From Endurance to Dressage
During all my years of showing - a puny ten, I've rarely practiced the tests at home because Speedy is the king of anticipation. He likes to tell me when we should do a movement. I've always worried that he would memorize the tests and stop listening to me. After looking over my spread sheet of movements however, I could clearly see that we need to practice the tests at home so that I can focus on what is making things difficult at shows.
The analysis of my data shows that our half passes and our left to right flying changes are weak. I decided to ride those sections of the tests at home. Was that ever a great idea. Did Speedy start to anticipate? Why, yes. Yes, he did. I love it though because I was able to school him a bit on waiting for my aids. It's okay if he anticipates. I sort of like that he does because it tells me he's with me; he knows what's happening. Asking him to wait is like building in a half halt.
Schooling the left to right flying lead change has been really helpful. By doing 4 or 5 of them in a row, I am discovering why he doesn't always change. Sometimes, he's just being a stinker, but most of the time it's because I am doing something wrong. Yesterday, I realized that I was losing the new bend, so when I asked for the change to the right, I was letting him look left. Ain't gonna happen like that.
I've also found that by schooling a series of movements in their entirety, like the canter half pass to the flying change, I can really focus on what my aids need to look like. For the canter half pass left, we need to start with a walk to canter at K followed by the half pass left followed by the left to right flying change. If the canter depart stinks, I stop, and we do it again. If the half pass sucks, we stop and do it again. Same thing with the flying change. I am able to isolate each movement when and where it should happen which is helping pinpoint the problems.
Surprisingly, it's not boring either. I offer Speedy lots of praise, and somehow he has stopped feeling picked on for repeating an exercise. In the past, doing it more than two or three times seemed to suggest to him that he was doing it WRONG WRONG WRONG. Maybe I am approaching the repeats differently. I keep telling him that he's a good boy and asking him to try to get it even better. I also feel like I am building his fitness level. Three days of riding at a show - Friday's warm up combined with tests on Saturday and Sunday, was sort of wearing him out. He needs to be able to do more than four flying changes over a weekend.
We'll be going to show next weekend, fingers crossed - damn you, COVID-19! I am feeling better about our chances of scoring closer to the mid-60s. I am hoping that by really honing in on our weak points, it will pay off in higher scores. We'll see.
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%: