From Endurance to Dressage
Squares are awesome. I ride them with Izzy all the time. They get him sitting and help him balance. I don't ride them as often with Speedy because they're harder to do on him. If you didn't catch yesterday's post, here's yet another photo demonstrating how much he hates to sit. This one is BRILLIANT.
Although, if I ever try to sell Speedy, I'll have to delete these blooper posts as no one would even think of trying to ride this out. Honestly though, his bucks and kicks are super easy to sit, and usually I bust out laughing because they're all drama llama. If you'll notice, I'm always smack dab in the middle of his back without getting pitched forward, backward, or to either side. You've seen me ride. I am not particularly talented, so me staying centered isn't because of my fabulous riding. Speedy just likes to voice his opinion, but he's never trying to unseat me or buck me off. He would be mortified if that ever happened.
The lesson had one real purpose: get that inside leg to step under and over. To achieve that, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, had me ride a square. A lot of squares. In the corner of each square, she had me compress Speedy's frame while riding with his haunches in with activity.
We started in the walk. First, I bent him around my inside leg and then opened my outside rein and brought it back to send his inside hind under his belly. At the same time, she encouraged me to tap, tap, tap him with the whip to keep the hind leg very active. Once out of the corner, she instructed me to give him a big release. The point was to show him that he can bend and push at the same time.
Then we did it at the trot. All of the blooper photos from yesterday were taken when he refused to make the corner with his hind end underneath him. To the right, he desperately wants to "save" his inside hind by swinging his haunches out. Sorry, buddy, that's not going to work. That's okay, he nearly has it figured out. We used the same strategy, compress, compress, compress, followed by a release without letting him pop his head up.
After the trot came the canter. Since the canter is already a gait with more suspension, these corners were a lot easier, especially on the left bend.
Compressing the stride in the corner where he takes smaller, but active steps behind will help later in the canter pirouettes, but for now, it will help our half pass. You can see how much harder it is for him to the right.
Another way to do the exercise, especially when Speedy was feeling frazzled, is to walk the corner, and then either trot or canter out of the corner. When we did canter, walk, canter, his transitions got a lot crisper. I love this canter depart.
After getting him truly active behind, we did a few canter half passes. They still more or less suck, but at least they're improving. At the very end of the lesson, we took the energy that we had built and let it rip. Our very last medium/extended trot was heavenly!
Speedy can do this - Third Level, Fourth Level, the FEI Levels ... It's just up to me to figure out how to convince him that he can do it. And of course, I need to learn it first.
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%