From Endurance to Dressage
Moving up the levels requires a new vocabulary. I've been studying, especially after the exercises that JL had me use for Sydney at our most recent lesson.
I've discovered that Shoulder Fore is taking the proper bend of a 15 meter circle and carrying that bend straight, while Shoulder In is taking the bend of a 10 meter circle and carrying that on a straight line. Two very similar exercises, but one requires more bend: shoulder in requires more effort than shoulder fore.
I hate to write about anything if I can't be somewhat authoritative. I am not an expert, and I certainly don't claim to be, but I do like to feel fairly certain about the accuracy of what I am writing. With that, I am going to plead ignorance here and simply admit that I am not sure what to call the exercise we did on Wednesday night. It wasn't a true shoulder fore since we did the exercise on a circle.
As JL called out instructions, I realized that she was asking me to ride with the outside shoulder forward of the inside shoulder. I asked if this was a shoulder fore. Being a hunter/jumper trainer, she wasn't sure what I meant. I explained that it felt as though I was asking for his outside shoulder to lead. Yes, that's what she was aiming for. But unlike a true shoulder fore, we were traveling in a circle. I don't think the exercise is a true leg yield either as I expected him to stay on the same circle, not move away from leg. The point of the exercise was to supple Sydney's body, specifically his neck, by asking him to stay off my inside leg with his neck over-bent to the inside. The point was to flex the neck while remaining on the circle, no collapsing in, no drifting out. In a true leg yield, the neck is not over-bent and the horse moves in a sideways manner.
After several of these neck bends, we kept the same circle, but I counter-flexed his neck. This time his neck was over-bent to the left while he tracked right, and it was the right shoulder that led. Then we moved back and forth, gently. Look at my outside knee, look at my inside knee, outside, inside. All the while I asked him to step away from my inside leg.
We repeated the exercise tracking left. This exercise worked wonders to supple Sydney's "ribcage" and his neck. He got softer and softer the more we worked. After a circle or two, I let him carry his neck straight to rest. But then we continued.
So what is this exercise called, if anything? Is it simply a suppling exercise, or does it have a dressage name? I've pointed out many times that my foray into the dressage world is anything but typical: I come from the endurance world with no formal lessons before the age of 37; I am riding an Arabian (and now an imported New Zealand thoroughbred); My trainer is a hunter/jumper trainer; I started showing way before we were ready. Like it says in my blog description, "classical dressage in non-traditional ways." That is us, and this recent set of exercises only confirms how non-traditional we are. If you have a name, other than suppling, I'd like to hear it.
And if you can, will you throw out what "upperish" movements these exercises lead to? That would be great.
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
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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