From Endurance to Dressage
I did have a lesson with Chemaine Hurtado of Symphony Dressage Stables over the weekend, but before I rode, I attended her clinic on Movement Awareness for Riders. About the clinic, Chemaine says:
What can I say? We have too much fun at Symphony Dressage! We all did the stretches designed for riders' Movement Awareness in the DVD by Eckart Meyners. Rolling the hips and pelvis on the yoga ball, stretching on the coolers in the arena, and more. The riders showed a marked improvement after each stretching sequence! Thank you riders, Jennifer Stetter-Nunes, Angelica Rodman- Apodaca, and Jessica Gill! Video coming soon!
Quoting from his website, "Eckart Meyners developed exercises to break blockades, which help the rider find a comfortable seat position in the saddle and to help him give aids." Chemaine based her clinic on Meyners's exercises but expanded the concept to include participation with the horses.
While I didn't get to the facility in time to catch the video, Chemaine got me up to speed in no time. The group had started out by watching the video, then the demo riders saddled their horses and did some rising and sitting trot while the group looked for tension or stiffness in the riders.
As a special note: This is a very supportive team, so the riders didn't feel as though they were being critiqued. It was truly an opportunity for each of us to learn from each other without the fear of being "judged."
After riding, the whole group did some stretching exercises led by Chemaine. They started with some self-massage of the neck and shoulders followed by stretching the pelvis by sitting on a low wall and letting one hip hang freely. The demo riders then remounted and the group looked for improvement in their riding.
All three riders immediately felt the effects of having stretched first. Some felt that the improvement was due to simple body awareness and others felt the effect was directly related to the stretches. It was easy to see the improvement in each rider just by watching.
After riding for a few minutes, the horses were again put up in the cross ties while the group did another set of stretches. By this time, I had joined in.
The stretches on the ground included lying on our stomaches with our arms outstretched. While looking to the left (and later to the right), we flexed our left hand up and then raised our left arm. After eight repetitions, we then drew our opposite leg up and forward, almost like a scissor kick in swimming, and left it there as we repeated the arm lifts. We put out legs back side by side and did the arm lifts a third time, and almost everyone felt a greater range of motion.
We also laid on our backs and rolled our lower bodies to the right (or left) while keeping our shoulders flat. This is a favorite stretch of mine, so it was really easy!
After each round of stretches, including lots of work with the yoga balls, the demo riders got back on their horses and the group again studied their way of movement looking to see if the stretches had indeed helped. By the end of the morning, each rider, while lovely to start, definitely looked even more relaxed and fluid. The horses also looked better!
Chemaine put on a great clinic. It was fun, relaxing, and done in such a comfortable, non-judgmental format that everyone was relaxed enough to give the stretches a try. If you'd like to try Chemaine's yoga ball exercises, check out her website. I hear she might be putting on another body awareness clinic. If you're local, look her up on Facebook or contact her through her website for more information.
Oh yeah ... and then I rode - more on that later this week!
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%: