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.
2/25/2015 10:49:54 pm
One thing that helped me develop a better sitting trot (still have a long way to go, but it's better!), was really learning about the mechanics of how our seats should move with the trot, not just up and down but forward and back. The other thing that helped me was thinking about sitting the rhythm. I find the rhythm of the horse and try to follow it in my core. If I fall out of rhythm (usually because I'm pushing for more trot with my core instead of my legs), I lose my ability to sit.
3/3/2015 08:58:25 am
Christian Schacht, the German trainer with whom I ride when possible, describes the sitting trot as a three-dimensional movement. That's what I keep in mind, but allowing my body to move that way is definitely a struggle. :0)
3/3/2015 08:59:00 am
Best of luck! I am back with my stirrups for a while. :0)
3/3/2015 08:59:33 am
HAHAHA - that made me laugh out loud since YOU are the crazy one!!!!!
3/3/2015 09:00:20 am
I totally expected it, but I dodged a big bullet. ;0) He found plenty of other things that needed work!
Nope, I don't think you're crazy at all! I have recently found that I love riding without stirrups, but can't do it all the time yet, because Copper isn't strong enough, and he starts tensing up his back if I do... But the stronger he gets, the more and more I just want to ride without stirrups! Long drapy leg bliss indeed. :)
3/3/2015 09:01:35 am
Speedy is far enough long in his training that he can do my part and his, but I definitely have to keep that issue in mind once I start riding Izzy.
3/3/2015 09:02:13 am
Of cours you CRAZY jumping fools would think so! :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
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