From Endurance to Dressage
Shortest Lesson Ever
Can I just say that finally, I ADORE Sydney, and at this particular moment, I am so happy that I haven't sold him? He is turning out to be the horse that I bought him to be (for this week anyway. Talk to me next week and he may be on the sale list again.)
Aside from the excellent under saddle stuff, he has turned into a total snuggle bunny. When I pull into the driveway, he starts hollering for me before I can even get out of the car. And if I pat Speedy's neck first, Sydney practically quivers with anticipation.
While I am tacking up, tightening his girth, or loosening his girth after riding, he tries to rest his muzzle in the crook of my neck, in the small of my back, or on my chest. He lips my zippers and sleeves and nuzzles my hair. It's like he can't get enough of me.
While I've been hand walking Speedy G this week, Sydney has been throwing little temper tantrums in his stall/turnout. He bucks and rears and then throws in this little squeal as we pass by. He kept at it for nearly 30 minutes on Tuesday evening. When it was finally his turn to come out, he eagerly ran to the gate and popped his own nose into the halter.
But this is supposed to be about Monday's lesson.
I hand walked him down to JL's just like I do every Monday, and he followed smartly along side, eager to get there. I ambled over to the mounting block like I always do, and he sidled up to the block making it as easy as possible for me to get on. He always tries to get positioned just right; he likes to make it easy for me.
I sent him to the far end of the arena on a loose rein; this used to require so much work as that end is "scary." I turned to see that JL had sat on the mounting block and was watching us as Sydney and I talked about stretching his neck and stepping under deeply with the inside leg. She was grinning at us; I am sure she was laughing at our conversation.
When I finally got back to JL's end of the arena, I gave her a quick recap of what's been happening. I sent Sydney into a warm-up trot with me up/up/downing and him just stretching and listening. We picked up a right lead canter - no big deal. We came back to trot and did a change of direction. We picked up a left lead canter, also no big deal. Our warm up was done.
We decided to get right to work on trotting a perfectly round circle with no hurried steps. That also meant no rearing, whirling, or any other shenanigan. And that's what we did. We trot that circle several times without anything happening. JL couldn't find anything to say other than, good!
She asked for another right lead canter, but this time she asked me to not let him go on a "loose" rein but to help and support him through the transition. And when she said that, I felt what she wanted me to do. I shortened my reins, took a deep breath, put my outside leg back, put my inside leg on at the girth, and then asked for the right lead canter. Without allowing Sydney to fall apart, I worked both reins keeping the contact firm and steady. I could feel myself asking him to lift into the canter rather than to scramble into it.
All of my hard work, both on myself physically, and on him, is really starting to pay off. I gave him an excellent ride with contact that was supportive and friendly. I took away the guesswork. He didn't need to guess at what I wanted to do. He didn't need to panic at the lack of direction. I told him exactly what to do, where to go and how fast to do it. He positively reveled in the safety of of it.
The whole process took less than 20 minutes. I could very clearly see him thinking about what was happening. This is a brand new thing for him. For two and a half years he has either been dull to what I was asking, or completely over-reacting to what was happening. In the last few weeks he has started thinking about what to do, and he is making decisions rather than just reacting. We are definitely becoming a team.
I LOVE this! Sounds like you've finally nailed down Sydney's quirks. He seems like one of those horses who loves to please, but can't abide a lack of support and direction. Those guys are always difficult, but often turn out to be really great partners and fun dressage horses.
2/1/2014 01:52:20 pm
I LOVE the try and honor it every chance I can!
1/29/2014 11:39:31 pm
Awesome! I love to hear this. :)
1/30/2014 12:28:29 am
Wonderful! It sounds like security is replacing Sydney's insecurity, no wonder he loves you so much!
2/1/2014 01:51:36 pm
Or, it could be that I am simply his human Pez dispenser. :0)
2/1/2014 01:51:01 pm
JL says that all the time! She always describe contact as the feeling of taking a child's hand. :0)
1/30/2014 03:13:39 am
Oooh, what a great ride! So glad to hear that you two are finally becoming a team!
2/1/2014 01:52:46 pm
It certainly is!
Congratulations! That must be so exciting for you, and so it should be. There's a lot of hard work behind that relaxed partner of yours, and you made it happen through determination and grit! It sounds like Sydney's thrilled with the results, and I'm excited for the both of you. Yay! :D
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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%: