From Endurance to Dressage
Some of you have mastered Second Level already. Some of you know it's up there but have no idea what it entails exactly. And some of you are just where I am - wondering if we'll survive this. While it might feel that Second Level is a well designed litmus test for the incompetent, the purpose is actually :
To confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and having achieved the thrust required in First Level, now accepts more weight on the hindquarters (collection); moves with an uphill tendency, especially in the medium gaits; and is reliably on the bit. A greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, throughness, balance and self-carriage is required than at First Level.
The movements include medium and collected trot and canter, 10-meter canter circles, simple changes, shoulder in, rein back, travers, and half turn on the haunches. Speedy has a really good handle on the rein back and the turn on the haunches. The medium and collected gaits are also mostly under control.
The movements that we're really struggling with are the simple changes and shoulder in. It's not that he can't do them or that he doesn't understand them, he just doesn't really want to do them.
Now that he's back to full work, I've been picking sets of movements to school each day. One day we might work on the shoulder in, and the next the simple change. I've found that he can do the shoulder in from test 2 more easily than the one from test 1. In test 2, the shoulder in goes directly into a 10-meter half circle to X with a change of direction into a new half circle that is followed by travers (haunches in).
In the simpler version (test 1), you ride a shoulder in, turn right across X, and then turn left at B for a shoulder in left. Speedy gets really hung up on that left rein. It's a work in progress.
The simple change is another area we're working on. He has a simple change, but I have to really make sure he is in front of my leg (and in a good mood). The other day, we were really struggling. I either couldn't get him forward, or I couldn't get the walk. I finally just threw down my gloves and booted the heck out of him.
Every time he started to stutter in the canter, I whacked him with my inside leg. We'll never get the simple change if I have to keep my leg on him all the time. I finally told him that he will hold the collected canter by himself until I tell him otherwise. After a few sharp reminders with my inside leg, he finally started carrying himself. Well hallelujah!
Once I was able to take my leg off, I was able to better prepare him for the canter to walk by pushing his haunches in a bit to let him know that I wanted him to sit. He has it down pat to the left, but the right is still a bit rough around the edges. As he gets better at holding the right lead canter himself, that downward will just get better.
We've got more than two months to work out the kinks. We'll get there!
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
2022 Pending …
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
6/26-27 SCEC (***)
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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