From Endurance to Dressage
Since I've been riding both Austin and Marty in jumping saddles for the last month or so, I wanted to work on lengthening my leg this week. That leg position in a jumper saddle is pretty tough. My body is feeling the new angles, and frankly, there's a lot of complaining about it.
As I rode Austin the other day (two days after our little tumble), I felt myself uncharacteristically whining about riding. This is haaaaard ... Normally, I relish hard; I thrive on the challenge. I even have a hard time getting off my horses because I like riding so much.
When riding Austin, I time my rides as I don't want to over-do anything. I set my watch's chronograph: we walk for five minutes to start, then we do thirteen minutes of walk/trot work, all of which is followed by two minutes of walking to cool down. It's a twenty minute workout.
Those first five minutes are fine, but somewhere during that thirteen minutes of dang this hurts, things start to well, HURT. I am not going to lie. Sometimes I sneak some walking into those thirteen minutes. If I don't, I really think I might die of some weird muscle spasm.
With Speedy being a bit wonky for a few weeks, I hadn't used my dressage saddle at all. This had me worried as Speedy and I are heading to Ventura for another clinic with Christian Schacht over the weekend. I was worried that with so much work in the jumper saddle, my position in my dressage saddle was going to suffer.
Thinking that I needed to stretch out my tense and cramped legs, I took the stirrup leathers off my saddle completely. I love that I can get on Speedy after two weeks of just hand walking and two short lunge sessions without even batting an eye at riding without stirrups. He's a total rock star.
The instant my butt settled into that buttery soft buffalo leather, I gave an audible moan of happiness. The bliss! I dropped my legs down along Speedy's sides and reveled in the deliciousness of a long and draped leg. Heaven!
I don't know that Speedy was all that enamored with the return to work, but I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Sorry, ladies, but I really don't see a switch to the h/j side of things in this girl's future!
It's been three days of no stirrup bliss. If you would have suggested that riding with no stirrups would ever feel good, I would have laughed derisively at you and thrown tomatoes or something. But being without stirrups did feel better than cranking my knees and hips into such an unnatural and painful contorted position that those jumping saddles require.
And lest you think that all I did was tootle around swinging my legs in joy, I should point out that I've been working on my sitting trot (still horrible) and canter departures. Even without stirrups, it was still more comfortable than riding in a jumping saddle. For the clinic, I will definitely have my stirrup leathers back in place, but for the next day or so, I am working on stretching out my kinked-up legs.
Yah for no stirrups! Feel free to call me crazy.
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%: