From Endurance to Dressage
One of the best things about clinics is the opportunity to see other riders working through their own issues. I didn't get to spend a lot of time watching since I was riding two horses, but it was so much fun to have other people at the barn.
It was also a great experience for Izzy. When they all showed up last month, he spent the day vibrating with excitement. He bucked and played all day long. This time, he stood at the fence and just watched without all of the theatrics.
Izzy is still a little sore on a front foot, so even though he was a little uneven, I rode him anyway. Chemaine has an excellent eye though and felt that he actually looked better the longer he rode. One of Izzy's "things" is going to be tension. When he gets tense, he's going to look lame even when there is nothing wrong. So once he relaxed and forgot about his foot hurting, he traveled very nearly sound.
Edyta again took a slew of lovely pictures which amazes me because Izzy felt like a hot mess the entire ride. I am happy that he looks so good because it means that maybe we present a better picture than it feels like we do.
Chemaine had some excellent ideas for working on a horse who is a bit ouchy. Her plan was to get him focused on working without reminding him that he has a stubbed toe. We did a lot of the work at the walk where he is 100% sound.
The first exercise was simply to walk on a circle, halting every few strides. The point of the exercise was to teach him in really simple terms that he needs to be listening for a half halt. I put him in a walk, went a few strides, and then asked for a halt. Ideally, he should stop right away, but I was allowed to give three to five strides to make it happen. If he didn't stop, I used the reins hard to say STOP! I then reorganized him and sent him walking again.
Once he was halting pretty consistently, we bumped up the gait to a slow jog and did the same thing. We jogged a few strides and then asked for a walk, jogged a few strides, and asked for a walk. Again, the purpose was to get him wondering when a half halt was coming.
This was actually hard work for him. Within a short time, he was breathing pretty heavily, but his focus improved with every half halt, and his foot hurt less and less.
The third part of this exercise was to leave the circle and move to the long sides. As we jogged down the long side, Chemaine had me half halt and then change bend, half halt, and change the bend, half halt and change the bend. We stayed on the rail and jogged around the court half halting and bending and then changed direction.
I was delighted with how supple he got through his withers and neck and poll. He got lighter in the bridle and let me move his shoulders around.
When he was finally relaxed and focused, we moved on to the canter work. Or, we tried to. Immediately, Izzy's tension returned, so Chemaine had me put him back on the circle where we trotted and asked for a half halt over and over. It worked like a charm. He lost the frantic tension, his eyes got a bit softer, and he was ready to listen.
Chemaine had me trot Izzy down centerline, leg yielding to the rail to put him on the outside rein. Then she had me ever so quietly give the canter cue in the corner. I would like to say that he just stepped into a lovely, uphill canter, but he didn't. He will eventually, but it's still a tense transition.
I love these exercises though and know that this slow and methodical approach to installing a half halt will serve us well. If the weather doesn't get too crazy over the next month, we should be riding with Chemaine again before Thanksgiving. We'll definitely be using these exercises until then.
Once again I was able to ride twice on both days so there is more tomorrow!
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%: