanced through the change of bend, Chemaine had me do a counter bend before doing a change of direction. This helps him adapt to the new bend before actually changing direction.
I put together a chain of 10-meter half circles that I am now doing at the walk every time I get on. Izzy is getting so good at the change of bend that he is now shifting his own weight as soon as I ask for the counter bend. After we do it at the walk, I do it at the trot, but the circles are usually more like 15-meters.
Basically, the exercise goes like this: 10-meter half circle, but counter bend at the top of the circle. At the centerline, make a new 10-meter circle tracking the other way ... repeat, repeat. repeat.
I did this exercise on Saturday. After a few rounds at both walk and trot, I did 20-meter circles at A, down to E, down to C, down to B, and then back to A. I followed those by doing 20-meter trot circles at A, cross the diagonal, 20-meter trot circle at C, and cross the diagonal. Then, we finished up by doing 10-meter half circles to centerline, trot down centerline to another 10-meter half circle to get back on the rail. I kept repeating the half circles at various places down the rail and the centerline.
By the time we were finished, Izzy was pretty supple from head to toe. Now, we need to get all of the transitions crisper and looking more "obedient." Once we get that, we might be ready for a schooling show.
3/13/2016 02:34:00 pm
I love counter bending before the change of direction! That's one of the best exercises my trainer used to teach me how to steer (although some days it seems that lesson has yet to really sink in..) If anyone can get Izzy whipped into baby show horse shape, you can!
3/13/2016 06:29:17 pm
Thank you - high praise indeed!
That is a good exercise. Carmen does not like to be confused. That gets me more resistance than anything so I have to introduce new stuff slowly.
3/13/2016 06:32:01 pm
We're heading to Italy this summer so we're quite happy the dollar is gaining in strength, but that probably makes things a bit challenging for you.
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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.
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