From Endurance to Dressage
Both boys got lessons with Chemaine Hurtado last week. With Speedy, we focused on improving Test 3 from First Level. With Izzy, we're not showing this summer, so I wanted to focus on his rideability, being able to put him anywhere in the arena that I wanted without fussing. The whole "just do it anyway" thing.
During the two years that I've been riding Izzy, we've had numerous ups and downs. At first, it was all about just riding him without either one of us dying. Then, it was about staying on while he bolted. Then it was about staying on while he bolted as I tried to encourage a connection. Later, the connection became ridiculously heavy, and again, I tried to just hang on through the bolting. And when I got the bolting under control, there was was balking instead.
We have finally arrived at a stage in Izzy's training where I am no longer working on control; that's been established. Instead, we're working together to establish a friendly connection. With a bit that he both respects and likes, he can now hear the conversation. He might not understand everything I am saying (and sometimes I don't know either), but he's trying.
For the entire lesson, we focused on one thing - getting him to stretch his neck. Izzy's main impediment to progress is his retracted neck and tight top line. Until he stretches from the base of his neck, he'll never be able to lengthen his stride. So that's what we schooled.
You can see how short his stride is in the video, but until he'll stretch, that's all he can do. At all three gaits, we worked on it. At the trot, it was about almost coming to walk, and then asking him to stretch down and then sending him forward. Over and over and over.
At the canter, I rode with the same strategy. I collected him and then asked for the stretch down. If he accepted the invitation, he got to move out more freely - as long as he was willingy to hold himself up. When he got stiff or bracing, I collected him and asked for a stretch down again.
I love this next clip because it shows how much natural ability he has. Chemaine asked me to try some counter canter to help him stretch out his body. He held the counter canter for quite a while before transitioning to trot, but when he picked up the right lead, it was so nice.
By the end of the lesson, he was over-striding in the walk. HIs trot work also improved, and he was even able to do some stretchy trot circles.
When I rode him again on Saturday, I was so pleased with how much of the lesson we could duplicate. It's not like he was butter in my hand or anything, but at least he was with me and trying. I'll take a "try" any day!
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%: