From Endurance to Dressage
I really hesitated to even take a lesson on Speedy this weekend; he's so out of shape. When Chemaine comes though, I feel like I should get as much saddle time with her as possible. The problem was that Speedy had been out of work for at least six weeks. And really, he had only been back in full work for about a month before that. If you'll remember, he sustained a small tendon injury in the spring which put him out of work for several months. So in the last 6 - 8 months, the dude hasn't done a whole lot.
I explained the situation to Chemaine, mostly hoping she'd just take it easy on Speedy, but instead, she was able to devise a series of exercises to help him stretch his topline and still school the Second Level movements without overly stressing him.
She had me start out with a super deep neck stretch. I rode Speedy around with his nose dragging on the ground, but I could tell it felt really good. The point was to give his back and neck a good stretch before asking for any collection or lateral movements. Chemaine had me keep the tempo pretty slow at first so that Speedy wasn't running around completely on the forehand.
As he warmed up, she had me bring his poll up slowly. Before I knew it, Speedy's whole topline was much looser and he was able to take a longer stride. From there we worked on lengthening his stride and bringing it back, but we did it in short bursts. Chemaine had me think of stetching him down, feeling him soften, and then sending him forward for a few strides.
To bring him back, she had me half halt with both reins as I thought about lifting his withers with my seat. When I had him up again, I built energy by bringing my elbows back while still pushing him forward with my seat and legs. When he was ready to go, I gave a little with my arms and sent him forward.
The next exercise we tried was the beginning of the turn on the haunches from Second Level, Test 2. In the test, it is a half turn on the haunches (at the walk), but Chemaine encouraged us to try for a full turn since we were doing it on a slightly larger circle. To get the turn on the haunches, Chemaine insructed me to ride forward in a shoulder in. When I had Speedy's shoulders where I wanted them, she then had me bring his haunches in at the same time.
To make the turn, she encouraged me to open the outside rein and bring it back slightly to get him to sit on that hind leg. For now, our circle is bigger than it should be, but for the next few weeks she encouraged me to work on this exercise, focusing on a turn and not a pivot.
After working the turn on the haunches, we moved to the walk to canter transition. Let me tell you, that turn on the haunches is a beautiful exercise for setting up the walk to canter. Since Speedy was already thinking about bending his body, I put him in nearly the same postion for a turn on the haucnhes when I asked for the canter. It made the transition so much easier.
Speedy's not much of a forward thinking horse, so it can take a bunch of go-go-go-go to get his little motor revved up. Chemaine's techniqure for encouraging the go was to really think about launching forward in the canter with a longer stride and then slow him down and kind of bunch him up until he got soft. Once he felt soft, I sent him forward into a bigger stride. Like in the trot work, we did it in short bursts: canter GO GO GO, collect and soften ... and then again, GO GO GO. So for Speedy, the half halt means we're getting ready to boogie.
I was really tickled with Speedy. He's certainly a totally different ride from Izzy, exactly the opposite actually, but he's a lot of fun. Chemaine felt that we hadn't lost any of our training over the past few months. We're not ready to show at Second Level yet, but we're definitely putting some of the pieces together.
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%: