From Endurance to Dressage
I officially suck at taking pictures. Sheesh ...
Speedy's new best buddy, "T," came out for a lesson on Saturday morning. I had been thinking about what we might try next, so I was more prepared than normal. For most of T's lessons, I just come up with something on the spot. Since she's progressing fairly quickly, I am going to need to start planning ahead.
For this lesson, I decided she was ready for some spiral in, spiral out. I constantly remind her that she's getting what she pays for though. My lessons are free so she can't expect a whole lot. I am a teacher by profession, but teaching long division is a lot easier than teaching someone to ride.
I've approached the lessons with an eye to explaining the things that confused me when I was first starting out. Most of the time I didn't know why we were doing what we were doing. I may be overwhelming T, but I am trying to show her how what might look like a basic exercise now actually leads to more difficult movements later on.
After doing some simple warm up exercises like getting a marching walk and turning it into a longer stride at the free walk, and doing trot-to-almost-walk transitions, we got to work. Since so much of dressage is about lightening the front end and moving the shoulders, spiraling in and out is a super useful exercise at all levels.
Teaching T has really helped me think about why we do certain exercises. Each movement has a purpose, so at the lower and mid-levels, those movements form a foundation for the more difficult movements to come. As T struggled with the spiral in, I shared with her that every rider, no matter the level, is working on that same exercise. As she did the spiral in at the canter, I explained how that exercise is translated into quarter and full pirouettes.
I know that I am an excellent classroom teacher, but I don't know how I stack up as a dressage instructor. Nobody has cried, and T keeps coming back, so the lessons must not be too terrible. T is working a green quarter horse across town. He's broke to ride, but he hasn't been taught the finer points of riding. She's taking what she learns on Speedy and trying it out on the other guy. This weekend she explained that since she doesn't have a dressage saddle to ride in, she can't really school the dressage stuff.
I told her that western dressage is a thing, so she should be able to do everything she's learning in a western saddle. After a bit more discussion, we determined that steering is a problem on the other horse, so I gave her some exercises that might help.
Coming across town every weekend is a big commitment, but I hope T will continue to come out and ride Speedy. He definitely enjoys having a job, and I enjoy seeing him happy. If it works for T, it's a win-win for us both.
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%: