From Endurance to Dressage
The need to work it out myself, bad weather, and vacations have knocked me off my weekly Wednesday lesson. We're getting back on track, but it won't be for another week. This week I rode with JL on Monday, and it was a good, solid, productive lesson. It was the first lesson on Sydney since that scary ride we had in late February. I never quit riding him of course, but I did stop having lessons on him until we could try again without all of the fear and tension. And before anyone thinks it was JL's fault, it wasn't. There were just some things I had to figure out before I felt comfortable riding Sydney in a trainer/student situation. I think that has been resolved.
We started out with some walking since JL wanted to see how well I could turn Sydney with just leg pressure. She was impressed. We've gotten quite adept at the turn on the haunches. I play the how little rein can I use game. When we're both really on, I can make the turn with little or no outside rein. He rolls across nicely on his haunches and carries himself through the turn. As he lifts his shoulders and rounds his back, the rein will go slack and I'll feel him lift me up and over. Lovely feeling.
As soon as JL asked for the same movement at trot, I brought Sydney to a complete halt and asked her to clarify. No, she didn't want a trot pirouette. Phew! No way that was happening. What she wanted was a trot where the inside feet transcribed a smaller circle than the outside feet. The circle could be as large as I wanted.
In truth, the point of the lesson was lost on me until near the end. What she really wanted me to do was make the turn using the outside aids, especially the outside leg. The shape of the figure we were making was like a hexagon: a circle with straight edges. What I was supposed to feel was a sideways movement around the circle with no inside bend. To the right was easy. On our first attempt we could just about trot the entire circle. To the left, the side he blows through at the canter, was HARD. At first, we could only trot a couple of steps before he locked up.
Once I understood the movement, I sat up and really engaged my seat and outside leg. Rather than applying constant pressure with my leg, I started to feel a rhythm in the movement. I started to rock him over which also required a left-right, left-right rock of the reins. We were finally able to make a nearly complete circle to the left. When Sydney would lock up and lose his momentum and I could sense that he wanted to pop that outside shoulder (usually the right one), I simply touched his shoulder with the whip and said, move here. It worked wonderfully and gave him just enough motivation to lift his shoulders and move sideways.
Once we had the circle going pretty smoothly, JL threw in a wrench that still has me a bit baffled. At the point in the circle where I could feel him resisting, she had me turn my head the other direction (if we were tracking left she had me look right), and use my outside leg as the new inside leg to push his hindquarters out as we changed from a left bend to a right bend. What it illustrated to me was how much I let the outside shoulder fall out. By looking to the inside, I was switching the bend which meant I had to catch the new outside shoulder before he lost it.
This is the crux of our problem at the canter. I am not controlling his outside shoulder. I am allowing him to fall out which makes him feel out of control and out of balance. Until I can control the outside shoulder at the trot, we will not be able to canter safely. Not a happy thought, but I am delighted that we have found an obvious problem. My job is to now fix it.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read