From Endurance to Dressage
Poor Speedy has been out of the limelight for awhile even though he's getting plenty of action. Since my vet cleared him to go back to work, I've been adding trot intervals to our walk work. In an effort to avoid laming him for real, I've kept things short without any kind of effort at getting a really forward trot. We've just been focused on being balanced and having him listening to my aids.
All of my work at the walk has been bareback, and even though Dr. Tolley cleared him for regular work, I kept riding bareback at the trot. It helped me avoid doing too much work, and frankly, I need all the help developing my seat that I can get. But since I can't stay bareback forever, I finally put a saddle on Speedy earlier this week.
As soo as I put my feet in the stirrups, I realized they were too short. They're the same length I ride in when I get on Sydney, but after being on Speedy for so many rides with my legs hanging straight down, I knew I needed to take off my stirrups. I am so glad I did!
For our second saddle with no stirrups ride, I started to ask for a bit more forward in the trot. Unfortunately, I can't do a rising trot in my saddle without the stirrups (although I can get pretty close bareback) so I have to do a sitting trot. My sitting trot has not been all that great. I don't feel too bad about it though as this is an issue for all lower level riders.
At the slowest trot, it's no big deal, but as I asked for more impulsion, I realized that I needed to help Speedy out by learning the feel of the sitting trot ASAP. I tried thinking of pedaling a bike backwards, having spaghetti legs, or being made of jello. All of those things made me a bit stiffer. Suddenly, I remembered something Christian had said to me a few months back, sit up tall!
All of a sudden, I had it. When I sat up and opened my chest (not with a hollowed back), I cold feel my seat "engage and start talking" to Speedy. Speedy kicked his butt into gear and got off his forehand. It was the most glorious feeling. I laughed out loud and simply enjoyed the sensation. I asked for more and more forward and felt his back come up beneath me.
As we were tracking right, we're still just sticking to the 20-meter circle or 10-meter figures for now, I asked for a bit too much and Speedy rolled into a pretty nice canter. It was the first time he's cantered since February. I couldn't believe how balanced we both were. He hasn't carried a rider at the canter in months, and I had no stirrups. I wanted to just ride it all day long, but out of concern for his soundness and lack of conditioning, I brought him back to a trot.
It was the most fun I've had in a long time. Eventually, I am going to have to start riding him fully tacked up, but my riding-halter, bareback, introduce the bridle, saddle with no stirrups plan is definitely achieving what I had hoped it would.
We're heading to the cabin for the rest of the weekend so I won't see you until Monday. Have a great weekend!
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%: