From Endurance to Dressage
No End in Sight
I knew Sydney was probably a bit tired on Sunday after his long day with Lois on Saturday. Not only did he have a pretty intense lesson, but he spent three hours in the trailer. I decided to take it as easy as possible.
We started out at a walk with me reminding him to carry himself. Lois called me on allowing Sydney to bump, bump. bump the bit in my hands so I paid particular attention to that. I was still following with my elbows, but I resisted when he tried to bump the bit. Hmmm ... that was definitely a new sensation.
My only plan for the ride was to do the counter bent trot circles. Sydney picked up the circle to the left very quietly and willingly followed as I asked him to to do the counter bend. We spiraled in slowly and then changed to a correct bend and spiraled back out. Easy as pie.
I let him walk for a few moments and then picked up the trot to the right. He already felt more balanced than he has in the past few weeks. Once the 20-meter circle was established, I moved him into a counter bend and felt the stiffness in my left hand and leg. It takes a lot of leg and a firm half halt to get him to move off his right leg. I just focused on slowly making the circle smaller and smaller until we hit the 10-meter mark.
I kept him in the circle for a few moments and then slowly returned him to a normal bend. I moved him out onto the bigger circle and was overall pleased with his balance.
The longer I practice dressage, the harder it gets. Every time I think I am getting somewhere, I realize how much farther I actually have to go. Rather than getting closer, the end seems to be drifting out of sight.
It's hard not to be discouraged by that.
9/26/2013 11:27:04 pm
Sometimes it's funny how different people see things differently. Sometimes I do feel discouraged by how far I HAVEN'T come, but most of the time I love that there is so much to learn about riding and horses -- it truly is a lifetime pursuit that I will be able to enjoy for as long as I live. There will never be a day that I step foot near a horse and say "Well, I've learned all there is to know, now what?"
9/28/2013 11:41:18 pm
Well said, Tracy!
I agree, Karen. I was just going to write a blog post about how the difficulty continuously increases the better you get.
9/28/2013 11:42:35 pm
I often chuckle at my choices: endurance, hard as hell; dressage, also hard as hell. Can someone point me to an easy discipline like say ... bronc riding? :0)
9/27/2013 12:27:59 am
I know... how you feel...it seems to be taking forever...to just get the "little basic stuff"...and I often wonder how far can I realistically go or "make it" at this pace....bah humbug (is it too early for that?)
9/28/2013 11:44:31 pm
I was watching a rerun of Dressage at Aachen last night and saw some young gals in their early 20s riding the Grand Prix. In some ways, I was jealous, but then I thought, now what do they have waiting?
I (also!) agree with Tracy! I can see how it could be discouraging, but I like to think of it as a sport where I will ALWAYS have room to grow and learn, and therefore will never become bored with it! But sometimes it is just nice to forget all the training and just ride for fun - maybe take speedy, borrow a barrel racing saddle, and take him for a spin around a barrel course. Or whatever else sounds like fun, just so that you're not focused on the frustration of there being no end in sight... do it because it's fun and you love it...
9/28/2013 11:46:40 pm
Every once in awhile we do go for a hack, and it does re-energize us. I should probably try to reconnect with some of my endurance pals and do a "real" trail ride. Speedy might realize how easy his current life has become. :0)
I've loved all those posts you've been writing so far, lots of good content (I've been swamped and unable to really comment much!).
9/28/2013 11:49:28 pm
I think what frustrates me the most with Sydney is that we seem to keep coming back to the Hyde/Jekyll thing. He'll be great for a month, and then suddenly we're back to square one. This is the third fall that I've owned him. Each year, the month of October was really hard. I suspect he suffers from SAD. I am going to do a little research and see if there isn't something I can do to make the transition to winter easier for him.
I continually bounce back and forth between the feeling that I need to "hurry up and improve and get there" and "we're already there/the destination *IS* the journey." Since I don't have Olympic aspirations, why do I care if I spend 1 show or 1 year or 10 years at my level, as long as my horse and I are staying safe and having fun and having some measure of progress? Because sometimes I just do care, and that's why. But sometimes I don't.
9/28/2013 11:53:04 pm
Thanks for the mention, Sarah. You reminded me of something which helped my next ride with Speedy go more smoothly. With him, I feel a more linear style of progress with small loops where we fall back but then shoot forward again. With Sydney, it feels more like a spiral. We just keep coming back to the same things over and over. Sometimes the spiral rings are far apart, like a tree's rings in a wet year, but other times it feels as though the spiral rings are practically touching, no growth.
9/28/2013 11:53:52 pm
I am sure you are right, Kelly. I wish I was better at looking backwards. :0)
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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)
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3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: