From Endurance to Dressage
Speedy is finally back to full work. After his show season ended in July, I kind of took it easy on him and didn't ask much of anything. I was focusing on showing Sydney. Then, Speedy came up lame after his little "Princess and the Pea" episode. While all of that was going on, my focus shifted back to Sydney in preparation for the von Dietze clinic.
I can feel that we've taken some backwards steps. Or, more likely, while Speedy was getting fat and sassy, I was developing better balance and feel. The work I've been doing with JL to keep Sydney balanced enough to pick up that right lead canter has been very constructive. And as tough as that clinic was (maybe someday I'll share the whole story), I had some serious AHA! moments there as well.
So poor Speedy; he's living a Rip Van Winkle story. He takes a little break, but when he comes back, his whole world has changed! I know I'm riding better so my expectations for the gray pony have really changed.
I've known about some of his weak areas from the beginning, but I was working on so many other things at the same time that I wasn't able to address them. But now, some of those things are no longer okay. It's time to fix them.
The first thing I need to address, and it's only going to happen through lessons and clinics, is how heavy he is on the left rein. It doesn't matter which direction we track; he is always 80% on that rein. When we track left, my outside (right) rein hangs there limp and hollow. If I release the inside rein, his nose immediately falls to the outside. When we track right, I feel as though if I were to drop the contact, he'd probably do a spectacular roll over and we'd go up in flames.
To try and lighten him up on the outside rein, I've been working on a lot of canter where I swing his head in rhythm to the canter: left, left, center, center, left, left, center, center. Sydney loves this exercise and it softens him up within a few strides. Not Speedy. It was all he could do to maintain his balance because he was so heavy on the forehand, which is problem number two.
His trot work is so heavy now (or maybe it always was?) that I can literally hear his front feet slamming into the ground. And if I don't watch every step, he'll stumble and trip. (It's not a neurological thing, I promise.) Speedy has a noodle of a neck so to avoid the contact, he tucks his little nose between his two from legs.
My only solution has been to give a very strong half halt (that really means a sharp jerk on the rein) and add a ton of leg. With that correction, he flings his head back up, but I can't keep him from curling back under. We just go round and round doing the same thing. Even if I switch it up and do serpentines to ten-meter circles, to loops, I end up fighting the same battle.
It's a lot like riding a loaded wheelbarrow: his front end is driving into the ground while his hind end isn't carrying any weight.
I am not discourage; I am determined. I definitely need to get in a lesson with JL. Maybe we can work something out today.
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%