From Endurance to Dressage
One Happy Girl
And that's a good thing as I haven't been too happy these last few weeks. Sorry to be so enigmatic, but some things are better left unsaid. Anyhoo ... back to being one happy girl.
I just haven't had as much saddle time this last few weeks as I would prefer. We went to the cabin over the weekend which meant I lost another ride day, Saturday, but gained a day away with Hubby so it was worth it. By Sunday afternoon, even though it was a bit hot, I was determined to be up in the tack at least once, and hopefully twice.
I saved Speedy's ride for second. He's usually the easier one to ride, and lately, I find it to be less like work, and more like fun. We warmed up as usual with me asking for some flexing and moving his shoulders around. He was heavy on the rein at the walk so I also asked for some halts and rein back.
By the way, the rein back is really, really fun to ride. Speedy is getting that concept so thoroughly that I can control each backward step with my leg cues. When we first started, he wanted to rush backwards, but now he is listening to my legs and backing with each squeeze. I've been playing around with backing him more and more slowly. The only problem is that when I ask for forward again, he's not quite sure if he's making the right choice. To go forward, I release slightly with my hands, and I ask with alternating leg squeezes; right, left, right left. He'll get it.
After the rein back, I asked for a forward walk and then asked for a trot. Speedy balked royally and put up such a stink that I actually laughed. In the past, I would have been pissed at his resistance which would have lead to a terrible ride. Instead, I asked again, but this time, I put a bit of spur into the request. Speedy leaped forward and threw in a buck. I halted him firmly, no bucking allowed, and then sent him forward with a loose rein.
It was so gratifying to feel a hollow-backed, behind the leg horse. I am sure you're asking how in the heck that could be gratifying, but the thing is, I know the difference and more importantly, I know how to fix it!
Instead of trying to get him on the bit and rounded up, I simply let him trot forward on a loose rein. My only goal was to get him in front of my leg. He felt terrible; he was "lame," crooked, and stumbling from one end of the arena to another. I just kept asking for forward and made the work more and more interesting. We crossed the diagonal, made 20-meter circles, and rode the long side.
Within five minutes, Speedy was balanced and reaching for the bit. I gradually shortened the reins and started to ask him for some real work.
I think one of the biggest things I've learned this summer is to allow Speedy to reach for the bit without pulling back. I don't think I pulled back very much on him, not like with Sydney, but it was enough that it created a hollow back. Now I think I have a much more giving hand, and more and more of my aids are coming from my core, seat, and legs.
Once Speedy was moving nicely forward, I rode every pattern and exercise I could think of: loops, serpentines, 10-meter circles, leg yield, counter canter, and extended trot. Each time he moved into the next exercise with balance, I gave an audible Woot! Woot! and imagined a Tiger Woods first pump.
I couldn't believe the quality of work that I was getting from him. He did the trot loops without losing his balance (tossing his head); we counter cantered both directions without needing to do any strong half halts, and we even rode some half-way decent 10 meter circles at X from First Level's Test 3.
Don't misunderstand. None of these exercises would have earned us any 10s, but we actually did them without rushing or tumbling onto the forehand. Two months ago, we couldn't hold the counter canter, and the 10-meter circle, especially to the right, was an unbalanced mess. I am having so much fun riding Speedy G, and I think he is starting to think of himself as pretty hot stuff!
Smiles all around for this girl!
9/17/2013 04:38:14 am
The rein back sounds DELIGHTFUL and perfect. Love the difference in the two riding photos. Talk about progress!
9/17/2013 10:28:23 am
Thanks, Dom. And I think he looks even better today. :0)
9/17/2013 10:29:28 am
There is still some crap on my plate, but for now, I am just trying to keep my eye on what's important - this! And thanks. :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)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: