From Endurance to Dressage
One, Two, Let, Go - Follow Up
On Saturday morning, our first cool day in weeks, I gave both boys lots of turnout time, thoroughly groomed them, and even rode them both.
Speedy G after his ride.
Speedy G got to go first: Val, of Memoirs of a Horse Girl, had given me a whip tip to try on Speedy. She suggested that I "Use a different aid to send him forward to the bit, like the whip. Keep your legs relaxed and just tap him forward on his hindquarters with a slightly elevated hand position and long reins." As I rode Speedy G, I sent him forward with a leg squeeze. If he dropped behind the vertical, I tapped his hip very softly with the whip as Val suggested.
The first time I did it I got the response I expected - flattened ears accompanied by a threat to kick or buck. But when Speedy realized that it was only a soft tap and not a move it, buddy! kind of cue, he cocked an ear back as if to say, huh?! I tapped again, and when he reached forward from his shoulders he got a good boy! The whip tap hasn't fixed the problem, but it's a separate cue from a go forward leg squeeze. We had an improved ride which also included some nice canter transitions that were happily free of kicks and bucks.
Sydney after his ride.
Sydney got to go next: JL's confidence in me must have been well-founded. After the utter ineptness that I demonstrated on Wednesday, I am not sure why she felt it was possible, but I was able to repeat the One, Two, Let, Go exercise with complete success. Again, I had to do it from the sitting trot, but that also showed improvement. I started with a pretty firm two-count pull, followed by a two-count let go. Initially, the whole thing looked like an idiot (me) pulling back on a horse (that would be Sydney) who wasn't listening.
Round and round we went. Sydney's neck was braced, and his nose was pointed straight out in front of him. He actually had a look of resignation on his face as though he was thinking, and so it goes. Yet another rider who is just going to pull on my mouth. But I didn't. (And I don't.) I pulled and let go, pulled and let go. Little by little our circle got rounder, Sydney maintained a steady pace, and his neck started to move at the shoulder. Once I felt him start to let go of his neck the littlest bit, I pulled more softly and continued to let go. And then I stopped pulling and just kept the contact light. I returned to a rising trot, and I alternately squeezed my fingers and felt him go round and soft. He reached for the bit and held it lightly. And with JL's words ringing in my ears, I started to fiddle. A little rocking on the rein, little nudges here and there. And just like that, we were there. He was soft, rhythmical, and on the bit.
With my point made, I quietly asked for a halt, and got it. The whole exercise took less than 15 minutes. This was the first time that I was able to get him truly soft, rhythmical, and between my aids without being at a lesson. And we did it very quickly with no fussing.
We finished the ride with some stretchy walking and soft halts. Up until recently, getting a halt from him required all of my upper body strength. He has quickly learned that a deep sigh done as my weight sinks into the saddle means stop, and do it without flinging your head in the air.
Hopefully we're almost ready to move on to the canter. Can't wait to show JL what we've learned!
9/19/2011 07:27:11 am
Thanks for the mention, Karen. You are really cool like that!
9/19/2011 12:06:01 pm
Val -A Smart Fart is what JL calls him. :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%
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