From Endurance to Dressage
Now that the summer show season is drawing to a close, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, can once again come to Bakersfield for our "casual clinics." This one though was a bit different from our past clinics. Most of the time she comes for both weekend days, but for this trip, she spent Saturday in Gilroy, 200 miles north of Bakersfield, and then came here Saturday night.
On Sunday, Chemaine drove to 4 barns and gave 13 lessons to 10 riders. Three of us have two horses each. And then, she drove two hours back home. I bet she slept in a little on Monday.
My plan for the lesson on Speedy was to run through each element of Second Level. While I've been schooling the movements on my own, I really needed to see how show worthy they were. As it turns out, we're quite ready for some of them but need some work on others.
The shoulder in was pretty good, except that I need more "shoulder" to the right. With no mirrors, it's been hard to tell if it is steep enough. In the video, you can see Speedy's shoulder in to the right. It's okay. We also worked on haunches in. Again, it's not fabulous, but we're getting it.
The two things that we had down pretty solidly were our turn on the haunches and the rein back. Chemaine had me tweak just a few things. In the turn on the haunches. She reminded me to keep a good walk rhythm even if the circle gets a little large. For the rein back, I need a firmer rein aid so that I get the diagonal pairs moving together instead of one foot at a time. As soon as I adjusted my aid, Speedy stepped back nicely.
By this point in the lesson, I was feeling pretty smug. The hard work Speedy and I have put in was showing, and we were looking pretty good. And then Chemaine asked to see out medium trot. I quickly explained that for our next show it was going to be what it was as I still can't sit that larger movement. Let's see it anyway came her reply.
For the next I-don't-know-how-long, Chemaine had me do it over and over without letting me off the hook. I can't say that I ever got it, but by the end, she had me convinced that at least my butt fat was still making some contact with the saddle. Considering that I had zero sitting trot in May, I feel like a "prodigy" in September.
We next schooled the medium canter (these are in First Level, so nothing new), the 10-meter circle (Speedy's little so they're not too hard), and the canter-walk-canter on the serpentine. We can do these, but we still need a lot of walk steps and some more practice being straight.
Chemaine had a great exercise to help with the simple change. Once the horse walks, immediately do a 10-meter walk circle in the new direction. This helps establish bend and gets the inside hind leg active. It was much easier to pick up the new lead, especially the right, after doing a 10-meter walk circle.
By the end of the lesson, I was mentally fried. I had forgotten how hard it is to move up a level. We've been at First Level for so long that the movements and "pace" were relatively easy. Second Level is much more challenging. The movements are a bit harder and they're strung together differently.
While I was untacking Speedy, I decided that for the first time ever, I might only do one test at our next show. Even though it's at the end of October, the scores will count for the 2018 season. It's so early in the season that it might as well be pre-season. Focusing on one test will help me do it better. I hope anyway.
And then I rode the big brown horse! More tomorrow ...
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 …
8/7-8 SCEC (***)
10/30-31 SCEC (***)
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 (***)
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