From Endurance to Dressage
He's a quirky fellow, of that there is no doubt. I could try and force him to be something else, but I've learned that he has a very distinct personality, and it's best to just try and work with him.
For instance, he will not tolerate being schooled five days a week. Don't even think about it. He's happy to be ridden five days a week, but some of those rides better include some trail work, poles, or at least a field trip. This is the reason I have two horses.
His work schedule is much lighter than Izzy's. Speedy can go three days in a row, but he'd rather not. Two days of work seems to be what suits his idea of a nine-to-five, but I've found that the third day is where we make the most progress, although it's usually ugly.
When we work three days in a row, and although it horrifies him, occasionally four, and then follow that with a day or two off, I am usually rewarded with a seriously WOW kind of day. That's what happened on Sunday.
Izzy got a field trip on Friday which meant it was too hot to ride Speedy when we got back. We went to the beach on Saturday, so both horses had a day off. When Sunday rolled around, I knew Speedy was ready for a good work out. He didn't disappoint.
It's not like First Level is hard. It's about correct basics with more thrust to achieve better balance and throughness while also having a more consistent contact with the bit. So even though there is nothing complicated about the level, I want to make sure we get it right. And as "easy" as the level is, we're not done with it yet.
I feel as though we should be done with First Level, but the reality is that this level is a major foundation for what's to come. Let the rest of the world zoom by us; I don't care. What I do care about is not squeaking by with a 60%. I want scores in the high 60s and even into the 70s.
That means Speedy and I work, work, work the elements of the level. Having a few days off gave me time to think about what I could do to improve his balance and connection while encouraging more collection. I looked at some of the elements of Second Level and saw something that would help us.
In test one, the horse must perform a serpentine of three equal loops with simple changes of lead over centerline. While we can't do a canter to walk transition, I loved the idea of doing all of those changes of lead that weren't at X. I just figured we could do trot transitions instead of the canter-walk-canter.
I started out on a 20-meter circle doing trot to canter transitions at what would be B and E. I did those over and over first on a left lead canter and then a right. When I felt that Speedy was really listening, I gave it a try in a three-loop serpentine. And you know what? He got every change of lead the first time through the exercise.
I was laughing like a hyena the whole time. He LOVED the exercise and did the transitions pretty much on his own. That dude is a total rock star.
Sorry, ladies, but he's not for sale!
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%: