From Endurance to Dressage
Sydney and I made the trek up to Tehachapi for a Saturday lesson. Taking a lesson with Lois requires a good half day commitment. An hour lesson takes at least five hours: 3 hours in drive time, an hour to ride, and an hour or more on either side for tacking/untacking and debriefing. I wish I could do it weekly, but Hubby and home need me on Saturdays, too.
The lesson was a good one. Lois appeared to be impressed with our progress. Our geometry had improved and Sydney was far more adjustable in his trot work. She could see the balance issue tracking right so she moved on to a new exercise. It's one that we've done many times before, but she tweaked it a bit.
She had me start to the left, the easier direction. We started by establishing a 20-meter circle at the trot. She then had me slowly change to a counter bend. We spiraled in to a 10-meter circle; her variation was to take 6-9 circles to arrive at the 10-meter diameter. I appreciated the slowness as it definitely gave Sydney time to develop his balance.
Once Sydney was balanced in the counter bent 10-meter circle, Lois instructed me to gradually return to the correct bend and move him back out onto the 20-meter circle. The result was a much more balanced horse who was really working over his topline.
We repeated the exercise to the right. Sydney definitely had trouble in the spiral part. I had to work much harder to get him to the 10-meter circle. Once he was there, I felt him soften and let go of the left rein. I gradually returned to a correct bend and moved him out to a 20-meter circle. What a huge difference. He couldn't stay on my outside rein for long, but it was an improvement.
We next moved on to the canter work. Sydney exploded into the left lead canter and was very heavy in my hands. I have done the spiral exercise a billion times with JL so before Lois could ask for it, I told her that I needed to try something. I counter bent him and made the circle smaller. With a few encouraging words from Lois, longer leg and a slower seat, Sydeny moved into the lovely canter that I can get at home. I put him on a correct bend and moved him out onto the bigger circle. Lois was quite impressed.
When I asked for the right lead canter, I got the usual oh, crap! launch. I quickly got some bend and urged him into a more normal canter. Lois had me take his unbalanced canter into the 10-meter circle by counter bending him. After going through the exercise, we were able to achieve a balanced, right lead canter.
We probably should have stopped there as the rest of the lesson dissolved into rearing, bucking, and spooking. Neither of us knew it, but Sydney had had his fill for the day. Lois wanted me to repeat some of the trot work to the right since we had just gotten him balanced through the canter. Sydney would have none of it. He shoved his barrel into my right leg and refused to bend. I started getting cranking and he responded in kind.
Not being able to see what I was feeling, Lois finally asked me to explain what was going on. After I told her, she had me work on turns on the forehand. When that continued to piss him off, we had to move to halting as he had decided to ignore my half halts. Within a few minutes, Lois saw that we had pushed him too far.
Rather than continue, she had me trot a few steps, ask for a halt, and let go. We did it several times in both directions until he was willingly halting. That was the end of the lesson. We quit on a good note and he left the arena relaxed and feeling good.
The day was quite cool with a strong breeze blowing so his neck never got wet during the ride. While he might not have been working aerobically, he was using his back and abdominal muscles to a great enough degree to be tired. And he was certainly mentally worn out. When I pulled his saddle off, I was surprised to see that while his neck might have been cool and dry, his back told a different story; the pad was soaked through to the saddle. That doesn't happen to Sydney very often, especially on such a cool day.
He lunched at the trailer before leaving. He traveled quietly and was happy to be home. I hand grazed him for a few minutes and then returned him to his stall. Both boys got some late afternoon beet pulp along with some hugs and kisses. Sydney looked content.
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 Second Level. 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%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read