From Endurance to Dressage
As much as I tried to talk myself out of it, I rode with the dressage legal bit on Sunday. With Speedy having that gash on his foot, I was able to ride Izzy nearly every day last week. Even though one or two of our rides didn't go so well, I felt that his energy level was normal enough that I should try the legal bit again.
It was a hard sell though. As much as I say I want to get him working in the bit, doing it is tough. I don't want to use it after a challenging ride - I don't want him to have any excuses to be naughtier, and I find myself making excuses after a good ride. If he's going well, why would I want to mess it up by putting him in a bit that he doesn't understand?
Suck it up buttercup was what I finally told myself. I switched out the bits knowing that I really need to stick to my once a week plan. If you're new here, there's a lot of history in that decision. About a year ago, Izzy began to flat out refuse to take his eggbutt lozenge snaffle. It began to be a knock down, drag out fight to bridle him. And once bridled, he was nearly out of control.
I began searching for a bit that would work, even trying out a double bridle before I finally figured out it was the tongue pressure he was fighting. Once I got him in a bit with tongue relief (a ported correction bit), I had no more issues with bridling him. While he isn't going great in the legal bit (yet!), at least he takes it readily each time I try it.
Since my lesson with Chemaine Hurtado a few weeks ago, I've been really focusing on being as effective as possible with my seat while using less hands. With the legal bit, I did the same. Unless I absolutely had to slow him down, I tried to leave my hands alone. At first, Izzy's head was pretty high and his back was hollow, but as he figured out that I just wanted a steady rhythm, his head started to come down on its own.
While I never got a great connection at the trot, the canter work was pretty decent, and he begged to stretch down at the walk. I've learned that when he starts doing something correct at the walk, I start to see it in other gaits as well.
I was also relieved that the frantic chomping of the bit from the week before never showed up. I know he was more relaxed this week, but was it because the bit was more familiar, or was he simply in a better mood? Who knows?
One last thing ... one reason I balk at switching out my bit is that I have to do three things: 1) raise and lower my headstall; 2) take the bit off the headstall; and 3) switch out my reins. All of that takes more minutes than I like to "waste," so I did something about it. I hooked an extra set of reins to the legal bit which makes switching bits a whole lot faster.
Back to the regular bit this week, but I am sticking to my once a week plan!
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%: