From Endurance to Dressage
I am writing this three days after the clinic, but by the time you read it, I will have had a lesson and ridden several more times. I hate to post things so out of order, but I really need to write this right now while it is fresh in my mind.
I didn't get to ride for the first few days after the clinic. This is a good thing as I came home frustrated and disappointed. By the time I was finally able to ride, I had had a chance to talk to JL about the clinic and come up with some riding goals for the next six weeks; that's a post for another day. I also had some time to let go of my frustration and move forward. In the end, I had a great ride on both horses.
I ended up using several of the exercises that Susanne showed other riders. I didn't take notes, so my explanations are probably going to be a bit off, but the exercises do work. The biggest component to doing the exercises correctly, is to do everything to the horse's rhythm. That means you can move any part of your body almost any way you want to as long as you stay in rhythm.
Exercise 1: Up, Up, Down
This exercise can be modified by doing a down, down, up rhythm as well. Essentially, you rise for two beats and sit for one. The purpose of the exercise is to firm up your lower leg and control the rhythm of your posting. Sydney loved it and responded immediately by releasing a great deal of tension and asking to stretch over his top line.
Exercise 2: Juggling
I didn't actually see Susanne show this to anyone, but I watched her do it, and she later showed it to me while we were in the the barn. Basically, as you trot, you send one hand up and then the other hand up, back and forth. Don't pull on the reins, just lift your hands alternately to the rhythm of the trot. This helped me focus on maintaining the rhythm without needing to pull back. Both horses responded really well, Speedy especially.
Exercise 3: Land Your Seat Bone in a Different Place
Holy hell! This is the best exercise I have ever done on horseback. I can't believe how it instantly released my lower back and the tension around my pelvis. I can't guarantee that I did it exactly right, but I don't care as both of my horses loved the sensation.
Susanne had all kind of visual images: imagine your seat bones are providing a massage; where does he want you to land?, and so on. As I rode, I kind of danced with my hips to the rhythm of the trot so that I truly landed in a different spot each time. Susanne's explanation was that this encourages the horse to lift his back as you aren't pressing down in the same place every time you sit.
Exercise 4: Move Each Part of Your Body Individually
I didn't do it exactly like Susanne instructed. When she asked riders to do it, it went like this: at the trot move just your head to the left, center, right at the rhythm of the trot. Then pick other body parts; move your rib cage to the right, center, and left; move your shoulders to the right, center, and left. You can go all the way down your body to even include your legs. Instead of doing it like this, I just did my whole body to the right, center, and left. It was incredibly liberating to dance to my horse's trot rhythm! I also did shoulder rolls, one of her other exercises, and hip wiggles (my words). Basically, you should be able to move your body all around your horse to his trot rhythm.
I might have looked goofy doing all of this, but both of my boys moved better than they ever have before! It was so much fun that I didn't want to quit riding. And it wasn't just relaxing for me; both of my boys moved better as I was moving. Instead of toting around a block of wood, my boys were carrying a rider who was matching their own movement. I was helping them to keep their balance!
But ... there's even more!!!!! I'll share my Monday lesson tomorrow.
By the way, Speedy finally felt completely sound about 10 days after Jaime pulled the shoe and re-shod him. I think it's safe to say that little pebble was the problem. he is a bit of a diva for sure. The princess with her pea has nothing on my boy!
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%: