From Endurance to Dressage
Isn't it weird how once you start to focus on a particular idea, you start to run into that idea everywhere?
I am really focused on the stretchy trot right now. I finally, finally "get it." I am not getting it perfectly, but I now see how to get it. The stretchy trot is really just one way to demonstrate that your horse is working over his top line. I am discovering that both of my boys need more stretch and reach in general, not just for movements 7 & 12 of the Training Level Tests.
The May issue of Dressage Today made several references to the stretchy trot. The best one appeared in a "What I Wish I'd Known Then" piece written by Doreen Horsey. She writes, "The relaxed, swinging back improves the paces, encourages a soft chewing of the bit and acceptance of the forward driving aids. The horse can now meet the Training Level test purpose... This throughness must be further developed and maintained throughout the horse's training for success at the advanced levels." In other words, you're not going to rise through the levels if your horse can't, or won't, stretch.
I have another lesson tonight where I hope we'll continue working on encouraging Speedy to stretch forward. I worked on the concept on Sunday and was relatively pleased with what he offered. It's not a show worthy stretchy trot, yet, but at least I am finally seeing what I need to do to get him there.
Just like at last week's lesson, I started at the walk. I can now feel that his walk lacks march. His hind end is being dragged along by his front end. This isn't going to help anything. So, I clamped my legs on and sent him marching. When I could feel that he was truly marching forward, I pushed my hands forward slightly and asked him to reach. When he did, I quit asking for quite as much forward. The instant he dropped the contact, I widened my hands, leaned back, and SQUEEZED.
When he was marching along pretty steadily at the walk, I asked for a slow trot and repeated the exercise. By the time that Speedy really gets this, I am going to have thighs of iron; my tube of toothpaste is in a tin can! Even though Speedy's reach is very small, there's still a reach.
It's a lot like knowing that 2 + 2 = 4; once you know it, you can't unknow it. I know the feeling that I am working for. We'll get there.
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
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%