From Endurance to Dressage
One Way to Change the Bend
Yesterday, I talked about contact and evenness in both reins. Recognizing when Sydney is heavier on one rein helped me to help rebalance him. This is another exercise that JL has been trying to teach me for several weeks. We finally "got it" on Monday.
The point of this exercise is to change the bend while asking the new inside hind to really step under and over. If you do it correctly, it also shows great control of the outside rein, something I really need.
The exercise can be done first at the walk and then at the trot, but it is almost easiest to do at the canter (without actually changing direction). If done incorrectly though, it falls apart much more dramatically at the canter.
So here is how it goes at the trot (it's the same at the walk, but done more slowly).
1. Track left (or right).
2. While tracking left, create a counter bend. The inside rein now becomes your new outside rein.
3. Stop the forward movement with the new outside rein by bringing it straight back (do not let it cross over the withers), and ask the horse to slide his hindquarters to the left.
4. If your horse drops to the walk, you've either used too much outside rein, not enough leg, or probably both!
5. Once his hindquarters have made the fan, or shift, you should now be facing the opposite direction. Add leg and continue in the new direction.
If you do the exercise at the canter, the point is not to change directions, but to really lighten the horse's font end and demonstrate control of the outside rein.
1. Track left at the canter (or right).
2. Create a counter bend. Your inside rein will now act as your outside pace rein.
3. Use your right leg (if tracking left) to push your horse in the smallest canter circle you can mange.
4. If your horse pivots to the right, you've lost control of your new "outside" rein.
5. Once you've made the circle as small as you can get it, go back to a regular bend and make your circle larger again. Your horse should now be very light in the bridle.
We were able to do the canter exercise in both directions, and I was shocked at how uphill and light Sydney became. The exercises were quite challenging while tracking left as Sydney is heavy on the left rein. These exercises ask him to come off that rein and left shoulder so that he can balance better. We have a schooling show on Sunday so we'll be working hard on these exercises for the rest of the week.
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%: