From Endurance to Dressage
"T," the young woman who has been riding Speedy, came out for another lesson over the weekend. I am always so amazed at how Speedy behaves during these lessons. He never puts a hoof out of place, and if T asks in the right way, he gives her the right answer. Every time she rides him, my heart swells with pride.
Each time she comes out, we work on something new. The last time T came over for a lesson, we worked on serpentines at the trot. On Saturday, we revisited that idea, and after one or two wonky attempts, she and Speedy got it sorted out, changing the bend nicely over the centerline.
On our trail ride, T had difficulty rating Speedy's canter. She asked for canter, and Speedy picked a pace that was just a little faster than what we wanted. When I would ask T to slow it down, Speedy dropped back to trot. When T asked again for a canter, I yelled out, ask for whoa and go at the same time!
After T shared that galloping on Speedy during our trail ride was the first time she had ever galloped a horse, I suggested we work on lengthening and collecting Speedy's canter. She thought that sounded like fun.
Speedy is still a bit of a handful in the extended canter, and he doesn't transition perfectly to collected canter, but before he was semi-retired, we were both getting much better at preparing for and implementing that transition.
For T's attempt at a canter lengthening, we used just two-thirds of the arena. From F to K, I instructed her to work on collecting Speedy - the whoa and go at the same time, and from K to E she lengthened his stride. From E to B she rode another half circle, again collecting his stride. We did the exercise on both leads.
Since T doesn't yet understand a half halt, I explained it by saying that asking for whoa and go at the same time is partly what a half halt does. It tells the horse to keep going while stepping deeper with the hind legs. I explained that it creates a moment for the horse to rebalance and bear more weight on the hind legs in preparation for a big push forward, like when we ask for a lengthening of stride.
T started Speedy out on a circle, balancing and softening his trot before asking for the canter. Once the canter felt good to her, T sent Speedy forward with a squeeze of her legs. As she neared E or B, I instructed her to bend him to put him on the outside rein, and then to ask for whoa and go at the same time. By the time they reached the other long side, Speedy's canter was more collected, and he was ready to again lengthen his stride.
Eventually, T was able to focus on asking for the bigger or more collected stride by scooping bigger or smaller with her seat. As a student,T is very interested in using her aids correctly. Since she doesn't have a lifetime of bad habits to overcome, it's easy to show her the "correct" aid. While she's still struggling with her own balance - aren't we all?, she's very eager to do things right.
With our busy work schedules and my plans to see my parents this coming weekend, T probably won't make it out until the middle of next week. We both have Thanksgiving week off, so maybe she'll be able to come out several times over the break. Until then, Speedy is quite happy with his semi-retired lifestyle. I don't think he misses schooling Third or Fourth at all.
I think he's happy that Izzy has finally started doing his share of the work. About time.
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%: