From Endurance to Dressage
I have learned to appreciate and savor whatever good rides the big brown horse gives me as they don't happen every day. Except lately, they do.
Since my last lesson with Chemaine Hurtado in September, my rides on Izzy have just gotten better and better. One of the things she wanted me to work on was bigger half halts with a quicker release. While I am not suddenly an expert rider, I'd like to think that I have implemented her suggestions.
I know my riding is improving because I can now feel when I start to restrict Izzy. He'll get tense and tighten up his topline and suddenly, I am riding him defensively without giving him the opportunity to stretch down. By recognizing that, I can now give him a firm half halt that says slow the heck down and rebalance yourself followed immediately by a gigantic release that says I trust you not to run off.
The weird thing is that it actually works. Sometimes I have to do it ten times in a row, but by the eleventh time, he's starting to rebalance himself. And if I am methodical about it, I can begin to use just my seat without my hands, and he still gets the message.
Another element that I've managed to add to my riding acumen is this sense of pushing and lifting Izzy up into my hand. I am not sure when this feeling started, but I found myself doing it a month or so ago. Rather than pulling back to get him to soften or let go of the rein, I've developed this need to push him up into my hand. The picture I have in my head is pushing my seat closer to my hands.
I know that my work on my sitting trot is where most of the changes are coming from. I find that I have much more influence over his movement when I sit. And when I remember to lift and tuck my pelvis while also sitting up and lengthening my spine, I get some pretty fancy movement from the big brown horse.
The new saddle is definitely playing a part in this recent spate of good rides, too. Not only does it put me in a better position, but I am finding that I am actually using the knee rolls. I don't think I even felt them in my Custom. In the canter the other day, I felt myself resting against them as I thought about lifting Izzy's withers up with my seat.
And the legal bit? I am still using it once a week. Over the weekend, I had a great ride on Izzy WITH the bit. I even forgot we were using it. He's definitely easier to control with the ported bit with the chain for leverage, but he's definitely figuring out the legal bit.
Our rides now consist of riding movements rather than just trying to get him broke. I am focusing on most of the First Level movements, excluding the trot and canter lengthenings. The connection just isn't true enough for those yet. Other than that, he can hold the counter canter without difficulty, and the leg yields are better than Speedy's.
I am actually having fun and looking forward to the next day's ride. That was not a challenge, Universe!
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%: