From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy would be so embarrassed. He wouldn't want to be associated with either of these poles! But a pole laid horizontally on the ground has caught his interest.
My trainer brought out a pole at our last lesson to help me get Speedy carrying more weight on his hind end. So I set up the same exercise to work on during the week. While it's a fun exercise, it doesn't look very pretty, which is hard for me to ride through.
Here's how it goes ...
I shorten Speedy's reins, a lot. I keep my elbows bent which helps me to use my back and core more effectively. From the walk or the trot, I ask Speedy for a slow motion canter.
Here's where it's not so pretty. Speedy can give me the slow canter, but he's not yet strong enough to round his neck and lift his withers, which means he's cantering around with his head jacked up pretty high. I know he's using his hind end though because I can feel it. I can also hear it. His canter gets really rhythmical and super quiet.
To the left, he is stronger and has more power, but he can't get as round. To the right, he's weaker but more supple, so with enough half halting on my part, he does get round and pretty.
Once he is cantering with a slow motion feel, and that's even what I chant to myself as we circle around ... slow motion ... slow motion ... , I ride straight toward the pole without letting him speed up. The point to the exercise is to maintain the rhythm up to the pole, over the pole, and most importantly, after the pole.
If I just canter in a circle, I can't keep the slow motion feel as well. By going over the pole, I can instantly feel when we've lost the rhythm. One afternoon, I used the exercise to work on the simple change of lead through the trot. After we crossed the pole, I asked for a downward transition to trot, shifted my weight aids, and immediately asked for a change of lead, and cantered the other direction.
Our changes weren't perfect, which shows me how heavy Speedy still is, especially on the left rein. Changing from right to left is pretty easy for him because he already prefers that lead.
Our first show of the season won't be until late May, so I am trying to focus on the requirements of the level rather than any specific movements from the tests. Getting a more collected canter will help us in our 15-meter canter circles, the counter canter, and in the change of lead through trot. Next up is to get a better lengthening of stride in the trot work.
One day at a time ...
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%