From Endurance to Dressage
Image "borrowed" from the internet.
Oh, Val, THANK YOU! (She wrote a post the other day about using your thumbs while riding - read it here.)
The idea is to keep your thumbs on top of the reins and point them at your horse's bit. Holy Toledo, Batman! What a concept. This is the most interesting mental image that I've heard in a while. Who am I kidding? I say that all the time! This image though? This one kicks serious butt!
I've already been working on pointing my knees where I want Sydney to go. I've also been cracking a nut with my shoulder blades and sticking "them" (you know what I mean) out. Now I am pointing my thumbs at Sydney's mouth. This all sounds so ridiculous ... until you think about it. Wait a minute? Could all of this be one big conspiracy aimed at straightening ME out? Oh my gosh - I think it is! AND IT'S WORKING!
On a more serious level, this is truly another one of those Game Changers. When I rode on Friday evening, after long-lining (which should probably be another whole post as I discovered some very interesting tid-bits), I decided to focus on pointing my thumbs at Sydney's bit as Val suggested. I noticed a difference in him right away. I've said all along that I have a problem with "breaking" my wrists. One of my recent tricks to avoid the "broken" wrist has been to visualize the aids coming from my elbows rather than my hands. Keeping my thumbs pointed at Sydney's bit combined with that concept perfectly!
As soon as you point your thumbs, your wrists are no longer mobile. Try it. Close your fingers around the reins. Rotate your hands so that your thumbs are up. Point your thumbs forward. How can you bend your wrists if your thumbs are pointing forward? Now the aids have to come from your elbows or shoulders -amazing!
I started off at the walk with my shoulders cracking nuts and my thumbs pointing forward. Right away I noticed that my contact was much steadier. I also started to feel more of the "bicycle handle" motion than before. When I asked for the trot, things got even better. No matter where I needed to move my hands, out, inside, wide, I kept my thumbs pointed forward. It was actually liberating, and I found it quite easy to do. It felt comfortable, and it was almost as though my hands had found the sweet spot. They felt "clicked" in. In the groove. In a track. Where they were supposed to be.
One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war!
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%: